RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that Virginia would become the first Southern state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The RGGI is a collaborative effort among Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is also being used to drive economic growth.
The current members of the initiative include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Virginia will be the newest addition to this group of states when it becomes a full member on January 1, 2021.
“As the southernmost state to join RGGI, Virginia is sending a powerful signal that our Commonwealth is committed to fighting climate change and securing a clean energy future,” Governor Northam said.
The goal of RGGI is to reduce climate pollution from fossil fuel power plants. Members of the initiative agree to a cap on carbon dioxide. Power generators in the states in the initiative must reduce pollution to meet the cap. If they are not able to reduce pollution, they will be required to purchase additional allowances through an auction administered by RGGI, Inc.
Legislation passed during the 2020 General Assembly session will allow Virginia to use proceeds generated from the auction for community flood preparedness, coastal resilience, and energy efficiency programs that will benefit low-income Virginians.
The Department of Housing and Community Development, in coordination with the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, will provide about 45% of the proceeds to community flood prevention and coastal resilience programs, and three percent will be used by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to further statewide climate planning efforts
“This collaboration with regional partners will help us capture the environmental, health, and economic benefits from the clean economy for all Virginians,” the Secretary of Natural Resources, Matthew J. Strickler, said.
Additional information about the Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia's participation in the RGGI can be found here.