Virginia Environmental News Roundup for November 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for November 2021

Energy

Several Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) protesters faced a judge in late October and were convicted on misdemeanor charges and fined. Both the State Water Control Board (WCB) and the US Army Corps of Engineers are considering whether to grant what’s called a “401” water crossing permit; this opinion writer from the non-profit Mothers Out Front said the WCB should not approve it. The non-profit Wild Virginia hosted an almost 3-hour citizen ‘public hearing” (because the WCB and VA’s DEQ refused to do so). An appeals court heard arguments in a lawsuit asking the courts to strike down key MVP permits; the court could issue its decision by the end of this year. All this as the pipeline is nearing completion despite hurdles.

The SCC is considering an application by another pipeline company that wants to run the Chickahominy Pipeline across five Virginia counties. One of the questions is whether the company is a “public utility.” A hearing examiner said yes.

A reporter for the newly established Cardinal News asked “Why don’t we have more wind energy in Southwest Virginia? Or any?” One reason might be: The proposed wind farm in Botetourt County continues to have opponents; a second lawsuit has been filed. A prior one was unsuccessful.

On the other hand, Virginia’s a leader in offshore wind. The price tag for Dominion’s flagship wind project just went up nearly $2 billion and is now pegged at almost $10 billion. A blogger wondered what information Dominion didn’t include in its massive application supporting the increase cost; another blogger wants the Attorney General to ensure any missing relevant information is made public. And a third blogger wonders whether Dominion customers will be paying for the wind infrastructure in their utility bills, perhaps as early as December 2022. North Carolina is getting into the wind business; a project off Kitty Hawk will send power to Dominion’s Virginia grid and, North Carolina hopes, bring new jobs in that state. The Coast Guard wants to understand the implications of offshore wind farms to its mission.

Solar use is thriving in Shenandoah Valley homes,” thanks to programs such as those offered by LEAP, a Charlottesville area non-profit. “Shared solar” may represent a way for multi-family residents to enjoy solar’s benefits says a local solar installer. Advocates are hoping the upcoming General Assembly will see a bill passed allowing shared solar in southwest Virginia.

Blacksburg and Montgomery County are moving to increase the number of EV charging stations as the number of local EV owners increases. Generation 180 produced a report that suggests the rest of the state should perhaps follow suit. Appalachian Power will be funding electric school buses in five Southwest Virginia counties as part of a settlement between the EPA and its parent company.

Climate and Environment

Virginia’s state agencies are doing away with single-use plastics, and not everyone is pleasedWegman’s will stop using plastic bags in its Fairfax County stores; that county established a 5-cent tax per bag to become effective in January 2022.

Virginia’s broken ground on Mayo River State Park, in Henry County near the North Carolina border. Outgoing Governor Northam dedicated Virginia’s 66th natural area preserve, Piney Grove Flatwoods, part of a 10,000-acre conservation area in Sussex County. The Governor also announced the dedication of “Charlotte State Forest, opening the first publicly-accessible state land in Charlotte County.” An Augusta County farmer, and blogger, wrote about his success getting changes to the county’s Comprehensive Plan to change part of his farm’s acreage as “low density housing” to a designation that would allow him to put the land into a conservation easement.

A very large hydroponic greenhouse in Goochland County is producing LOTS of baby leafy greens.  The company, “Greenswell, is [making] a local play for the leafy greens market, which is largely dominated by companies on the West Coast.”

Virginia Beach voters approved a referendum for bonds to fund projects to curb coastal flooding. The city has been aware of the risks for some time. Current predictions for sea-level rise along Virginia’s coast are “more dire.” Some Middle Peninsula residents believe some of the state funding for flood protection should go to private landowners. Grist, a national online environmental news organization reports on what an iconic Chesapeake Bay island teaches us about the costs of sea level rise, saying that Tangier Island could be uninhabitable by 2051.

Bad news for an iconic Virginia aquatic animal; “American shad on ‘brink of collapse’ in James River.” More bad news: Virginia’s freshwater mussel population is in trouble. And the Chesapeake Bay is warming, according to a report by the William and Mary Institute for Marine Science. On the plus side, Bay restoration got a boost in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Virginia’s Transportation Department wants to see some that Act’s funds go to “roads, bridges, electric vehicle charging stations and addressing climate change.”

Better news? There have been armadillo sightings near Roanoke and in Wise County.

The Nature Conservancy is working on “Conserving Appalachia” in a changing climate. It’s also trying to restore seagrass levels on Virginia’s coast. And it’s working in Virginia’s “Pinelands” on swamp, rare birds, and forest protection.

Action Alert

Complete this survey and tell the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation what you’d like to see in the state’s 2023 Outdoors Plan about recreational activities.

Tell the Virginia Department of Transportation, at its online site by December 1, what you think about a 100‑mile hiking trail from Galax to Greenfield in the Roanoke and New River Valleys.  

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for October 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for October 2021

Energy

The US Army Corps of Engineers will conduct two virtual public hearings to solicit the views of interested persons regarding the permit application submitted by Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to cross certain bodies of water along the project’s path in West Virginia and Virginia. In addition, the Virginia State Water Control Board will decide in December whether to approve MVP’s request for a permit “to cross [more than 250] streams and wetlands in Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties.” Some groups believe the Water Board needs to consider the racial and environmental implications of the project. A “Climate Choir”, including Central Valley residents, traveled to Richmond to “sing” their objections to the MVP. MVP developers want Facebook to provide identifying information for owners of a page voicing opposition to the pipeline; two months later, Facebook hasn’t responded. Landowners in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina have questions about what will happen to property easements they provided utilities for the now-canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline; FERC is evaluating the utilities’ plans. Six landowners who sued MVP for property damages from erosion, sediment, and stormwater runoff have reached a settlement with MVP.  Opposition about another pipeline, Chickahominy, continues in Louisa County.

Virginia regulators will consider a Dominion request for extending the license for its nuclear plants past 2050. Two proposed rate increases from other Virginia utilities also made news: Old Dominion Power in Southwestern Virginia wants the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to approve a second substantial rate hike in less than two years. Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative also wants its second increase in less than two years; the SCC’s decision is pending. Appalachian Voices is among groups working toward energy reform so such increases don’t limit customers’ ability to reduce their electric bills through energy efficiency measures and rooftop solar.

The long-planned onshore wind farm in Botetourt County got a thumbs up from the county Board of Zoning Appeals; its developer plans to continue planning for the project. A planned wind turbine blade facility in Portsmouth for Dominion’s large offshore wind project will bring over 300 new jobs to the Hampton roads region. A Virginia Congressman introduced a bill to boost accountability in the offshore wind development industry. Industry leaders want Congress to “back long-term plans to increase production.”

A local non-profit, Give Solar, exceeded its fundraising goal to put solar on Habitat for Humanity houses in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area. Buckingham County passed a revenue-sharing ordinance for solar farms. Frederick County’s Planning Commission recommended approval of a 430 acre solar farm Two Southwest VA school districts “go solar”. Two companies—one a solar developer and the other a B-Corporation financing entity—are planning to install 42 MW of solar, including both distributed and community, across the state.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is providing over $10 million in electric school bus funding for cities and counties that apply successfully. Early reports on the newly launched Afton Express, a public transportation opportunity made possible by partnerships between the Staunton, Waynesboro, Charlottesville, Augusta and Albemarle, and U.Va., are favorable. Riders have bus service for trips to locations on both sides of Afton Mountain. Google’s Christiansburg drone delivery project, first in the U.S., is expanding into Texas. Christiansburg now has a new EV charging station.

Climate and Environment

Albemarle County is considering establishing a 5₵ tax on disposable plastic bags.

Revenue from carbon offset auctions following Virginia’s joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will help communities fund flood preparedness efforts. Harrisonburg’s City Council received the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Report by Virginia Tech Professor Sean McGinnis and sent it to its Environmental Performance Standards Advisory Committee to develop action plans.

Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension Service hosted the Mid-Atlantic Urban Agricultural Summit, where attendees could learn about urban agriculture and food security; innovations in urban ag; business, technology and policy; and urban community gardening. A U.Va. landscape architecture professor was the inaugural winner of the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize for her innovative work to re-purpose “brownfields” like “toxic waste dumps,” “derelict factories,” and “abandoned railyards” into, for example urban gardens and public spaces for “art and recreation.” Charlottesville’s efforts toward becoming a greener city have received recognition and awards.

The invasive Spotted Lanternfly is gaining a bigger foothold in Virginia. Scientists are working hard to help save endangered species in the state.

Six Virginia cities and counties received federal funds for water improvement projects. The Town of Chatham received over $3 million in state funds for similar purposes. Results of a bond referendum on Virginia Beach’s November 2 ballot will indicate whether voters are “willing to see their real estate taxes rise to pay for up to $567 million in flood protection projects that would be rolled out over the next 10 years.” Mid‑Atlantic farms managed to do well this growing season despite numerous weather challenges, as did Virginia farmers growing peanuts and cotton.

Action Alert

The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia and Appalachian Voices are working hard to convince the General Assembly to authorize a shared solar program to help their communities’ transition away from their economies’ coal dependence. To support their effort, sign on to their letter here.

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  • These stunning photos, courtesy of the Roanoke Times, of the Blue Ridge Parkway vistas.
  • Virtual event, “Plastic Pollution in Virginia: Trends, Sources, Solutions”, on Tue, Nov. 9, 7 to 8 pm. Register here.
  • Virtual event, Assateague Coastal Trust’s “Walk on the Wild Side Film Festival”, Nov. 12 6 pm -14 8 pm. Register here. The film festival will feature beautiful films and musical performances. Once you register, you will receive your viewing password and can view on demand. 
  • Virtual conference, “Grit and Gratitude: Celebrating a banner year and rising to the next challenge”, 
  • Sat, November 13th 1-5pm. This CCL conference will give the scoop on the status of carbon pricing in budget reconciliation, CCL’s vision for moving forward, and how to do that. Keynote speaker: Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, co-editor of All We Can Save. Register here.
  • Virtual (& Live) event, Assateague Coastal Trust’s 11th Annual “Wild and Scenic Film Festival where activism gets inspired”, Thurs, Nov 18, 6:30 pm—featuring “14 films, including 30 Below, that takes viewers through the barren, beautiful landscape of Alaska, and Camel Finds Water, which documents surfer Trevor Gordon’s restoration project of a derelict boat….” Register and buy tickets (virtual $25) here.
  • The Mendota Trail near Bristol, which provides the opportunity to bike or walk across several renovated former railroad trestles and enjoy wonderful scenery; it’s now about six miles long, with expansion to 12 in the works.
  • Local author Erik Curren’s new book—Abolish Oil Now!—set to launch officially on October 29. It’s available on Amazon as an ebook and in paperback and from the author in pdf format. The book compares efforts to abolish slavery, the obstacles faced, and the outcome, to today’s need to end use of fossil fuels.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for September 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for September 2021

Energy

Several Southwest Virginia (SWVA) communities have received funding to support “industrial, agricultural, community development, and tourism” economic development projects to help them transition from a dependence on coal. A Cumberland Plateau Planning District commissioner echoes the value of such projects, arguing that prior efforts have a good track record.

The Nature Conservancy and Dominion Energy are partnering to install large solar facilities on 1,700 acres, part of a reclamation effort on a former strip mine site; these projects will be developed within the Cumberland Forest Project. There may be additional, similar projects in SWVA and elsewhere, given the ubiquity of abandoned coal sites and Dominion’s need to meet Virginia Clean Energy Act solar energy requirements. RMI believes Appalachia ”could be the region to see the biggest economic benefit from the deployment of wind and solar projects over the next decade.” 

Dominion wants to power 250,000 Virginia homes with solar plants. In recent testimony before the State Corporation Commission (SCC) about one of Dominion’s proposals related to the VCEA, an attorney representing Appalachian Voices said the proposal would not necessarily benefit customers because it “is predicated on a flawed analysis that exaggerates benefits and fails to consider numerous other options likely to deliver the same or similar benefits at a fraction of the cost.” In a separate case, the SCC’s staff said “Dominion Energy earned more than $1.1 billion above a fair profit from customers in Virginia in a four-year span…. [Because of state law, however,] “customers aren’t likely to see that much in refunds.”

Will solar+battery storage make a difference? Apparently, Dominion Energy wants to try this approach. What about the cost of the energy transition? A Virginia solar installer thinks it could lower costs quite a bit. Another solar advocate de-bunked 5 myths about solar.

A Virginia blogger points out that subsidies have long been part of the US strategy to develop energy resources.

Dominion Energy has inked a deal with the Portsmouth Marine Terminal that will provide a staging area for constructing wind turbines and other infrastructure. Dominion has also committed to working with unions on its wind projects.

Virginia is moving to electrify its school bus fleet; one question is, after the first round, where will the funding come from? A Chesterfield bank installed an EV charger for customer use at no charge while banking.

“Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport recently installed runway lights with LED technology. The fixtures … use less energy and throw off more light, an aid to pilots and navigation.”

SWVA “landowners [are] still fighting [the Mountain Valley] pipeline’s use of eminent domain.” Virginia Conservatives for Clean Energy believes the reluctance to allow farmers to rent their land for large-scale solar farms represents an attack on landowners’ property rights. Is pig waste, aka biogas, “renewable energy?” This article’s lead sentence suggests it is: “Surry County’s Planning Commission will hold public hearings Sept. 27 on two proposed renewable energy projects.” Can a gas plant reduce the stench from a landfill? Some Chesterfield County residents may find out. A Tennessee official wants Virginia “to do more to fix Bristol landfill’s malodorous emissions.”

Climate and Environment

A Virginia blogger says Virginia could learn some lessons about flood control from Louisiana. A Virginia representative introduced a bill to curb flooding, and stormwater runoff, on military bases. A Norfolk advocacy group, Mothers Out Front, wants more moms to step forward and call attention to the city’s serious and chronic flooding.

SWVA farmers and brewers envision “a new industry for the coalfields region” through a resurgence of “Appalachian Grains” such as barley. Recent Appalachian Regional Commission grants may help make this vision a reality while also supporting other economic development in SWVA and other Appalachian communities. “Can Southwest Virginia remake itself as a laboratory for renewables?

Bedford County leaders want the USDA to issue a disaster declaration; this summer’s drought has devastated crops.

Fairfax County passed a 5-cent tax on disposable plastic bags. Alexandria and Arlington County did so as well. Virginia Tech’s project to reduce single-use plastic use and waste has made progress. An industrial plastics company will expand its operations in Rockingham County, adding 92 new jobs.

“Hampton Roads aquifer recharge project gets [a] $477 million EPA loan.”

Arlington now has county-wide curbside composting. The end-product will be “a nutrient-rich soil amendment that makes plants healthier. Finished compost will be available for free to county residents.” 

Shenandoah Green, an environmental advocacy group in Staunton, received kudos from the Climate Reality Project for its great work in planting trees and engaging large numbers of community members to do it.

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for August 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for August 2021

Energy

proposed Botetourt County wind farm in missed a deadline in the approval process; the developer appealed that determination. Offshore wind (OSW) is coming to Virginia and the State Corporation Commission has opened a docket anticipating a “coming application from Dominion Energy Virginia for its massive offshore wind proposal”; a blogger discusses pros and cons. OSW is under review for the North Carolina coastif built, some of the energy produced would be sold to the Virginia marketArea residents differ in their receptiveness to the prospect of large wind turbines offshore.

blogger discussed findings from a Wood McKenzie study giving Virginia top rankings as a “top state for new solar capacity additions,” pointing out that, nonetheless, “it’s still common to see proposed solar developments meet defeat at the local level.” A Valley farmer and solar advocates recommends “Stop whining about solar panels — we need more now.”

Solar United Neighbors intervened in a Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) Rate Increase application now pending before the State Corporation Commission (PUR-2021-00054), arguing another “20% increase … doesn’t align with members’ needs.” SVEC increased its fixed charge from $13 to $25 within the last 18 months. The SCC will hold a public hearing on October 6. Member‑owners can comment here.

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A Harrisonburg non-profit, Give Solar, has partnered with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to put solar on several newly constructed homes this year. The hope is to provide “a path to homeownership and sustainable energy” and to expand the model to other Habitat affiliates in the state. A well‑respected Virginia energy policy expert and blogger touted this local effort. (CAAV and other local organizations will host a benefit concert, “Songs for Solar”, to support it: September 10th, 7 – 9:30 PM, Community Mennonite Church, 70 S. High St, Harrisonburg VA 22801. All free will donations will go to GIVE SOLAR. Come and bring your mask.)

Fredericksburg’s Clean and Green Commission, partnering with Local Energy Assistance Program, launched a Solarize Fredericksburg campaign, through which “Fredericksburg [residents] and surrounding counties can sign up to receive a free solar satellite assessment and access discounted prices.”

An EPA letter to the Army Corps of Engineers recommended the Corps disapprove a water permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) because “[t]he current design of the pipeline threatens a variety of water bodies across Virginia and West Virginia.” Wild Virginia agrees. Although MVP owners plan to purchase carbon offsets for the project’s projected annual 730,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, environmentalists are unimpressedProtesters continue to raise objections to the MVP and some were arrestedDirectly affected property owners sued to prevent blasting for [the] pipeline on Bent Mountain.” The Department of Environmental Quality said it’s looking into complaints.

One legacy of the cancelled Atlantic Coast Pipeline: “A federal review of a plan to restore land disturbed by construction of the … Pipeline… recommends that some 31 miles of installed pipeline and 83 miles of trees felled … be left in place to minimize further disturbance to wildlife and vegetation.” Some of the infrastructure is on easements on privately held property. Nelson County residents want Dominion to rescind those easements; Dominion said they should stay in place until restoration is complete.

The market for coal is negative and utilities are evaluating when and how to discontinue its use. Coal’s negative environmental effects were underscored by a late July 13-car train derailment that sent coal into the James River. Charles City County residents “fended off” a proposed natural gas-fired plant.

Climate and Environment

Virginia’s Conservation and Recreation “received a $1 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to expand … living shorelines in Rural Coastal Virginia to reduce coastal erosion and benefit water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.” Environmental groups want the state to put one-sixth of funds due from the new American Rescue Plan to step up the pace of efforts to clean the Chesapeake Bay.” The Governor is supportive but not all General Assembly members agree. The Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center released a reportClimate Benefits of Chesapeake Bay Restoration in Virginia–examining “how efforts to improve water quality in Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed have also provided a secondary benefit of helping to remove carbon from the atmosphere.” Underwater sea grass is important to a clean Bay; for the second year in a row, abundance of such grass declined, possibly affected by “impacts from extreme weather and changes in water quality.” The Virginia Living Shorelines program should flourish thanks to a $1 Million grant that will help homeowners install “natural water breaks like sand, marshes, and oyster reefs that stabilize shores and conserve habitats—to stop … erosion.”

A recent Inspector General audit found Virginia’s current decentralized approach to monitoring and addressing drinking water quality is flawedAnother IG audit concluded the state’s oversight of its conservation easement program needs improvement. Virginia’s Natural Resources Secretary concluded the program is inequitableAddressing flooding in Virginia Beach will cost millions; voters will decide whether to borrow the funds. Here are 10 “takeaways” from a recent study examining the effects of climate change on Hampton Roads.

The Center for Biological Diversity may sue the federal government “over its failure to examine how a program that encourages the use of waterways for shipping affects endangered species, including Atlantic sturgeon in Virginia’s James River.” A scientist studied the freshwater mussel and found a lot to like.

The 2021 General Assembly authorized a study on the potential impact of gold mining; the National Academies will conduct it. Several military base sites contain dangerous “forever chemicals.”

In July, UVA joined other state agencies in following Governor Northam’s March 2021 executive order to “drop all single-use plastics by 2025.” JMU announced the order in June.

  • Wild Virginia is sponsoring a webinar on September 16, 7-8 pm, titled “The Current & Future Geography of Conservation in Virginia.” The speaker is Dr. Healy Hamilton, Chief Scientist of NatureServe. Register here.
  • Want to reduce your use of plastic? A Staunton business “refills recycled plastic containers with all‑natural products, such as dishwashing detergent, clothes washing detergent, shampoo and hand soap.” It’s expanding to Charlottesville.
  • Generation 180 published this article on the relative costs of Electric and fossil-fuel-powered Vehicles.
  • Find the latest CAAV Roundup of national and international climate-related news here.
  • CCL will host a virtual discussion about heat, one of the most severe effects of climate change. The event “The Planet Has a Fever” will be held on Tuesday, August 311 at 6:30 PM ET. Register here.
  • Appalachian Voices will host a webinar on “How Communities are Gaining Control Over HOW Power is Produced – Aug. 31, 5:30 PM ET. Register here.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for July 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for July 2021

Energy

Solar has been making news:

  • A Harrisonburg non-profit, Give Solar, has partnered with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate to put solar on several newly constructed homes this year. The hope is to provide “a path to homeownership and sustainable energy” and to expand the model to other Habitat affiliates in the state.
  • An area installer has secured $25 million in financing to “develop, own and operate solar power projects in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Solar projects will include K-12 public schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and local government facilities.”
  • Large-scale solar development is underway across the state, with localities inundated with special use permit applications, some of which proposed solar as a new use for formerly industrial sites, or “brownfields.” Planning commissions and Boards of Supervisors in numerous counties have examined their zoning ordinances and listened to the public. Here are links to stories about this in a few of the many affected localities: Augusta CountyBuchanan CountyRockingham CountyHalifax CountySurry CountySouth BostonFauquier CountyMecklenburg County, and Gloucester CountyNot everyone is enamored of “utility‑scale” solar facilities.
  • With contracts signed between Appalachian Power and several southwest Virginia localities, schools there can finally move toward putting solar on their roofs.

Energy efficiency has also gotten some press:

As did off-shore wind:

court upheld Virginia’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is intended to reduce our carbon pollution from power plants. Revenue received from carbon polluters will provide funding for coastal resilience actions and energy efficiency initiatives for low income residents.

Owners of a proposed, and controversial, fracked gas plant near Charles City canceled plans to pursue the project after evidence showed DEQ could have revoked the permit it had granted. DEQ announced the Air Quality Control Board delayed consideration of a permit for the Lambert Compressor Station until September. Meanwhile, another company is exploring routes for a pipeline in Charles City, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa and New Kent counties.

EPA believes the Army Corps of Engineers should “not grant [the] Mountain Valley Pipeline stream crossing permit.” Even so, MVP owners recently purchased $150 million in carbon offsets to counter effects of its operations. Two Appalachian Voices staff members think that’s “greenwashing.”

Nelson County residents recently celebrated cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline one year ago. Berkshire Hathaway abandoned plans to purchase a gas pipeline from Dominion Energy because of “uncertainty about whether the deal could get regulatory approval.”

There is a new “state official supporting the rollout of green banks in Virginia”; green banks will help finance renewable energy projects. An analysis showed “Targeted Stimulus Investment in Advanced Energy Would Deliver Nearly $134 Billion to Virginia’s Economy.”

Climate and Environment

There have been numerous reports of sick birds in several states, including Virginia. Scientists are trying to learn why. DEQ reported a large fish kill (~8,000) in Little Creek near Bristol from a lye spill. A UVA-Wise researcher is studying amphibians in a wetlands area at the top of a mountain in southwest Virginia to find out what types of frogs and salamanders live there.

Fredericksburg is wrestling with whether, and how, to tax plastic bagsFairfax County plans to explore such a tax.

The new state park along the York River, Machicomoco, harks back to when it was the home of native people, with plentiful “tall grasslands and woods.” The only state park dedicated to indigenous tribes, its “dual purpose [is] to honor Native American tribes that trace their ancestral roots to the land and to educate nonnative visitors about the land’s importance to Indigenous people who still live in the region.”

Perhaps there will someday be a Chesapeake Bay National Recreation Area. Still, “cuts to clean water protections threaten Chesapeake Bay restoration.”

There is considerable interest in the planned Shenandoah Rail‑Trail that will link Broadway and Front Royal. The Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley is a proponent. Woodstock’s “bike and pedestrian trail [is] still on pace as [the] town nears engineering stage.”

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for June 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for June 2021

Energy

Dominion has approval to continue operating the Surry nuclear plant for another 20 years. Google’s Loudoun County data center will be powered by carbon-free energy for 10 years. The EPA awarded Virginia’s DEQ $300,000 to convert “brownfields” into sites producing renewable energySouthwest Virginia solar advocates are pleased at a new contract between Appalachian Power (ApCo) and several of its jurisdictional customers that will allow them to use Power Purchase Agreement arrangements to put solar on their schools and other facilities. Although solar energy installation slowed statewide in 2020, the industry is “on a roll” and was among the top five states for new solar capacity installed in the first quarter of this year.

Several local, state, and federal elected officials praised Powhatan County for its efforts to put solar on several of its schools. The superintendent noted expected savings, pointing out one school’s roof was replaced as part of the project. Officials highlighted the educational benefits and the schools’ lowered carbon footprint.

A Harrisonburg non-profit, Give Solar, has partnered with Central Valley Habitat for Humanity to install solar on Harrisonburg and Rockingham Habitat homes built starting late 2020 and continuing for 5 years. The two organizations hosted a “Solar Barnraising” on June 18. Give Solar is fundraising to establish a seed fund to eventually cover costs for future Habitat homes. The hope is to expand the project’s model to other Virginia Habitat affiliates.

ApCo customers can pay an extra $4.25/month so “all of their electricity would come from wind, water and sunlight.” But ApCo “currently gets about 80% of its electricity from power plants that burn coal and natural gas.” Because of ApCo’s offering, no other company can offer ApCo customers a real renewable energy choice. A blogger explained why “most ‘renewable energy’ options don’t add new wind and solar to the grid.” Virginia will be one of three states to decide the fate of ApCo’s West Virginia coal plants.

Energy efficiency provides “the most affordable electricity … you don’t use.” A small business owner cities a new report—“Pathways for Energy Efficiency in Virginia” — arguing Dominion should improve its current programs to boost homeowner and small business owner ability to benefit from energy savings.

A long‑planned Botetourt County wind farm continues to undergo changes in its size and scope. Off‑shore wind farms off Virginia’s coast demonstrate how challenging and complex achieving goals for this technology has been and will continue to be.

Despite 2021 legislation supporting (but not funding) conversion of the state’s school buses from diesel- to electric‑powered, advocates are seeking ways to make e-buses a reality. New River Valley localities now have rental e-bikes.

Nelson County will celebrate the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cancellation July 5. Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) protests resulted in arrests. An opinion writer disagrees with the assertion that the MVP is “critical to energy security,” citing its rising costs and long delays but omitting direct reference to the environmental damage it’s already caused.

Climate and Environment

Virginia’s climate change vulnerability points to the need for adaptation. How, how much, and when to adapt depend on the projected scenario. Land erosion and climate-change-related sea level rise are bringing contamination, flooding, and “farther‑reaching storm surges” beyond the coast into Virginia’s Historic Triangle.

Several Attorneys General urged the EPA to include “Forever chemicals”—“29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances” (PFAS) — in its monitoring and analysis processes. Sources of Virginia’s 2020 solid waste included 25% from outside the state. An extensive evaluation of US dams and their hazards identified 80 locations with the greatest susceptibility to contamination from dam failure. Emporia Virginia has a site—a former foundry—and an aging dam—113 years old. Virginia’s Department of Health awarded Harrisonburg’s Public Utilities and Water Treatment staff “the 2020 Silver Water Treatment Plant Performance Award for Excellence in Filtration and Backwash.”

Virginia and other Chesapeake Bay states have worked on Bay clean-up for years. Recently, the states’ governors asked for $1billion in federal funds to boost progress, given “a 2025 deadline for major pollution reductions.” Governor Northam committed to reducing polluted runoff to advance Chesapeake Bay restoration. A blogger described the role trees can play. Part of Bay pollution originates in the Shenandoah Valley; Virginia does not do an adequate job warning users of the Valley’s waterways about the contaminants they could encounter, say environmental groups. Cognizant of their county’s “impaired” waters, Loudoun Supervisors want to find out if requiring expanded buffers around some larger bodies could reduce the negative effects of the rapid development there.

Plants can suffer from pandemic diseases; Virginia Tech researchers are studying how and what can be done to prevent outbreaks.

Federal funds improve several outdoor recreation projects in Southwest Virginia. The non-profit Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center will “offer funding [and] services to innovative agribusinesses.” Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation provided “$4.8 million in grant awards … [to] help conserve more than 6,100 acres.” The Virginia Land Grant Foundation announced its FY2022 $7,500,000 state funding grant round in five categories: farmland, forestland, and historic preservation, natural area protection, and open space/parks.

Air pollution is one consequence of transportation powered by fossil fuels. A “study estimates 485 Virginians died prematurely in 2016 as a result of transportation emissions.” A blogger bemoaned recent federal data showing atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached their highest levels since measurements began. Virginia Tech established a first‑of‑its‑kind School of Environmental Security – to help understand and manage the natural and other consequences of human activities.

Also check out…

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for May 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for May 2021

Energy

A Virginia energy policy expert describes whether and how the state can reach carbon-free electricity by 2035, while pointing out that Dominion and ApCo ratepayers face so-called renewable energy choices that don’t actually provide them such energy. The State Corporation Commission recently approved renewable energy plans put forward by the two large utilities to implement requirements of the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). The SCC will evaluate future plans as to how well they carry out “the [VCEA’s] RPS and carbon dioxide reduction requirements.” An ApCo rate hike, if the SCC agrees, will mean customer bills will rise $22 on average. The federal Interagency “Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities” found southwest Virginia to be the fourth most coal‑dependent region in the U.S.

Solar installations on Virginia schools continue apace. Augusta County’s project is among those featured in this item. As part of a Green Business Alliance of Charlottesville area businesses, Tiger Fuel installed solar panels and also purchased Alt Energy, an area solar installer. Applications for utilityscale solar facilities in rural localities are having mixed success: Roanoke Valley (Smith Mountain Lake area), Campbell CountyCity of Chesapeake, and Central Appalachia. Bedford’s council approved installation of solar panels on the former “Bedford Middle School building, which is being converted into apartments.” Old Dominion Electric Cooperative is seeking proposals to develop 400MW of new solar to increase solar energy onto Virginia’s electric cooperatives’ grid. This blogger argues the recent hack of the Colonial Pipeline is one reason for more decentralized distributed (rooftop) solar. One example is community or shared solar. Dominion has an installation it owns and controls community solar. Another form is when a group of individuals cooperatively produce and share solar energy. The VCEA tasked Dominion with developing a prototype of the latter model. Dominion wants to assess a minimum $75 fee for shared solar; not everyone is in favor.

new training program, part of Virginia’s plan to make the state a hub for offshore wind services, is off to a good start.

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality established a new Environmental Justice Office to assist in decision making involving social justice considerations. DEQ is proposing a reduction in currently allowed “hazardous waste that’s incinerated in an open burning ground at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant.” Opponents of the Chickahominy Power Plant want DEQ to reopen the “air permit issued to Chickahominy Power in 2019 for a proposed natural gas plant in Charles City County” because of inadequacies in the environmental justice analysis. Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board has other controversial permits to consider, including one related to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. North Carolina’s DEQ recently denied for a second time a water permit for MVP Southgate extension , which would run from Virginia into North Carolina. Two MVP protesters were arrested for trying to stop a truck carrying pipeline materials. Project delays are one result of litigation and protests.

Blacksburg Transit has its first five electric buses—part of a plan to convert its bus fleet over the next 10 years. Negotiations with CSX are underway as part of the planning for passenger service rail expansion into the New River Valley. Norfolk Southern Railway has reached agreement to provide such service under the “Western Rail Initiative.” Northern Virginia will see more rail service also.

A northern Virginia condo-owner association approved a member’s request to install Tesla chargers at his two basement parking spaces; Virginia law allowed the change but the condo board needed convincing—and educating. Electricity demand will grow as Virginia sees more data centers and Virginians buy more EVs.

Climate and Environment

This article describes regenerative agriculture efforts in southwest Virginia. Opponents of the state’s plan to establish a seabird sanctuary on Fort Wool argue that it lacks “a balance between cultural and natural resources.” Seagrasses off Virginia’s coast absorb carbon? They do more than that.

A state delegate introduced a bill “to break down barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets.” On May 1 the state began levying a litter tax on “manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and/or retailers of groceries, soft drinks, carbonated water, beer and other malt beverages” with penalties for late payments.

An National Park Service environmental assessment done as part of a proposal to restore Shenandoah National Park’s Meadow Run watershed found there would be no significant impact from the two alternative actions. The US Forest Service has done prescribed burns in areas of the Jefferson and George Washington National Forests to open up the tree canopy and allow greater plant diversity—part of an Appalachian forest regeneration effort. The Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley recently named Professor Charles Ziegenfus its 2021 Valley Treasure for his longtime efforts to study and protect wild birds.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup “Extra” for April and May 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup “Extra” for April and May 2021

Energy

Pipeline controversies continue. What should happen after cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to property seized under eminent domain and through agreements with landowners? The same question pertains to land seized for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). Two Roanoke landowners sued for just compensation and received a jury award for considerably more than the MVP owners wanted to give.

President Biden’s newly created Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities reported that “Southwest Virginia is fourth most coal-dependent area in U.S—potentially making the region a priority for federal funding to revitalize communities as part of the transition to renewable energies.

On May 19 the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy will conduct its quarterly test of the North Anna nuclear plant “early alert” system.

Virginia will distribute $20 million from Volkswagen settlement funds to localities to purchase electric school buses. Virginia Tech is moving ahead on a “multi-modal” transportation center to allow centralizing of bus routes and routes and to serve as a local hub for “bike sharing and larger bus services” such as the Virginia Breeze that also serves Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Front Royal. Planning for expansion of rail transit in the New River Valley continues, though where the station will be is not yet clear. Planning for high speed rail service between Richmond and Union Station will be slowed to assess the effect on the project because the route passes above a “long-hidden Black cemetery” considered “a historic burial ground.”

Climate and Environment

Virginia’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is funding a Trout Unlimited initiative “to enhance/restore native trout habitat and water quality in the Upper James, Shenandoah and Upper South Branch Potomac watersheds.” $2.9 million will aid the effort in “Rockingham, Page, Augusta, Highland, Bath, Rockbridge and Shenandoah counties.” The state’s Wildlife Resources Department will impose a ban on removing box turtles and other reptiles from the wild. The invasive, plant-eating spotted lanternfly is increasing its presence in Virginia. If you spot one, contact the local Cooperative Extension Service. Virginia’s “northern long-eared, little brown and tri-colored” bat population has been hard-hit by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease. Efforts by engineering students at JMU may benefit the health of the Chesapeake Bay and sea turtles. They’re working on buoys to “help the Chesapeake Bay Foundation monitor the health of the bay … [and] the Brevard Zoo monitor the migration of leatherback sea turtles off the coast of Florida.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center reported that its challenges to four water permits in North Carolina yielded a requirement that large hog-farm operator “Smithfield must fix pollution, environmental injustices at hog operations producing biogas.” That biogas comes into Virginia and is used to produce electricity at a Dominion plant.

“The Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board unanimously approved a final regulation prohibiting the use of certain hydrofluorocarbons in specific end uses.” They “can have a significant impact on global warming in part due to their long presence in the atmosphere before breaking down.”

NOAA has issued new “climate normals” for “baseline data of temperature, rain, snow and other weather variables.” This graphic will let you see what’s expected for Virginia. The EPA has restored and updated it climate indicators webpage and has a map and descriptions of circumstances in specific locations. One notes earlier bloom dates for Washington, D.C.’s cherry blossoms and another, land loss along the Atlantic seaboard.

Planning continues for a Waynesboro location of the Virginia Natural History Museum housing “exhibits focusing on many of the characteristics that make the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley a truly distinctive region.”

A land conservationist donated the 7,300-acre Falkland Farms in Halifax County to the state, so it can target biodiversity conservation and eventually provide public outdoor recreation opportunities” there.

Did you know that Virginia is home to a very unique, and very large fish, Walleye? “That New River strain of fish is so unique that you can’t find them anywhere else on the planet.” How big? The two largest caught were 15+ and 22+ pounds!

Upcoming Events:

Sierra Club Program on Plastic Pollution in Virginia – June 9 at 7 pm. Eye-opening program on: single-use food containers and beverage items and to large items like fiberglass boats. Learn about the new Virginia Plastic Pollution Prevention Network. Join online, free.

Ivy Creek Foundation Field Trips for Kids – Contact Catherine Boston, Director of Education for ICNA, at catherine@ivycreekfoundation.org. Or fill out this Field Trip Request Form.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for April 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for April 2021

Energy

Dominion Energy submitted its petition to the State Corporation Commission (SCC) in support of the statutorily required “triennial review”—an audit of its earnings and expenses. What is a triennial review? Here’s an explanation. The company wants higher guaranteed profits Despite excess earnings of $26 Million above its four-year target, the company does not want to provide customer rebates. An advocacy group objects, and a broader fight about utility regulation looms. After courts disapproved an already-completed Dominion transmission line project spanning the James River, a mitigation settlement resulted in Dominion’s funding “The Founders District” to attract tourism in the affected area. The SCC affirmed its prior denial of Appalachian Power’s rate increase request; ApCo appealed to the state’s Supreme Court.

Transportation planners in Virginia and Maryland are looking at how to connect rail systems in both states to enable train travel between states. The governor approved creation of the New River Valley Rail Authority to support additional rail service in that area. The Maryland-Virginia agreement may assist the New River Valley effort.  Thanks to federal funding, Virginia has finalized agreements with several railways to launch a $3.7 billion expansion and improvement of the state’s commuter and freight railroads, including in southwest Virginia. VRE has already increased rail service on weekends.

Following Blackjewel’s bankruptcy settlement, in addition to the loss of 500+ coal mining jobs in Virginia, the state now owns “mining permits that no one wants.”

All tree sitters protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) were removed; denial of bond, fines and jail awaited some. The press was denied access to witness the “extractions.” A continuing issue is whether and how MVP can cross hundreds of waterways in the pipeline’s path. One aspect is Virginia DEQ’s permitting process, which is lengthy. A Virginia advocacy group provided specifics. The MVP provided $27.5 million to several Virginia conservation groups as compensation for forest fragmentation and water pollution its operations caused.

Solar projects, especially “large-scale solar farms” continue to be proposed. Recently, they have been or will be considered in these locations: Louisa CountyKing George County, and Buchanan County. Localities sometimes have concerns about potential negative effects of these projects; the Department of Environmental Quality recently fined Dominion Energy because of stormwater runoff to a creek from another Louisa project. Virginia is home to several data centers and interest in them continues. Equipment suppliers for these centers mean jobs, including in Botetourt County.

A partnership between Harrisonburg non-profit Give Solar and the local Habitat for Humanity will result in solar on new homes during 2021. Thanks to the efforts of a Norfolk resident, an energy company has “brought more than 1,000 [solar] panels to churches and businesses in low-income areas throughout Hampton Roads [and] has hit a major goal: more than $1 million worth of installations.” Virginia has a ways to go in the distributed solar market, however.

Climate and Environment

Harrisonburg Public Works received a Gold Medal in the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards for its Purcell Park Bioreactor Project. DEQ announced reductions in toxic pollution to air, water, and land in 2019, compared to 2018. What to do with waste? Burn it for energy or send it to a landfill? Hampton Roads’ Naval Shipyard has a dilemma.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, with concurrence of the Virginia Bureau, reacted favorably to an EPA report “that farmers are raising more food and fiber and producing more renewable fuels using fewer resources by utilizing smarter practices,” thus serving as carbon sequesters.

The Historic Virginia Land Conservancy recently added 2,600+ acres, across five counties, to its portfolio. The properties all represent “vital” farmland in Virginia.

Plans are underway for a biking trail from Richmond to Virginia Beach; short term plans are to extend an existing trail to Williamsburg, longer term plans would extend it to the ocean at Virginia Beach, with a possibility of a further extension through the Dismal Swamp into North Carolina.

Oystermen lost a suit seeking damages because of pollution to their harvesting grounds from a locality’s sewage treatment facility; the Virginia Supreme Court found their leases do not ensure the absence of pollution.

Coalfields and aquaculture? Who knew they’re connected?

Like other coastal communities, Mathews County wants to preserve its coastline, including both private properties and wetlands located there. Problem is, it’s hard to do both.

Like camping? Here’s are some ideal local sites. How about hiking? Check out this one along Aquia Creek.

Interested in an electric vehicle (EV)? Here is some information about EVs in Virginia.

Ever wondered about the relationship between our underground aquifers and our rivers. Here’s an explanation for the Middle River.

What’s a “green flash?” Virginia recently had one.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.

Virginia Environmental News Roundup for March 2021

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is pleased to provide Harrisonburg’s The Citizen with a monthly survey of energy and environmental news stories about Virginia.

With their permission, we are re-posting these pieces here after they appear in The Citizen.


The link to this piece as first published by The Citizen is HERE.

Statewide Environmental News Roundup for March 2021

Energy

report from UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center describes ways to accelerate Virginia’s transition away from carbon-source fuels toward clean energy. Not everyone believes these are feasible solutions. Powhatan County approved a 20 MW solar farm. A Harrisonburg resident leads Give Solar, which will help Habitat for Humanity install solar on several area homes in 2021.

In its first Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction, Virginia netted $43+ million, part of which will fund energy efficiency programs for low income Virginians. RFFI is a multi-state coalition to reduce carbon pollution. Multiple Virginia energy groups want Congress to pass “Biden’s 100 % Clean Electricity Standard Now.” Virginia Tech’s board wants a carbon neutral campus by 2030.

Dominion faces a challenge getting onto the grid the electricity from the 188 wind turbines it’s building off Virginia’s coast. Another challenge is receiving needed approvals from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. A for-profit school in Norfolk is training students for wind industry jobs. Virginia continues to “scope out” opportunities for becoming a player in the wind industry supply chain.

A southwest Virginia group is beginning the process of adding more residential solar in coalfield areasFive localities there are cooperating to attract more data centersNew rail service in the New River Valley may become reality after 2021 legislation to enable fundraising. A former coal mining equipment manufacturer has pivoted to energy storage, with help from a grant.

Taking its first steps to join the EV bandwagon, Virginia enacted clean car standards comparable to those in California and established an as-yet unfunded rebate process to incentivize Virginians to purchase EVs. Six utilities are cooperating to greatly expand EV charging stations throughout the southeast, mid-west, and Atlantic destinations; Dominion is one of the participants.

Dominion wants approval to continue operation of its North Anna nuclear plant for another 20 years. Opponents question its safety after the 2011 earthquake.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) remains a source of news: It will be completed this year. Arguments in a court case that it’s not needed failed. Work continues while tree-sitters watchOne sitter was removedA second sitter was removed, effectively ending that protest. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy received a $19.5 million pledge from MVP, with which it signed a 2020 voluntary conservation agreement.” Owners of the Transco Pipeline filed suit against MVP owners who want to take land through eminent domain that Transco previously acquired the same way.

Pittsylvania’s NAACP asked Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality to have the Air Quality Control Board review MVP’s air permit. Builders of a proposed natural gas pipeline in Prince William County withdrew its application. Despite vocal community opposition to a Wegman’s distribution center in a wetlands area, the Virginia Water Control Board approved its construction.

Climate and Environment

Southwest Virginia has a huge gypsy moth problem but may have found a way to address it.

Northern Virginia tap water may have high levels of “forever chemicals.” The James River has a pollution problem despite past and current efforts to solve it.

Virginia saw some environmental “wins” during the 2021 General Assembly session. Prince William County is considering whether to establish a “plastic bag tax.”

Virginia Beach will restore 200+ acres of wetlands to help reduce flooding. Virginia contracted with an engineering firm to receive a “roadmap” for responding to the threats from sea level rise and coastal flooding.

Several EMU students organized a summer 2021 “Climate Ride” to “get folks interested in saving the world.” An EMU alumna is airborne to study air quality, “measuring aerosols and greenhouse gases by plane.”

Get ready for the 17-year cicadas; they’re coming our way. As you may have noticed, spring has sprung; seen any bluebirds? Encountered any black bears on your hikes? Virginia’s population is flourishing.

Some “to dos”: Thinking of taking some hikes this spring? Virginia offers some good ones.  An Amherst resident managed to complete her goal along the Appalachian Trail. Hike the newly opened Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail under Afton Mountain; and learn its history. See the importance of the “Goose Creek Watershed” from this documentary. Check out a recent “Fata Morgana” mirage over the Chesapeake Bay, and learn what it is. Tell Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance what your vision of the city’s 2040 downtown looks like.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is a non-profit, grassroots group in the Central Shenandoah Valley that educates legislators and the public about the implications of the Earth’s worsening climate crisis.