Despite opposition by environmentalists to pull Virginia out of the 11-member Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a new poll reveals bipartisan support for the Commonwealth exiting the cap-and-trade program.  

A recent Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy poll asked respondents four questions pertaining to energy policy, including their feelings regarding RGGI. 

The second question asked respondents the following:

In September, every customer of Dominion Energy started paying a new tax on their monthly bill to cover participation in a carbon cap and trade program. For residential customers, the bill is $25 to $30 per year, but next year it may grow to $50 to $60 per year. It will continue to go up after that. Business pays it, too, and passes it along in their prices. Do you support or oppose this additional tax on your bill?

The answers were telling. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents indicated their opposition to continued membership in RGGI: Democrats opposed it 59% to 36%, while Republican opposition stood at  91% to 7%. Independents also oppose by a 73% to 20% margin. 

RGGI entry was hitched to the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (or Virginia’s Green New Deal), that if left intact, will entirely phase out oil and gas in the Commonwealth by 2045. 

Overall, 64% to 31% oppose paying up to “$700 or more per year” for electricity bills under the VCEA. The political breakdown showed Democrats narrowly supported the plan, 48% to 47%, while independents and Republicans opposed it 60% to 33% and 91% to 7%, respectively. Unsurprisingly, when faced with the costs of RGGI membership, individuals weren’t willing to pay the increased bills.

And not only does RGGI hike up costs, as I noted in my recent Virginian Pilot oped, RGGI membership hasn’t led to emissions reductions:

The most notable problem with RGGI is its overall negligible impact on carbon emissions. In 2019, the Congressional Research Service observed that nine partner states “account for approximately 7% of U.S. CO2 emissions and 16% of U.S. gross domestic product” and called carbon emissions reductions “arguably negligible” at best. 

When those numbers are broken down, it only accounts for a measly 1.4% in total U.S. emissions reductions. And even this reduction is largely attributable to the transition from coal to natural gas in the state.

Furthermore, I also explained how Virginia ratepayers will pay more for clean energy under continued RGGI participation despite promises of the opposite: 

Virginia’s continued participation in RGGI will result in residents paying more for their electricity bills. According to recent State Corporation Commission filings, participation in the RGGI program will raise energy costs to $4.37 a month, or $52.44 per year, if enacted on Sept. 1. When paired with the new — and costly — Virginia Clean Economy Act, the net-zero law slated to raise energy bills $800 a year by 2030, this spells disaster for Virginians currently paying more to heat and power their homes. 

In wake of these findings, environmentalist groups and their special interests ought to listen to the concerns of Virginia ratepayers.