Va. can choose better path on carbon pollution

3/30/2018, 12:20 p.m.

At a recent public hearing held by the state Department of Environmental Quality, one concerned citizen said the following about acting on climate: “We have been kicking this can down the road so long that we have run out of road.”

This sentiment accurately reflects the pressing nature of lowering greenhouse gas emissions in Virginia. Fortunately, the Commonwealth now can be a leader on climate action.

Currently, DEQ is considering regulations that would reduce carbon emissions from power plants. As a part of this regulatory process, the department held a series of public hearings, including ones in Richmond, Roanoke and Abington. These regulations, associated with Executive Directive 11, were first introduced last May by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. By issuing this directive, Virginia became the first Southern state to address the correlation between carbon emissions and global warming. Furthermore, Virginia took a critical step forward on climate during a time when the federal government continues to dismantle core environmental protections.

DEQ’s regulations would allow Virginia to link with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate carbon market that reduces carbon pollution though cap-and-trade. By linking with RGGI, Virginia could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 30 percent by 2030. This figure represents the minimum action required to avoid a devastating level of global warming.

We have reached the end of this road, but Virginia can choose the better path on carbon. The Commonwealth must move forward with state-level solutions to climate change. Virginians should share their support for climate action and ensure these regulations are enacted.

The DEQ is still taking public comments until April 9. People can submit their comments through email to ghg@deq.virginia.gov.


Chesterfield County

The writer is a field organizer with the Virginia Conservation Network.