Virginia governor calls for state carbon regulations

Virginia governor calls for state carbon regulations
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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed an executive order on Tuesday directing regulators to formulate rules cracking down on electricity sector carbon emissions.

The order requires state officials to convene a working group on carbon emissions and issue a report by the end of the year on potential regulations to limit power plant greenhouse gases. 

Any final regulation, according to the order, should be “trading ready” in case the state decides to enter a regional carbon pollution trading program in the future. 

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In a statement, McAuliffe said the rule is meant to fill the gap left by President Trump’s effort to pull back federal environmental regulations. Trump signed an executive order in March directing the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider and likely repeal an Obama administration rule on power sector emissions.

“The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it,” McAuliffe said. 

“Once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the commonwealth’s power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs. As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void.”

The climate plan found support among environmentalists on Tuesday. The League of Conservation Voters called the proposal an example of “bold leadership,” and local green groups praised the plan in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

McAuliffe’s order requires the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to present a proposed regulation to the state’s Air Pollution Control Board by Dec. 31. With McAuliffe term-limited, Virginia voters will elect a new governor on Nov. 7, meaning the fate of any potential climate rule there could depend on who wins that election.