"Virginia’s air quality board on Wednesday voted to leave an interstate emissions-reduction partnership, bringing the state closer to fulfilling Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) vow to withdraw from the program earlier this year even as critics say the process needs legislative approval.
The state Air Pollution Control Board voted 4-1 to continue the exit from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), with two abstentions, an official confirmed. The board comprises four Youngkin appointees and three members appointed by his Democratic predecessor, Ralph Northam.
Virginia joined the RGGI, which counts 11 predominantly northeastern states as members, in 2021, a year before Youngkin took office. Member states require their power plants to buy carbon credit to offset their emissions. Youngkin vowed to exit the partnership shortly after taking office, while environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers argued that since the Virginia General Assembly voted to enter the contract, a governor could not unilaterally leave it. Youngkin signed an executive order requesting the board to consider withdrawal from the RGGI, blaming it for rate increases to utility customers.
The state utility, Dominion Energy, has heavily lobbied for the board to vote for withdrawal, saying in an October letter to the state Department of Environmental Quality that until withdrawal is official, “RGGI compliance costs will continue to accrue in the interim, and subject to regulatory approval, be passed on to customers.”"