Reviews | The benefits of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative outweigh its costs
The RGGI fee is not a tax. The RGGI sells allowances to individual producers for the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. Revenues are earmarked for specific programs, such as energy efficiency and flood mitigation. The cost of the quotas encourages the production of electricity that does not emit carbon dioxide.
Continued operation of fossil fuel power plants is necessary to maintain reliable electrical service. However, this does not allow the government of Virginia to ignore the contribution of emitted carbon dioxide to accelerating climate change or the costs to Virginians from more severe storms as well as rising oceans. The Youngkin administration nowhere identifies the baseline amount of carbon dioxide emissions from power generation that it deems appropriate. Youngkin comes from a double-entry accounting environment: he should apply the same logic here to account for the benefits of RGGI, not just the costs.
RGGI revenues support issues of energy efficiency and climate change resilience. Energy efficiency reduces the demand for electricity. The lower the demand, the lower the need for generation from fossil fuels. This is how the market works. A governor with a business background should know that. Conversely, the more energy resilience efforts are funded, especially for Virginia’s coastal communities, the better their ability to withstand damage from climate change.
This was the understanding of the Virginia legislature. This statutory language and justification is just as true today.
David P. Yaffe, Arlington
Youngkin administration alleges Virginia’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ‘is not effective,’ despite Virginia’s RGGI program shrinking energy sector air pollution 14% in its first year alone. Virginia is relatively new to RGGI. Over the decade-plus of the program, RGGI states have reduced global warming emissions 90% faster than the rest of the country while increasing economic growth 31% faster.
The results of this program are clear: cleaner air, better health outcomes, and billions of dollars in revenue that have helped reduce electricity costs while spurring clean energy deployment.
The writer, a Democrat, represents Alexandria in the Virginia Senate, where he sits on the Trade and Labor Committee, which oversees energy regulation in the Commonwealth.