Unusual backwards march around the State Capitol demonstrates opposition to Governor’s plan to withdraw from RGGI program that reduces carbon emissions while funding coastal resilience and energy efficiency

Richmond, VAAt 12 noon on Friday, July 1, Virginians will march BACKWARDS around the state capitol to protest Governor Glen Youngkin’s scheme to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This first-ever march of its kind in Richmond will be led by brass musicians and protesters chanting – while walking backwards – that Youngkin must stop moving the state backwards on climate change.

Friday’s march coincides with Youngkin’s scheduled completion of the process of stacking the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board with hand-picked members and using it to undermine the General Assembly. After only three days of public notice, this board could use an “emergency declaration” to march Virginia backwards – out of the popular RGGI cap-and-trade program,which provides essential funding for progress on climate solutions and clean energy. 

Since Virginia joined RGGI, industrial carbon polluters have paid over $300 million in fees. Those funds are used to insulate the homes of low-income Virginians and cover the cost of infrastructure improvements to minimize the impacts of sea-level rise and flooding associated with climate change. 

Youngkin’s plan to withdraw from RGGI ignores the desire of more than two-thirds of Virginians, who support the program, and directly conflicts with recent legislative votes and proposed budget amendments from the General Assembly. Youngkin has also declined to join 11 other East Coast states to partner more closely with the Federal government on offshore wind development. 

On Friday, Virginians from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Third Act Virginia, Appalachian Voices and Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions will demonstrate against the Governor’s efforts to withdraw from RGGI. Live music and refreshments will be provided at Friday’s visually engaging event, where marchers will physically march backwards in protest. 

WHO:   Community members, environmental advocates

WHAT:   Demonstration with featured speakers, march

WHEN:  Friday, July 1 from 12 PM to 1 PM

WHERE:  The event begins on the Capitol Grounds at the Bell Tower with several speakers and is followed by a March Backward, starting on the sidewalk at 9th and Franklin Streets.   

Below are statements from several of the event organizers:

“Governor Youngkin portrays himself as a business leader – but his pro-pollution agenda is hurting businesses and damaging the climate. It’s becoming a national embarrassment. Currently, Virginia is benefitting tremendously from a market-based initiative that reduces carbon pollution while investing in coastal flooding protection and energy efficiency. Youngkin’s goal of withdrawing Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would harm families and reward polluters. It’s a giant step backwards. The Governor must be stopped.”
– Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network  

“Gov. Youngkin’s plan to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is short-sighted and dangerous.The report this administration uses for rationale has been falsely interpreted as bad for consumers. Third Act Virginia supports the science and expert opinions that show the Initiative works as intended. In our current climate catastrophe, we don’t have time for backwards measures and partisan divide. We want a future we can all live in, and urge the governor to prioritize the health and wellbeing of our citizens.” 
– Deborah Kushner, Third Act Virginia

“We are praying that Governor Youngkin has a change of heart on his opposition to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This successful, bipartisan program is cutting planet-warming pollution, helping low income Virginians save money with energy efficiency, and protecting our communities from the ravages of increased flooding. It’s simply common sense to stay in RGGI.”

– Andrea McGimsey Executive Director, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

For more information, visit the organizers’ shared event registration page.

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Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. Founded in 2002, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org

More information: 

Virginia Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Youngkin is Dragging Virginia Backwards On Climate

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