Omnibus Environmental Bill Squeaks by in Virginia's House

Mar 5, 2020

 

Dominion Energy's Chesterfield Power Station in Chester, Va.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

 

Virginia environmental advocates are celebrating a big win at the statehouse. The House of Delegates has passed the Clean Economy Act. The omnibus bill sets the stage for Virginia to get to zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.

 

 


There are a lot of elements to the Clean Economy Act, but the bottom line is that it lays out a plan to get Virginia to 100-percent renewable energy within the next 20 to 30 years. That means closing coal plants and ending gas fracking, in addition to setting energy efficient goals that Virginia’s utilities are responsible for meeting. 

“This will move us up into the top tier of states and having more efficient energy grid so that we all need less energy,” says Michael Town with the League of Conservation Voters. “It’s going to get us off of fossil fuels. And it’s going to be a bold change in combating this global crisis of climate change.” 

Joanne Sims was one of a handful of environmental advocates who came out to lobby lawmakers this week. She’s from Newport News and is worried about rising seas. She says without the government taking a lead, the transition to sustainable energy will be too slow. 

“Because people have a lot of investments in traditional energy sources so I think that waiting for businesses to naturally do it is going to take a lot longer than we have,” says Sims. 

The bill just barely squeaked by in the House of Delegates. A handful of progressive Democrats spoke against it, saying it wasn’t ambitious enough. But when the time came to vote only one, Delegate Lee Carter, voted against it. Almost every single Republican joined him, many worry utility customers will get stuck with higher bills.

 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.