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Environmental groups aren't a fan of Governor Youngkin's energy plan

FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin works in the old Governor's office at the Capitol Wednesday March 2, 2022, in Richmond, Va
Steve Helber
FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin works in the old Governor's office at the Capitol Wednesday March 2, 2022, in Richmond, Va

Environmentalists are taking issue with the governor's new energy plan that keeps fossil fuels in the mix, while also growing alternative sources like nuclear.

During their brief period in power at the General Assembly, Democrats were able to push through a major environmental law called the Clean Economy Act. Now, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin wants to reconsider that legislation, potentially pulling back on the goal of ditching fossil fuels. However, he's facing a Democratic Senate that would probably put a stop to that.

Kim Jemaine at Virginia Advanced Energy Economy says the governor has other ways of taking action.

"As we've seen with RGGI, the governor has utilized other means, like regulatory processes and executive orders, to signal his goals," Jemaine explains.

Michael Town at the League of Conservation Voters says that he doubts the governor will have much luck trying to reconsider the Clean Economy Act, and he doesn't really think that was the point of the new energy plan anyway.

"Rather than actually developing a plan that helps make sure that Virginia is on the right trajectory, this governor seems to want to play politics and make his MAGA base happy by attacking clean energy rather than actually addressing the real problems facing Virginia today," Town says.

Environmental groups say their chief concern is with the State Corporation Commission, Virginia's chief regulatory body. They say they're worried that the governor might find a way to strong arm regulators.

A spokeswoman for the governor says protecting the environment is a priority for Youngnkin.

"The governor's prioritization of environmental stewardship is evidenced by the fact that it's one of the pillars of the plan," said Macaulay Porter, spokeswoman for the governor.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Updated: October 10, 2022 at 2:39 PM EDT
This story has been updated to include a statement from a spokeswoman for the governor.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.