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Climate activists rally against potential RGGI withdrawal

Randi B. Hagi
Activists gathered outside the DEQ's Valley Regional Office in Harrisonburg.

Climate activists gathered at the Harrisonburg office of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, on Wednesday morning. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

Randi B. Hagi
Deborah Kushner is an organizer with Third Act Virginia, which mobilizes "elder Virginians" around climate and democracy issues.

GROUP SINGING: We want RGGI, we want RGGI, go tell your neighbors, go tell your friends!

About 35 people rallied against Governor Glenn Youngkin's attempts to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI [reggie]. Virginia is one of 11 participating states that try to limit the carbon dioxide that regulated power plants can emit, and requires the plants to essentially pay for what they do emit. Those funds go into programs for flood protection and energy efficiency for low-income residents, as the Virginia Mercury reported.

[sound of people talking, cicadas buzzing]

Deborah Kushner, a member of Third Act Virginia, led the rally.

Randi B. Hagi
Roberta Patterson is a resident of Staunton.

DEBORAH KUSHNER: We are here today in collaboration with other rallies going on at all the DEQ offices across the state to implore the governor and the Air Board of Virginia to keep the state in RGGI, which is a program that is working beautifully to reduce carbon emissions and to improve energy efficiency for people who can afford it least.

Roberta Patterson came from Staunton to attend.

ROBERTA PATTERSON: I've been here 20 years, there's been two massive floods in downtown Staunton – caused a great deal of damage. Damaged several businesses that did not come back, including an antique store and a coffee shop, and my personal friends lost their home – foundation was washed out, and they were told they had to get out of their older home. … This is climate change, and we must deal with it.

At a meeting held that same morning, the State Air Pollution Control Board discussed the administration's plans, but took no action.

Cathy Strickler

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.