Sean Sublette, staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times Dispatch.
by Steve Haner
The Richmond Times-Dispatch weather reporter has entered the political debate over Governor Glenn Youngkin’s efforts to exit the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). But is he really a weather reporter, or a climate warrior?
Sean Sublette’s on-line report on RGGI is packaged as a simple recitation of facts, but it is the selection of which facts to include and exclude that makes it interesting, and he gets many facts wrong. At the start, he makes one central claim which I have disputed: that Virginia entered RGGI “through an act of the General Assembly.”
Virginia entered RGGI through a regulation adopted by the Air Pollution Control Board, which was followed by Virginia signing a contract. The legislature authorized but did not mandate RGGI participation and the carbon tax. It mandated carbon reductions, but not the method. His opening assertion takes a side in the argument, against the current Governor.
Actually this is his opening assertion, after noting that the program exists to reduce carbon dioxide releases: “These gasses are directly tied to observed planetary warming.” From the same level of scientific certainty that brought you cloth masks against a virus.
No one should be surprised that this is his first premise. Sublette came to the newspaper last year from an organization called Climate Central, part of the climate catastrophe-industrial complex that promotes the wind and solar industries. Here’s a pretty typical example of his output there, this on “the hottest global year on record.” Continue reading
by Steve Haner
Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) is seeking to get Virginia out of a regional carbon tax compact, yet inexplicably has offered supporters of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) a path to protect it.
His proposal would remove the tax on monthly electric bills which has galvanized opposition and move the cost of the mandated carbon allowances into the base rates of Dominion Energy Virginia. If somebody told Youngkin that was a benefit to the taxpayers, he was misled. It still costs us money.
Who benefits from his move, especially if it becomes a long-term approach? The utility does, as it is still using ratepayer money, and also the various special interest spending programs now being supported with the RGGI taxes. The state collected $228 million last year and will likely collect $300 million in 2022.
The proposal is in the form of a budget amendment to House and Senate Bills 29, the so-called “caboose” bill that makes amendments to the budget now in force. As a language amendment to the caboose bill, if adopted, it technically would expire as of June 30, 2022.
The danger, and do not think for a moment I’m the first to see this, is that the amendment could migrate to House and Senate Bills 30, the new budget, and be in force from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2024. By then, the RGGI tax costs would be established as a regular cost of doing business. It would reduce the excess profits that fund the customer rebates like those the State Corporation Commission just ordered and reduce the chance future excess profits might spark a rate cut. Continue reading
The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative compact.
by Steve Haner
First published today by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) will proceed to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon tax compact by the same route Virginia entered it: he will push to repeal the underlying regulation.
As with much else in his promised “Day One” agenda, it will actually take time. What he gave Virginia on Day One was an executive order outlining the coming steps, which still must follow the letter of Virginia’s administrative process rules. Regulations are created, amended and repealed routinely.
His administration will also notify the RGGI organization of Virginia’s intent to withdraw, a step contemplated and allowed under the governing memorandum of understanding.
It was a vote of the Air Pollution Control Board, citing authority over airborne carbon dioxide emissions, that implemented the cap and trade rules that require electric power producers to buy carbon allowances. That allowance cost is then passed on to power customers, in the case of Dominion Energy Virginia customers, directly on every month’s bill. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
Not every policy imposed by government is subject to public hearings or votes. That’s one reason to vote for smart candidates who have the country’s best interests at heart and not for those who rant about personal liberty without accepting any social responsibility for individual decisions.
That was part of a response I received by email from somebody who read Friday’s post on the Air Pollution Control Board’s new regulation which ties Virginia’s auto market to emissions rules promulgated by California. I had noted how the state’s usual and statutory requirements for notice and comment had been bypassed on the orders of the General Assembly.
Clearly this reader thought that was just fine, which floored me. My respondent was a member of the working news media. If anybody should be standing up for transparency and public participation, it would be news reporters, editors and producers, right? Not this person, not on this issue. (I’ll withhold the name.)
The comments from a “journalist” about “smart candidates” versus “those who rant about personal liberty” speak for themselves. Note they would apply equally to COVID mitigations and efforts to eliminate carbon dioxide, with disdain poured on skeptics in either case. It was a refreshingly honest admission that explains the selective coverage we must wade through on so many issues. It came at a time when I was already shaking my head over the media coverage of Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to exit the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Continue reading
The RGGI member states.
By Steve Haner
First published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin told a business audience Wednesday afternoon that he intends to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. His decision came two days after Dominion Energy Virginia filed a petition to increase the RGGI tax on its bills by 83% next year.
“RGGI describes itself as a regional market for carbon,” Youngkin told a meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. “But it is really a carbon tax that is fully passed on to ratepayers. It is a bad deal for Virginians. It is a bad deal for business and as governor, I will withdraw us from RGGI by executive action. I promised to lower the cost of living in Virginia and this is just the beginning.”
The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy sought to dissuade the state from joining RGGI and imposing this carbon tax and has reported often on the development and imposition of Dominion’s bill adder to collect it. We applaud this decision, knowing that Youngkin may face a struggle to implement it.
Virginia has been part of the interstate tax, cap and trade compact for a year now. Every large electrical generating facility in the state must buy allowances in a multi-state auction equal to the number of tons of carbon dioxide its operations will emit. With the only large fleet of Virginia coal and gas generators, this is basically about Dominion Energy Virginia and its 2.6 million customer accounts. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
Californians were again this week under an electricity “flex alert,” a conservation order required because of its reliance on unreliable solar and wind energy. They often cannot keep up with demand on the hotter days. Is this Virginia’s future? The government is telling Californians:
- Set your thermostat at 78° or higher
- Avoid using major appliances
- Turn off unnecessary lights
- Use fans for cooling
- Unplug unused items.
The return of this power shortfall comes just days before Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall vote, with this growing crisis being cited by some of his opponents. It is also a distant cloud on Virginia’s horizon as early voting begins here next week in the elections for statewide offices and the House of Delegates.
Virginia has rushed to copy California’s climate-fear and rent-seeking driven solar and wind energy scheme. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
Virginia has collected its first wave of carbon taxes from the state’s electricity generators, costs which will eventually show up on future bills. The $43.6 million take just about doubles the revenue estimates used when participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was being approved by the Virginia General Assembly last year. Surprise! Continue reading
by Steve Haner
If Bacon’s Rebellion at times has been “Dominion Pravda,” providing a window into that corporate giant’s C suite, our friends at the Virginia Mercury sometimes take the opposite role of “Environmental People’s Daily.”
Its story today is a good example, for what it includes and what it does not. The long, detailed and worthwhile summary of energy and environment issues coming to the 2020 General Assembly has a glaring omission. It makes no reference to the Transportation and Climate Initiative. If anybody could get a straight answer out of the Northam Administration, you’d think it would be Virginia Mercury. The silence is deafening and perhaps significant.
At some point soon somebody has to say something, wouldn’t you think? In others states in the proposed interstate compact, governors are being pinned down, actual TCI bills are pending, legislators are taking positions, coalitions are forming. This will have to happen in Virginia soon if the organizers of TCI want their proposed memorandum of understanding signed by enough states to actually impose the carbon caps and taxes by 2022. Continue reading
by Steve Haner
The Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources will be the sugar daddy for the carbon tax dollars raised from electricity customers, according to pending legislation to fully enroll Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) next year.
House Bill 20, sponsored by Norfolk Democrat Joe Lindsey, is similar (with some changes) to 2019 legislation which died on a partisan vote when Republicans controlled the General Assembly. Now that power has shifted the bill’s chances of passage are excellent. It has several unusual provisions and may hint at how the related Transportation and Climate Initiative will be implemented in Virginia. Continue reading
By Steve Haner
In this politically sensitive moment, they don’t call it “cap and tax” but instead “cap and invest.” Yet, the recently released draft Transportation and Climate Initiative proposal fits a Bacon’s Rebellion prediction in March that next they would be coming to tax your SUV.
Reducing CO2 emissions from electric power plants with a cap and tax scheme is not enough, of course. More of those dread emissions (you and I call it exhaling) come from vehicles, despite rapid improvements in engine efficiency and alternatives to fossil fuel combustion. The Northam Administration has Virginia fully engaged. Legislation to require General Assembly approval for this regional compact was vetoed.
The RGGI states, with New Jersey, which rejoined in June.
by Steve Haner
With an eye on November 5, Virginia’s Republican legislators are expressing their concern for Virginia’s electricity customers and warning that their Democratic competitors will support a new energy carbon tax if they gain the majority. The carbon tax is a key element of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
In media releases and, of course, Tweets, the simple message is “Higher Taxes on Energy. Democrats Say Yes. Republicans Say No.” The key evidence provided is State Corporation Commission staff testimony (here), first made generally available on Bacon’s Rebellion, and a recent summary on the issue I wrote for the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy (here). We took a stand against joining RGGI.
That RGGI white paper has been in process all summer, and it was pure coincidence that it surfaced just as many Democrats were showing their concern for consumers by opposing a higher profit margin for Dominion Energy Virginia. Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia bill breakdown, for 1,000 kWh of residential service. Base rates were recently reduced by the federal tax cuts, and fuel fluctuates, but rate adjustment clauses (RACs) proliferate and grow, with more to come. Source: SCC
by Steve Haner
There is no sign, nine weeks out from the big General Assembly election, that the arcane and obscure field of electricity regulation is going to change any votes or win any elections in Virginia in 2019. There is plenty to debate if anybody wanted to in two recent reports now public at the SCC and linked below.
The State Corporation Commission just issued yet another report that Dominion Energy Virginia is reaping massive excess profits, more than half a billion dollars in 2017 and 2018 combined. There is very little chance that the company’s 2.45 million customer accounts (about two thirds of Virginia customers) will see any refunds or price reductions as a result. Prediction number one: The company keeps it all come the 2021 review and base rates do not change. Continue reading
Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is now fully authorized under a new state regulation, and the deadline to appeal that regulation has now passed with no appeal filed. The text of the regulation is here.
Language inserted by General Assembly Republicans into the current state budget merely puts RGGI membership and its related carbon tax on hold. It did not overturn the regulation, which went into effect June 26. The outcome of the November election will likely determine whether that roadblock remains in place beyond next summer, when the current budget provisions expire. Continue reading
Dominion Energy Virginia is taking advantage of its annual, and usually boring, fuel cost review to move the cost of any future carbon tax or emissions allowances out of its fixed base rates and into its variable fuel charge. If the State Corporation Commission agrees it could either lower or raise your bill someday but place your bets on the latter.
The case (here) has also drawn testimony that Dominion has so much natural gas capacity under contract in existing pipelines that it is selling the excess capacity to others – about 25 percent of it, in the case of the Transco pipeline. It needs no more capacity, according to a witness hired by environmental groups.
UPDATE: Through a Twitter response I’m told that Dominion has notified other parties it will withdraw the request to place any future CO2 costs into the fuel charge, and the document I missed has been flagged. So the “is” in the lede paragraph is now a “was.” I’ll leave the story up because it remains something to watch. Continue reading
The Hon. Robert Inglis
There is a hotbed of carbon tax advocacy at George Mason University, led by a former GOP congressman sent packing by South Carolina voters because he’s ready to tax them into loving solar and wind. Continue reading