Outgoing Attorney General Herring Says Governor-Elect Youngkin Can’t Pull Virginia from Key Environmental Initiative


Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion Wednesday saying that Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin cannot pull Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI,) a program where utilities have to bid for carbon dioxide emissions allowances. Youngkin said he would use executive action to leave the RGGI. Herring’s opinion says that since Virginia entered the initiative as the result of laws passed by the General Assembly, Youngkin can’t use executive action alone to pull Virginia from the program.

“Climate change remains an urgent and ever-growing threat to Virginians, their safety, their health, and their communities. Virginia’s participation in RGGI is crucial to reducing our carbon pollution, while simultaneously investing hundreds of millions of dollars in mitigation and resilience efforts,” Herring said in a press release. “The Virginia Constitution is clear: the Governor does not have the authority to single-handedly repeal or eliminate a law or regulation that has been passed by the General Assembly. It is time we all work together to fight climate change and leave a better, healthier planet for future generations.”

Herring said Delegates Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) and Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax) requested the opinion.

On January 7, Herring issued another opinion saying Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) can’t be repealed.

Herring has been fighting in court to have Virginia’s ratification of the ERA recognized. The ERA is a target of Republicans, but it did earn some bipartisan support in 2020 when it was passed. Even if rescinding ratification is not attempted, Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares may not continue Herring’s court battles over recognition of Virginia’s ratification.

“Virginia made history when we became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, finally adding gender equality to the U.S. Constitution,” Herring said in a press release. “The Constitution gives no mechanism to withdraw the ratification of an amendment and, throughout history, various states’ attempts to rescind such legislation have been unsuccessful. Women have waited more than 200 years to be given equal protections under the law and we cannot go back now.”

Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita said, “The timing of the Attorney General Herring’s opinion is suspicious, and it’s odd that an outgoing Attorney General would try to influence an incoming Governor. When Attorney General-elect Miyares takes office, he and his team will look at every opinion, lawsuit, and investigation with a fresh perspective.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin. 





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