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Virginia moving forward with cap-and-trade plan soon after Democratic win

by John Siciliano

Virginia is moving forward with climate change regulations that could mean the expansion of a 10-state cap-and-trade system extending from Massachusetts to Maryland.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will begin presenting its draft greenhouse gas program next week to the state’s pollution board for approval to create the state’s first cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Most climate scientists blame greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels for raising the temperature of the Earth, resulting in potentially catastrophic flooding, drought, and more severe weather overall.

The Democratic Party’s victory on Tuesday in the governor’s race appears to have cemented the move toward climate regulations, with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam beating Republican challenger Ed Gillespie.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, had initiated a process to create a greenhouse gas system after President Trump decided to scrap the Obama administration’s climate change regulations this year.

Now it appears that process will continue under Northam, with Virginia likely joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to become the 11th member of the multi-state cap-and-trade system.

Virginia regulators said the plan will be presented to the state’s Air Pollution Control Board on Nov. 16.

The greenhouse gas initiative, or RGGI, put out a statement Thursday welcoming “Virginia’s progress towards establishing a market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation.”

The state’s move is seen as the first step toward joining the pact. An RGGI official confirmed that the initiative has been in talks with the state.