News | December 11, 2019

Virginia governor proposes $733 million in new funds for environment

Today, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam proposed a budget that includes $733 million in new funding for the environment, clean energy, and environmental justice work. The proposal also removes language that has prevented Virginia from cutting carbon pollution by participating in the successful multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“Governor Northam’s announcement today leaps Virginia forward in the fight against climate change,” says Senior Attorney Will Cleveland. “There is no clearer indication that a state is committed to clean energy than using state dollars to fund solutions that will get us closer to a carbon free environment.”

SELC attorneys have advocated for state participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, as a way to ensure clean air, protect health, and build a healthy economy across the Commonwealth. Utilities in participating states must buy allowances through the RGGI auction for each ton of carbon dioxide they produce, and the number of allowances is reduced each year. This would result in Virginia’s power plants emitting 30 percent less carbon dioxide into the air after just 10 years.

“Removing the unnecessary budget restriction and backing legislation that will allow Virginia to become a full member of RGGI is a clear signal of the Commonwealth’s commitment to fighting carbon emissions,” says Cleveland.

SELC has been active on this issue, driving a petition to let state representatives know funding RGGI is a priority for Virginians across the Commonwealth. You can sign our petition now to Cut Virginia Carbon.

Equally important and inherent to the work of establishing a clean energy economy is addressing issues of inequity and environmental injustice.

Says Cleveland, “We are heartened to see the Governor’s financial commitment in this proposed budget to the important work of environmental justice.”

For more on how Northam's budget impacts enviromental issues, including increased funding to protect the Chesapeake Bay, read The Washington Post coverage here