Pricing Carbon in Virginia?

I am speaking on my own behalf. My remarks have not been authorized by nor do they reflect the position of any organization with which I have ever been associated.

I support adoption of Executive Directive 11 (ED 11), which directs the State Air Pollution Control Board to regulate carbon emissions in Virginia through a cap and trade program. I further support the regulation’s requirement that Virginia join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) as the most efficient way to price carbon in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Virginia Sierra Club has provided statistics showing both the need for this rule and the economic and health benefits to be derived.

However Sierra Club has omitted a key fact–namely that the General Assembly is owned by Dominion Resources, which will see to it that any carbon emissions regulation contemplated by the Pollution Control Board proves a dead letter. To those who doubt that Dominion has purchased the best legislature that money can buy, a few statistics should suffice.

According to Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), Dominion donated almost $1 million to political causes in Virginia in 2017, including $369,000 to Republicans, $317,000 to Democrats, $175,000 to Senate candidates and caucuses, and $210,000 to HOD candidates and caucuses.

These numbers are daunting, and it’s testimony to the fortitude of the State Air Pollution Control Board and DEQ, not to mention the environmental lobby, that they are still pushing ED 11. Perhaps they think that they can do an end run around the General Assembly by appealing to the Governor. In that case, they will derive cold comfort from the fact that in 2017 Dominion Resources contributed $165,000 to the gubernatorial candidates including–$55,000 to Ed Gillespie and $100,000 to Ralph Northam.

The Virginia League of Conservation voters was a big promoter of Ralph Northam—pouring $2.75 million—much of it bankrolled by out of state billionaires–into his campaign. But Dominion’s numbers suggest that if anything, Gillespie, who unabashedly promoted fracked gas, would have been no less receptive to emissions regulation than Northam.

According to Sierra Club’s Ivy Main, the General Assembly is likely to respond to ED 11 by enacting a constitutional amendment allowing it to overturn state regulations on simple majority vote.

At that point, I think it would be prudent for the enviros in this state to reconsider their policy of shilling for the Democrats and back some independent candidates who pledge to refuse Dominion’s money.