Proposed Carbon Emissions Re-Regulation Moves Forward

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Posted: Monday, November 5, 2018 7:50 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- At the State Air Pollution Control Board meeting held in Richmond, the Board approved the recommendation of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to promulgate a revised regulation to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide from fossil fuel fired electric power facilities in Virginia. The Board authorized a 30-day public comment period to receive feedback on the restructured regulation. The comment period on the proposed regulation is expected to begin early in 2019 after Executive review.

Based on recent air modeling that shows a more favorable forecast for current emissions, DEQ is proposing an initial CO2 base budget of 28 million tons beginning in 2020 which would result in more stringent regulation of CO2 emissions. The revision proposes a base of 28 million tons instead of a base of 33 or 34 million tons and would result in an additional 5 million tons of carbon eliminated by 2030. Subsequent annual CO2 budgets will continue to decline by three percent a year similar to the original proposal.

"DEQ recommended this revision to the original proposal based on important information we gathered from our modeling that warrants serious consideration," said DEQ Director David Paylor. "While not changing the nature of the proposal, this revision is a more aggressive approach to reducing carbon pollution. We are pleased the Board approved moving forward to receive additional public comment before considering final action on the regulation."

The modeling, based on DEQ data specific to Virginia and data provided by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, indicates an increase in renewable energy and energy efficiency coming on line by than previously assumed. Virginia utilities are expected to participate in RGGI, the regional carbon cap-and-trade program covering fossil-fuel fired electric generating units in nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States.

The Board anticipates voting on the proposal at its meeting in the Spring of 2019.

In June 2016, then Governor Terry McAuliffe issued Executive Order 57 directing the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a work group to develop recommendations to reduce Virginia's carbon emissions under existing state authority. Six meetings, 40 presentations, a three-month public comment period, and 3,000 comments later, the work group submitted a report to the governor proposing recommendations, including a regulation to limit carbon dioxide emission from power plants and that Virginia join the RGGI.

In May 2017, Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Directive 11 directing DEQ to develop a proposed regulation for the board's consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities. In November 2017, in accordance with ED-11, DEQ presented and the Board approved, a proposed carbon cap-and-trade rule for new and existing fossil-fuel electric power generating facilities that was both under existing board authority and linkable to the RGGI program.

The State Air Pollution Control Board considers the adoption, amendment or repeal of regulations and may consider the issuance or amendment of some permits. Regulations concern the control and reduction of air pollution in specific areas and throughout the commonwealth. DEQ administers day-to-day operations of Virginia's air pollution programs, issues permits and enforces regulations as delegated by Virginia law.

SOURCE: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

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