Governor McAuliffe Takes Executive Action to Reduce Carbon Emissions Across Virginia
~“Clean Energy Virginia” initiative will cap greenhouse gases and grow Virginia’s clean energy economy~
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed Executive Directive 11, which instructs the Department of Environmental Quality to begin the process of establishing regulations in Virginia that will reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
“Today, I am proud to take executive action to cut greenhouse gases and make Virginia a leader in the global clean energy economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it. Once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs. As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void. Beginning today, Virginia will lead the way to cut carbon and lean in on the clean energy future.”
The directive follows Executive Order 57, which required the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a work group to study and recommend methods to reduce carbon emissions and build Virginia’s clean energy economy. Executive Directive 11 is designed to ensure Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” and includes a structure that enforces carbon-reduction mechanisms.
Virginia is already experiencing the effects of climate change in its coastal regions due to rising sea levels. The threat from frequent storm surges and flooding could cost the Commonwealth close to $100 billion dollars for residential property alone. The impacts extend far beyond our coast, as half of Virginia’s counties face increased risk of water shortages by 2050 resulting from climate-related weather shifts.
“As a Virginia-headquartered company, Mars applauds Governor McAuliffe’s new regulatory action to reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy and efficiency,” said Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars Global Director of Sustainability. “At Mars, we believe climate change is real, and business and government need to work together to address it. This action by Governor McAuliffe is timely and critical to achieve a clean and efficient energy transition.”
Since the beginning of the McAuliffe Administration, the Commonwealth has seen an increase from just 17 megawatts of solar installed to more than 1,800 megawatts of solar currently in service or under development. Revenues in the rapidly growing clean energy sector have risen from $300 million to $1.5 billion between 2014 and 2016. In the last year alone, solar installations have risen nearly 1,200 percent. The number of Virginians employed by the solar industry rose 65 percent to 3,236 – twice the number of jobs supported by coal.
“There are currently thousands of Virginians employed in the renewable energy sector, with close to 200 solar energy companies alone,” said Danny Van Clief, Chief Commercial Officer of Coronal Energy. “Governor McAuliffe’s action today serves as an important call to re-double our efforts to work with our utility, corporate, and municipal partners to expand the clean, affordable, and reliable electric grid of the 21st century.”
According to analysis by The Solar Foundation, the Commonwealth is now second in the Southeast and ninth in the nation for year-over-year solar growth. And as of 2017, Virginia is first in the Southeast for corporate clean energy procurement.
“Governor McAuliffe’s action today is a significant step forward for lung health,” said Deborah Brown, President and CEO of American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “Carbon pollution from power plants leads to warmer temperatures, which enhances conditions for ozone and particle pollution, wildfires, and longer allergy seasons. We look forward to working with Governor McAuliffe and his administration to ensure that communities across Virginia are protected.”
“The national security community considers climate change a ‘threat multiplier’ to our facilities and capabilities here in the United States, to our ability to operate overseas, and to the global stability and security of governments, populations, and environments,” said Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, United States Navy (retired). “Actions like those outlined today by Governor McAuliffe are of critical importance in Virginia to stabilize our environment, to guarantee our ability to execute our national security strategy, and to fulfill our responsibility to our citizens and our global partners.”