Virginia and Climate Change

Virginia’s 100% Clean Energy Law
Green Tech Media, Emma Foehringer MerchantDecember 9, 2020 (Short)

A landmark clean energy law enacted this year in Virginia will only equate to a 26 percent reduction in economy-wide emissions by 2050, according to a new analysis, leaving the state far from the cuts required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed Virginia’s Clean Economy Act in April, establishing 100 percent clean energy requirements for the state’s largest utilities just as the U.S. was beginning to recognize the severity of the COVID-19 crisis. At the time, Delegate Richard C. Sullivan, Jr., leader of the House Democratic Caucus, called it a “historic step forward” for the Southern state.

But even the Clean Economy Act’s requirements for 3.1 gigawatts of energy storage, 5.2 gigawatts of offshore wind and 16.1 gigawatts of solar and onshore wind fall short of the action required to wring emissions from the electricity sector, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Rocky Mountain Institute and research firm Energy Innovation.

Comment on article by David Toscano, former Democratic leader, Va. House of Delegates

It is terrific that you and others keep pushing to enact policies addressing climate change. But lets start by acknowledging the significance of this legislation in Virginia. Before the legislative “blue wave” election of 2017, it was almost impossible to have a serious conversation about climate change in the commonwealth. After Dems took control in 2020, things changed dramatically, and the legislation passed this session was nothing short of landmark. Does it do all that needs to be done? Certainly not, but even its proponents will acknowledge that. So lets build on the momentum by acknowledging the bill’s significance and challenging everyone to do more–in areas like transportation, building efficiency. Oh, yes, and maybe use a picture of Virginia’s capitol instead of some nondescript white building.

Climate change is a winning issue. Let’s work together to solve it.
Virginia Mercury, Rose Hendricks and Mark ReynoldsNovember 18, 2020 (Short)

Guest Column(Getty Images)

In the home stretch of the 2020 campaign, presidential candidate Joe Biden leaned hard into the issue of climate change, giving a televised climate speech and running climate-focused ads in swing states. His campaign bet that this issue, once considered politically risky, would now be a winner.

That bet paid off. The votes have been tallied, and candidate Biden is now president-elect Biden. But, as is often the case, his party doesn’t have unified control across the whole federal government. President Biden will govern alongside a Democratic House, a conservative Supreme Court, and a Senate that could either have a slim Republican or Democratic majority. That makes “working together” the order of the day.

Encouragingly, Biden understands that people of any party can and do care about climate change. In a speech this fall, he said, “Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid red states or blue states. Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way. The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. It’s not a partisan phenomenon, and our response should be the same.”

Some Republicans in the Senate are expressing similar opinions. In October 2020, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) participated in a climate policy webinar with her climate-hawk colleague, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). She noted that bipartisanship gives a policy longevity, so she said, “Let’s work in a way that is going to get the support that you need from both Republicans and Democrats.”

Fortunately, there are effective climate policies with bipartisan support on the table already. One such policy we should enact is a carbon fee. Congress could charge a fee or price on all oil, gas and coal we use in the United States based on the greenhouse gas emissions they produce. Putting that price on pollution will steer our country toward cleaner options, slashing our harmful emissions across many areas of our economy at once. The revenue from this type of policy can even be given to Americans on a regular basis—a “carbon cashback,” if you will, that would put money in people’s pockets while we transition to a clean-energy economy.

Our leaders here in Virginia are signaling their readiness to enact a carbon fee with a dividend. In September, Senator Mark Warner stated “I do believe it’s time to put a price on carbon.”

In October, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton stated “I think it’s time also that we explore the issue of carbon dividends, to use market forces to incentivize the use of renewable energy over dirty fossil fuel.”

Carbon fee legislation like this exists in Congress now, known as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). Congressman Gerry Connolly has co-sponsored H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, and General Assembly members Ghazala Hashmi, Sam Rasoul, Dave Marsden, Ken Plum, Ibraheem Samirah, Rodney Willett and Dan Helmer have endorsed it.

Virginians are ready for our elected officials to push forward to make this legislation the law of the land. With the incoming president clearly committed to addressing climate change, and millions of Americans eager for solutions, now is the time to act. Congress should seize the opportunity.

Mark Reynolds is the executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization working to generate the political will for a livable world. Rose Hendricks, PhD, is a volunteer and co-leader of the Fairfax County chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She’s a social scientist who has studied climate communications.

Gov. Ralph Northam announces Virginia’s Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework in Norfolk on Oct. 22, 2020. (Office of the Governor)

Virginia will no longer sidestep recognition that climate change is occurring and poses an existential threat to the state’s way of life, shoreline, economies and resources, a new planning document released by Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration Thursday reveals.

The report, called the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework, heralds a shift in the Old Dominion’s approach to an issue on which more than 99 percent of global scientists have reached consensus but is still frequently portrayed as controversial in state and national politics.

“To date, Virginia has slowly advanced efforts to study and mitigate coastal flooding without stating unequivocally that climate change is the root cause of the problem,” the framework announced Tuesday reads. “This approach, born of political necessity, has led to tortured titles like the Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency and the Joint Subcommittee to Recommend Short-Term and Long-Term Strategies Minimizing the Impact of Recurrent Flooding and Coastal Storms.

“More importantly,” it continues, “it has hampered honest dialogue and broader understanding of the challenges we face.”

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler called the acknowledgement that climate change is the primary driver of sea level rise and other major climatic shifts like increased precipitation, rising temperatures and more frequent and intense storm events like hurricanes a “logical kind of follow” to past policy discussions.

“People who live in coastal Virginia are seeing these impacts every day,” he said. “We felt it was really important to be clear about the science. This is something that we’ve studied a lot and have a high degree of certainty that these impacts are coming and that we need to prepare for them.”

Despite scientific agreement, however, many state and local politicians have been reluctant to openly voice a position on climate change. Virginia Beach officials, the Virginian-Pilot has reported, “rarely, if ever, utter the words ‘climate change’” and “specifically avoid attributing any such change directly to humans.”

In the General Assembly, a joint resolution put forward during the 2020 regular session by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, that declared “global warming caused by human activity that increases emissions of greenhouse gases has resulted in a climate and ecological emergency” was received along partisan lines in the House, with all support coming from Democrats and all opposition from Republicans. The resolution died in the Senate Rules Committee, where Chair Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, told Guzman the Senate no longer approves resolutions memorializing the legislature’s position or “foreign policy resolutions.”

In a 2017 debate with GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie, Northam noted that semantic changes were key to getting Republican support for more study of how sea-level rise will change Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“They said ‘Ralph, if you mention sea level rise, that equates to climate change and that’s a nonstarter.’ … I went back and rewrote the legislation and called it recurrent flooding and they said, ‘OK. That’s fine,’ ” Northam said. “It’s all about having relationships here in Virginia, it’s about having experience. It’s about agreeing to disagree. … We call that the Virginia Way.”

Michael Allen, a professor and director of the geography program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk whose research is cited throughout the framework, drew a distinction between the recognition that scientists overwhelmingly agree climate change is occurring and opinions on policy approaches to that change.

“We can discuss and debate the ways in which we can address the challenges,” he said. But when it comes to the science, “At some point you just can’t keep beating a dead horse. The science is clear, as clear as the Earth is round and smoking causes cancer.”

A statue of Neptune on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Beach)

Marching orders for combating rising seas

Beyond its policy prescriptions, the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework unfurled Thursday lays out a comprehensive plan for how Virginia will move forward in the coming years as sea levels rise along its coasts.

With more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s coastal region is home to about 70 percent of the commonwealth’s population and much of its economic power, from the federal government centers of Northern Virginia to the the sprawling defense installations of Hampton Roads, where Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base and enormous quantities of goods and resources like coal regularly transit the Port of Virginia.

Hampton Roads, however, also has the dubious distinction of having the East Coast’s highest rate of sea level rise, due partly to long-term land subsidence linked to tectonic plate shifting and years of heavy groundwater withdrawals in the southern part of the state. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from Virginia’s longest-operating tide gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, has found that the state has seen more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. Agency projections show that under the highest sea level rise scenarios, Sewell’s Point could see water levels rise by almost 6.7 feet by 2100.

These increases will have major — and costly — impacts. Recent estimates from Climate Central find that some 250,000 acres of land, 1,469 miles of roads and $17.4 billion in property lie in areas less than five feet above Virginia’s high tide line.

For many Virginians, such threats aren’t just theoretical. Regional flooding has become more frequent over the past decade in not only Hampton Roads, but the more rural and lower-income peninsular areas including the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Eastern Shore.

Summaries included in the Master Planning Framework detail a staggering array of initiatives and efforts undertaken by local and regional government bodies to combat rising waters. Virginia Beach hired consultant Dewberry to conduct a five-year coastal adaptation study, which was approved by City Council with much fanfare this summer. The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority has for years been helping property owners turn over threatened land that could provide a buffer in exchange for tax benefits.

The Eastern Shore’s Transportation Infrastructure Inundation Vulnerability Assessment has been working to determine how much of the region’s transportation infrastructure is at risk from sea level rise (one Coastal Management Zone Program study found almost 14 percent of the Shore’s state roads could be permanently inundated by 2060). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study examines the problem of flooding along parts of the Potomac.

(Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework)

The lists go on and on. And with sea level rise accelerating, that multiplicity risks inefficiencies and even could exacerbate some impacts if communities don’t collaborate with each other, the framework points out.

“A huge part of the Planning Framework is trying to align all the efforts that are taking place,” said Strickler. “There’s a real need out there to help localities and at the same time leveraging the federal resources, aligning the state resources in a way that we can help everybody and make sure there aren’t unintended consequences.”

Under the new document’s approach, the regional and planning district commissions that oversee Virginia’s coastal areas will be grouped into four new entities based on ecological, economic and cultural similarities: Hampton Roads; Rural Coastal Virginia, including the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore; Fall Line North, encompassing Northern Virginia south to the Rappahannock; and Fall Line South, including the greater Richmond and Petersburg regions. Each will be charged with identifying and prioritizing projects.

These regions will also play a key role in shaping the next phase of the state’s strategy: the Coastal Resilience Master Plan itself, which the Northam administration expects to be issued by December 2021. While a new technical advisory committee will helm the drafting of that plan, the framework requires not only input from the new regions but the convening of a series of regional roundtables over the next months.

Once completed, the master plan, ordered as part of Northam’s Executive Order 24 in November 2018, will map out the specific projects and programs to be undertaken, as well as how they will be financed. Green, or nature-based, solutions like living shorelines will be prioritized where possible, and consideration of equity issues — who will bear the brunt of adverse impacts or enjoy the benefits of any solutions — will be required.

“We have the information necessary to identify the location of affected communities and the risks they face,” the framework states. “We will work with these communities to plan, implement and support successful and lasting adaptation and protection strategies. We must begin now to develop these strategies.”

Not all will be optimal: numerous times throughout the framework there is acknowledgment that relocations will not only be necessary but inevitable.

“We must recognize that protecting every component of the built environment exactly where it stands today is not realistic,” the framework concludes. “In time, some homes, businesses, roads, and communities will become uninhabitable as sea level rises.”

While Strickler said “it’s clear some areas are going to be permanently inundated,” he also cautioned that “we’re not telling anybody they have to move.”

“We’re trying to assist communities and provide incentives to do smart, long-term planning,” he said. “But we wanted to acknowledge that the realities of climate change and sea level rise are clear, that there are places that are at significant risk.”

With more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s coastal region is home to about 70 percent of the commonwealth’s population and much of its economic power, from the federal government centers of Northern Virginia to the the sprawling defense installations of Hampton Roads, where Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base and enormous quantities of goods and resources like coal regularly transit the Port of Virginia.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from Virginia’s longest-operating tide gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, has found that the state has seen more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. Agency projections show that under the highest sea level rise scenarios, Sewell’s Point could see water levels rise by almost 6.7 feet by 2100.

Climate Change & Public Policy Day

Theme: “How to better address global warming of 1.5°C?”
Day: Monday November 26, 2018 or Thursday December 12, 2018
Time: 8 am to 8 pm
Place: George Mason University, Fairfax,VA on Top Floor of the Hub
Virtual:   VT, UVA, VCU

Schedule

8 to 9 – Poster Session
in Hub Ballroom (view throughout day)

9 to 12 – University Presos/Q&A
Professor Jagadish Shukla starts by talking about GW report – 10 minutes max preso and 30 minutes for panel Q&A, audience, other VA universities, and YT Live chat
… Lovejoy et al similar presos and Q&A
Livestream to public & video conference to Tech, UVA, and VCU

1 to 4 -Government Presos/Q&A
Senator Mark Warner keynote 10 to 20 minute followed by Q&A then other Gov’t presenters

9 to 12 and 1 to 4-  Charette
Students led by faculty members at table… focusing on developing policy recommendations

5 to 8 – Celebration of Planet Earth

Climate Change OverviewVirginia and Climate Change

With more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s coastal region is home to about 70 percent of the commonwealth’s population and much of its economic power, from the federal government centers of Northern Virginia to the the sprawling defense installations of Hampton Roads, where Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base and enormous quantities of goods and resources like coal regularly transit the Port of Virginia.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from Virginia’s longest-operating tide gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, has found that the state has seen more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. Agency projections show that under the highest sea level rise scenarios, Sewell’s Point could see water levels rise by almost 6.7 feet by 2100.

Virginia’s 100% Clean Energy Law
Green Tech Media, Emma Foehringer MerchantDecember 9, 2020 (Short)

A landmark clean energy law enacted this year in Virginia will only equate to a 26 percent reduction in economy-wide emissions by 2050, according to a new analysis, leaving the state far from the cuts required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed Virginia’s Clean Economy Act in April, establishing 100 percent clean energy requirements for the state’s largest utilities just as the U.S. was beginning to recognize the severity of the COVID-19 crisis. At the time, Delegate Richard C. Sullivan, Jr., leader of the House Democratic Caucus, called it a “historic step forward” for the Southern state.

But even the Clean Economy Act’s requirements for 3.1 gigawatts of energy storage, 5.2 gigawatts of offshore wind and 16.1 gigawatts of solar and onshore wind fall short of the action required to wring emissions from the electricity sector, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Rocky Mountain Institute and research firm Energy Innovation.

Comment on article by David Toscano, former Democratic leader, Va. House of Delegates

It is terrific that you and others keep pushing to enact policies addressing climate change. But lets start by acknowledging the significance of this legislation in Virginia. Before the legislative “blue wave” election of 2017, it was almost impossible to have a serious conversation about climate change in the commonwealth. After Dems took control in 2020, things changed dramatically, and the legislation passed this session was nothing short of landmark. Does it do all that needs to be done? Certainly not, but even its proponents will acknowledge that. So lets build on the momentum by acknowledging the bill’s significance and challenging everyone to do more–in areas like transportation, building efficiency. Oh, yes, and maybe use a picture of Virginia’s capitol instead of some nondescript white building.

Climate change is a winning issue. Let’s work together to solve it.
Virginia Mercury, Rose Hendricks and Mark ReynoldsNovember 18, 2020 (Short)

Guest Column(Getty Images)

In the home stretch of the 2020 campaign, presidential candidate Joe Biden leaned hard into the issue of climate change, giving a televised climate speech and running climate-focused ads in swing states. His campaign bet that this issue, once considered politically risky, would now be a winner.

That bet paid off. The votes have been tallied, and candidate Biden is now president-elect Biden. But, as is often the case, his party doesn’t have unified control across the whole federal government. President Biden will govern alongside a Democratic House, a conservative Supreme Court, and a Senate that could either have a slim Republican or Democratic majority. That makes “working together” the order of the day.

Encouragingly, Biden understands that people of any party can and do care about climate change. In a speech this fall, he said, “Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid red states or blue states. Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way. The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. It’s not a partisan phenomenon, and our response should be the same.”

Some Republicans in the Senate are expressing similar opinions. In October 2020, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) participated in a climate policy webinar with her climate-hawk colleague, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). She noted that bipartisanship gives a policy longevity, so she said, “Let’s work in a way that is going to get the support that you need from both Republicans and Democrats.”

Fortunately, there are effective climate policies with bipartisan support on the table already. One such policy we should enact is a carbon fee. Congress could charge a fee or price on all oil, gas and coal we use in the United States based on the greenhouse gas emissions they produce. Putting that price on pollution will steer our country toward cleaner options, slashing our harmful emissions across many areas of our economy at once. The revenue from this type of policy can even be given to Americans on a regular basis—a “carbon cashback,” if you will, that would put money in people’s pockets while we transition to a clean-energy economy.

Our leaders here in Virginia are signaling their readiness to enact a carbon fee with a dividend. In September, Senator Mark Warner stated “I do believe it’s time to put a price on carbon.”

In October, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton stated “I think it’s time also that we explore the issue of carbon dividends, to use market forces to incentivize the use of renewable energy over dirty fossil fuel.”

Carbon fee legislation like this exists in Congress now, known as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). Congressman Gerry Connolly has co-sponsored H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, and General Assembly members Ghazala Hashmi, Sam Rasoul, Dave Marsden, Ken Plum, Ibraheem Samirah, Rodney Willett and Dan Helmer have endorsed it.

Virginians are ready for our elected officials to push forward to make this legislation the law of the land. With the incoming president clearly committed to addressing climate change, and millions of Americans eager for solutions, now is the time to act. Congress should seize the opportunity.

Mark Reynolds is the executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization working to generate the political will for a livable world. Rose Hendricks, PhD, is a volunteer and co-leader of the Fairfax County chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She’s a social scientist who has studied climate communications.

Gov. Ralph Northam announces Virginia’s Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework in Norfolk on Oct. 22, 2020. (Office of the Governor)

Virginia will no longer sidestep recognition that climate change is occurring and poses an existential threat to the state’s way of life, shoreline, economies and resources, a new planning document released by Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration Thursday reveals.

The report, called the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework, heralds a shift in the Old Dominion’s approach to an issue on which more than 99 percent of global scientists have reached consensus but is still frequently portrayed as controversial in state and national politics.

“To date, Virginia has slowly advanced efforts to study and mitigate coastal flooding without stating unequivocally that climate change is the root cause of the problem,” the framework announced Tuesday reads. “This approach, born of political necessity, has led to tortured titles like the Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency and the Joint Subcommittee to Recommend Short-Term and Long-Term Strategies Minimizing the Impact of Recurrent Flooding and Coastal Storms.

“More importantly,” it continues, “it has hampered honest dialogue and broader understanding of the challenges we face.”

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler called the acknowledgement that climate change is the primary driver of sea level rise and other major climatic shifts like increased precipitation, rising temperatures and more frequent and intense storm events like hurricanes a “logical kind of follow” to past policy discussions.

“People who live in coastal Virginia are seeing these impacts every day,” he said. “We felt it was really important to be clear about the science. This is something that we’ve studied a lot and have a high degree of certainty that these impacts are coming and that we need to prepare for them.”

Despite scientific agreement, however, many state and local politicians have been reluctant to openly voice a position on climate change. Virginia Beach officials, the Virginian-Pilot has reported, “rarely, if ever, utter the words ‘climate change’” and “specifically avoid attributing any such change directly to humans.”

In the General Assembly, a joint resolution put forward during the 2020 regular session by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, that declared “global warming caused by human activity that increases emissions of greenhouse gases has resulted in a climate and ecological emergency” was received along partisan lines in the House, with all support coming from Democrats and all opposition from Republicans. The resolution died in the Senate Rules Committee, where Chair Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, told Guzman the Senate no longer approves resolutions memorializing the legislature’s position or “foreign policy resolutions.”

In a 2017 debate with GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie, Northam noted that semantic changes were key to getting Republican support for more study of how sea-level rise will change Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“They said ‘Ralph, if you mention sea level rise, that equates to climate change and that’s a nonstarter.’ … I went back and rewrote the legislation and called it recurrent flooding and they said, ‘OK. That’s fine,’ ” Northam said. “It’s all about having relationships here in Virginia, it’s about having experience. It’s about agreeing to disagree. … We call that the Virginia Way.”

Michael Allen, a professor and director of the geography program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk whose research is cited throughout the framework, drew a distinction between the recognition that scientists overwhelmingly agree climate change is occurring and opinions on policy approaches to that change.

“We can discuss and debate the ways in which we can address the challenges,” he said. But when it comes to the science, “At some point you just can’t keep beating a dead horse. The science is clear, as clear as the Earth is round and smoking causes cancer.”

A statue of Neptune on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Beach)

Marching orders for combating rising seas

Beyond its policy prescriptions, the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework unfurled Thursday lays out a comprehensive plan for how Virginia will move forward in the coming years as sea levels rise along its coasts.

With more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s coastal region is home to about 70 percent of the commonwealth’s population and much of its economic power, from the federal government centers of Northern Virginia to the the sprawling defense installations of Hampton Roads, where Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base and enormous quantities of goods and resources like coal regularly transit the Port of Virginia.

Hampton Roads, however, also has the dubious distinction of having the East Coast’s highest rate of sea level rise, due partly to long-term land subsidence linked to tectonic plate shifting and years of heavy groundwater withdrawals in the southern part of the state. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from Virginia’s longest-operating tide gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, has found that the state has seen more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. Agency projections show that under the highest sea level rise scenarios, Sewell’s Point could see water levels rise by almost 6.7 feet by 2100.

These increases will have major — and costly — impacts. Recent estimates from Climate Central find that some 250,000 acres of land, 1,469 miles of roads and $17.4 billion in property lie in areas less than five feet above Virginia’s high tide line.

For many Virginians, such threats aren’t just theoretical. Regional flooding has become more frequent over the past decade in not only Hampton Roads, but the more rural and lower-income peninsular areas including the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Eastern Shore.

Summaries included in the Master Planning Framework detail a staggering array of initiatives and efforts undertaken by local and regional government bodies to combat rising waters. Virginia Beach hired consultant Dewberry to conduct a five-year coastal adaptation study, which was approved by City Council with much fanfare this summer. The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority has for years been helping property owners turn over threatened land that could provide a buffer in exchange for tax benefits.

The Eastern Shore’s Transportation Infrastructure Inundation Vulnerability Assessment has been working to determine how much of the region’s transportation infrastructure is at risk from sea level rise (one Coastal Management Zone Program study found almost 14 percent of the Shore’s state roads could be permanently inundated by 2060). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study examines the problem of flooding along parts of the Potomac.

(Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework)

The lists go on and on. And with sea level rise accelerating, that multiplicity risks inefficiencies and even could exacerbate some impacts if communities don’t collaborate with each other, the framework points out.

“A huge part of the Planning Framework is trying to align all the efforts that are taking place,” said Strickler. “There’s a real need out there to help localities and at the same time leveraging the federal resources, aligning the state resources in a way that we can help everybody and make sure there aren’t unintended consequences.”

Under the new document’s approach, the regional and planning district commissions that oversee Virginia’s coastal areas will be grouped into four new entities based on ecological, economic and cultural similarities: Hampton Roads; Rural Coastal Virginia, including the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore; Fall Line North, encompassing Northern Virginia south to the Rappahannock; and Fall Line South, including the greater Richmond and Petersburg regions. Each will be charged with identifying and prioritizing projects.

These regions will also play a key role in shaping the next phase of the state’s strategy: the Coastal Resilience Master Plan itself, which the Northam administration expects to be issued by December 2021. While a new technical advisory committee will helm the drafting of that plan, the framework requires not only input from the new regions but the convening of a series of regional roundtables over the next months.

Once completed, the master plan, ordered as part of Northam’s Executive Order 24 in November 2018, will map out the specific projects and programs to be undertaken, as well as how they will be financed. Green, or nature-based, solutions like living shorelines will be prioritized where possible, and consideration of equity issues — who will bear the brunt of adverse impacts or enjoy the benefits of any solutions — will be required.

“We have the information necessary to identify the location of affected communities and the risks they face,” the framework states. “We will work with these communities to plan, implement and support successful and lasting adaptation and protection strategies. We must begin now to develop these strategies.”

Not all will be optimal: numerous times throughout the framework there is acknowledgment that relocations will not only be necessary but inevitable.

“We must recognize that protecting every component of the built environment exactly where it stands today is not realistic,” the framework concludes. “In time, some homes, businesses, roads, and communities will become uninhabitable as sea level rises.”

While Strickler said “it’s clear some areas are going to be permanently inundated,” he also cautioned that “we’re not telling anybody they have to move.”

“We’re trying to assist communities and provide incentives to do smart, long-term planning,” he said. “But we wanted to acknowledge that the realities of climate change and sea level rise are clear, that there are places that are at significant risk.”

Top News

Virginia’s 100% Clean Energy Law
Green Tech Media, Emma Foehringer MerchantDecember 9, 2020 (Short)

A landmark clean energy law enacted this year in Virginia will only equate to a 26 percent reduction in economy-wide emissions by 2050, according to a new analysis, leaving the state far from the cuts required to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed Virginia’s Clean Economy Act in April, establishing 100 percent clean energy requirements for the state’s largest utilities just as the U.S. was beginning to recognize the severity of the COVID-19 crisis. At the time, Delegate Richard C. Sullivan, Jr., leader of the House Democratic Caucus, called it a “historic step forward” for the Southern state.

But even the Clean Economy Act’s requirements for 3.1 gigawatts of energy storage, 5.2 gigawatts of offshore wind and 16.1 gigawatts of solar and onshore wind fall short of the action required to wring emissions from the electricity sector, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Rocky Mountain Institute and research firm Energy Innovation.

Comment on article by David Toscano, former Democratic leader, Va. House of Delegates

It is terrific that you and others keep pushing to enact policies addressing climate change. But lets start by acknowledging the significance of this legislation in Virginia. Before the legislative “blue wave” election of 2017, it was almost impossible to have a serious conversation about climate change in the commonwealth. After Dems took control in 2020, things changed dramatically, and the legislation passed this session was nothing short of landmark. Does it do all that needs to be done? Certainly not, but even its proponents will acknowledge that. So lets build on the momentum by acknowledging the bill’s significance and challenging everyone to do more–in areas like transportation, building efficiency. Oh, yes, and maybe use a picture of Virginia’s capitol instead of some nondescript white building.

Climate change is a winning issue. Let’s work together to solve it.
Virginia Mercury, Rose Hendricks and Mark ReynoldsNovember 18, 2020 (Short)

Guest Column(Getty Images)

In the home stretch of the 2020 campaign, presidential candidate Joe Biden leaned hard into the issue of climate change, giving a televised climate speech and running climate-focused ads in swing states. His campaign bet that this issue, once considered politically risky, would now be a winner.

That bet paid off. The votes have been tallied, and candidate Biden is now president-elect Biden. But, as is often the case, his party doesn’t have unified control across the whole federal government. President Biden will govern alongside a Democratic House, a conservative Supreme Court, and a Senate that could either have a slim Republican or Democratic majority. That makes “working together” the order of the day.

Encouragingly, Biden understands that people of any party can and do care about climate change. In a speech this fall, he said, “Hurricanes don’t swerve to avoid red states or blue states. Wildfires don’t skip towns that voted a certain way. The impacts of climate change don’t pick and choose. It’s not a partisan phenomenon, and our response should be the same.”

Some Republicans in the Senate are expressing similar opinions. In October 2020, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) participated in a climate policy webinar with her climate-hawk colleague, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). She noted that bipartisanship gives a policy longevity, so she said, “Let’s work in a way that is going to get the support that you need from both Republicans and Democrats.”

Fortunately, there are effective climate policies with bipartisan support on the table already. One such policy we should enact is a carbon fee. Congress could charge a fee or price on all oil, gas and coal we use in the United States based on the greenhouse gas emissions they produce. Putting that price on pollution will steer our country toward cleaner options, slashing our harmful emissions across many areas of our economy at once. The revenue from this type of policy can even be given to Americans on a regular basis—a “carbon cashback,” if you will, that would put money in people’s pockets while we transition to a clean-energy economy.

Our leaders here in Virginia are signaling their readiness to enact a carbon fee with a dividend. In September, Senator Mark Warner stated “I do believe it’s time to put a price on carbon.”

In October, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton stated “I think it’s time also that we explore the issue of carbon dividends, to use market forces to incentivize the use of renewable energy over dirty fossil fuel.”

Carbon fee legislation like this exists in Congress now, known as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). Congressman Gerry Connolly has co-sponsored H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, and General Assembly members Ghazala Hashmi, Sam Rasoul, Dave Marsden, Ken Plum, Ibraheem Samirah, Rodney Willett and Dan Helmer have endorsed it.

Virginians are ready for our elected officials to push forward to make this legislation the law of the land. With the incoming president clearly committed to addressing climate change, and millions of Americans eager for solutions, now is the time to act. Congress should seize the opportunity.

Mark Reynolds is the executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization working to generate the political will for a livable world. Rose Hendricks, PhD, is a volunteer and co-leader of the Fairfax County chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. She’s a social scientist who has studied climate communications.

Gov. Ralph Northam announces Virginia’s Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework in Norfolk on Oct. 22, 2020. (Office of the Governor)

Virginia will no longer sidestep recognition that climate change is occurring and poses an existential threat to the state’s way of life, shoreline, economies and resources, a new planning document released by Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration Thursday reveals.

The report, called the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework, heralds a shift in the Old Dominion’s approach to an issue on which more than 99 percent of global scientists have reached consensus but is still frequently portrayed as controversial in state and national politics.

“To date, Virginia has slowly advanced efforts to study and mitigate coastal flooding without stating unequivocally that climate change is the root cause of the problem,” the framework announced Tuesday reads. “This approach, born of political necessity, has led to tortured titles like the Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency and the Joint Subcommittee to Recommend Short-Term and Long-Term Strategies Minimizing the Impact of Recurrent Flooding and Coastal Storms.

“More importantly,” it continues, “it has hampered honest dialogue and broader understanding of the challenges we face.”

Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matt Strickler called the acknowledgement that climate change is the primary driver of sea level rise and other major climatic shifts like increased precipitation, rising temperatures and more frequent and intense storm events like hurricanes a “logical kind of follow” to past policy discussions.

“People who live in coastal Virginia are seeing these impacts every day,” he said. “We felt it was really important to be clear about the science. This is something that we’ve studied a lot and have a high degree of certainty that these impacts are coming and that we need to prepare for them.”

Despite scientific agreement, however, many state and local politicians have been reluctant to openly voice a position on climate change. Virginia Beach officials, the Virginian-Pilot has reported, “rarely, if ever, utter the words ‘climate change’” and “specifically avoid attributing any such change directly to humans.”

In the General Assembly, a joint resolution put forward during the 2020 regular session by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, that declared “global warming caused by human activity that increases emissions of greenhouse gases has resulted in a climate and ecological emergency” was received along partisan lines in the House, with all support coming from Democrats and all opposition from Republicans. The resolution died in the Senate Rules Committee, where Chair Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, told Guzman the Senate no longer approves resolutions memorializing the legislature’s position or “foreign policy resolutions.”

In a 2017 debate with GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie, Northam noted that semantic changes were key to getting Republican support for more study of how sea-level rise will change Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

“They said ‘Ralph, if you mention sea level rise, that equates to climate change and that’s a nonstarter.’ … I went back and rewrote the legislation and called it recurrent flooding and they said, ‘OK. That’s fine,’ ” Northam said. “It’s all about having relationships here in Virginia, it’s about having experience. It’s about agreeing to disagree. … We call that the Virginia Way.”

Michael Allen, a professor and director of the geography program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk whose research is cited throughout the framework, drew a distinction between the recognition that scientists overwhelmingly agree climate change is occurring and opinions on policy approaches to that change.

“We can discuss and debate the ways in which we can address the challenges,” he said. But when it comes to the science, “At some point you just can’t keep beating a dead horse. The science is clear, as clear as the Earth is round and smoking causes cancer.”

A statue of Neptune on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Beach)

Marching orders for combating rising seas

Beyond its policy prescriptions, the Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework unfurled Thursday lays out a comprehensive plan for how Virginia will move forward in the coming years as sea levels rise along its coasts.

With more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s coastal region is home to about 70 percent of the commonwealth’s population and much of its economic power, from the federal government centers of Northern Virginia to the the sprawling defense installations of Hampton Roads, where Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base and enormous quantities of goods and resources like coal regularly transit the Port of Virginia.

Hampton Roads, however, also has the dubious distinction of having the East Coast’s highest rate of sea level rise, due partly to long-term land subsidence linked to tectonic plate shifting and years of heavy groundwater withdrawals in the southern part of the state. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from Virginia’s longest-operating tide gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, has found that the state has seen more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. Agency projections show that under the highest sea level rise scenarios, Sewell’s Point could see water levels rise by almost 6.7 feet by 2100.

These increases will have major — and costly — impacts. Recent estimates from Climate Central find that some 250,000 acres of land, 1,469 miles of roads and $17.4 billion in property lie in areas less than five feet above Virginia’s high tide line.

For many Virginians, such threats aren’t just theoretical. Regional flooding has become more frequent over the past decade in not only Hampton Roads, but the more rural and lower-income peninsular areas including the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Eastern Shore.

Summaries included in the Master Planning Framework detail a staggering array of initiatives and efforts undertaken by local and regional government bodies to combat rising waters. Virginia Beach hired consultant Dewberry to conduct a five-year coastal adaptation study, which was approved by City Council with much fanfare this summer. The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority has for years been helping property owners turn over threatened land that could provide a buffer in exchange for tax benefits.

The Eastern Shore’s Transportation Infrastructure Inundation Vulnerability Assessment has been working to determine how much of the region’s transportation infrastructure is at risk from sea level rise (one Coastal Management Zone Program study found almost 14 percent of the Shore’s state roads could be permanently inundated by 2060). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study examines the problem of flooding along parts of the Potomac.

(Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework)

The lists go on and on. And with sea level rise accelerating, that multiplicity risks inefficiencies and even could exacerbate some impacts if communities don’t collaborate with each other, the framework points out.

“A huge part of the Planning Framework is trying to align all the efforts that are taking place,” said Strickler. “There’s a real need out there to help localities and at the same time leveraging the federal resources, aligning the state resources in a way that we can help everybody and make sure there aren’t unintended consequences.”

Under the new document’s approach, the regional and planning district commissions that oversee Virginia’s coastal areas will be grouped into four new entities based on ecological, economic and cultural similarities: Hampton Roads; Rural Coastal Virginia, including the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore; Fall Line North, encompassing Northern Virginia south to the Rappahannock; and Fall Line South, including the greater Richmond and Petersburg regions. Each will be charged with identifying and prioritizing projects.

These regions will also play a key role in shaping the next phase of the state’s strategy: the Coastal Resilience Master Plan itself, which the Northam administration expects to be issued by December 2021. While a new technical advisory committee will helm the drafting of that plan, the framework requires not only input from the new regions but the convening of a series of regional roundtables over the next months.

Once completed, the master plan, ordered as part of Northam’s Executive Order 24 in November 2018, will map out the specific projects and programs to be undertaken, as well as how they will be financed. Green, or nature-based, solutions like living shorelines will be prioritized where possible, and consideration of equity issues — who will bear the brunt of adverse impacts or enjoy the benefits of any solutions — will be required.

“We have the information necessary to identify the location of affected communities and the risks they face,” the framework states. “We will work with these communities to plan, implement and support successful and lasting adaptation and protection strategies. We must begin now to develop these strategies.”

Not all will be optimal: numerous times throughout the framework there is acknowledgment that relocations will not only be necessary but inevitable.

“We must recognize that protecting every component of the built environment exactly where it stands today is not realistic,” the framework concludes. “In time, some homes, businesses, roads, and communities will become uninhabitable as sea level rises.”

While Strickler said “it’s clear some areas are going to be permanently inundated,” he also cautioned that “we’re not telling anybody they have to move.”

“We’re trying to assist communities and provide incentives to do smart, long-term planning,” he said. “But we wanted to acknowledge that the realities of climate change and sea level rise are clear, that there are places that are at significant risk.”

Summary

With more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s coastal region is home to about 70 percent of the commonwealth’s population and much of its economic power, from the federal government centers of Northern Virginia to the the sprawling defense installations of Hampton Roads, where Naval Station Norfolk is the world’s largest naval base and enormous quantities of goods and resources like coal regularly transit the Port of Virginia.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from Virginia’s longest-operating tide gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, has found that the state has seen more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. Agency projections show that under the highest sea level rise scenarios, Sewell’s Point could see water levels rise by almost 6.7 feet by 2100.

About

Background

The Evidence for Climate Change

There is overwhelming consensus among scientists that the Earth’s climate is warming, and that this warming is largely driven by human action. Although regions have always experienced natural temperature fluctuations, long-term temperature records show an “unequivocal” warming trend since the 1950s. Other measurable changes such as accelerated melting of glaciers and ice sheets, sea level rise and increasingly extreme weather provide further clear evidence that warming is occurring. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which draws on research by thousands of scientists worldwide, this warming is “extremely likely” (defined as greater than 95% probability) to have been caused by human actions, particularly the release of “unprecedented” levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere since the mid-20th century. The U.S. Fourth National Climate Assessment released by the Trump administration in November 2018 similarly found that “observational evidence does not support any credible natural explanations for this amount of warming.”

Sources: IPCC, Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report; NASA, “Climate Change: How Do We Know?”U.S. Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Climate Change Overview

From Wikipedia

Climate change includes both the global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century, humans have had unprecedented impact on Earth’s climate system and caused change on a global scale

The largest driver of warming is the emission of greenhouse gases, of which more than 90% are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Fossil fuel burning (coal, oil, and gas) for energy consumption is the main source of these emissions, with additional contributions from agriculture, deforestation, and industrial processes. The human cause of climate change is not disputed by any scientific body of national or international standing. Temperature rise is accelerated or tempered by climate feedbacks, such as loss of sunlight-reflecting snow and ice cover, increased water vapour (a greenhouse gas itself), and changes to land and ocean carbon sinks.

Because land surfaces heat faster than ocean surfaces, deserts are expanding and heat waves and wildfires are more common. Increasing rates of evaporation cause more intense storms and weather extremes.Temperature rise is amplified in the Arctic, where it has contributed to melting permafrost and the retreat of glaciers and sea ice. Additional warming also increases risk of triggering critical thresholds called tipping points. Even if efforts to minimize future warming are successful, some effects will continue for centuries, including rising sea levels, rising ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification. Impacts on ecosystems include the relocation or extinction of many species as their environment changes, most immediately in coral reefs, mountains, and the Arctic. Warming may also cause reduced crop yields, declining fish stocks, potentially severe economic impacts, increased global economic inequality, increasing number of people living in an uninhabitable climate, and environmental migration. Current and anticipated effects from undernutrition, heat stress and disease have led the World Health Organization to declare climate change the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.

Coastal Flooding
From Sarah Vogelsong Virginia Mercury article (see Top News for 12/22/20)

Hampton Roads, however, also has the dubious distinction of having the East Coast’s highest rate of sea level rise, due partly to long-term land subsidence linked to tectonic plate shifting and years of heavy groundwater withdrawals in the southern part of the state. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, using data from Virginia’s longest-operating tide gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, has found that the state has seen more than 18 inches of relative sea level rise in the past 100 years. Agency projections show that under the highest sea level rise scenarios, Sewell’s Point could see water levels rise by almost 6.7 feet by 2100.

These increases will have major — and costly — impacts. Recent estimates from Climate Central find that some 250,000 acres of land, 1,469 miles of roads and $17.4 billion in property lie in areas less than five feet above Virginia’s high tide line.

For many Virginians, such threats aren’t just theoretical. Regional flooding has become more frequent over the past decade in not only Hampton Roads, but the more rural and lower-income peninsular areas including the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and Eastern Shore.

Climate Change and Health in Virginia

Flash-flood and tornado warnings for the Commonwealth of Virginia are happening with greater frequency and have major implications for human health, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 48-year-old environmental organization.

Long-term Goals

Stopping Climate Change in Virginia

Rising global temperatures risk irreversible worldwide ecological and climatic changes, with widespread impacts on human health and ecosystems. The threats include more violent storms, droughts, floods, acidifying and rapidly warming oceans, and altered growing seasons. In Virginia, increasing temperatures and rising sea levels due to climate change have resulted in saltwater intrusion, disappearing beaches and more intense storms and floods. We must transition away from dirty fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to clean, renewable energy as soon as possible to prevent the worst effects of a warming planet. Virginia must — and can — shift to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035.
Food and Water Watch

Congress

Senators Warner and Kaine

Senators’ position on Climate Change

Mark Warner

Senator Warner firmly believes that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while investing in new technologies that reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. He favors an “all of the above,” portfolio approach that employs solar, wind, bio-fuels, nuclear energy, next generation battery technologies, and investment in research that focuses on using carbon capture technology so we can continue to use our domestic resources, such as coal, more responsibly. The science surrounding climate change unequivocally supports the need for dramatic changes in policy, and Senator Warner believes any comprehensive legislation to address this issue must be balanced with the need to keep all sectors of our economy viable.

Similarly, the Commonwealth’s 3,300 miles of coastal resources provide significant economic contributions to tourism, recreation, commercial and sport fisheries, and wildlife enjoyment within our state. However, pollution, habitat loss, and other factors have taken their toll. Senator Warner believes that our federal and Bay state partners need to continue to work together to seek appropriate resources to preserve the Bay and he opposes any reductions in funding that threaten to erase progress made to restore the Bay’s oyster population and support local commercial fisheries.
From Mark Warner senate page
Go to Policy Areas > Environment to see more sponsored bills

Tim Kaine

When Tim Kaine was Governor in 2007, he established the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change (through Executive Order 59). The executive order also directed the Commission to create a Climate Action Plan that would evaluate expected impacts of climate change on Virginia’s natural resources, public health, agriculture, forestry, tourism, and insurance sectors.

Tim believes that America’s energy production should always be trending in the direction of cleaner tomorrow than today.

From the Chesapeake Bay to the Cumberland Gap, Virginia’s great outdoors are a priceless treasure that Tim is determined to safeguard for future generations to enjoy. Tim has long been an outspoken leader in support of clean energy and policies to combat climate change. As Governor, Tim put in place the Commonwealth’s first comprehensive clean energy plan. He supports investing in renewable energy, including offshore wind and solar, which would create new jobs and make Virginia a leader in clean energy development. Tim believes that by advancing an energy strategy that moves us from carbon-heavy to low-carbon, we can reduce pollution, bolster our national security, and create American jobs that cannot be outsourced.

After hearing concerns from local communities and the Department of Defense, Tim announced his opposition to opening Virginia’s coast to offshore oil and gas drilling. Tim has spoken out against the Trump Administration’s offshore drilling proposal that could threaten military assets in Hampton Roads as well as the environment and tourism industry. Tim has called on the Administration to listen to local voices on Virginia’s coast, which are overwhelmingly opposed to offshore drilling.

Virginia faces a unique set of challenges because of its coastal exposure to sea level rise caused by climate change, and Tim is committed to reducing this risk. He believes the U.S. should be an international leader on climate change and that President Trump’s decision to retreat from the Paris Climate Agreement is short-sighted. Tim believes the country that won World War II and the race to put a man on the moon should be able to cut approximately 1/4th of our carbon pollution by 2025. In the Senate, Tim has been a leader on efforts to combat sea level rise and flooding in Hampton Roads, which threaten readiness at local military installations and homes in the surrounding communities. Tim introduced the BUILD Resilience Act, which would spur investments in resilient infrastructure to reduce the risk of climate effects like flooding and extreme storms to communities like Hampton Roads. He has also been an advocate for protecting the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia’s National Parks like Shenandoah, its National Wildlife Refuges like Chincoteague, and its truly unique places like Tangier Island.

Tim respects the role coal production has historically played in traditional coal communities in Southwest Virginia, and as Governor, he supported the construction of the state-of-the-art Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County, one of the most advanced clean coal plants in the United States. He recognizes the sacrifice coal miners have made over a lifetime of dangerous work, and he is fighting on behalf of them in the Senate so they receive their hard-earned pensions and health benefits. Tim has supported clean coal research funding that could help revitalize Southwest Virginia’s economy, and he has co-sponsored legislation to stimulate large-scale federal and private sector investment to reduce carbon pollution through advanced clean coal technologies.

Tim has also pushed for robust funding for heating assistance programs. He has continually joined colleagues of both parties to urge the President and Senate appropriators to boost funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), two programs that play an important role in providing vulnerable populations and low-income households with affordable home energy.
From Tim Kaine’s senate page – see Related News for more proposals and bills sponsored by Tim Kaine

Bills Sponsored

Clean Economy Act – Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, have co-sponsored this legislation for the United States to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This bill would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to use existing authorities to put the U.S. on the path to achieving net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

The release says any plan the EPA develops would have to achieve rapid reductions at minimal costs, prioritize public health, and support a strong labor workforce. The agency would also be required to build upon existing state, local and private climate programs and set emission reduction targets for 2025, 2030 and 2040.

Senate Committees

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works oversees Global Warming related issues and bills. Here is there webpage. Senators Warner and Kaine do not sit on this committee.

Also see the he Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis’ report provides a framework for Congress to finally do what is necessary to build the clean energy future we all deserve.

Virginia US House Members

Key Members positions on Climate Change

Don McEachin (D), Virginia US House District 4, is a member of  the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis committee. Below is the information on McEachin’s government website related to the climate change.

Mr. McEachin proudly represents his district on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Mr. McEachin sits on the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, the Subcommittee on Energy, and the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change.

Mr. McEachin also serves on both the Energy and Mineral Resources and Oversight and Investigations subcommittees under the House Natural Resources Committee.

Congressman McEachin is a member of the following task forces and teams:

·         United for Climate and Environmental Justice Taskforce (co-founder)

·         Environmental Message Team

Congressman McEachin also serves as a member of the following caucuses:

·         CBC Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force (co-chair)

·         Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) (vice-chair)

·         Chesapeake Bay Watershed Caucus

·         Congressional PORTS Caucus

·         Congressional Ship-Building Caucus

·         Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition

In October, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton stated “I think it’s time also that we explore the issue of carbon dividends, to use market forces to incentivize the use of renewable energy over dirty fossil fuel.”

Carbon fee legislation like this exists in Congress now, known as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). Congressman Gerry Connolly has co-sponsored H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

 

House Select Committee on Climate Crisis

The U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis is charged with delivering ambitious climate policy recommendations to Congress “to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis.”

The committee was authorized by House Resolution 6 on January 9, 2019 and will publish a set of public recommendations by March 31st, 2020. Its members include experts in environmental justice, coastal flooding, clean energy development and other issues that are vital for addressing the climate crisis.

Committee website.

Virginia

Governor Northam

Governor’s position on Climate Change

Press Releases

Governor Northam to Protect Virginia’s Environment, Fight Climate Change, and Grow the Clean Energy Economy
December 11, 2019

Proposed budget makes historic investments in Chesapeake Bay restoration, environmental quality and equity, clean energy, and offshore wind

Governor Ralph Northam said his budget will include $733 million in new funding for the environment and clean energy—including a half-billion-dollar capital investment.

The budget creates Virginia’s first Office of Offshore Wind. It also invests up to $40 million to upgrade the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, to secure new investments in the offshore wind supply chain. These investments will help Virginia achieve 2,500 megawatts of energy generated from offshore wind by 2026.

“In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand—and having both is what makes our Commonwealth such a great place to live, work, and play,” said Governor Northam. “These significant investments in environmental protection, environmental justice, clean energy, and clean water will combat climate change and ensure we maintain our high quality of life here in Virginia.”

The proposed budget supports the Chesapeake Bay clean water blueprint Governor Northam released earlier this year with major investments to support local governments tackling stormwater pollution, upgrade wastewater treatment plants, and assist farmers implementing conservation practices to reduce farm runoff. When added to another $10 million for oyster reef restoration, these investments in clean water total more than $400 million and will put Virginia on track to meet the 2025 Bay cleanup deadline.

Governor Northam also proposed an additional $15.5 million investment for the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grant program, bringing it up to $20 million each year, to support targeted land protection through the Governor’s groundbreaking ConserveVirginia initiative.
For more information, see press release.

Governor Northam Signs Clean Energy Legislation
April 12, 2020

Governor Ralph Northam is accelerating Virginia’s transition to clean energy by signing the Virginia Clean Economy Act and by amending the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act that requires Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“These new clean energy laws propel Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change,” said Governor Northam. “They advance environmental justice and help create clean energy jobs. In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.”

The Virginia Clean Economy Act was passed as House Bill 1526 and Senate Bill 851, which were sponsored by Delegate Richard C. “Rip” Sullivan, Jr. and Senator Jennifer McClellan, respectively. The Act incorporates clean energy directions that the Governor issued in Executive Order Forty-Three in September 2019. It results from extensive stakeholder input and incorporates environmental justice concepts related to the Green New Deal.

The law requires new measures to promote energy efficiency, sets a schedule for closing old fossil fuel power plants, and requires electricity to come from 100 percent renewable sources such as solar or wind. Energy companies must pay penalties for not meeting their targets, and part of that revenue would fund job training and renewable energy programs in historically disadvantaged communities. The Act accomplishes the following broad goals:

  • Establishes renewable portfolio standards. The Act requires Dominion Energy Virginia to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045 and Appalachian Power to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050. It requires nearly all coal-fired plants to close by the end of 2024.
  • Establishes energy efficiency standards. The Act declares energy efficiency pilot programs to be “in the public interest.” It creates a new program to reduce the energy burden for low-income customers, and it requires the Department of Social Services and the Department of Housing and Community Development to convene stakeholders to develop recommendations to implement this program. The Act sets an energy efficiency resource standard, requiring third party review of whether energy companies meet savings goals.
  • Advances offshore wind. The Act provides that 5,200 megawatts of offshore wind generation is “in the public interest.” It requires Dominion Energy Virginia to prioritize hiring local workers from historically disadvantaged communities, to work with the Commonwealth to advance apprenticeship and job training, and to include an environmental and fisheries mitigation plan. 
  • Advances solar and distributed generation. The Act establishes that 16,100 megawatts of solar and onshore wind is “in the public interest.” The law expands “net metering,” making it easier for rooftop solar to advance across Virginia. The new law requires Virginia’s largest energy companies to construct or acquire more than 3,100 megawatts of energy storage capacity.

The Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act was passed as House Bill 981 and Senate Bill 1027, sponsored by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring and Senator Lynwood Lewis, respectively.

The Act establishes a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions from power plants, in compliance with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The Department of Environmental Quality will establish and operate an auction program to sell allowances into a market-based trading program.

The Act creates a Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund to enhance flood prevention, protection, and coastal resilience. It creates a low-interest loan program to help inland and coastal communities that are subject to recurrent flooding. The sale of emissions allowances would fund it.

The Governor proposed technical amendments to clarify how the fund would operate. The amendments provide for forgiveness of loans used in low-income geographic areas.

Governor Northam Announces New Actions to Improve Coastal Resilience, Address Flooding Caused by Climate Change
December 3, 2020

As the Commonwealth continues to experience flooding and extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, Governor Ralph Northam today announced new executive actions to improve coastal resilience and protect Virginia communities.

The three actions include (1) elevating the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program to report to the Commonwealth’s Chief Resilience Officer, (2) issuing a statewide request for proposal for technical engineering assistance in developing the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Plan, and (3) formally establishing the Virginia Coastal Resilience Technical Advisory Committee. These steps will directly support the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework announced in October.

“Virginia is increasingly experiencing intense storms and flooding due to climate change, endangering our environment and natural resources, public health and safety, and the economic well-being of the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “We must act now to mitigate these threats and protect lives and livelihoods, and these actions will bolster our ongoing work to build coastal resilience and maintain thriving communities.”

State Senate

Members’ position on Climate Change

Commenting on passage of Clean Energy Economy Act

“This is the most significant clean energy law in Virginia’s history,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan. “The bill that the Governor signed will make Virginia the first southern state with a 100 percent clean energy standard. The Act will create thousands of clean energy jobs, make major progress on fighting climate change, and break Virginia’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

In the General Assembly, a joint resolution put forward during the 2020 regular session by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Prince William, that declared “global warming caused by human activity that increases emissions of greenhouse gases has resulted in a climate and ecological emergency” was received along partisan lines in the House, with all support coming from Democrats and all opposition from Republicans. The resolution died in the Senate Rules Committee, where Chair Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, told Guzman the Senate no longer approves resolutions memorializing the legislature’s position or “foreign policy resolutions.”
From Virginia Mercury article

State Senate Committees

Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee

 

House of Delegates

Members’ position on climate change

At session’s midpoint, unprecedented progress on climate, clean energy
From Virginia Mercury article by Michael Town, Feb. 23, 2020

The new “Conservation Majority” at the General Assembly has broken the logjam when it comes to protecting clean air, clean water and our natural resources. Post-crossover, we have close to 100 good pieces of legislation still moving, and for the first time in Virginia’s history, we’re very close to passing serious legislation to address climate change.

On the last day before the midway point of session known as crossover, the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia passed the most comprehensive and bold package of clean energy and climate action legislation that Virginia’s ever seen. The Virginia Clean Economy Act reduces carbon emissions from the electric sector to zero by 2050 at the latest.

In addition to advancing the Virginia Clean Economy Act, both chambers have also passed legislation finalizing Virginia’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, connecting the Commonwealth to a highly successful, multi-state carbon cap-and-invest program. Over the past decade, this program has returned huge economic, environmental and public health gains to its 10 member states, almost every state to the north of us on the East Coast.

“This is the most significant clean energy law in Virginia’s history,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan. “The bill that the Governor signed will make Virginia the first southern state with a 100 percent clean energy standard. The Act will create thousands of clean energy jobs, make major progress on fighting climate change, and break Virginia’s reliance on fossil fuels.”

Carbon fee legislation like this exists in Congress now, known as the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763).  General Assembly members Ghazala Hashmi, Sam Rasoul, Dave Marsden, Ken Plum, Ibraheem Samirah, Rodney Willett and Dan Helmer have endorsed it.

House of Delegates Committees

Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee

Organizations

Educational

Virginia Conservation Network-
804.644.0283
Mission: Committed to building a powerful, diverse, and highly-coordinated conservation movement focused on protecting our Commonwealth’s natural resources.

Environmental Groups in Virginia

Environmental Organizations – Eco-USA

Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center
Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center is a project of Environment America research & Policy Center, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.

Nonprofit lobbyists

Environment Virginia

With Environment Virginia, you protect the places that all of us love and promote core environmental values, such as clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean energy to power our lives. We focus on timely, targeted action that wins tangible improvements in the quality of our environment and our lives.
Climate Action Campaign 
The Climate Action Campaign is a movement of Americans demanding that our elected representatives in Congress take action on climate change and protect our health over fossil fuel profits. Virginians are calling on our leaders to take immediate and decisive action, build the plans we need to cut carbon pollution today and champion solutions that rapidly move our energy system to clean, renewable energy. We are demonstrating our support for taking action in locally in the face of inaction at the federal level.
Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization empowering people to experience breakthroughs exercising their personal and political power. Active and in progress in approximately 20 Virginia counties and cities.

Business lobbyists

Dominion Energy

Dominion Energy Announces Support for Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures
Press release, Nov. 9, 2020

Dominion Energy has declared its support for the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), which provides guidance to organizations on providing information to investors, lenders, insurers, and others on the business risks and opportunities presented by climate change.

“Greater transparency regarding climate-related risks and opportunities is a competitive advantage,” said president and chief executive officer Robert M. Blue. “It enables shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders to see alignment among our strategy of building a clean and sustainable energy future, our goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and the opportunities arising from a shift to a low-carbon world. These disclosures also demonstrate our efforts to provide investors with consistency when evaluating and quantifying the impact of climate change on our business.”

From The Intercept, Nov. 6, 2019

The stunning victory on Tuesday by Virginia Democrats, seizing control of both chambers of the state legislature and bringing the state under unified party control, sets up a new confrontation with a powerful adversary: Dominion Energy.

Dominion Energy, the privately owned utility company, has long cast a shadow across the state, buying favor in both parties as the most generous donor in state history, writing its own lax regulatory rules, and funneling consumer bills into billions of dollars of investor dividends and executive compensation.

The election results mark a turning point that will likely transform into a brutal legislative fight in 2020 over the future of energy policy, corporate consolidation, and climate change. Virginia Democrats were once just as loyal to the energy giant as Republicans, dutifully passing nine-figure tax breaks year after year for Dominion, alongside other giveaways directly requested by the company’s lobbyists. Dominion lobbyists have crushed attempts to allow consumers to use “net metering,” or the use of rooftop solar power to send electricity back to the grid in exchange for credits, and passed laws specifically crafted to dodge limits on pollution by coal power plants.

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Climate Change & Public Policy Day 2Climate Change & Public Policy Day

Theme: “How to better address global warming of 1.5°C?”
Day: Monday November 26, 2018 or Thursday December 12, 2018
Time: 8 am to 8 pm
Place: George Mason University, Fairfax,VA on Top Floor of the Hub
Virtual:   VT, UVA, VCU

Schedule

8 to 9 – Poster Session
in Hub Ballroom (view throughout day)

9 to 12 – University Presos/Q&A
Professor Jagadish Shukla starts by talking about GW report – 10 minutes max preso and 30 minutes for panel Q&A, audience, other VA universities, and YT Live chat
… Lovejoy et al similar presos and Q&A
Livestream to public & video conference to Tech, UVA, and VCU

1 to 4 -Government Presos/Q&A
Senator Mark Warner keynote 10 to 20 minute followed by Q&A then other Gov’t presenters

9 to 12 and 1 to 4-  Charette
Students led by faculty members at table… focusing on developing policy recommendations

5 to 8 – Celebration of Planet Earth

Summary

Schedule

8 to 9 – Poster Session
in Hub Ballroom (view throughout day)

9 to 12 – University Presos/Q&A
Professor Jagadish Shukla starts by talking about GW report – 10 minutes max preso and 30 minutes for panel Q&A, audience, other VA universities, and YT Live chat
… Lovejoy et al similar presos and Q&A
Livestream to public & video conference to Tech, UVA, and VCU

1 to 4 -Government Presos/Q&A
Senator Mark Warner keynote 10 to 20 minute followed by Q&A then other Gov’t presenters

9 to 12 and 1 to 4-  Charette
Students led by faculty members at table… focusing on developing policy recommendations

5 to 8 – Celebration of Planet Earth

GMU Fairfax Hub Layout

 

Climate Change & Public Policy Day

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