EDF Action Launches Video Campaign on Rapidly Escalating Flood Threat to Virginians, Calls on Gov. Youngkin to Support Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Funds from regional carbon trading program directly benefiting flood-prone communities across the state, buttressing resilience

March 9, 2022
Elaine Labalme, elaine.labalme@gmail.com, (412) 996-4112

(Washington, D.C. – March 9, 2022) On the heels of two major climate reports highlighting accelerating impacts, EDF Action released a series of 15- and 30-second videos that make clear the magnitude of flood threats across Virginia and call on Gov. Glenn Youngkin to support the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which delivers carbon pollution reductions and critical funding to impacted residents and communities.

In 2020, its first year of participation in RGGI, Virginia netted $228 million in proceeds from the cap-and-invest program, with 45% of those funds earmarked for the state’s Community Flood Preparedness Fund – monies that are already protecting communities from the coasts to inland valleys. The program is projected to reduce Virginia’s power plant carbon pollution, which contributes to climate change, 30% by 2030. Yet, Gov. Youngkin announced he would seek to remove the state from the proven, multi-state program that is supported by over two-thirds of Virginians.

“Flooding is a painful reality for Virginians across the commonwealth whose homes, livelihoods and very lives are at real risk,” said Mandy Warner, EDF Action Virginia Director. “Virginia has already forged a durable and widely-supported solution in RGGI, which provides critical funding to bolster flood resilience in vulnerable communities. Now, we find ourselves with a governor who is trying to do away with RGGI funds that offer hundreds of millions of dollars desperately needed to protect Virginians from floods that will return as sure as Spring rain and high tides. Gov. Youngkin should halt his attacks on RGGI, a longstanding program that has enjoyed support among both Republican and Democratic governors in the region, and instead focus on how best to continue progress to achieve the climate pollution reductions we need. The governor has a unique opportunity to leverage RGGI’s proceeds for programs and communities that need help the most, and right now.”

“EDF Action is grateful to the members of the Virginia legislature that continue to support RGGI, as is the wish of their constituents,” continued Warner. “The climate crisis that is wreaking havoc on our communities in the form of flooding and other extreme weather events is all too real. This moment calls for comprehensive action over political grandstanding and we continue to stand ready to protect clean water and air, advance flood resilience across the commonwealth and build a thriving, equitable future for all of Virginia’s communities.”

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More background:

  • A new technical report from NOAA, released in February, indicates that seas will rise by up to a foot nationally by 2050 — within a generation and in a shorter span than one can pay off a 30-year mortgage — depending on rates of greenhouse gas emissions. Further, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds that climate impacts, such as floods, are accelerating and wreaking increasing damage to properties, livelihoods and even lives. Countries’ ability to adapt to these impacts will diminish rapidly without deep reductions in global emissions.
  • According to Virginia’s Coastal Resilience Master Plan, the number of residents living in homes exposed to major coastal flooding will nearly triple from 360,000 people to nearly 1 million by 2080. Flood damages will skyrocket 1,300%, from $400 million to $5.1 billion annually. Without action, nearly 90% of tidal wetlands and almost 40% of dunes and beaches may be permanently inundated by 2080. 
  • Virginia’s Community Flood Preparedness Fund launched in 2021 and provides critical funding for local governments to plan and implement flood resilience projects and, importantly, can help local governments secure additional federal dollars through matching programs. The fund receives all revenue from Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
  • The fund awarded over $32 million for nearly 50 applications from 30 local governments across the state, from Roanoke to Alexandria to the town of Oyster on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A third grant round with $40 million is open for applications through April. 
  • EDF Action polling in 2021 found that 62% of statewide Virginia voters believe flooding, heavy rainfall and rising sea levels are already having a serious impact on Virginia; and two-thirds of Virginia voters support using state dollars to fund the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, including majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans.