Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Proposes Statewide Carbon Cap Through Executive Action

Advocates Now Call On Governor To Drop Support For Offshore Drilling, Fracked-Gas Pipelines

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced an executive action paving the way for Virginia to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel power plants. The governor announced a directive which, by the end of this year, could create a legal framework for the state to create its own carbon cap program to annually lower power-plant pollution. That program would most likely be linked to the highly successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade system now in place from Maine to Maryland — or to California’s cap-and-trade system.

To date, McAuliffe’s policies on climate and energy have earned him very poor grades from many environmental, faith, student, and justice groups. See this 2016 “report card” giving the governor a D-plus grade on climate and energy policies. And see this “open letter” to the governor last June.

But today’s action will significantly improve the governor’s grade. The governor can further cement a positive legacy on climate change by finally dropping his support for offshore oil drilling in Virginia and – most importantly – drop his support for two massive proposed pipelines to transport fracked gas from West Virginia to Virginia. The global warming emissions from the two pipelines – the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline – would, if built, create a new pulse of greenhouse gas pollution that would completely undo any reductions stemming from the governor’s executive action today on power plants. It is possible – and hoped – that the executive action today could itself dampen the market for fracked-gas pipelines and new gas-powered plants in Virginia. It could do this by rewarding carbon-free generation like wind and solar over gas combustion and the attendant pipelines. But this is unclear at this point.

Statement from Mike Tidwell, Executive Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

“Though late in his administration, Governor Terry McAuliffe did the right thing today in announcing a pathway for Virginia to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The governor’s executive ‘directive’ unveiled today is precisely what environmental advocates have been asking the governor to do for over two years now. With President Trump dismantling climate policies nationally, it’s reassuring that Governor McAuliffe has at last responded in a powerful way. This move could soon allow Virginia to cap carbon pollution in a systematic way, likely linked to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative now in place from Maine to Maryland. Now, the governor should further cement his climate legacy by opposing offshore drilling for oil and opposing the massive fracked-gas pipelines that Dominion and other companies want to build across the state.”



Denise Robbins; Communications Director;; 240-396-2022
Mike Tidwell, Executive Director;; 240-460-5838

Photo at the top from Flickr User VCU ANS with a Creative Commons license.