RICHMOND, Va. (March 11, 2016) – A 2nd Virginia bill that would take a small, but important, first step in setting the foundation to reject federal some EPA rules and regulations in practice passed the state Senate last week and now sits on the governor’s desk awaiting his action.

Thirty-three delegates co-sponsored House Bill 2 (HB2). The legislation would prohibit the Department of Environmental Quality from unilaterally implementing EPA “Clean Power Plan” emission requirements.

The bill passed the House 64-34 in January. On March 3, the Senate approved the measure 21-19. The legislation was transmitted to Gov. Terry McAuliffe on March 9. He has until midnight Monday to either sign or veto the bill. McAuliffe vetoed a similar bill last week, and misrepresented the Virginia state constitution in the process. The Senate failed to garner enough votes to overturn the veto.

Under the proposed law, the Department of Environmental Protection would be required to consider a number of specific factors when developing any state plan to comply with EPA emission standards. Before submitting any plan to the federal agency, the DEQ would have to submit it, along with a detailed report, to the state legislature for approval.

Not later than 15 days following the completion of DEQ’s development of a state plan, DEQ shall transmit to the Senate and the House of Delegates a copy of the state plan and the accompanying report developed in accordance with subdivision a of §2. Upon receiving the state plan and accompanying report, the Senate and the House of Delegates shall vote on a resolution to approve the state plan after sufficient time has been provided to assess the state plan and accompanying report. The resolution shall be deemed approved by the Senate and the House of Delegates if each chamber casts a majority of votes in favor of the resolution.

DEQ shall not submit to the EPA any state plan until both the Senate and the House of Delegates have adopted resolutions that approve the state plan in accordance with this act.

While the proposed law would not guarantee the state would reject compliance with EPA mandates, it sets the foundation to do so. It also brings the entire process into the public spotlight, allowing Virginia residents to have input into the process.

As it currently stands, the Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA can work behind the scenes to adopt such plans without any public or legislative input at all. The department acts, in practice, like a part of the federal government. HB2 reasserts some state authority over the Department of Environmental Protection and the entire process.

With the federal courts putting a “pause” on federal implementation of some of the Clean Power Plan, SB691 represents a good first step toward fully blocking unconstitutional EPA Clean Power Plan mandates. Passage would begin to place the process back in the hands of the state, thus diminishing the power of the federal agency. The legislation also sets the stage for more aggressive action such as refusing cooperation with the enforcement of EPA rules and regulations.


As noted above, the governor already vetoed a similar measure and used a completely false interpretation of the Virginia constitution to justify his decision. Call Gov. McAuliffe at 804-786-2211 and let him know you support HB2. He has until April 11 to sign or veto the legislation.

Mike Maharrey

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