The New York Times Climate FWD: An electoral shift with climate consequences

November 6, 2019

Virginia Democrats made big gains in Tuesday’s election and the implications for climate change policy are potentially big, too.

For the first time in more than two decades, Democrats will control both the House of Delegates and the State Senate. That significantly increases the likelihood that the state will join a regional initiative designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, had long proposed that Virginia join the 10-state program, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. He was stymied in the past, though, when Republicans inserted language into a budget bill that prevented the state from becoming a member.

Under the program, states cap the planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution from power plants and then trade permits for emissions.

Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, a research arm of Georgetown University Law School, called the election results “very consequential.” She noted that Virginia has been trying to shift away from coal and rely more on renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Joining the regional initiative, she said, would bolster those efforts.

“This new Legislature opens doors to Virginia joining RGGI and enacting legislation to support and build upon recent executive orders on climate change,” Ms. Arroyo said.

This year, the Democratic Party of Virginia unanimously approved resolutions supporting a move to 100 percent renewable energy and embracing the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to tackle climate change and provide living-wage guarantees.

This article is an excerpt from The New York Times Climate FWD newsletter titled, "One Thing You Can Do: Know Your Organic Food." Read the full article by Eduardo Garcia and Lisa Friedman in The New York Times.