RICHMOND — This afternoon, Senate Democrats upheld a veto that came down from the Governor’s Mansion on Senator Ben Chafin’s (R-Russell) SB21, which would have prevented the executive branch from implementing a Virginia-specific plan in line with the federal Clean Power Plan. Nevertheless, the corresponding House bill, Delegate Israel O’Quinn’s (R-Bristol) HB2, passed the Senate shortly thereafter. Both votes were party line.

Said Senator Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax), “This is about science, not politics. When it comes to clean air, when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, we need to adopt a science-based approach. Virginians are already being affected by the negative impact of climate change and we need to stop kicking the can down the road.”

Said Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke), “My colleagues on the other side of the aisle keep trying to put up barriers to any action on climate change, to the detriment of our fellow Virginians who face sea level rise and extreme weather patterns. We need to act now, and we need to support our Governor as he works to do just that.”


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 HB 2 carries an expected cost to taxpayers of approximately $350,000.

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