Richmond Times-Dispatch: McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; 'the threat of climate change is real'

May 16, 2017

On May 16, 2017, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to begin assembling regulations to reduce carbon emissions from Virginia power plants, a move celebrated by environmentalists and renewable energy businesses who see the state as a laggard when it comes to solar and wind capacity and energy-efficiency programs.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch noted that information produced by the Georgetown Climate Center about the potentially devastating risks of climate impacts to Virginia’s communities influenced the governor’s action.

"The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it. Once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from the commonwealth's power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs," the governor said in a statement. "As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void. Beginning today, Virginia will lead the way to cut carbon and lean in on the clean-energy future."

McAuliffe's executive directive instructs the DEQ to develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide from power plants that will "allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program."

Last summer, McAuliffe convened by executive order a working group consisting of cabinet officials and leaders of the state Department of Environmental Quality and Department Mines, Minerals and Energy to develop recommendations on cutting carbon from power plants. The market-based carbon trading aspect was a key component of the group's report, which was sent to the governor last week.

The working group's report, dated May 12, says climate change and associated rise in sea level, which could increase by 5 feet in Virginia by the end of the century, pose "potentially devastating risk" to the state.

Virginia has seen a 33 percent increase in heavy rainstorms and snowstorms in the past 60 years and an 11 percent increase in precipitation from the largest storms, the report says, citing data from the Georgetown Climate Center and Old Dominion University's Mitigation and Adaption Research Institute. Climate change poses threats to water supplies, agriculture, property and human health in the form of asthma and cardiovascular disease and increasing numbers of disease-spreading insects like ticks and mosquitoes.

Read the full story here.