With the House of Delegates and Governorship currently under Republican control, the party is trying to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and thereby, eliminate the current funding for the Community Flood Preparedness Fund (CFPF). If successful, Virginia stands to lose its membership in the RGGI and its goal of reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and a built in funding mechanism for the CFPF that benefits many parts of the state. Gov.Youngkin’s Executive Order 9, issued the day of his inauguration, includes a directive for the Dept of Environmental Quality to notify RGGI, Inc. of “the governor’s intent to withdraw from RGGI, whether by legislative or regulatory action.” Many of the Republicans advocating to suspend Virginia’s participation in the RGGI represent areas in dire need of flood protection and some already benefit from the CFPF. For example, Republican Speaker of the House, Terry Kilgore introduced a bill titled Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act; Repeals Act that passed the House but recently failed in the Senate. Kilgore’s 1st district borders on Bristol and includes Gate City which has a major risk of flooding over the next 30 years and in Feb., 2020 Southwest VA experienced severe flooding that necessitated an emergency declaration by former Governor Northam. Undeterred by the failure of Kilgore’s bill, the Republicans inserted in the House budget, currently being debated in the Senate, an item to pull Virginia out of the RGGI. Grace Tucker of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) states, “Pulling Virginia out of RGGI would strip away critical funding that local governments need and disproportionately harm under-resourced, small and rural communities who do not have the capacity to address flood risk on their own.” We need to stop the Republican attempt to cut Virginia off from critical funding provided by the RGGI. It is a cost that is shared by all Virginians to help mitigate the severe displacement and losses due to man-made climate change and the inevitable rise of sea levels.
Joan N. Curry