Protect Virginia's Climate Progress
The climate crisis is here, and it’s hurting every community in Virginia. Flooding has become one of the most challenging public policy issues ever to face Virginia. Intense storms are devastating agriculture across the state. Dangerous heat waves are causing asthma hospitalizations, heart attacks, and more.
Yet Governor Glenn Youngkin had barely started his term in office when he began dragging Virginia backwards on climate. The Governor and his allies have attempted to dismantle VA’s clean energy wins through bad-faith budget amendments, direct attack legislation and regulatory tweaks.
We’re working to protect Virginia’s core climate policies: the Virginia Clean Economy Act and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Join us to preserve Virginia’s role as a climate leader so we can continue to protect our communities.
Holding the Line: Fending off Attacks from Governor and Legislature
Holding the Line on Climate Victories
The Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative and VA Clean Economy Act faced a slurry of attacks this session. Thankfully, the VA Senate remained strong in their promise to vote down direct repeals, rollbacks or reallocations of these two climate policies. For a full list of bills check out VCN’s summary here.
This General Assembly session saw Virginia’s citizen boards come under attack. Alongside other advocates, we preserved the public participation processes in the final legislation. However, we lost on many key aspects of this process. As permitting authority is transferred to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, CCAN will advocate with the new office of Environmental Justice to ensure the voices of impacted communites are heard.
Greenwashing and Fossil Fuel Expansion
- Under the guise of fossil fuel capture, SB565 further entrenches our dependance on fossil fuels. We fought this bill and were not successful.
- LS Power was at it again! In 2020 they attempted to avoid regulation and get subsidies to keep polluting. They were stopped then and we stopped them again this year.
CCAN Environmental Defenders: A Grassroots Powerhouse
To combat these attacks, CCAN Action Fund built a team of environmental defenders to protect Virginia’s climate progress. Every week we phonebanked our legislators, invited other CCANers into the fight and shared the latest information from the General Assembly.
Our regular actions made a difference! At one point, a legislator’s office had gotten so many calls in opposition to Andrew Wheeler’s nomination that he assured us the senator would vote with us and asked us to stop.
For eight straight weeks CCAN Environmental Defenders gained new skills and connected fellow activists with their elected officials. We kept up a steady drumbeat of calls by hosting weekly phonebanks with our friends at Virginia League of Conservation Voters. To ensure we reached as many people as possible, we had some availability at noon and some in the early evenings. Additionally, once our volunteers had made calls one week and knew the system, they often could participate on their own time.
Environmental defenders got a weekly dispatch with talking points for each week’s call and a relevant news roundup to stay up to date with the latest from the capitol. We targeted calls to specific delegates who needed encouragement or praise to do the right thing for our climate based on what we heard from our partners on the ground.
Here’s what CCANers and our partners accomplished in spring of 2022:
We stopped Andrew Wheeler’s Nomination to Secretary of Natural & Historic Resources
Governor Youngkin’s nomination of a former coal lobbyist and Trump appointed head of the EPA was incredibly unwelcome in Virginia. We knew from his systematic dismantling of national environmental protections that Andrew Wheeler was unfit to lead Virginia.
- Over FOUR HUNDRED CCANers signed our petition against Wheeler’s nomination.
- Over three weeks, we made over THREE HUNDRED calls into key Senate districts to ensure our representatives voted with us.
- Two CCAN members published Letters to the Editor outlining why Virginia deserves an appointee committee to clean energy and environmental protection.
Our elected officials in the senate heard us loud and clear! The Virginia Senate rejected Andrew Wheeler’s nomination on the grounds that he is unfit to lead our state’s environmental policy.
While this was a huge win, Governor Youngkin bypassed the will of the people and now pays Wheeler close to $200,000 a year as a Senior Advisor.
We defeated legislative attacks on the VA Clean Economy Act, RGGI and the Clean Car standards
Each week we had a new attack to defeat. Some were complete repeals while others reallocated funds away from proven climate solutions–all were bad and all were defeated by our consistent drumbeat with VA Senators.
We also published letters to the editor in key geographies to ensure we did not go backwards.
We are fighting to ensure our budget keeps funding for RGGI
After defeating RGGI rollbacks in the general assembly session, fossil fuel proponents are trying to legislate through the budget process. They’re proposing budget amendments that would weaken RGGI the same ways their recently failed legislation tried to. We continue to say no!
- CCAN signed on to a coalition letter to keep RGGI out of the budget. We agreed on key points; mainly RGGI actively benefits Virginians and there was no replacement funding in the budget.
- CCANers made close to 100 calls to residents in the districts of the Senate budget appointees.
We are fighting a half-baked and bad faith proposed gas tax suspension
The governor is seeking to decimate transit funding in Virginia in the name of political theater. Click here to read more about how Virginia’s advocacy community is pointing out the flaws in this plan–it has no guarantees to actually save Virginians money!
Virginia’s Momentous Progress
For decades, Virginia was in the back of the pack when it came to climate action. The Commonwealth’s energy policy has been influenced by utility monopoly Dominion Energy for years, leading to high bills for dirty energy, all in the name of Dominion’s profits. The company has a track record supporting bills that rip off ratepayers and making plans to massively build out gas infrastructure.
This all changed in two short years, when the makeup of the General Assembly shifted to a more climate-friendly legislature in 2019 and 2020.
During this time, former Governor Northam declared by executive order that Virginia would join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — a regional carbon market that caps and reduces pollution — and the General Assembly passed a law that codifies Virginia’s participation and allows the people of the Commonwealth to access millions of dollars for climate resilience and lower electricity bills.
Then, the legislature passed the historic Virginia Clean Economy Act, which made the state a national leader on clean energy and carbon reduction by requiring 100% clean, renewable to power grid by 2045, with a benchmark of 41% by 2030. This policy reverses decades of bad energy policy in Virginia, mandating the shutdown of most of the state’s coal plants by 2030, opening the gate to the biggest offshore wind farms in America, and turbocharging the spread of solar rooftops and solar farms, all while creating real safeguards against Dominion Energy for ratepayers – especially for low-income families – and by mandating the use of LESS electricity statewide in the future. It was so significant that Dominion pointed to it when the company abandoned its previous plans to massively build out fracked-gas infrastructure.
- As Republicans threaten two years of climate legislation, Democrats go on defense. Virginia Mercury, January 20, 2022
- How a Virginia bill could upend the state’s unique citizen oversight boards. Energy News Network, March 30, 2022
- As Virginia nets another $74 million, RGGI uncertainty lingers. Virginia Mercury, March 14, 2022
- Dominion agrees to study viability of Wise power plant that’s not producing much power. Virginia Mercury, March 30, 2022
- Youngkin says RGGI won’t cut emissions. Critics say his own report shows he’s wrong. Virginia Mercury, March 18, 2022
- One of this year’s biggest solar bills is all about forests and farms. March 10, 2022
- Here’s What’s Left On The Virginia General Assembly’s Plate — And What It Means For Northern Virginia. DCist, March 15, 2022
- Virginia scientists bring seagrass back to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Cavalier Daily, April 3, 2022
- Attacking climate action is bad policy, even worse politics. LCV oped in Virginia Mercury, March 8, 2022
- Virginia General Assembly delivers mixed results for the environment. Bay Journal, March 30, 2022