Energy & Environment

Virginia lawmakers kill Youngkin amendment to define nuclear energy as renewable

Virginia’s Democratic-controlled Senate rejected an amendment to an energy bill this week that would have allowed nuclear and hydrogen power to qualify as renewables.

In a 22-18 party line vote on Wednesday, the Senate rejected several amendments offered by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) to state legislation that would qualify certain biomass facilities as renewable energy.

Mike Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said the organization is “grateful” for the vote.

“Virginians overwhelmingly support affordable clean energy and climate action, yet Governor Youngkin continues going out of his way to keep our state tied to volatile and dirty fossil fuels,” Town said in a statement. “We simply cannot waste time when it comes to cutting pollution and addressing the climate crisis and it’s well past time for Governor Youngkin to stop playing political games with our energy future.”

Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin’s office, blasted the vote in a comment to The Hill.

“We simply can’t rely only on intermittent wind and solar to replace our 24/7 energy needs.” Porter told The Hill. “Hydrogen and nuclear energy are proven, clean energy sources that remove carbon emissions while generating energy around the clock to meet demand.”

“Senate Democrats chose to reject these amendments for partisan reasons and took a vote against reliable energy for Virginians,” she continued. “The governor will consider all legislation returned to his desk.”

The vote is the latest clash between Youngkin and the upper chamber of the legislature on environment and energy issues.

Shortly after his election in November 2021, Youngkin pledged to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state carbon-trading initiative that Youngkin blamed for rate increases.

The state senate also rejected Youngkin’s nomination of Andrew Wheeler, who served as Environmental Protection Agency administrator during the Trump administration, as the state Secretary of Natural Resources. Youngkin named Wheeler as a senior advisor shortly after that vote.

Tags Andrew Wheeler Glenn Youngkin Glenn Youngkin hydrogen Renewables Virginia

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