Northam vetoes bill opposing cap-and-trade

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has vetoed legislation aimed at limiting his authority to institute a carbon cap-and-trade plan.

Northam, a Democrat, said Thursday he had killed a bill that requires legislative approval before Virginia can participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program among Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that mandates emission reductions in the power sector.

Northam has made implementing the plan a top priority, saying it's needed to fight climate change. State regulators have said joining RGGI could add significant costs to electric bills.

The governor also vetoed a similar bill related to limiting carbon emissions from cars.

Both bills narrowly passed the GOP-led General Assembly. Republicans have virtually no chance of getting the needed two-thirds majority to override the veto.

Below is Northam's full statement on his veto:

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2611. This bill would prohibit the Governor, local governments, and a majority of those voting in the General Assembly from enacting or entering any regional program to reduce carbon dioxide air pollution from power plants unless explicitly authorized by a super-majority (two-thirds) vote of the General Assembly.

Climate change, extreme weather, and sea level rise endanger public safety, economic vitality and the natural and built environments. To address these challenges and protect the people of Virginia, the Commonwealth must be able to use all available tools to combat climate change.

These tools include the ability to adopt regulations, rules, and guidance that mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing carbon pollution in the Commonwealth. In addition, allowing energy producers to comply with regulation through credit trading would lessen costs to producers and consumers while generating revenue that could be spent to make Virginia more resilient to extreme weather events, sea level rise, and flooding.

We should not be limited in our ability to protect the environment and in turn, the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Further, House Bill 2611 violates two provisions of the Virginia Constitution: Article III, Section 1 (Separation of Powers) and Article IV, Section 11 (Enactment of Laws).

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam