Environment Virginia's 2020 Legislative Priorities

By Joe Rupp
Climate Advocate, Environment Virginia

Clean water to drink and clean air to breathe; healthy beaches, lakes and rivers that are safe for swimming and fishing; preserved open spaces; clean sources of energy that don’t pollute and never run out — all this should be the heritage we leave to future generations. This year, the Virginia legislature is presented with an opportunity to make significant steps toward acheiving those goals. While there are sure to be many issues and bills that deserve the consideration of our Senators and Delegates, Environment Virginia is calling on legislators to prioritize the following items.

1. Protecting Virginia’s Waterways and Wildlife by banning single-use polystyrene containers

House Bill 533 (Carr) and Senate Bill 193 (Favola)

A lot of pollution that threatens Virginia's wildlife comes from things we've known for decades we shouldn't be using--stuff like polystyrene or what we is commonly referred to as styrofoam. This pollution ends up in our rivers, streams and oceans where it threatens and kills wildlife. This past year, we've collected more than 15,000 public comments from Northern Virginia, to Charlottesville, to Hampton Roads, calling on our legislators to ban polystyrene take-out containers. It's time to act. 

2. Codifying our Commitment to 100% Carbon Free Electricity

Gov Northam's Executive Order 43 put the Commonwealth on a path to 100% carbon free energy by 2050. It's time we enshrine that goal into law. Environment Virginia supports the Virginia Clean Economy Act. The Virginia Clean Economy Act would put Virginia on the path to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 through breaking down barriers to distributed power and capping dirty fossil fuel emissions while also lowering overall energy needs through investments in energy efficiency. This would mean less pollution and more clean energy in Virginia. The Virginia Clean Economy Act incorporates best-practice policies with data-driven roadmaps that will put Virginia on an aggressive but practical path to curb emissions while protecting rate-payers. We urge the 2020 General Assembly to pass the Virginia Clean Economy Act and take historic steps in moving Virginia in the right direction to protect our health and climate.

3. Joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

In order to reduce the pollution that harms our environment and leads to asthma and other severe health problems, we support Virginia formally joining RGGI. Other states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are already participating in RGGI and their experience has demonstrated that investing revenue from dirty power plants back into energy efficiency programs helps curb carbon emissions. Joining RGGI would allow Virginia to invest a significant portion of auction revenue in projects that directly benefit Virginians, such as energy efficiency, flooding resilience, clean transportation, and renewable energy development.