SB 21 would enable lawmakers to delay, politicize Clean Power Plan compliance process

Richmond, Va. — This afternoon, the Senate passed Sen. Ben Chafin’s (R - Russell) SB 21, which would require that the General Assembly sign off on Virginia’s plan to comply with Clean Power Plan requirements. Under current law, the executive branch can prepare and submit such a plan without waiting for lawmakers’ approval.

Said Sen. Lynwood Lewis (D - Accomack), “In Hampton Roads and on the Eastern Shore, sea levels are already rising. Recurrent flooding is a fact of life. We have to address climate change, and the Clean Power Plan offers us a reasonable and responsible way to do that. Instead of embracing delay and obstruction, the General Assembly should act.”

Said Sen. Dave Marsden (D - Fairfax), “Climate change endangers every corner of Virginia — not just Hampton Roads. This bill would waste time and taxpayer dollars to prolong a debate that — outside of politics — is already settled. We need to reduce carbon pollution, and further delays won’t help anyone.”

Said Sen. Donald McEachin (D - Henrico), “We have a chance to address climate change in a way that creates jobs and lowers Virginians’ power bills. Instead of embracing that opportunity, my Republican colleagues have voted for pointless politicking and needless delay. I am deeply disappointed in their choice.”


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.

Note that SB 21 carries an expected cost to taxpayers of approximately $350,000.

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