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Compromise budget doesn't include RGGI provisions

Demonstrators in Richmond rally to support RGGI
Appalachian Voices
In this 2022 photo, demonstrators in Richmond rallied to support RGGI.

Lawmakers came back to Richmond Monday for a special session to approve a budget. And the compromise does not include money for an environmental priority of the Democrats.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – largely known as RGGI – is a multistate effort to combat climate change. Many Democrats were hoping that the budget would include a requirement for Virginia to be part of the group, but that was not in the final budget compromise.

Delegate Michael Webert is a Republican from Fauquier County who says that was the right move for lawmakers and the governor.

"If you’re talking about covering our good, farmable land in solar, then I don't think that's a good thing either," Webert says. "Personally, I can eat a steak; I can't eat a solar panel."

Senator Creigh Deeds is a Democrat from Charlottesville who says he fought against leaving RGGI out of the budget.

"There was a lot of pressure within the conference committee to give in to the governor's demand and get a budget passed," Deeds explains.

“Sounds like you disagree with that,” replies Reporter Michael Pope.

"I disagreed," Deeds says. "I was a voice at the end that was very much in opposition to that. But I lost that argument."

Deeds and other Democrats who want Virginia to be part of the multistate environmental initiative to fight climate change say they’re hopeful that the next governor might have a different opinion about the best way to fight climate change. And there’s still a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s withdrawal from the program.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.