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Democrats Announce Plan to Cut All Carbon From Electrical Grid by 2050

Delegate Rip Sullivan gestures while speaking from a podium, with supporters lined up behind him in front of a blue wall.
Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax) introduces the Clean Economy Act a press conference on Thursday. (Photo: Ben Paviour/VPM News)

A group of Democratic lawmakers announced legislation on Thursday to phase out carbon pollution from Virginia’s electrical grid by 2050.

The plan is in line with targets set by Governor Ralph Northam in an executive order earlier this year but less ambitious than the Virginia Green New Deal, which is sponsored by Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke).

Backers of the so-called Clean Economy Act say it will help Virginia transition to clean energy without hitting consumers with big rate increases.

They say it’s more realistic --- and less costly to consumers -- than the Virginia Green New Deal, which would transition to renewable energy by 2036. The latter plan would exclude nuclear energy and would place a 2021 moratorium on fossil fuel-based electricity projects.

Democratic Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William) is one of four sponsors of the Clean Economy Act, alongside Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington).

“We’re worried about energy storage, and the capability to get to the 2036 deadline that the Green New Deal outlines,” Carrol Foy said.

The Clean Energy Act, which has not been filed yet, is backed by over a dozen groups, including the Sierra Club and Clean Virginia.

But some environmental advocates say the plan isn’t ambitious enough to avoid climate catastrophe.

In a press release, the environmental advocacy group Food & Water Action, which backs the Green New Deal, said the proposal “will do little to prevent climate catastrophe.”

A spokesman for Dominion Energy touted the company’s wind and solar projects, and said they’ll review the legislation once it’s filed.