By staff and wire reports
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday a state plan to limit carbon emissions from power plants, a plan that U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., labeled as a "cap and trade" ploy by the governor .
McAuliffe, a Democrat, signed an executive order Tuesday that begins developing regulations on carbon emissions. He says the federal government has abdicated its job fighting climate change.
Griffith, who represents Virginia's 9th Congressional District, said McAuliffe's executive order is an an attempt to shut down coal mines and coal-fired power plants.
"The action outlined in the executive order is basically a cap and trade plan that will allow the government and radical environmentalists to punish coal mining and shut down coal-fired power plants," Griffith said.
Griffith said those pushing for cap and trade ignore the facts that renewable energy cannot yet provide reliable and affordable energy for all American families and businesses.
"Previously, President Obama attempted to implement cap and trade, but American voters pushed back," Griffith said. "Apparently, the governor will now try. These cap and trade type efforts may drive electricity rates higher and can undermine the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid, negatively impacting families, businesses, hospitals, and schools in Virginia. Investing in technology to use coal cleaner, and make all energy more affordable, is a more realistic approach without the job killing regulations.”
President Donald Trump has promised to scrap the Clean Power Plan, a centerpiece of former President Barack Obama's efforts to reduce emissions.
McAuliffe's announcement was hailed by environmentalists, who helped the governor get elected in 2013 but have been mixed on his record in office.
“The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it," McAuliffe said Tuesday. "Once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs. As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void. Beginning today, Virginia will lead the way to cut carbon and lean in on the clean energy future.”
The governor, who has not been able to score major wins with the GOP-controlled General Assembly, has increasingly turned to executive action to further his policy goals.