Gov. Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday that he has vetoed two measures that he said would tie his hands in dealing with climate change.

Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin County, sponsored both bills, which narrowly passed the General Assembly.

House Bill 2611 would have barred Virginia from entering a regional program to reduce carbon dioxide air pollution from power plants without approval by a  super majority of two-thirds of the General Assembly.

"We should not be limited in our ability to protect the environment and in turn, the citizens of the commonwealth," Northam said in his veto message.

Northam also vetoed House Bill 2269, which would have prevented Virginia from entering a regional program to curb carbon dioxide pollution from vehicles without the assent of two-thirds of the General Assembly.

"Like other air pollutants, the emissions that cause climate change do not respect state lines, district lines, or other political boundaries," Northam said in his veto message. "In the absence of a federal plan, Virginia is obligated to join other states and face this threat to our collective public safety and economic health."

Republican backers of the legislation lack the votes to override the vetoes in the closely divided legislature. Legislators would need a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override a veto. Republicans hold a 51-49 edge in the House and a 21-19 edge in the Senate.

The actions announced Thursday raise Northam's vetoes to three this year.  Northam issued his first veto of the year Tuesday, rejecting a proposal backed by Republicans that would put pressure on state police to expedite concealed handgun permits for out-of-state residents.

All 140 legislative seats are up for election in November.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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