RICHMOND — First came Medicaid expansion. Then same-sex marriage.
Now Virginia House Republicans are fighting another policy of the Obama White House that Democrats are cheering.
The GOP-dominated House will join more than a dozen state legislatures in an effort to give lawmakers the power to block the implementation of federal climate change regulations finalized last week.
The move comes as Republicans are trying to motivate their most ardent supporters to vote this November in what are traditionally low-turnout legislative races — and drum up support ahead of the 2016 presidential contest.
Nationally, Republicans have denounced as job killers the latest standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Each state is required to submit a plan explaining how it would meet its benchmark under the Clean Power Plan. States could propose measures including increasing their reliance on renewable energy such as wind and solar power, as well as closing coal-fired power plants in favor of natural-gas burning plants.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has said he successfully lobbied the Obama administration to lower Virginia’s emissions goal.
But House Republicans said Monday night that they would introduce legislation in the 2016 session to require General Assembly approval of the state’s plan to comply with the environmental rules. House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said the “burdensome regulations” would raise energy prices and hurt the state’s economy.
“The Commonwealth should delay the implementation of any compliance plan while the regulations are litigated and the General Assembly should have final approval and oversight of the plan,” he said in a statement.
Del. Israel O’Quinn (R-Washington) made the announcement during a rally at the University of Richmond organized by Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch and other conservative donors.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Virginia is one of 14 states where lawmakers have pushed for such legislation. A similar measure did not make it to McAuliffe’s desk during this year’s session.