Virginia Proposes to Tighten Carbon Emissions Regulation

This week, the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board approved the recommendation of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to promulgate a revised regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants in the state.  In response to a May 2017 executive directive issued by Governor McAuliffe, Virginia had previously developed a regulation to reduce Virginia’s carbon emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030.  That regulation was based on an initial carbon dioxide base budget of 33 million or 34 million tons.

More recent air modeling, however, indicated a more favorable forecast of current Virginia emissions.  As a result, the revised regulation proposes an initial base budget of 28 million tons of carbon dioxide, which in turn would result in more stringent carbon regulation and an additional 5 million tons of carbon eliminated by 2030.

Like the previously issued regulation, the revision would link Virginia to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  DEQ’s press release on the proposed revision notes that “Virginia utilities are expected to participate in RGGI, the regional carbon cap-and-trade program covering fossil-fuel fired electric generating units in nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States (New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland).”

There will be a 30-day public comment period on the proposed revision, which is expected to occur in early 2019 following Executive review.  The State Air Pollution Control Board then expects to vote on the proposal at its meeting in the spring of 2019.

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