New Round of RGGI Investment for Youngkin to Deliver to Va.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration just got a significant shot-in-the-arm -- to the tune of $74 million in investments -- to deliver on his stated priorities of strengthening our state economy and lowering costs-of-living.

Youngkin's Civil Servants Can Protect Virginia Real Estate Values and Human Safety from Sea-level Rise and Extreme Weather Flooding with the Latest Round of RGGI Investment Funding

D. Allen Covey/VDOT

The RGGI cap-and-invest program just held a quarterly auction, at which the biggest polluters finally pay up for the air emissions, that they used to belch into Virginia's air for free. That "cap" part of RGGI, which lowered power plant carbon pollution in Virginia by a stunning 13% in just its first year of operation (2021), has now delivered nearly half a billion dollars (the "invest" part of RGGI). That RGGI funding goes toward chipping away at two of the most costly, vexing challenges facing the Commonwealth: high floodwaters and high electric rates.

Here is the latest investment breakdown:

(1) to help protect our coastal real estate values and the safety of inland communities from extreme weather flooding, Youngkin's Dept. of Conservation and Recreation just got an additional $34 million in additional flood prevention funding (that's the allotment of the $74 million total that is specified in Virginia's RGGI law). The Youngkin administration is charged with protecting Virginians from the devastating threat of rising waters, by deploying these funds through its Community Flood Preparedness Program.

(2) Out of the same recent auction, Youngkin's Dept. of Housing and Community Development now has $37 million in additional energy efficiency funding to lower low-income Virginians’ rising electric bills. Youngkin is charged with using these funds to help defray the third-highest electric rates across the American South, through desperately needed home energy efficiency improvements.

This recent batch of investment proceeds will not of itself turn the tide and completely address flooding or high electric rates (costs that recently shot up by about $20 per month for at least the next three years to pay for the costly fossil fuels RGGI is aimed at phasing out).

And of greater concern, Youngkin has even made various, halting attempts at fruitlessly attacking RGGI, presumably for obscure political donor reasons.

But at least responsible civil servants in his administration, if not Youngkin himself, will now be able to direct another batch of relatively small, but important investments to those Virginia communities that need them most, to protect their real estate, value, human safety, and economic prosperity.  That's good news that Virginians of every stripe can celebrate.  Especially Glenn Youngkin, whether he knows it yet or not.

About the Authors

Walton Shepherd

Virginia Policy Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program

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