Richmond, Va -- Virginia climate activists, Sierra Club, Environment Virginia and New Virginia Majority joined forces today to call out the Virginia House of Delegates Leadership for attempting to block action on climate change through the Virginia state budget.
“It’s more than ironic that Speaker Howell would use the budget to block action on climate change when Virginia taxpayers are already spending millions to deal with sea level rise,” said Glen Besa, Director of the Virginia Sierra Club.
Speaker Howell and Delegates Hugo, Miller and Cox targeted for budget language blocking Clean Power Plan work by DEQ
House Republicans inserted language in the state budget that prohibits the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) from using state funds “to prepare or submit” the state’s implementation plan for the US EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is first ever rule to limit carbon pollution from fossil fuel power plants. See budget item #369 1c.
"We can't afford to delay climate action. While coastal Virginians face rising seas and more frequent and severe storms, the House Leadership's 'Climate Inaction Plan' means more carbon pollution, more Virginians impacted by climate change and more roadblocks to a clean energy future," said Sarah Bucci with Environment Virginia.
"The House Leadership's failure to act will deny Virginians the clean energy jobs expanding in neighboring states while aggravating health problems caused by climate change. All Virginians need the Clean Power Plan," stated Josie R. Mace, Policy Associate with the New Virginia Majority.
Governor McAuliffe has offered a budget amendment that would allow DEQ to continue its work on implementation of the Clean Power Plan, but with Republicans in control of both the House and Senate, climate advocates see little hope the Governor’s amendment will be accepted. (Gov Budget Amend Item 369)
Climate advocates donned bright orange life jackets and handed out life preservers to passing legislators to dramatize the consequences of the Republican budget amendment. The life preservers bore the names of Speaker Howell and Delegates Hugo, Miller and Cox with a tag representing it to be the “House Leadership Climate Inaction Plan”.
“It’s time for Republicans to stop playing politics with global warming,” said Besa. "These officials know that climate change is real and that the longer we delay, the worse the problem gets and the more expensive it will be to address.”
This past year the federal government granted $120 million for projects that covered the costs of addressing sea level rise in just one neighborhood in Norfolk, Chesterfield Heights. The cost of addressing sea level rise across Hampton Roads has been estimated to run into the tens of billions of dollars.
“Today we are protesting in Richmond, but if this obstacle to action on the Clean Power Plan is adopted in the budget, we plan to let their constituents back in their districts know of these irresponsible actions. This issue is not going away,” said Besa.