Youngkin Plays Political Games with Virginians' Prosperity

Virginia's waters are rising, yet Youngkin—with presidential stars in his eyes—plays extremist political games to please Big Polluter mega donors.

Hurricane season is underway, with billions in impending damage to Virginia's coastal real estate, and yet, as this ad makes clear, Virginia's frosh governor Glenn Youngkin, in his cynical pursuit for higher office, is busy digging a hole:

Forecasters predict that we will experience yet another above-average hurricane season this year (and that on top of the freakish weather now consistently damaging inland areas as well). We know climate change increases storm destruction and flooding: if left unaddressed the Commonwealth anticipates climate change-accelerated coastal flooding will eventually wreak nearly six billion dollars in annual real estate damage, every year, along coastal Virginia.

As one might expect of a brand new governor concerned with Virginians' interests, Governor Youngkin recently told Virginians to prepare for extreme weather now. However, he left out that his extremist bid - to yank Virginia out of our key defense against climate change: the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) - would kill the very investments needed to protect Virginia's waterfront real estate from the ruinous sea level-rise damage already hitting our coast.

To exact his mindless damage and leave Virginia exposed to being bankrupted by climate disaster, all at the behest of his Big Polluter political donors, Youngkin will present a sham “emergency” regulation to the pro-polluter majority he installed on the newly-stacked Air Pollution Control Board. Ludicrously claiming that Virginia’s keystone climate action - RGGI - somehow poses an “emergency,” is Youngkin’s flimsy attempt to strike Virginia’s RGGI law off the books, under the false claim that RGGI’s cap on power plant carbon pollution and its resulting investments across Virginia somehow pose an emergency.

That magical thinking – conjuring an “emergency” out of thin air to do the bidding of out-of-state polluter donors – not only flies in the face of bedrock constitutional norms. Falsely shouting “there’s an emergency” also conveniently overlooks RGGI’s fundamental, already-proven function: RGGI lowers Virginians’ skyrocketing energy bills by making our homes more energy efficient, and delivers investments needed to protect our citizens and our valuable coastal real estate from the sky-high costs of sea level rise climate damage.

Youngkin’s laughable declaration of an “emergency” as his means to undoing a popular climate law also studiously ignores the fact that RGGI’s shift to low-cost energy efficiency and renewables helps tackle Virginia’s electric utilities’ ongoing boondoggle fossil fuel costs, like Dominion’s proposed $25/month charge per household to buy expensive, climate-warming fossil fuels.

Youngkin’s nihilistic attack on Virginia’s RGGI law is not only paper-thin: it’s jaw-droppingly undemocratic - more the stuff of tinpot dictators than of governors in the birthplace of American democracy (which is why it will ultimately be deemed illegal in court). Given this shoddiness, it’s difficult to discern Youngkin's endgame here in recklessly carrying this climate-denier torch, other than as an extremist marionette performance, generating noxious fumes for his own political aspirations.

Regardless of Youngkin’s own motives, it is now clear that he is incapable of putting Virginians' best interests above his own cynical political ambition. That's presumably why he's wholly outsourced his leadership capacity to his shadow-secretary, former coal lobbyist and President Trump’s EPA lackey, Andrew Wheeler. Either way, both of them are working at the same shovel, to dig their climate denial hole as deep as it can go.

Depressing, yes, but if like me, you’re committed to stopping Youngkin’s shady backdoor machinations, we can: to keep Virginia safe from climate disaster, please urge the VA Air Board to reject Youngkin’s sham “emergency” regulation today.

Related Blogs