This week’s newsletter discusses the legal challenge presented to Youngkin’s efforts to pull Virginia out of RGGI, shares information about our upcoming Town Hall: “Supporting LGBTQ+ Students and Families,” talks about upcoming back-to-school events, and highlights select community engagements and events from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter and for staying informed.
Youngkin Pulls Virginia Out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
This past June, the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board voted 4–3 to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The vote was a last-ditch effort by Glenn Youngkin to abandon the regional carbon emissions-reducing program; his prior efforts to make this maneuver through legislation and through budget amendments had all been defeated by Senate Democrats.
On Monday, as soon as the Virginia Register published the final regulatory action that will remove Virginia from RGGI by the end of the year, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) immediately challenged the legality of Youngkin’s maneuver. The SELC, on behalf of Appalachian Voices, the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, and Virginia Interfaith Power and Light served the responsible officials (the Air Pollution Control Board, the Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ], and DEQ Director Michael Rolband) with a notice of appeal.
In a statement released by SELC, Peter Anderson, Director of State Energy Policy for Appalachian Voices states, “Members of the Air Pollution Control Board were repeatedly informed that they did not have the authority to reverse a legislative mandate for Virginia to participate in RGGI — only the General Assembly has that authority. They acted anyway, ignoring the law and all of the benefits that Virginia has gained from RGGI.”
Simply put, Virginia’s participation in RGGI is not a “regulation” over which Youngkin has authority; the Commonwealth’s participation in RGGI is a matter of law, established through legislation by the General Assembly. Removing Virginia from RGGI can only come from similar legislative action.
SELC’s serving of the notice of appeal is a legal formality informing the named parties that a lawsuit is coming. The actual lawsuit, which will detail the legal arguments further, will be filed within 30 days in the Fairfax County Circuit Court.
I will be providing more updates as the lawsuit is filed and progresses through the circuit court. With the visible effects of climate change and global warming increasingly more apparent, reducing carbon emissions is not a choice – it’s our collective responsibility for the future of our children and grandchildren. Science, data, and sound research are not matters of opinion, and putting profit over people is not a sustainable path.
Supporting LGBTQ+ Students & Families Town Hall
On Wednesday, August 16, I will be hosting a town hall with the ACLU of Virginia, Equality Virginia, other organizations, and parent advocates. Our focus will be on the Youngkin Administration’s newly-released model policies on the treatment of transgender students in our public schools. We will discuss the history of these policies, legal challenges, and supportive resources for students and families.
The town hall is open to the public, but registration is required:
Date: August 16, 2023
Time: 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Location: Brightpoint Community College, Chester Campus
Back to School - Supply Drives & Distributions
Some Richmond City students have already returned to school, and all students are returning in the coming weeks. Ongoing backpack and school supplies drives ensure that students are prepared for a successful academic year. Many locations across the Greater Richmond Area are participating in backpack and school supplies drives:
The Richmond Executive-Chesterfield County Airport is hosting a community school supplies drive for Chesterfield County Public School students. Donations are currently being accepted at several locations around the county (listed below) through Friday, August 11.
Backpack and supplies distributions are also occurring across the district. This Saturday, August 5, from 10:00am until 2:00pm, families can visit Manchester Middle School to receive new school supplies during the ICNA Relief Back 2 School Distribution. This Sunday, August 6, from 3:00pm until 7:00pm, New Life Outreach Church will hold their Annual Backpack Giveaway, providing backpacks, supplies, and free haircuts to students while supplies last.
Back to School - Immunization Clinics
August is National Immunization Month, and school districts and the Virginia Department of Health are reminding families to get school-age children vaccinated through their #FirstDayVax campaign. It’s important for all children to be up-to-date on their vaccinations by following the Virginia Department of Health’s Vaccination Schedule. Back-to-school immunization clinics and appointments are available at local health department locations, including the Richmond-Henrico Health District and the Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, and Powhatan Health District. More information can be found on the VDH Back to School page.
Highlights from Community Events & Meetings
Connecting With My Office