Virginia regulators have made environmental history Friday, making the Commonwealth the first southern state to take drastic moves to lower carbon emissions by joining a regional cap and trade program.
State regulators on Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board took a final vote on a cap and trade plan they say will lower emissions by 30-percent over the next ten years.
Nate Benforado, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, says climate change is already affecting Virginia.
“And that’s why today’s vote is so important,” he says. “This is a sensible proven way to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
There’s still a hurdle. Language in the budget, passed by Virginia’s Republican controlled General Assembly, blocks the executive branch from acting independently to tackle climate change by joining a regional cap and trade program.
“The next step is for the Governor to veto a budget provision that’s on his desk right now that’s aimed specifically at thwarting this program,” Benforado adds.
A spokeswoman for Governor Ralph Northam says he applauds the board’s decision. He has until May 3rd to act.