On June 28, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an Executive Order intended to significantly reduce carbon emissions from Virginia’s power plants and to combat the effects of climate change in the Commonwealth. Executive Order No.57 directs Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward to convene a Work Group and to report back to the Governor with concrete recommendations for reducing CO2 emissions. The Executive Order directs the Secretary to provide a final report and recommendations to the Governor no later than May 31, 2017.
Governor McAuliffe noted that the power generation sector, including coal and gas-fired power plants, account for almost 30% of the total carbon emissions in the Commonwealth. Governor McAuliffe also stated that he had ample authority under Article V of the Virginia Constitution and Virginia Code Section 10.1 to mandate carbon reductions via executive order. The Executive Order directs the Secretary to consider electric rate impacts and economic development opportunities in her recommendations.
The announcement came as federal efforts to address climate change are on hold. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (which we covered here), a regulation that the Obama Administration hopes will drastically reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s coal and gas-fired power plants and promote new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency resources. The Governor said that even though EPA’s Clean Power Plan has been stayed by the Court, Virginia cannot afford to delay taking action on climate change.
The press release from the Governor’s Office and full text of the Executive Order is Available here.