Lawmakers miss opportunity to protect climate compact, invest in vulnerable communities

For Immediate Release:
Friday, May 10, 2024

Media Contact:`
Lee Francis | Deputy Director
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
434-989-3197 |

Vital Program to Cut Pollution, Lower Energy Costs, and Protect Virginians from Flood Risk Removed as Part of Budget Compromise


RICHMOND — According to news reports, members of the budget conference committee failed to include language in the new budget insisting that the Commonwealth remain a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI is a multi-state carbon cap-and-invest program that in just three years brought nearly $830 million to Virginia to fund flood resiliency projects and energy efficiency programs for low-income Virginians, while also cutting power plant pollution by almost 25 percent. Lawmakers will return to Richmond next week to take up the full, revised budget.

In response to this action, leaders from Virginia’s environmental community issued the following joint statement:

“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been one of our best tools in Virginia to combat climate change while returning investment to the communities across the Commonwealth that need it most. At a time when we’re seeing extreme weather events happen more regularly, and as we head into what forecasters are saying will be another summer of scorching temperatures, it is incredibly disappointing that lawmakers aren’t doing everything they can to stand up to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s illegal RGGI repeal and gutting of a program intended to protect vulnerable communities from flooding and lower energy costs. This governor deserves to be held accountable for attempting to unilaterally override Virginia law, and this capitulation by the General Assembly unfortunately sets us back.

“Staying out of RGGI, and foregoing the hundreds of millions of dollars it generates each year, further burdens already disadvantaged communities on the frontlines of pollution and flooding impacts, and who shoulder disproportionate household energy costs. Furthermore, cutting this dedicated source of funding without a plan to address flooding, at a time when severe weather events are becoming more and more common, is reckless and bad public policy. And without funding for energy efficiency programs, the families least able to afford it will continue seeing rising energy costs as we head into the hot summer months.

“To be clear, Gov. Youngkin got us into this mess. But it is incumbent on lawmakers to do everything they can going forward to protect vulnerable communities from climate change and rising energy costs, and to secure a clean energy future.”

Michael Town, Executive Director, Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Lillian Anderson, Clean Energy & Climate Justice Policy & Campaigns Manager, Virginia Conservation Network

Connor Kish, Director, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Peter Anderson, Director of State Energy Policy, Appalachian Voices

Faith B. Harris, Executive Director, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light

Victoria Higgins, Virginia Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund

Elly Boehmer Wilson, State Director, Environment Virginia

Mary-Carson Stiff, Executive Director, Wetlands Watch

Elisabeth Chaves, Climate Equity Policy Fellow, Virginia Organizing

Tyneshia Griffin, Environmental Policy Analyst, New Virginia Majority

About us:
The Virginia League of Conservation Voters serves as the political voice of the state’s conservation community, working to make sure Virginia’s elected officials recognize that our natural heritage is an environmental and economic treasure for all. Virginia LCV works with conservation leaders across Virginia and strives for a conservation majority in state government. We secure good public policies on the state level and hold public officials accountable for their positions on environmental issues. For more information, visit