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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

VA General Assembly considers RGGI budget amendments

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024   

Virginia's General Assembly will consider budget amendments to reenter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin pulled the state out of RGGI at the end of 2023, and now experts said the holes in the budget left by RGGI funding going away are not being filled. Money from the program was used to fund climate mitigation work.

Jay Ford, Virginia policy manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said the state saw many benefits when it was part of RGGI.

"We were reducing fossil fuel emissions that were being created here in Virginia," Ford pointed out. "There were some clear reductions as a result of our participation. So, we're improving air quality and we are helping expedite that transition to a clean economy."

Virginia residents mostly favored staying in RGGI, but Youngkin has said the reason for pulling out was in his view, it was a "hidden tax" for ratepayers. Ford estimated homeowners paid around $2 a month from their electric bills for RGGI and argued the trade-offs were worth it.

Between 2021 and 2023, RGGI revenue generated around $828 million for Virginia. Ford thinks not rejoining the initiative could slow down Virginia's ability to reach the Clean Economy Act's climate goals, and warned other effects could be costly to communities.

"On the ground in communities around the state, if we don't get back into RGGI, there's a real potential that the work to prepare the Commonwealth, and prepare our communities for climate impacts, could grind to a halt," Ford contended.

Virginia used RGGI money to help towns and cities fund their climate resilience plans. The state used 25-million RGGI dollars to establish a Climate Resilience Fund. There have been 107 "billion-dollar disasters" since 1980 in Virginia, with long-term costs totaling between $20 billion and $50 billion.


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