Auduboners Can Help Address Climate Change

Send Comments on Virginia’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Freya DeCola

In May 2017, Governor Terry McAuliffe issued Executive Directive 11, the Clean Energy Virginia Initiative, which directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to draft proposed regulations to reduce carbon pollution from stationary sources, primarily power plants.  This draft proposal would put a price on carbon emissions and create a cap-and-trade market in Virginia that provides incentives for energy companies to reduce emissions as much as 30 percent over 10 years.

DEQ is currently working on the specifics, a draft proposal that will set the limit or cap on emissions, create allowances and establish a method for allocating them to the involved parties.  The draft will be reviewed and voted on November 16 by the state Air Pollution Control Board, and then sent to the governor to sign. 

Starting January 8, 2018, DEQ will hold a 60-day public comment period.

The Virginia Conservation Network (www.vcnva.org) is urging environmental groups to support this clean energy program.  ASNV is a member of VCN.

Auduboners can advocate by talking to candidates and elected officials, writing letters to the editor and especially by submitting comments during the public comment period.

Here are some points you could make supporting establishing a carbon cap-and-trade market in Virginia:

  • Virginia could reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent over 10 years.
  • Cap-and-trade will encourage the growth of cleaner, renewable energy in Virginia by putting a price on the environmental damage caused by carbon pollution.
  • The program is simple and market-based and could reduce the need for additional government regulations.
  • The experience of the already-existing Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, set up in 2009 by nine New England states, has shown that this approach reduces carbon emissions, contributes to economic growth and has caused electricity prices to go down.
  • Carbon allowances should be distributed based on energy output, not historic carbon emissions, thus giving zero-carbon energy sources some allowances that they can sell as a new source of revenue (environmental groups should make sure this is in the plan).         
  • The National Audubon Society’s studies and others’ have concluded that global warming is a great threat to birds, other wildlife and the habitat they need to survive.  Adverse impacts are already occurring and are expected to become more severe.

For more information, contact Freya DeCola at fdecola@comcast.net and download the agenda and minibook for the State Air Pollution Control Board Meeting.