Senator Hanger keeps the RGGI Bill from going to committee

Dear Senator Hanger,

We are writing to thank you for your long-term and hard-fought efforts in the areas of mental health, Medicaid expansion, Chesapeake Bay cleanup and stewardship, and others. We also appreciate your sponsorship of legislation allowing local taxing entities to exempt certified solar equipment from personal property taxes [§ 58.1-3661].

However, we also want to express our extreme disappointment that you chose to vote against allowing SB696 (VA Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act) to obtain due consideration by the Commerce and Labor Committee. As you no doubt know, this is the 3rd year this legislation has been introduced and summarily dismissed by your party’s majority. It has done so despite the fact that this proposal would allow VA to take a much-needed step in the direction of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, at least for carbon, and do so through a market-driven approach. Surely the need to do that is not partisan, since we all breathe the same air, drink the same water, farm the same land, depend on nature’s diversity and resilience, and rely on an economy that depends in large part on environmental predictability and stability–all of which are in serious jeopardy.

During these 3 years, we don’t believe your party has come up with legislative alternatives to what this bill proposed–i.e., that VA partner with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states to assess fees on carbon and use that revenue to cover the costs of such pressing matters as sea level rise along our coast, increased energy efficiency, and assistance to our southwest counties in their transition away from coal. Although it’s clear that your party–and also you apparently–do not favor RGGI, we are most interested in approaches that you do favor.

Some of the signatories are your constituents; all are engaged citizens who believe strongly that our legislature needs to focus–and do so now–on ways to foster sustainability and adaptation to climate-related weather events and to reduce our carbon emissions. We believe that, if you choose to do so, you can lead in this arena and we are offering our services to assist your doing just that.

Several years ago following a budget hearing, you spoke with one of us (Joy Loving, a constituent) and recommended that she “push” you in this direction by letting you know of relevant events and facts. She has been doing that periodically but has not recently requested a meeting with you to understand your positions and solicit your support in moving VA in the direction of greater sustainability and adaptation.

We think the time has come to sit down with you and have a frank discussion about what needs to be done and how best we can work together to do it. We will request a meeting with you once the current session has ended. At that point, we will know just what progress the General Assembly has made and what remains to be initiated. We sincerely hope you will be willing to have that discussion.

Thank you.

Joy Loving, Grottoes/ Rockingham Co
and sixteen other local concerned citizens

January 29, 2018