Virginia Governor Takes Steps to Reduce Electricity Sector Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Commonwealth

While the federal government is rolling back power sector-related regulation, some states are moving in the opposite direction.  On May 16, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into effect Executive Directive 11, which is intended to “reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs.”  The Directive specifically calls for the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, in coordination with the Secretary of Natural Resources, to develop proposed regulations “to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities,” and to submit the proposal to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration and, ultimately, public comment, by no later than December 31, 2017.  According to the Directive, the regulations should establish abatement mechanisms of similar stringency to other states’ carbon dioxide emissions limits, and should establish a “trading-ready” regime that would allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and trading of emissions allowances.

The Directive builds on Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order 57, issued in June 2016, which required the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a working group to study and recommend methods for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities and promote a clean energy economy.  The Directive also comes on the heels of a suite of bills enacted in early May “promot[ing] the use of solar and other renewable energy options and aim[ing] to reduce energy consumption across [Virginia].”  Several other states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont have previously acted to cap greenhouse gas emissions in their states.

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