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Virginia House approves bill to boost transparency when judges get punished



A proposal to make more information public when Virginia judges violate ethics rules passed the House of Delegates Friday on a bipartisan vote.

Currently, almost all records of the state’s Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission (JIRC) are kept strictly confidential unless they involve a proven breach serious enough to rise to the Supreme Court of Virginia for a formal censure or removal from the bench.

Each year, the seven-member commission files a report detailing how many complaints about judges it received. But those reports aren’t required to identify which judges were disciplined, what rules they broke, or their punishment. The bill sponsored by Del. Wren Williams, R-Patrick, would instruct the commission to include that information in future reports.

“Obviously, we appoint judges and keep tabs on how they’re doing,” Williams said as he presented his bill to a legislative committee.

The bill was approved by a 67-31 vote, with most Democrats in the no column but more than a dozen voting yes. The opposition appeared to be more about Williams’ conduct the day before the vote rather than the substance of his bill.

On Thursday, Williams refused to yield the floor to take a question about the JIRC bill from Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, bucking the tradition of engaging colleagues who may be seeking clarity, debate, or technical fixes to a piece of legislation.

“I just thought that we should include retired judges in the bill,” Mullin said in an interview Friday.

Retired Virginia judges are frequently called in to hear cases from which active judges have recused themselves. It’s a common practice in politically sensitive cases involving sitting legislators because the General Assembly has the power to hire, promote and fire active judges.

When told why Democrats had opposed a bill that received unanimous support in committee, Williams insisted his bill already covered retired judges.

“It actually includes anybody who has ever taken the judge’s oath and is going to sit on the bench,” Williams said.

Whichever interpretation is correct, the bill can be amended when it passes over to the state Senate. In the other chamber, Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, has filed a similar JIRC transparency bill that has not yet been heard.

Complaints against judges rarely lead to formal punishment. In 2022, the commission received a total of 415 complaints, and 402 were dismissed. The vast majority of complaints were dismissed for either failing to fall under the commission’s jurisdiction or failing to allege a specific violation of the Canons of Judicial Conduct, the state’s official rulebook for judges. The commission determined a breach occurred in five cases, but all five of those cases were also dismissed, according to the body’s annual report.

Raymond F. Morrogh, commission counsel for JIRC, explained in an email last month that “some matters may not be of sufficient gravity to constitute the basis for a judge’s retirement, removal, or censure.”

“Where breaches of the Canons may be minor, it is conceivable that a matter may be resolved without resort to a formal hearing or the filing of a complaint in the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Virginia,” Morrogh said.

The Canons of Judicial Conduct deal with a wide array of issues, including judges’ fairness and impartiality, diligence about avoiding conflicts of interest, gifts and other favors, and the use of social media.

Most complaints against judges come from the general public, but some originate with lawyers, court employees, and other judges.

Williams’ bill would only require disclosure when a breach is substantiated and results in discipline, which would prevent frivolous or unproven accusations from being made public.

“It’s a very small universe of people,” said Robert Tracci, a senior attorney in the office of Attorney General Jason Miyares, referring to the number of judges likely to be identified under the proposed law. “And it does promote transparency in government.”

The attorney general’s office has called for more openness in the judicial discipline process, a proposal that seemed to take on new urgency because of its connection to Republican efforts to investigate the actions of a former chair of the Virginia Parole Board who’s now serving as a judge in Virginia Beach.

Bennett, whom Miyares has accused of abusing her Parole Board powers and breaking the law in a rush to release inmates in early 2020, was suspended from her role as a judge in the Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in 2021. Media outlets’ efforts to figure out what she was disciplined for have been unsuccessful due to the secretive nature of the process.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch filed a legal petition seeking to have the disciplinary records unsealed. Still, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued a split opinion last year that kept most of the documents confidential.

“From the start, Judge Bennett made clear that she did not want anyone but us to see the reason why JIRC had suspended her,” Supreme Court Justices D. Arthur Kelsey and Teresa M. Chafin wrote in a dissenting opinion. “The majority holds that Judge Bennett has a statutory right to keep that information secret and that the public has no constitutional right to break the seal of secrecy.”

In 2021, JIRC reported receiving 395 complaints. Only one was ruled a breach of judicial conduct and not dismissed.


by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Youngkin signs bill creating $300 tax credit for gun safes



Firearm safety is about to get a little more affordable in Virginia after Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bipartisan bill creating a $300 tax credit meant to reimburse people who buy gun safes or other lockable gun containers.

The legislation approved by the governor last week was the only gun safety measure that passed the politically divided General Assembly, drawing broad support as a small step to encourage gun safety without imposing any new rules on gun owners.

“This bill is not about requiring people to do anything,” Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, the bill’s sponsor, said at a committee hearing earlier this year. “It’s not about banning anything. It’s not taking anything away. This bill simply gives a tax credit to try and incentivize something that many law-abiding gun owners already do.”

[Read more: Most gun storage bills appear doomed in Virginia General Assembly]

The nonrefundable credit can be claimed on state tax returns starting in the 2024 tax season. It can only be applied to eligible equipment purchases from federally licensed firearm dealers. The credit cannot be applied to the costs of purchasing a firearm itself.

In a rare show of cross-factional unity on gun policy, the legislation was backed by both the National Rifle Association and gun control groups like Giffords, Brady, and Everytown for Gun Safety.

The total amount of tax credits allowable under the new law is capped at $5 million per year. According to the legislation, the credit will be granted on a “first-come, first-served basis.”


by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Youngkin administration now requires felons to apply to get their voting rights back



In a shift from Virginia’s last three governors, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration is requiring people with felony convictions to proactively apply to regain their voting rights upon release from prison and is not automatically restoring rights for any group of offenders.

In a letter sent to a Democratic state senator this week in response to questions about an apparent slowdown in the pace of rights restoration grants after Youngkin took office, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kay Coles James said the administration’s policy is to give former inmates an application upon release that explains how they can ask for their civil rights back.

“Our website was updated to include that application are considered individually and not granted on an automatic basis,” Coles James, whose office oversees rights restoration, wrote Wednesday to Sen. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake, who chairs the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.

The Virginia Constitution gives governors broad authority to set their own policies in granting or rejecting rights restoration requests. On Thursday, the Youngkin administration would not elaborate on the governor’s specific criteria to make those decisions.

Spruill promised to “fight back against the rollback of these rights.”

“Once you have served your time, your rights should be restored for non-violent felons. Period,” Spruill said in a written statement. “I will fight against this secret process and secret set of rules that the governor is using to decide who can be denied the right to vote.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, which supports a less strict rights restoration system, said the Youngkin administration “appears content to leave Virginians in the dark.”

“The Youngkin administration’s failure to disclose the criteria by which it will review incarcerated people’s applications for the restoration of their voting rights is hugely concerning,” said ACLU of Virginia Policy Director Ashna Khanna.

Virginia is one of just a few states with a constitutional rule that automatically disenfranchises people with felony convictions unless a governor chooses to restore their rights.

Youngkin restored rights to more than 4,300 Virginians in his first year in office, according to an annual report on criminal justice clemency actions. That’s roughly in line with how many rights restorations former  Democratic Govs. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner granted in their entire four-year terms, but it puts Youngkin well behind the pace set by more recent Democratic Govs. Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam. McAuliffe restored rights to more than 173,000 people. Northam granted more than 126,000 rights restorations. Former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who ramped up rights restorations while he was in office, approved more than 8,000.

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said the governor “firmly believes in the importance of second chances for Virginians who have made mistakes but are working to move forward as active members of our citizenry.”

“The Constitution places the responsibility to consider Virginians for restoration in the hands of the Governor alone, and he does not take this lightly,” Porter said. “Restoration of rights are assessed on an individual basis according to the law and take into consideration the unique elements of each situation, practicing grace for those who need it and ensuring public safety for our community and families.”

In recent years, there has appeared to be a growing bipartisan consensus that a fundamental issue like voting rights shouldn’t be left to the whims of individual governors.

Democrats have pushed to make the rights restoration process as nearly automatic as legally possible, arguing that everyone who has reentered society deserves a say in the democratic process. Some Republicans, particularly those more open to criminal justice reform, agree the process should be more forgiving. The GOP’s tough-on-crime wing has insisted the loss of civil rights is an appropriate consequence for felony offenses that may or may not bring substantial prison time, and some Republican lawmakers have insisted on having rights restoration rules in place that take into account the severity of someone’s crime and whether they still owe money to the courts or their victim.

The rights restoration form being used by the Youngkin administration specifically asks applicants if they have been convicted of a violent crime or still owe fines, fees or restitution.

In a statement, House Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said he was “pleased that there is some modicum of scrutiny as to whether someone has fulfilled their obligations to their victims and society.”

The Republican-led House of Delegates has blocked efforts to change the constitution to make the rights restoration process automatic in recent legislative sessions, despite several Republican delegates co-sponsoring the proposal.

Since McDonnell’s term, some former inmates returning to society have automatically gotten their rights back.

In 2013, McDonnell announced he would automatically restore rights to nonviolent felons who had paid off any fees or restitution owed in connection to the crime they committed. In 2016, the Democratic McAuliffe took a dramatic next step, signing an executive order that restored rights to more than 206,000 felons at once, characterizing it as a move to rectify the state’s history of suppressing the Black vote.

McAuliffe’s order applied to an unprecedented number of former inmates regardless of whether they had asked to have their rights restored. Its broad scope led to data processing errors that resulted in erroneous rights restorations to some people still incarcerated for serious offenses, including 132 sex offenders who had finished their criminal sentences but were still civilly confined because authorities had deemed them a danger to the public.

Northam largely continued the McAuliffe-era policy and took additional steps to streamline the process.

The legality of automatic restoration policies was at the heart of a high-profile court battle between Republican leaders in 2016.

After McAuliffe’s executive order, former House Speaker Bill Howell filed a lawsuit alleging the governor had overstepped the limits of his power. In a 4-3 ruling, a majority of Supreme Court of Virginia justices agreed, saying McAuliffe’s approach was so broad it had effectively nullified a constitutional rule.

The Supreme Court found that governors must conduct an individualized review of each person eligible for rights restoration, a finding Coles James referenced in her letter to Spruill.

“Every applicant is different,” Coles James wrote.

Voting rights have been the primary focus in debates about Virginia’s rights restoration process, but other rights are also involved. People who have had their rights restored also regain the ability to run for public office, serve on juries and act as a notary public. A certificate of restoration also enables formerly incarcerated people to ask a court to restore their gun rights.


by Graham Moomaw, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Virginia environmentalists disagree with DEQ’s Norfolk Southern fine



Virginia environmentalists are frustrated by the state Department of Environmental Quality’s $27,000 fine of Norfolk Southern for a 2020 train derailment.

The derailment caused 16 boxcars to spill almost 1,400 tons of coal into the Roanoke River. The town of Salem’s water plant had to halt intake for about a month over concerns of possible water contamination.

Tim Cywinski, communications manager for the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said the fine is disheartening because it does not deter derailments from happening again. He feels the state failed to take certain things into consideration while determining this fine.

“I think they should have taken into account that Norfolk Southern is one of the biggest and most profitable train and freight services industries in the United States,” Cywinski pointed out. “And to give them a fine that is less than the price of a new car is honestly laughable and just offensive to the fact that it impacted the people and environment of Salem, Virginia.”

Cywinski added that state and federal protections need to be implemented to hold better companies accountable and prevent such derailments from happening again.

Derailments are not uncommon. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were more than 1,100 derailments in 2020, a number which has fluctuated in the few years since.

Since Norfolk Southern first came under fire for a crash involving hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio, numerous railroad safety groups have been working to improve the industry’s safety regulations.

Ann Creasy, acting deputy director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said new regulations need to go hand in hand with levying appropriate fines against companies to deter future incidents.

“It’s really about corporate accountability of ensuring that safety and workers and proactive measures are invested in on the front end,” Creasy contended.

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate called the Railway Safety Act of 2023. The bill aims to boost safety requirements for trains transporting hazardous materials. Hearings have been held and are currently under review by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

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Feds identify ‘significant’ ongoing concerns with Virginia special education



After failing to meet federal requirements to support students with disabilities in 2020, the Virginia Department of Education will remain under further review by the federal government after continuing to fall short in monitoring and responding to complaints against school districts, according to a letter from the U.S. Department of Education.

“We have significant new or continued areas of concerns with the State’s implementation of general supervision, dispute resolution, and confidentiality requirements” of IDEA, stated the Feb. 17 letter from the Office of Special Education Programs.

The U.S. Department of Education first flagged its concerns in a June 2020 “Differentiated Monitoring and Support Report” on how Virginia was complying with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act following a 2019 visit by the Office of Special Education Programs.

IDEA, passed in 1975, requires all students with disabilities to receive a “free appropriate public education.”

The Virginia Department of Education disputed some of the federal government’s findings in a June 19, 2020 letter.

State officials says special education is a ‘core priority.’ Parents and advocates beg to differ.

Samantha Hollins, assistant superintendent of special education and student services, wrote that verbal complaints “are addressed via technical assistance phone calls to school divisions” and staff members “regularly work to resolve parent concerns” by providing “guidance documentation” and acting as intermediaries between school employees and parents.

However, some parents and advocates say systemic problems in how the state supports families of children with disabilities persist. At the same time, on June 15, 2022, a state report found one of Virginia’s most critical teacher shortage areas is in special education.

“Appropriate policies and procedures for both oversight and compliance, and their implementation, are crucial to ensuring that children with disabilities and their families are afforded their rights under IDEA and that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is provided,” said the Feb. 17 letter from the Office of Special Education Programs.

While the U.S. Department of Education wrote that it believes the Virginia Department of Education has resolved some of the problems identified in 2020, including resolving complaints filed by parents and creating a mediation plan, it said it has identified “new and continued areas of concern” and intends to continue monitoring Virginia’s provision of services for students with disabilities.

Among those are ongoing concerns over the state’s complaint and due process systems that “go beyond the originally identified concerns” originally found. The Office of Special Education Programs writes it has concluded Virginia “does not have procedures and practices that are reasonably designed to ensure a timely resolution process” for due process complaints.

The department also said it has concerns over the practices of at least five school districts that are inconsistent with IDEA’s regulations.

The decision comes after the U.S. Department of Education announced in November that Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia’s largest school district, failed to provide thousands of students with disabilities with the educational services they were entitled to during remote learning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia is also facing a federal class-action lawsuit over claims that its Department of Education and Fairfax County Public Schools violated the rights of disabled students under IDEA.

Parents involved in the case said the Virginia Department of Education and Fairfax school board “have actively cultivated an unfair and biased” hearing system to oversee challenges to local decisions about disabled students, according to the suit.

Charles Pyle, a Virginia Department of Education spokesman, said in an email that “VDOE continues to work with our federal partners to ensure Virginia’s compliance with all federal requirements, as we have since the ‘Differentiated Monitoring and Support Report’ was issued in June 2020.”

The federal government said if Virginia could not demonstrate full compliance with IDEA requirements, it could impose conditions on grant funds the state receives to support early intervention and special education services for children with disabilities and their families.

Last year, Virginia received almost $13.5 billion in various grants linked to IDEA, according to a July 1, 2022, letter to former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow, who resigned on March 9.

James Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association, blasted Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration after the findings were released.

“While the Youngkin administration has been busy waging culture wars in schools, his administration has failed to meet basic compliance requirements with the U.S. Department of Education for students with disabilities,” Fedderman said. “This failure threatens our federal funding for students with disabilities and is a disservice to Virginia families who need critical special needs support.”


by Nathaniel Cline, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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No losses, no gains for Virginia farms and farmland in 2022



The number of farms and farm acreage in Virginia remained flat in 2022 despite small overall decreases in both farms and farmland nationally, according to new U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

According to the USDA’s most recent Farms and Land in Farms report, Virginia’s total number of farms remained stable at 41,500 in 2022 — the same as in 2021. Farm acreage also didn’t change between 2021 and 2022, remaining at 7.7 million acres overall.

“We’re holding steady,” said Tony Banks, a senior assistant director with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

However, Banks said he doesn’t believe the lack of change in 2022 reflects the reality on the ground of long-term losses in Virginia farmland. Since 2015, the Virginia Farm Bureau says Virginia farmland has dropped from 8.1 million to 7.7 million acres, with 3,200 farms lost.

“We certainly see farmland for sale every day riding around the state,” he said. “We face tremendous pressure from developers both for residential and commercial properties, highway construction, and solar facilities.”

“These level numbers aside, the statistical reporting may just be an anomaly for us because we’re still losing,” he added.

Herman Ellison, the Virginia statistician for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, said the farm and farmland estimates were based on survey data from Virginia farmers.

“The farmers in [Virginia] indicated no changes based on the farmers’ surveys,” he said in an email.

However, he noted, the Virginia Farm Bureau is “in tune with the [Virginia] farmers.”

Banks said much of the concern revolves around the loss of medium-sized farms in Virginia or those that have roughly $500,000 to $1 million in annual revenue. He said those “are disappearing more quickly than the large and small farms,” he said.

Virginia data is in line with what the USDA found for much of the Mid-Atlantic in 2022: Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania also saw no change in the number of farms. West Virginia gained about 200 farms.

Overall, USDA reported the number of farms across the U.S. dropped 0.46% in 2022, from 2,012,050 to 2,002,700. Farm acreage fell 0.21%, from 8,953,000 acres to 8,934,000 acres.

“Even if we didn’t lose any farms, any acreage, that pause or that slowdown in the rate of loss that’s being reported, that’s a welcome breather,” said Banks. “We’ll see what the numbers look like next year.”


By Sarah Vogelsong, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Public hearing on carbon market withdrawal spurs sharp criticism



As Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration moves forward with plans to withdraw Virginia from a regional carbon market, dozens of state residents spoke during a Thursday public hearing to support Virginia’s continued participation.

Virginia began participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate carbon cap-and-invest program that requires electricity producers to purchase allowances for the carbon they emit, in 2021 following the passage of Democratic-backed legislation.

The proceeds from those purchases are returned to the states. In Virginia, over $500 million has been collected and earmarked for flood resiliency projects and energy efficiency upgrades for low-income homes.

“RGGI was passed through the democratic process,” said Nicole Keller, a resident of Virginia with a master’s degree in ecology. “I just don’t know how many ways the public will can be made clear.”

Carolyn Caywood, with the League of Women Voters of Virginia, speaks during a public hearing on Virginia’s withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (Charlie Paullin/Virginia Mercury)


Laura Thomas, director of sustainability for the city of Richmond, pointed to the $1.2 million in funding for flood resiliency the city has received to argue for Virginia’s continued participation.

“We must continue to support every tool at our disposal so that we can support these individuals on the frontlines of climate change,” Thomas said.

Nobody spoke in support of the withdrawal.

Youngkin has been seeking to pull Virginia out of RGGI since he was elected, calling the fee utility customers to pay for Virginia’s participation a disguised tax. In Virginia, electric utilities are allowed to pass the costs of their carbon allowances onto their customers. RGGI data shows utilities are responsible for about three-quarters of Virginia’s carbon emissions that fall under the program, with unregulated merchant generators responsible for the remainder.

For Dominion, that meant an average monthly $2.39 fee added onto residential customers’ bills before the utility suspended the charge in anticipation of withdrawal from the program. Dominion, Virginia’s largest utility, has since sought to reinstate the fee in the amount of $4.64.

At a press conference organized by the League of Conservation Voters Thursday, William and Mary student Philip Ignatoff touted the benefits of the funding RGGI participation is generating and argued Virginia should lower energy bills through electricity rate reform.

“The benefits have started to materialize,” said Ignatoff. “This is the Virginia that I want to live in.”

Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, speaks during a press conference ahead of a public hearing on Virginia’s withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. (Charlie Paullin/Virginia Mercury)


Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, who carried the 2020 legislation allowing Virginia’s participation, said the state doesn’t “have those resources within the confines of our budget to realistically on a sustainable, recurring basis provide this level of funding for those issues. And in addition, it wouldn’t do anything to reduce our carbon emissions.”

Members of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action contended RGGI brings health benefits by reducing emissions.

“Put simply, taxpayers save $30 for every dollar that we put into RGGI and programs like it, and we’re healthier for it,” said Virginia Commonwealth University medical student Danny Walden, citing data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “If Virginia withdraws from RGGI, more Virginians will face the expensive burden of preventable disease.”

While no one at the public hearing spoke in favor of the withdrawal, numerous comments have been filed in support of Youngkin’s move during a public comment period slated to close on March 31. To date, 500 comments both for and against the proposal have been filed.

David Stevenson, director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Policy with the Caesar Rodney Institute, a Delaware-based conservative think tank, pointed to data showing electricity generation in the state had decreased since 2020. He said that demonstrates Virginia is simply shifting emissions to out-of-state electricity producers.

“Virginia needs to leave RGGI behind,” wrote Stevenson.

Mike Town, executive director of the League of Conservation Voters, noted that most states that are served by PJM Interconnection, the regional grid Virginia is a member of, are already members of RGGI. PJM serves all or part of 13 states and Washington, D.C. Five of those states — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia — participate in RGGI.

“Even if we are importing some electricity, it is coming from a state that is following the same standards of Virginia,” Town said. “It’s really a red herring here.”

On Thursday, several environmental groups reiterated that Youngkin could not withdraw Virginia from RGGI through the regulatory process but must seek legislation.

Nate Benforado, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, declined to comment on any prospects of a legal challenge to the withdrawal, saying it depends on the final decision of the State Air Pollution Control Board, which will vote on the proposal.

“I still hold hope they listen to the people who have had their voices heard here today,” Benforado said.

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said despite no one speaking in favor of the withdrawal Thursday, it’s Senate Democrats who are refusing “to offer immediate relief to Virginians from the regressive tax, which does not do anything to incentivize the reduction of pollution.”

“Regardless, Virginians will see a lower energy bill in due time because we are withdrawing from RGGI through a regulatory process,” Porter said.


by Charlie Paullin, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 1 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Log Cabin in the Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log Cabin to see what is cooking on the hearth. Immerse yourself within the 19th century enslaved culture and its foods. Explore the taste[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 1 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work showing off their skills. Members of The Blacksmiths’ Guild of the Potomac have set up shop in the forge, located behind[...]
1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Apr 1 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
2:00 pm Community Easter Egg Hunt @ Fantasyland
Community Easter Egg Hunt @ Fantasyland
Apr 1 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Community Easter Egg Hunt @ Fantasyland
Pre-Registration begins March 15th! Provide Name, Age, Child/Pup, Email and Phone in one of three ways: FACEBOOK MESSAGE Email Sheree Jennings at OR call the office at 540-635-2825