General Assembly interference could delay lower bills, new jobs, and environmental benefits

RICHMOND — This afternoon, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources voted along party lines to report a bill that would require the General Assembly to approve any plan to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Under current law, the state can prepare and submit such a plan without waiting for lawmakers’ go-ahead.

Said Sen. Donald McEachin (D - Henrico), “The Clean Power Plan offers us a chance to create jobs, improve efficiency, and lower energy bills — all while helping to address climate change. I’m deeply disappointed that the committee is seeking to politicize and delay what should be a straightforward process.”

Said Sen. Dave Marsden (D - Fairfax), “The coal industries and coal counties have resisted renewable energy, which would be the very thing today that would offset carbon produced by our current coal plants. A well-designed compliance plan will reduce emissions in a way that creates jobs and lowers costs for families. Involving politicians is, at best, a recipe for needless delay. The General Assembly should stand aside and allow the existing process to work.”


The Clean Power Plan is the Obama administration’s initiative to reduce heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing power plants, which are a major driver of climate change. All states are required to submit a plan to meet a specific reduction target; under current law, Virginia can prepare and submit such a plan without waiting for the General Assembly’s approval. If the GOP-controlled legislature were to involve itself, and if Republicans were to block any compliance plan from moving forward, a plan would eventually be imposed by the federal government.

Studies suggest that a well-designed Clean Power Plan compliance plan could create jobs and lower power bills in Virginia. A Natural Resources Defense Council brief documenting potential environmental and economic benefits of CPP compliance is available here.

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