Republicans in Virginia are working to block or undo climate action and clean energy development on multiple fronts. For the second consecutive year, Republicans in the commonwealth’s legislature seek to undo Virginia’s adoption of California’s vehicle emissions standards, as well as its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state “cap-and-invest” market.
Virginia’s participation in RGGI has reduced carbon pollution from power plants 12% each of the last two years. Virginia achieved these pollution reductions even as electricity-hungry data centers proliferated — an estimated 70% of global internet traffic flows through the tubes around the Washington DC suburbs and data centers consumed close to 12,000 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2020. Meanwhile, GOP Gov. Glenn Younkin has blocked plans for a $3.5 billion Ford EV battery factory in Virginia’s Southside region that would have brought 2,500 jobs to one of the state’s poorest areas — a move critics say was motivated by Younkin’s presidential ambitions.
“To deny [people in the community] jobs because you’re in last place in Republican presidential primaries [is] gubernatorial malpractice,” Democratic State Sen. Scott Surovell told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I mean, this is clearly just obvious to me that the governor’s in some kind of out-China-bashing-contest with [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis and Governor Greg Abbott out of Texas.” (GOP efforts: Virginia Mercury; RGGI & data centers: Energy News Network; Ford plant: Richmond Times-Dispatch)