The state’s Democratic majority is doing what Democratic majorities do.
Over the last decade or so, Virginia has gradually transitioned from a purple to blue state. Now it will embark on another transition, from fossil fuels to clean, carbon-free electricity.
After voting for Republican presidents going back to Richard Nixon in 1972, Virginians began consistently voting for Democrats for president in 2008. And they have a long tradition of Democratic governors, the latest being pediatric neurologist and Army veteran Ralph Northam, elected in 2017.
In September of 2019, Northam tried to do what Democrats generally do when elected: support clean energy. He issued Executive Order 43, which laid out a plan for the state to reach 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 (in keeping with the consensus goal of national Democrats) and to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, a nine-state carbon trading network).
Sure enough, last week, the General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), which puts Northam’s vision into law. The House voted 51-45 and the Senate voted 22-17; in each chamber, the bill received precisely one Republican vote.
Virginia has now become the first state in the South to embark on a clean-energy transition and one of the leading states in the nation on clean-energy policy. Let’s take a quick look at what the bill does.
1. Enter RGGI and develop a cap-and-trade system
2. Target 100 percent clean energy by 2050
3. Hold costs down and protect low-income and vulnerable communities
4. Boost storage, offshore wind, and rooftop solar