As President Trump rolls back environmental regulations at the federal level, Gov. McAuliffe has taken up the issue at the state level. Last month, he signed an executive order directing state regulators to formulate rules that would limit carbon emissions from power plants.
Per the order, state officials from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will form a working group and submit a report by year’s end outlining potential regulations to rein in greenhouse gases. The proposed rules should allow Virginia to participate in a carbon permit trading program with other states, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as pave the way for a cap-and-trade system.
While environmentalists praised the move, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the opposition of Virginia Republicans, who said that it would increase electricity costs, lose jobs, and hamper state economic growth. David D’Onofrio, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia, said the national Clean Power Plan was expensive and ineffectual and that a state plan would be more of the same, while free market efforts have been successful in reducing carbon emissions.
The report is due to the state’s Air Pollution Control Board by Dec. 31, just before Gov. McAuliffe leaves office, but because he will be term-limited out this year, the continuation of these regulations could depend on who wins the gubernatorial election in November. Issues will also likely arise surrounding the board’s authority to implement these rules, or whether the Legislature must provide approval.