Distric of Colombia: Terry McAuliffe, governor of the US state of Virginia, said on Monday he would refuse to sign a bill that would order executions by electric chair when drugs for lethal injections are unavailable.
The measure passed by the state legislature was aimed at addressing widespread shortages of the drugs affecting all states that impose the death penalty.
Reaffirming his support for capital punishment, McAuliffe nevertheless barred the state from imposing the electric chair as an mandatory substitute for lethal injections.
"Our citizens share my concerns and do not wish to be forced into using this terrible form of punishment," he said of the electric chair in a statement.
Critics say use of the controversial method of execution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Virginia`s current law allows condemned prisoners to choose between the electric chair and lethal injection.
If they reject the electric chair, the state must obtain lethal drugs -- which is often difficult after a European export ban stopped pharmaceutical companies that make the drugs from sending them for use in US prisons.
In an attempt to settle the issue, McAuliffe -- a Democratic governor in a state where Republicans control the legislature -- recommended officials be allowed to buy lethal drugs for executions on an emergency basis, keeping the identities of companies providing the drugs secret.
Lawmakers will meet on April 20 to consider his recommendations.
No executions are currently scheduled in Virginia.
In January, officials said the Department of Corrections did not have enough of a necessary drug to carry out a lethal-injection execution scheduled for March.