Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Kelly, OAG
HERRING SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDS KEY VIRGINIA CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION PROGRAM AGAINST LEGAL ATTACK
~ Suit had challenged Virginia’ participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which has already generated $80 million for climate resiliency projects ~
RICHMOND —Attorney General Mark R. Herring and his team have successfully defended one of Virginia’s most significant climate change mitigation program—participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—against legal challenge that sought to terminate the regulations that allow the Commonwealth to operate its CO2 Budget Trading Program.
Participation in RGGI has already generated $80 million to support climate change mitigation projects, including helping coastal communities in Hampton Roads protect themselves from sea-level rise and funding energy efficiency programs for low-income communities.
“Climate change is a real and urgent threat to the safety and health of Virginians, and to our continued economic success,” said Attorney General Herring. “Virginia’s CO2 Budget Trading Program is a key component in reducing our carbon pollution while also investing in mitigation and resiliency projects that protect communities from the negative effects of climate change, especially sea-level rise. I’m really proud we were able to protect this central piece of our climate strategy, and I appreciate all the work our environmental attorneys did in this complex and important case.”
In October 2020, the Virginia Manufacturers Association filed suit against the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) asking the Richmond Circuit Court to invalidate, vacate, and declare null and void the regulations that govern Virginia’s CO2 Budget Trading Program, which allows for participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The lawsuit alleged various violations of the Virginia Administrative Process Act and Virginia Constitution.
Attorney General Herring and his team successfully refuted each alleged violation, and in a nine page opinion, Judge Beverly Snukals ruled in favor of the OAG and DEQ, concluding that “DEQ did not violate the VAPA or the Virginia Constitution when it issued the Revised Regulation.”
The case was handled by lawyers in Attorney General Herring’s Environmental Section including lead counsel Assistant Attorney General J. Hess, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Bergin, and Senior Assistant Attorney General/Section Chief David Grandis.
Attorney General Herring has been a consistent champion for protecting the environment and fighting climate change. He wrote an official opinion in 2017 confirming that the Commonwealth had the authority to regulate carbon pollution. He successfully fought back against the Trump Administration’s attempts to gut America’s efforts to combat climate change, including Trump’s efforts to replace the Clean Power Plan and repeal the Clean Car Plan. He filed suit against the EPA to protect the Chesapeake Bay, and has secured the largest environmental damages settlement in Virginia history.
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