FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 13, 2018
Contact: Jason Stanford, 804-698-1049, DelALopez@house.virginia.gov
While General Assembly takes some steps forward far too many environmental and renewable energy bills were not acted upon this Session
RICHMOND – At the final meeting of the 2018 Session for the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy (VERE) Caucus, members discussed the outcome for their legislative priorities. As the 2018 General Assembly Session draws to a close, numerous bills to protect Virginia’s environment and promote clean renewable energy are still moving forward through the legislative process. However, many of the top priorities of the group including the Virginia Coastal Protection Act to reduce carbon pollution, dramatically expanding community solar and net-energy metering programs, and regulations strengthening protections for Virginians from toxic chemicals were all defeated on party line votes.
“Compared to previous years when most environmental initiatives were defeated by this point in the legislative session, this represents an important step forward in the General Assembly for Virginia’s environment,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez, chair of the VERE Caucus. “However, we have a long way to go before Virginia has the same environmental protections that are common in other states. It’s important that we continue to push for common sense policies that will protect and preserve our environment for future generations.”
Among the missed opportunities were a bill to require radio and television stations to be notified of a hazardous spill in Virginia waterways (HB1059 – Delegate Tran), a bill lowering Virginia’s lead action level to protect our children from lead poisoning (HB979 – Delegate Rodman), and numerous bills to expand solar and renewable energy in Virginia.
The group also had success this year including legislation to extend the Green Jobs Tax Credit in Virginia (HB1372 – Delegate Lopez), legislation expanding access to electric vehicle charging stations (HB922 – Delegate Bulova), and a bill to encourage school districts to build energy efficient, zero energy schools by making it easier for them to net-meter (HB1451 – Delegate Sullivan).
The General Assembly also passed legislation earlier this session allowing all localities within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to adopt ordinances to encourage the planting and replacement of trees (HB494 – Delegate Hodges).
Just this week, the General Assembly passed legislation to strengthen regulations moving forward to protect Virginia’s waterways from contamination due to the construction of natural gas pipelines (SB698, SB699 – Senator Deeds & SB950 – Senator Hanger).
Additionally, legislation was passed this session that will require $1 billion in new investments in energy efficiency and 5,000 new megawatts of renewable energy in Virginia (HB1558 – Delegate Kilgore).
“While we have had unprecedented success this legislative session, Virginia still lags far behind our neighboring states in reducing carbon pollution and investing in new renewable energy projects,” said Delegate Rip Sullivan, co-chair of the VERE Caucus. “As legislators who care deeply about Virginia’s environment, we will continue to work together to make progress on these issues until Virginia becomes a leader on clean, renewable energy in the United States.”