Virginia Environmental News Roundup for May 2023

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 2023 


Dominion issued its latest long-range Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Governor Youngkin announced that the 2023 IRP “validates [his] energy plan released in October 2022….” The plan calls for “new gas plants [and] advanced nuclear [that Dominion said] will be needed to meet soaring demand.” “Renewables alone aren’t expected to meet a projected increase in demand for electricity in the coming decades, Dominion … said in [its] … filing …. That means the state’s largest electric utility may seek to keep most of its existing power stations online for decades to come and seek to build additional small natural gas and nuclear units.” A Dominion official “said Dominion expects to deploy 33,000 new megawatts of total generation in the next 25 years.” One critic concluded that the IRP “relies too much on fossil fuels.” An environmental advocacy group derided the “’unholy union between billionaire Governor Youngkin and Dominion’ … [as a] ‘corporate profit grab that would bankrupt Virginians and exacerbate climate change.’” A blogger wondered if Virginia would have “more nuclear power?” Another commentator reacted to the IRP this way: “Law? What law? Pandering to the governor, Dominion’s new plan ignores Virginia’s climate law. The energy giant’s IRP is a political document, not a serious approach to meeting Virginia’s electricity needs.” The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) said “The utility’s expanded reliance on fossil fuels stands out and works against the state’s requirements for reducing emissions as laid out in the Virginia Clean Economy Act.” Advanced Energy United echoed this view. Utility Dive pointed out that “Dominion Energy [IRP] projects adding up to 9 GW of new gas-fired capacity due to reliability concerns.”

The SCC has only one commissioner and two vacancies. The General Assembly, which has the responsibility to appoint, has failed to do so during the last two sessions. The reason is “political stalemate.” While complimenting the SCC staff, “The Virginia Ratepayer Protection Alliance, a group that includes Google, Amazon Web Services, the Virginia Manufacturers Association and the Virginia Poverty Law Center, told Virginia’s top lawmakers … that “these Commissioner seats have been vacant for too long.”

A “judge dismissed one of two lawsuits filed last fall in an effort to stop the 2,139-acre data center corridor proposed near the Manassas National Battlefield Park …, [a decision that] paves the way for the massive new data center development approved by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors last fall…. The [approved change to] … the county’s long-term plan … allow[ed] for up to 27 million square feet of data centers to be built on about 1,600 acres of once-protected agricultural land near the Manassas National Battlefield Park.” Discussions between the developer [Digital Gateway] and the county continue, with the latest “Digital Gateway plan [pitching] 28 to 34 data centers outside the Manassas battlefield. The July 2022 Prince William County “comprehensive plan amendment that would turn northern Prince William County into a massive data center amendment … depicted two large parks and hundreds of acres of green space as key to the project…. But [there are] no real plans for the parks. Instead, [the developer application] to rezone the land for data centers, the final step in the approval process …, made it clear that the big parks are not part of their projects at this point. Critics of the digital corridor see this as a betrayal.”

“As Northern Virginia continues to cement its position as a global base for data centers, Fairfax County leaders say the time has come to reevaluate the impact of the facilities and, potentially, set some boundaries for the future.” Loudoun County is considering a way to “leverage its booming data center industry, located entirely in eastern Loudoun, to fund a large-scale land-preservation project in the rural west without any use of tax dollars…. The idea of paying landowners to agree to a permanent prohibition on development is not unknown to the area. Neighboring Fauquier County … has the largest purchase-of-development-rights program in the state, a tax-funded system in which the county government pays the owners of working farms to give up development rights. Fauquier has preserved more than 13,000 acres at a cost of $17 million…. [L]andowners in western Loudoun could give up permanently the right to develop 97,000 acres of land —… or roughly two thirds of the county’s land area — for a combined total of $1.9 billion, all paid by data center developers in exchange for larger or taller buildings in eastern Loudoun.” Illustrative of what may become more prevalent, “Amazon data centers [will] replace at least 11 Loudoun, Fairfax office buildings.”

As noted in last month’s Perspectives piece, President Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm came out in favor of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). It may have been a political decision, given West Virginia’s Senator Manchin’s position and continuing efforts to “overhaul” the permitting process for this project. SELC expressed its “staunch opposition” to Manchin’s “permitting bill”, which “includes provisions to complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline and other polluting infrastructure that would put communities across the South and nationwide at risk.” There is at least some chance that the bill (and others) may advance in Congress. “The U.S. Forest Service … approved Mountain Valley Pipeline’s passage through the Jefferson National Forest through West Virginia and into Virginia “despite past federal appeals court rulings determining developers had ‘inadequately considered’ the project’s environmental impact.” “The federal agency issued a record of decision … approving amendments to its Land and Resource Management Plan to do so. The pipeline project still faces additional legal hurdles.” The New York Times called the permit “crucial.” “Environmental advocates like Wild Virginia Conservation Director David Sligh said … that the Biden administration is favoring fossil fuels even as it “claims to advance environmental justice.” E&E NewsReuters, and Fox News also highlighted the Biden administration’s actions. Appalachian Voices is appealing the latest USFS decision.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) weighed in on the environmental impact of a proposed pipeline expansion in Hampton Roads, saying “they expect some, mostly short-term, environmental impacts from a proposed pipeline expansion that runs through Hampton Roads – but none that necessarily preclude it from moving forward…. The new environmental impact statement is a draft up for public review.” Local environmental groups and others oppose the project. A retired Army Corps of Engineers employee, citing the recent Ohio train derailment, argued that “Shutting down pipelines doesn’t magically make the transport of oil and gas less necessary. Communities rely on these resources, and limited pipeline access will lead to fuel being transported using less safe methods.”

As Virginia moves to pull out of carbon market [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI], housing groups worry about funding loss. Millions in RGGI money has gone toward low-income energy efficiency projects since 2021…. [C]ommunity housing developers worry about the loss of the funding the program generates to upgrade existing homes and build entirely new ones that more efficiently consume energy…. How those funds will be replaced if Virginia withdraws from RGGI isn’t clear.”

A “2022 state law [appointed a stakeholder group] to determine whether it’s feasible for Virginia to set methane reduction goals and craft a plan to meet them. That group, which has held one meeting since the passage of the law and is expected to provide recommendations to the state Department of Environmental Quality for a report due July 1, stopped short of setting any specific reduction targets or defining what ‘feasible’ means. And while industry members argued Virginia regulations are unnecessary, environmental groups said state rules could fill in any gaps within federal proposals…. Methane, a primary component of natural gas, is the second most abundant greenhouse gas on the planet, behind carbon dioxide, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Although not as prevalent as CO2, methane is 25 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere. As concern about climate change has grown, federal regulators have increasingly looked to reduce methane emissions.”

“Two years after … 16 businesses [in and near Charlottesville] made carbon‑reduction pledges, 10 more firms have pledged some steps to reduce climate emissions by joining the Green Business Alliance…. Susan Kruse — the director of the group that created the alliance, the Community Climate Collaborative — said that the first cohort of alliance signees pledged in 2021 to reduce their carbon emission 45% within five years…. ‘These founding members have … already achieved a 29% emission reductions in just two years,’ Kruse said [, adding that] the new cohort of 10 members has committed to reduce their emissions by 35% by 2027 … [and noting] that each member has also made an individual pledge to take action, ranging from a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 90%.”

Dominion Energy told the SCC it expects the number of EVs in Virginia to double by the end of 2024 and double again by 2026. “After five years, in 2027, Dominion expects there will be 220,000 electric vehicles in its Virginia and northeast North Carolina territory. It will mean a roughly six-fold increase in electricity usage, with EVs accounting for roughly 600,000 megawatt hours of electricity a year in 2027.” As increased EVs and more data centers increase the demand for electricity, “Dominion Energy is proposing to expand a program intended to incentivize customers to shift when they use electricity to lessen the load on the grid and cut down on their bills at the same time…. Virginia’s Office of the Attorney General, which advocates for utility ratepayers, is supporting the proposal but also calling for some changes to the program to ensure it provides customers sufficient benefits.”

Nuclear energy in Virginia continues to receive attention. This Canary Media podcast explores a future with more nuclear providing energy. In a series of posts, a blogger called attention to a “big market: industrial power plants independent of utilities and the grid (and thus not requiring State Corporation Commission approval.” He also reported on a new Westinghouse reactor that may be available by 2027. In addition, he responded to a reader’s question about nuclear power safety. And he discussed a two‑year old position paper on nuclear power by Bill Gates and current Energy Secretary Granholm. Additionally, he provided a response from Clean Virginia after he asked for their position. The response: “Clean Virginia recognizes SMRs as a nascent technology that has neither been fully tested nor proven to be cost‑competitive. Thus, it is our view that this technology warrants further study by the state. Specifically, we hope state agencies lead a process with stakeholder input to understand and research SMRs and other technologies like hydrogen to determine their viability and the pathways to deploy these technologies in the safest and most cost-effective way possible.” A study funded in part by the VA Department of Energy concluded that “Far Southwest Virginia is a ‘competitive hosting ground’ for small modular nuclear reactors.”

Support for solar over closed landfills is growing. A conservative Virginia organization, Energy Right, believes that, “As renewable energy reshapes the grid … it needs to be a winning proposition and developed the “right way” in rural Virginia, a magnet for solar companies seeking open expanses of land.” Virginia localities continue to wrestle with whether to approve so-called “large (or utility) scale solar farms”. In Dinwiddie County, NIMBY is a common reaction. Shenandoah County approved new rules governing such facilitiesIsle of Wight County has recently received “an influx of proposals for new solar farms over the past two months. [They have] come as Isle of Wight supervisors [approved] an ordinance [imposing] a near-moratorium on solar development by capping the cumulative acreage of existing and proposed solar farms to 2% of the county’s “prime” farm soils, or a maximum of 2,446 acres.” A similar scenario is playing out in Louisa County. Chesapeake’s Planning Commission approved two “more proposed solar installations [for] southern Chesapeake, a trend that has been transforming acres of farmland in the city into renewable energy projects.” In Rockingham County, a 2,700 solar panel array “to produce renewable energy for the Massanutten Waterpark” will be up and running this fall, with more solar possible going forward. County supervisors turned down, for the second time, a proposed “19-acre solar energy farm to Honeysuckle Road in Elkton…. Removal of trees and stormwater run-off were two environmental factors brought up in the conversation.” Some Mecklenburg County residents have concerns about the cumulative effects of both solar farms and data centers “on the rural character of Southside’s farm[s] and timberlands and endangering the environment and its many historic, pre-historic and archeological features.”

USDA “announced the availability of nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities that will help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to their communities across the country.” The two programs — Empowering Rural America and Powering Affordable Clean Energy — present “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help combat the climate crisis while also enhancing Virginia’s rural quality of life,” said [the] USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director.”

Climate and Environment

“The Environmental Protection Agency … proposed a settlement with Virginia and several other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in a case alleging the agency failed to enforce bay cleanup efforts. Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., filed suit in 2020, along with the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation…. Pennsylvania has consistently lagged behind the other states, though officials acknowledge no state is fully on track to meet the standards in two years…. Under the new settlement, the agency would step up its oversight of Pennsylvania’s efforts, including ensuring funding goes toward the most efficient actions and pursuing judicial enforcement when warranted. Federal officials would also agree to evaluate how each bay state fared in meeting the 2025 goals by the end of the following year.”

A new report finds rising sea levels in Chesapeake Bay will cost the surrounding regions jobs. The Resources for the Future report finds, in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay area, almost 180,000 — or 7.4% of jobs in the region — will be exposed to 100-year floods by 2050. In turn, this means $6.1 billion in wage income is at risk during the same period. Of Virginia’s 134 counties, 42 will be impacted by rising sea levels by 2050.”

Blue crab numbers are bouncing back from record lows, the latest count shows. But regulators are still feeling cautious because the number of juvenile crabs caught in this year’s Bay-wide Winter Dredge Survey remain low, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission said.” “The Striped Bass Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, is the body that oversees all fishing in state waters along the East Coast.” In response to the “unexpectedly heavy recreational catches in 2022 [that] raised alarms about whether the struggling Atlantic Coast population could rebound as hoped by the end of the decade, … [set a] new limit, which went into effect May 3 and will last through Oct. 28, [that] forbids recreational fishers in the Chesapeake Bay and along the coast from taking any striped bass more than 31 inches long….”

“New research out of Virginia Tech suggests officials need to start focusing more on … [the fact] that land in Hampton Roads is sinking at about twice the rate that waters are rising. The study, which calls the issue a “hidden vulnerability,” was published recently in the journal Nature Communications.

Roanoke is now a Bee City USA affiliate city. “Bee City USA was launched in 2012 with the goal of promoting healthy, sustainable habitats for bees and other pollinators. In 2022, Roanoke City Council voted to adopt a resolution proclaiming Roanoke as a Bee City USA. The goal of joining Bee City USA is to promote, protect, and provide support for our pollinators by providing healthy habitats free of pesticides, using native plants, and encouraging community participation.” “According to Lawn Love’s report 2023’s Best States for Beekeepingthe Commonwealth is the fifth best state for number of beekeepers associations and sixth best for number of honey suppliers.”

Shenandoah National Park [now has] nearly 1,000 acres at Tanner’s Ridge thanks to three families” in what may be the second-largest donation of land to a national park. These Page County woodlands are protected in perpetuity. “The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has expanded Chestnut Ridge Natural Area Preserve by purchasing 775 acres of land.” “Funds for the latest acquisition were awarded through VOF’s Forest Community Opportunities for Restoration and Enhancement Fund, which was established to mitigate for forest fragmentation caused by the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

Check out …

  • C3 Collaborative’s Webinar Series (details here)
  • The Dirt on Composting: Why At-Home Composting is a Climate Solution Wednesday, May 31 at Noon. Register here.
  • Solar Webinar for Businesses on Wednesday, June 14 at Noon. Explore the benefits of solar energy and gain the knowledge and tools you need to make the switch for your business.
  • Before You Go Solar: Tips for Homeowners on Wednesday, June 28 at Noon (tentative). Learn how to get your home solar-ready.
  • Blue Ridge PRISM’s Spring/Summer Invasive Plant Program, June 9, 10 am – I pm, at Rockfish Valley Trail, Nellysford, fee $25. Participant limit is 25. Register here.
  • “The best picnic spots in the D.C. area, according to park rangers.”
  • JMU’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum’s free Summer Brown Bag Lecture series on Wednesdays at noon May – July. Bring your lunch and enjoy a new guest speaker each week. Details here.
  • Virginia Science Museum’s “The Green”, in Richmond.  It’s “a former parking lot turned several‑acre urban greenspace, right in the middle of the city [on Broad Street,] featuring native trees, lighted walking paths, benches, public art and more.”

Why not …

  • Attend this Virginia League of Conservation Voters’ virtual training session Wednesday, May 31, 6 – 7pm? One of the fastest ways we can fight climate change is by pushing the EPA to update rules regarding pollution so they can take stronger actions to protect our planet. Learn exactly how the executive rulemaking process happens and draft your own comment in support of stronger regulation of carbon pollution. Register here.
  • Learn about Virginia Tech’s Virginia Big Trees program? VT “maintains a list of state champions for more than 300 species. ‘Many of these champion trees … [are] … oftentimes … located at places that have either cultural or historical significance.’”
  • Plant some native trees and take advantage of discounts offered by three participating nurseries through the Department of Forestry’s “Throwing Shade VA” program?
  • Visit the Natural History Museum’s “low-lit” exhibit, “Lights Out: Recovering Our Night Sky”? Its purpose is to “illustrate what’s been lost as artificial illumination bleaches out the heavens. Most of the information presented is scientific, but the show also spotlights myth and lore.” See it by December 2025.
  • Read about details of environmentally friendly new Amazon headquarters complex in Arlington?

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 2023 (Part II)

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 2023 (Part II)


A facility that stores renewable energy is coming to Chesapeake — but its development has raised concern among elected officials and residents about what say the city has in the matter…. [It] will be the first of its kind in the city.… [and] will help provide emission-free renewable energy to the electrical grid as part of Virginia’s clean energy initiative. It will connect to a nearby electric substation owned by Dominion Energy, and is close to Dominion’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.” Some who reside in Virginia and North Carolina areas are concerned about adverse effects. “Offshore wind developers [are working to] boost [their] outreach to allay concerns.” A Virginia energy policy expert says “It’s time for Virginia to plan its next offshore wind farm.” “Construction is set to begin late this year on a service operations vessel (SOV) that will transport technicians and equipment to support the massive wind turbines that Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy S.A. is installing for Dominion Energy Inc.’s $9.8 billion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project off the Virginia Beach coast.” Referred to as a “floatel,” it will be based in Hampton Roads. The Hampton Roads area has for some time been working to position itself as a hub for the off-shore wind industry. Now it’s aiming to do the same for the “green hydrogen” industry.

More news about data centers: Northern Virginia is leading the way, accounting for about two-thirds of leases nationwide. “Data center demand nationwide is at a record high.” “Stafford County weighs [a] proposal for [a] massive data center MegaCampus … to become part of the data center building boom in Virginia.” “Development on former Virginia mine land could include data centers.” A potential hitch is that, although “the developer has agreed to participate in the state’s voluntary remediation program to address any gold mining contamination that’s discovered during construction, some groups who raised initial concerns about developing land that’s likely contaminated with mercury from decades of pre‑regulations mining say that ‘voluntary’ doesn’t go far enough.” See also:

“Public schools and community colleges in seven counties and one city in Southwest Virginia are eligible to apply for a program that will offer competitive multiyear grants to fund campus solar arrays and educational opportunities in the solar field in Virginia and West Virginia. The Coalfield Solar Fund is a partnership among Intuit Inc., the nonprofit National Energy and Education Development Project and Secure Solar Futures, a Staunton-based solar developer.”

The Lynchburg Parks & Recreation D epartment … commissioned a 3.2 kW SolarEdge rooftop solar installation at a popular nature center in Ivy Creek Park. As part of an educational initiative designed to foster early interest in renewable energy amongst local children, the project is one of the first to be funded by Lynchburg City Council’s Sustainability Fund, established in 2022 to promote renewable energy adoption amongst local families and businesses…. The nature center is housed in a historic wooden cabin that has been a focal part of community life in Lynchburg for decades. The energy produced will be used to offset a percentage of the cabin’s energy use and reduce carbon emissions. Inside the cabin, an interactive, wall-mounted exhibit provides a ‘hands-on’ way for children to discover how solar energy is harnessed and converted into clean, renewable power for their homes.”

Virginia’s “Pollinator-Friendly Solar Energy Program” may be gaining some ground, but so far it’s slow progress.

There’s some activity around the Governor’s declared intent to bring small nuclear reactions to the state. “Two grants totaling $150,000 have been awarded to the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission for site and supply chain studies related to the small modular nuclear reactor proposed for Southwest Virginia.” A “Data center park [is] headed for Surry County. [The] Developer’s ultimate plan calls for [a] nuclear and hydrogen-fueled power plant.” A Southwest Virginia online newspaper editor says “The changing politics of nuclear energy are bringing some liberals and some conservatives together.” “A nationally recognized [Virginia Tech] nuclear expert says an insufficient workforce, not technological issues, will be Virginia’s biggest obstacle to developing small modular nuclear reactors.” Nonetheless, “Dominion Energy says small modular nuclear reactors could be a part of the grid in” Virginia within 10 years.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline project also made plenty of headlines:

“Charlottesville-based Community Climate Collaborative’s latest grant program is helping minority‑owned small businesses pay for energy efficient appliances and lighting.” Increasing a building’s energy efficiency is often the important first step in reducing energy bills and fossil fuel emissions.

Climate and Environment

“The city of Richmond is accepting proposals for the City Center redevelopment project, specifically asking developers to design a sustainable, resilient part of town…. Developers are asked to emphasize pedestrian and shared-use infrastructure, save space for solar panels and other renewable energy generation, and generally design a space that will adapt to an increasing number of extremely hot days and torrential downpours. Developers also are being asked to meet sustainability standards for buildings and the site as a whole.”

Because the “Hampton Roads coastline is sinking, flooding maps need to be updated.” Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University (ODU) are collaborating. Tech researchers reported “that sections of the Chesapeake Bay are sinking at rates of nearly a quarter an inch – or 7 millimeters – a year … [noting that] Up-to-date knowledge of where the ground in the Chesapeake Bay area is sinking and by how much is not included in the official planning maps that authorities use to assess the local flooding risk from rising sea levels….” Using this and other data, “ODU researchers are building a digital version of Hampton Roads to simulate the area’s flooding future. [Called a] ‘digital twin’, officials can use [it] to test different scenarios of [the area]’s future.” NASA funded the project through which researchers are “gathering real-time data to feed into the system from local flood sensors, drones and satellite imagery.” ODU’s “Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced the launch of the Resilient and Adaptable Communities Partnership … following a year’s worth of planning and $1.5 million in funding from the state.” The announcement came after “the Virginia Institute of Marine Science released a report… that stated Norfolk is experiencing the highest rate of sea level rise along the East Coast. “ “As Norfolk [weighed its] storm protection plan, Black residents [wanted] more say. The [city’s] $2.6 billion plan would shield the city from storms and hurricanes. But aspects of the plan … angered some.” Ultimately, and following revisions, the city council approved the plan.

“Following William & Mary’s announcement that it plans to close its widely respected Virginia Coastal Policy Center this summer, the university … unveiled a new initiative to address sea level rise and stormwater flooding. The school has touted the new Virginia Coastal Resilience Collaborative as being part of a university-wide approach that is in line with its Vision 2026 plan to establish a greater presence in Virginia’s efforts to deal with water issues.” “Virginia communities have been deeply affected by flooding in the past and in recent years. The commonwealth has also seen an increase in risk for flash flooding and landslides. A study by researchers at Climate Central … predicted that Virginia could lose 42% of tidal wetlands to sea level rise by 2100.”

“A new Hampton program aims to help residents address shoreline erosion by allowing some funds to be provided [to them] upfront rather than … requiring them to pay for improvements themselves and then seek reimbursement. The funds are available through the state’s Virginia Conservation Assistance Program, which traditionally distributes money to multiple soil and water conservation districts — the regional divisions charged with protecting land and water.”

Tidewater isn’t the only area in Virginia with flooding issues. “To fight flooding, Arlington [county] is offering to buy homes in … [two neighborhoods] within the Spout Run watershed for flood mitigation. Since last fall, the county has notified some three dozen property owners … of its interest in buying their properties for stormwater management.” At least one property owner agreed to the proposal.

A recent commentary written for Inside Climate News noted that “Flood-Prone Communities in Virginia May Lose a Lifeline If [the] Governor Pulls State Out of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [RGGI].” (More details about the Governor’s actions on RGGI are in our April 20 Perspectives Piece — Part I.)

DEQ announced receipt of a NOAA grant to “further Eastern Shore marine restoration efforts and provide critical habitat for wildlife such as fish, bay scallops, and crabs. These funds … will enable Virginia CZM [Coastal Zone Management] Program and its grantee, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), to plant 60 acres of eelgrass and release more than 6 million bay scallops on the seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.” “The Chesapeake Bay is warming, with “cascading effects” possible on marine and human life.” “Natural factors such as weather, rainfall, salinity, primary productivity of plankton, nutrient levels, and water temperature are vital to the survival and productivity of oysters in Virginia.” Interestingly, the oyster harvest has boomed recently, due to “a complex interplay of natural and human-driven factors,” …according to a Virginia Tech researcher. These ‘anthropogenic factors … [included] a labor shortage and supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, changes in regulations, harvesting closures, and increased production from aquaculture, all of which collectively reduced the pressure on the oyster stocks in the bay.”

“The Land Trust of Virginia announced … two nearly contiguous conservation easements in Rockingham and Shenandoah counties. The Rockingham County property is the first for the Land Trust of Virginia to hold an easement.” “A 390-acre farm in Northern Bedford County is one of the latest land parcels in Virginia to be protected under a conservation easement.” “Virginia’s Land Preservation Tax Credit has led to the permanent protection of more than 1 million acres of land in Virginia, Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. (R-Augusta County) announced in Harrisonburg at the Virginia Land and Greenways conference Wednesday.”

DEQ [heard] concerns [from Page County residents] over impacts to [the South Fork of the Shenandoah] river at [a] hearing on [a] campground discharge permit…. 26 speakers share[d] their feelings both for and against the request submitted by Luray RV Resort and Campground.”

What YOU Can Do for the Planet …

Check out …

  • Wild Virginia’s “Window to the Wild” film screening, available from May 5, 6 pm, through 6 pm on May 7. It will include Habitat Islands from the UNTAMED film series along with several other short films highlighting rivers, streams, and forests and how to protect them. Register here to receive your viewing password.
  • How and why “Indigenous people connect with culture through heirloom seeds.”
  • The 25th annual Eagle Festival at Mason Neck State Park near Lorton on May 18. There will be bird walks, “live animal shows, hands-on educational opportunities and outdoor recreation clinics that all aim to highlight the rich natural history of Northern Virginia and foster stewardship of our environment.” There will also be storytelling and, if the weather cooperates, a “Boating Bonanza at the paddle launch where participants may use a canoe, kayak or paddle board on Belmont Bay.”
  • DEQ’s draft “of a new state air, land and water permitting process that incorporates environmental justice.” It established the new Environmental Justice Office and developed the plan “in response to a new law and historic race-based practices in Virginia … and more recent ones. DEQ will accept public comments through May 1.
  • These stunning pictures of the Aurora Borealis over the Shenandoah National Park in late March.
  • This article and this one with advice and information about buying an electric vehicle.
  • This Virginia farmer’s blogpost on Earth Day 53.
  • This WalletHub report on the 2023’s “Greenest States”; Virginia ranked 17th overall.

Why not …

  • Join the Virginia League of Conservation Voters May 31 virtual event from 6 to 7 pm to receive EPA Comment Period Training on Proposed New Carbon Rules? One of the fastest ways to fight climate change is by pushing the EPA to update rules regarding pollution so they can take stronger actions to protect our planet. Learn how exactly how the executive rulemaking process happens and draft your own comment in support of stronger regulation of carbon pollution.
  • Listen in to Wild Virginia’s webinar about Virginia’s first Wildlife Corridor Action Plan (WCAP) and learn about possible next steps now that the first WCAP has been released? It’s happening May 18 at 6:30 pm. Register here.
  • Plant a garden? Here’s guidance on how to get started. Here are some apps.

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 2023 (Part I)

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 2023 (Part I)

Much has happened during this Earth Day Month. This piece is Part I for April 2023. Look for Part II next week.


Here are some further updates on some 2023 General Assembly (GA) bills signed and/or amended by Gov. Youngkin upon their passage. If his amendments failed, he can sign or veto the bill as it originally passed. If his amendments passed, he would likely sign the amended bill. The GA still hasn’t reached agreement on an amended state budget.

  • HB 1634 and SB 1187 encourage localities to consider strategies to address resilience in their comprehensive plans. These bills passed in 2023 GA and were signed by the Governor. Rockingham County is working on its Comprehensive Plan and will hopefully take heed.
  • New legislation about biomass facilities [HB2026/SB1231] cleared the House and Senate during [the 2023] session of the General Assembly. Gov. Glenn Youngkin then recommended four amendments….” The effect of the legislation and the amendments would have been to roll back clean energy progress and timelines and give special treatment to a single biomass facility by exempting it from the requirements of the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) as a renewable energy source and “open a new market for credits from [a] wood‑fueled biomass plant in South Boston, but the state Senate didn’t take action on [one of the four amendments] and defeated the rest. The rejected amendments would also have “allowed nuclear and hydrogen to qualify as renewable energy.
  • The Senate also rejected the Governor’s attempts to remove the College of William and Mary’s new “Virginia Coastal Resilience Collaborative and Old Dominion University’s Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience as collaborators for the Commonwealth’s coastal resilience policy strategy [HB2393].
  • The Governor wanted to amend HB2444/SB1441 to guarantee cost-competitive offshore wind energy through a competitive solicitation process for Virginia’s next offshore wind project. The amendment would have guaranteed the most benefits and savings for ratepayers, but was not accepted by legislators.
  • Bi-partisan utility reform legislationSB 1265/HB 1770, “represent sweeping changes to the way Virginia regulates the electric company Dominion Energy that promise savings on ratepayers’ monthly bill [and] won approval from Gov. Glenn Youngkin. But these leave intact the heart of the bill, which should mean savings of $6 to $7 a month on a benchmark 1,000 kilowatt-hour bill, which currently costs a Dominion customer $137. This includes returning broad authority to the State Corporation Commission to review Dominion’s base rates, which account for about half customers’ bills. Base rates have been essentially unchanged since 2007 even though the capital costs they are meant to cover have declined since then. The measure also eliminates some of the two dozen surcharges that, in all, account for about a third of a Dominion bill. It provides for an option to spread out the cost of soaring fuel prices, which otherwise are set to boost that benchmark 1,000 kilowatt-hour bill by $17 beginning this summer.”

“The Hampton Roads Alliance and the cities of Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, in a partnership with Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, are creating a $6.5 million green hydrogen fuel program to help kick-start a local industry. The project includes plans for three to five transition projects, a demonstration and education site and a workforce training program.”

The public comment period to respond to Governor Youngkin’s plan to remove the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by executive action ended March 31. Environmental activists have said doing so “will have the greatest effect on the Old Dominion’s coastal towns, which have suffered from recurring storms and rising tides in recent years due to climate change. 

This editorial pointed out that the public comments totaled “more than 6,000 messages from across the commonwealth, the vast majority of which plead with the governor and state officials to remain a part of the multistate partnership.” Asking “Will it matter?” the opinion writer said “It certainly should …. Virginia’s membership was secured through the General Assembly’s passage of the Clean Energy and Community Fund Preparedness Act in 2020, not through an executive action. Only a repeal can undo that….”

The editorial went on to point out that “State law … divides RGGI proceeds between the state’s Community Flood Preparedness Fund and the Housing Innovation Energy Efficiency fund” and summarized what RGGI has produced for Virginia and Virginians:

“The state received “nearly $590 million from the auction of carbon credits since 2021…. The first has paid for a host of projects, including many in Hampton Roads, to hold back the ever-encroaching waters as seas rise as a result of climate change; the second helps pay to improve the efficiency of housing for low-income residents.” Noting that “there is no plan to replenish those revenue streams,” the editorial writer concluded that “the people of Virginia know … that climate change is a serious threat to the commonwealth … [and] that Virginia cannot turn its back on a program that is working to reduce carbon emissions, that is investing in resilience and efficiency, and that provides some hope that we can halt the worst-case scenarios projected should we do nothing. [T]hey said so loudly and clearly … in the comments….”

Proposed and existing data centers continue to make news. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) “dropped a proposal to allow Northern Virginia data centers to disconnect from the electrical grid and run on their diesel generators during power shortages after the idea ran into a firestorm of criticism…. [DEQ] issued a public notice saying it is no longer pursuing a variance to state law that would have lifted restrictions on data centers’ generators to allow them to run for longer periods of time than would normally be allowed. The idea was opposed by many environmental groups, government watchdogs and citizens from Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax counties who were mainly concerned about the effects on air pollution from hundreds, if not thousands, of commercial-grade diesel generators running day and night for extended periods of time.”

A Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) hearing examiner recommended the SCC “deny Dominion permission to carry out two … projects based on cost concerns.” Dominion proposed the projects as part of its 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) mandates around clean energy. If the SCC upholds the recommendation, Dominion will face some headwinds meeting its mandates.

Climate and Environment

“Bristol Virginia’s negotiated settlement with the state, Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ] and other agencies includes deadlines for completion of remediation projects at the landfill included in the consent decree.” The decree follows a lengthy period during which the city worked to address numerous problems with its landfill. “The city of Bristol, Virginia signed off April 17 on … settlement of [the] federal lawsuit from neighboring Bristol, Tennessee over odors from its landfill that have been plaguing the area for several years.”

Virginia localities will soon have a streamlined ability to offer incentives that aid the development of urban green spaces, like city parks or sport fields. The General Assembly passed House Bill 1510 to give localities regulatory flexibility. Urban green space is defined as a piece of land covered with grass, trees, shrubs or other vegetation and located around a populated area…. The proposed area must help reduce higher temperatures sometimes associated with urban development or aid the mitigation of stormwater in order to qualify for incentives, and can be public or private projects. The incentives would not be available in rural areas and areas of low population density.”

“For the fifth year in a row, Norfolk takes the top spot for sea-level rise on the East Coast … [according to] the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at William & Mary which released its latest Sea-Level Report Cards…. ‘In areas like Norfolk, land subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal and other factors magnifies the rise in absolute sea level, compounding the frequency and severity of coastal flooding….’

Norfolk City Council delayed voting on two resolutions involving a $2.6 billion federal project to build floodwalls along parts of the city’s waterfront until April 25, a move intended to give the public opportunity to comment on a new plan to reassess the project…. The Coastal Storm Risk Management Project is a 10-year plan to build 8 miles of new or extended floodwalls around downtown Norfolk and surge barriers and pump stations in other neighborhoods, protecting the city from storms and sea level rise worsened by the effects of climate change. Norfolk residents have objected to parts of the plan that exclude historically Black Southside neighborhoods from structural protections against flooding.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data showed that “Natural disasters that cause widespread damage are on the rise in Virginia. The number of major disasters affecting the Commonwealth rose by 139% in the past two decades over the 20 years prior. The data … refers only to disasters where overall damages and costs reached or exceeded $1 billion, adjusted for inflation. Virginia experienced a total of 67 such disasters since 2003 — up from 28 between 1983-2002.”

As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to regulate a group of chemicals called PFAS in drinking water throughout the country, a preliminary test in 2021 showed that the water on the eastern side of Prince William County, which comes from the Occoquan Reservoir, was over the newly proposed limit. PFAS is an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These are chemicals that come from many products that people use every day, including nonstick pans, water-resistant clothing, fire-resistant foam and food packaging. Though their use in manufacturing has been phased out in the United States, they remain in the environment for a long time, and products containing them are still used.” Research underway may someday “scrub ‘forever chemicals’ from … tap water.” Meanwhile, “More than a dozen environmental groups are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency over its failure to set water pollution limits for some industrial contaminants as well as its reluctance to update decades-old standards for others, arguing that the agency’s inaction amounts to a “free pass to pollute” for hundreds of chemical and fertilizer plants, oil refineries, plastics manufacturers and other industrial facilities.”

In 2020, Wild Virginia’s Habitat Connectivity Program helped enact legislation requiring the creation of the state’s first Wildlife Corridor Action Plan. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources released the Plan. Wild Virginia noted that “One of the biggest outcomes of the Wildlife Corridor Action Plan is the creation of three important maps: Areas with High Wildlife-Vehicle Conflicts, Wildlife Biodiversity Resilience Corridors, and Nexus Areas (areas of mutual benefits to promote driver safety and improve wildlife corridors).”


Check out…

  • This article by a Virginia solar installer about why and how going solar can save you money.
  • PROJECT GROWS 7th Annual Plant Sale and Open House, Friday, May 12th from 4pm-6pm, at their greenhouse, 608 Berry Farm Rd, Staunton. Here is the plant list.
  • This Augusta County farmer’s blogpost reflecting on Earth Day 2023—the good and some bad news.
  • This report on 2023’s Greenest States. Note that Virginia is ranked 17th overall with different rankings in the three measured categories: Environmental Behaviors, Eco-Friendly Behaviors, and Climate Change Contributions.

Why not…

  • Take your kids for the US Forest Service’s “Kids Fishing Day at Cave Mountain Lake … Saturday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to noon? The lake in Natural Bridge will be stocked with trout in advance of this event open to children ages 3 to 15.”
  • Attend Wild Virginia’s “”Window to the Wild” virtual film screening, May 5-7? “We will be bringing Habitat Islands from the UNTAMED film series along with several other short films that highlight our rivers, streams, and forests and how we can protect them. The “Window to the Wild” film experience will follow the same format of an online show featuring beautiful films and musical performances. Once you register, you will receive your viewing password. The viewing opportunity will begin at 6 p.m. on May 5th, 2023, and go through 6 p.m. on May 7th.”

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 2023

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 2023


In CAAV’s March 12 perspectives article, we provided summaries of important energy legislation that the 2023 General Assembly (GA) considered. To learn more about energy and other legislation, see also Virginia Conservation Network’s (VCN) General Assembly Review 2023 and its 2023 Bill Tracker. Governor Youngkin signed several energy bills—focused on nuclear, methane, gas, and coal—announcing on March 23 his delivery “ on his All-American All-Of-The-Above Energy Plan Priorities”. Not everyone agrees with the plan or the priorities. The governor remains committed to his “quest to put [the] nation’s first commercial small modular nuclear reactor in Southwest Virginia.”

Some updates about the GA session:

A May 2022 Dominion shareholders meeting saw a shareholder proposal pass, requiring Dominion to issue a report on its potential “stranded assets”, the first type of proposal like it to pass. Fast forward to February 2023 when, without much fanfare, the company issued the report, titled “Dominion Energy’s Natural Gas Assets: A Stranded Risk Assessment.” It assures shareholders and customers that “the risk of natural gas infrastructure becoming stranded is duly considered as part of the company’s robust risk management protocols. We believe the many voluntary methane reduction strategies Dominion Energy is employing across its natural gas distribution system, in conjunction with the promising future of RNG and hydrogen, substantially mitigate that risk.” The report says it doesn’t represent the company’s “final word”…, [declaring that the company is] charged with navigating a path toward a sustainable clean‑energy future—one which respects both our public service obligations and our responsibility to shareholders—in a rapidly evolving technological and policy landscape.” A recent Forbes piece declared that “99% Of U.S. Coal Plants Are More Expensive Than New Renewables. A Coal-To-Clean Transition Is Worth $589 Billion, Mostly In Red States.”

Dominion’s offshore wind project, which the company says is “on track,” may be facing some headwinds because of deaths of several whales along the Atlantic Coast. Some believe the sonar deployed may have contributed to the whale deaths; others disagree. “However, according to several federal agencies and scientists, there’s no connection between offshore wind development and what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls an “unusual mortality event” that’s been afflicting whales up and down the East Coast, from Maine to Florida, since 2016, before the vast majority of Atlantic coast wind development began.”  Another offshore wind project, this one by a Portland Oregon company and off the North Carolina coast, is facing opposition from area residents who are unhappy with the plan to run cables from the wind turbines underground through a city-owned parking lot in Sandbridge Virginia.

The growing numbers of proposals for data centers, including in Prince William County, continue to generate controversy. “[A] mix of national and regional organizations who joined local citizens at a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ] public hearing on Monday, Feb. 27 … [protested] a new DEQ proposal to let more than 100 data centers in Northern Virginia use their emergency generators to power themselves when the electrical grid is struggling. Opponents called the proposal … a violation of the DEQ’s stated mission “to promote the health and well-being of the Commonwealth’s citizens, residents and visitors in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.” There is opposition to Amazon’s Warrenton data center: “A contractor hired by Amazon Web Services has cut down hundreds of trees at the … site in Warrenton…. A lawsuit filed by Citizens for Fauquier County and 10 town residents last week claims that Amazon Web Services did not supply the town with required tree‑preservation information in its application for a special-use permit …[and] the lawsuit lists [that failure] as one of the reasons the permit approved by the town council should be invalidated.… Local residents … argued that the town is not enforcing its own zoning ordinance….” Another Warrenton area data center project (Devlin) is on hold. An opinion writer from the Data Center Coalition argued in favor of such facilities, pointing out economic benefits to localities and noting that “By centralizing computing resources, data centers have been able to leverage innovations in design, equipment, and technology to maximize energy efficiency.” He added that “we should also not lose sight of the energy and climate benefits unlocked by data centers.” “After hearing objections and complaints from scores of citizens and environmental watchdogs, [DEQ] … modified a proposed change to state rules that would allow data centers to run their generators as needed when the electric grid is strained.” DEQ limited “the geographic scope to just Loudoun [County].” Two bloggers offered their takes on the influence of Amazon during the 2023 GA session.

The 12 Prince William County schools going solar under an agreement with a solar developer are those with “with roofs in the best condition…. [A spokesman said:] ‘Each school’s output of energy will differ according to their roof’s orientation, but … about 50% of each school’s energy will be provided by its solar panels. Altogether, the solar panels are predicted to generate 10 million kilowatt-hours of electric energy per year.” “The American Institute of Architects …[(AIA) donated] $500,000 to Habitat for Humanity Virginia [HforHVA] to help launch a two-year project to install solar energy systems on up to 80 homes in Washington, DC, and Virginia…. AIA’s donation will be combined with funding from other donors, a small investment from each family, and other sources to install solar systems at a fraction of the retail cost of solar.” Give Solar, a Harrisonburg non-profit, initiated the first HforHVA venture into solar, working with the local affiliate.

 “The Charlottesville-based Community Climate Collaborative recently introduced its Solar Climate Justice Scorecard, rating proposed projects on a variety of factors related to their social and environmental impacts.” “Across the country, a big backlash to new renewables is mounting [including in rural Virginia].” Recent examples include Franklin County, Isle of Wight County, Mecklenburg CountyHalifax CountySurry County, Pittsylvania County, Amherst County, and Patrick County.

“Five federally protected species of bats, fish and a plant are not likely to be jeopardized by running a large natural gas pipeline through their habitats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS] … determined. A 297‑page biological opinion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s [MVP] impact on threatened and endangered species … marked the third time … [FWS] has studied the issue. Two earlier opinions reached the same conclusion in 2017 and 2020, but were invalidated by a federal appeals court.” FWS “reissued a permit” for the MVP, which still lacks other necessary permits.

Climate and Environment

“The tree canopy in Charlottesville is [in] a situation that could worsen so-called “heat islands” and harm the health of residents. Trees covered about 50% of the city in 2004, but the canopy shrank to 45% in 2014 and fell to 40% in 2018. And now leaders of the Charlottesville Tree Commission fear that the canopy has shrunk to just 35% of the city.” The city’s utility department offered 200 free trees to residents “to plant on their property to help conserve energy and reduce energy bills.” The “Arbor Day Foundation [recognized] Staunton as a Tree City USA for [the] 27th year.”

“Experiences and information from the [innovative] Harrisonburg Pollinator Program will be included in the new Parks and Pollinators: Taking Action and Advancing Sustainability. This resource is published by the National Recreation and Park Association. The Harrisonburg community has been strengthened by efforts of the city’s public works department to protect pollinators while advancing key sustainability plans and practices.”

“The Richmond City Council adopted a lengthy ‘action plan’ that will serve as the city’s blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate-related impacts.”

The “18-member coalition of towns, counties, planning district commissions and several nonprofits share the vision” of making the Shenandoah Rail Trail a reality. “The vision is to transform an unused single-track railroad corridor into a multi-use trail re-connecting communities, businesses, schools and cultural and historic resources.” The Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley is part of the project’s coalition.

“The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) said this year’s Virginia oyster harvest could be the biggest in more than three decades since the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) has extended the oyster season in certain waters.”

After reviewing public comments received, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Director, Air Pollution Control Board, Waste Management Board, and the City of Bristol filed a motion to enter a judicial consent decree memorializing the terms of a negotiated settlement to resolve issues at the Bristol Landfill. Additional information, including the Expert Panel report, is available on the Bristol Landfill webpage.

WHRO’s Center for Virginia Investigative Journalism has examined issues surrounding PFAS, toxic and potentially harmful so‑called “forever chemicals” found in its waters. This report, Forever Chemicals—A Perpetual Threat to Virginia’s Drinking Water, describes past and current efforts to identify, understand and address the associated problems. DEQ, Virginia Health Department of Health, and Henrico County collaborated on a study of PFAS in the Middle Chickahominy River, reporting their results in this storymap. The Roanoke area has been dealing with an identified leak for some time; the EPA is developing regulations governing PFAS in drinking water, including for the Roanoke area. PFAS are found everywhere and endanger both humans and wildlife. DEQ is also tracking and studying the presence of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), another group of highly toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that, even though banned since the 1970s, are still being found in Virginia waters between Richmond and the Chesapeake Bay.

news story that “U.S. utilities find water pollution at coal-burning power plants” cited the opinion of Dominion Virginia’s chief environmental officer for Richmond who “said the company …conducts surface water tests near its facilities and was confident that the groundwater impacts were not having an effect on public drinking water or public safety offsite.” Grist recently concluded that “Coal plant pollution can be deadly — even hundreds of miles downwind [and] the coal industry may be dying in the U.S., but its health impacts are not…”

ACTION ALERT: Governor Youngkin is facing a “ flood of opposition to withdrawal from climate agreement, known as Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).” You can add your voice but you need to act quicklyContact DEQ and…

Demand — RGGI must continue to help reduce energy bills and reduce the financial harms of flooding.

Insist — Withdrawing from RGGI would give a free pass to polluters while wasting opportunities to lift up the lives of all Virginians by shifting to clean energy sources as soon as possible.

Make it clear — Trying to repeal RGGI is shortsighted, cruel, and a betrayal of Virginians, present and future.

Comment by March 31 at

Check out…

  • Blue Ridge PRISM’s two April online “Spring/Summer Invasive Plant Workshops”? Both events will be recorded and available to registrants. Each costs $10.
  • April 10, 1 to 3 pm, Identification. Register here.
  • April 12, 1 to 3 pm, Management and Control. Register here.
  • Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance’s event, Rocktown Beer & Musical Festival, Turner Pavilion, April 22, Earth Day, 3 pm til…. CAAV will be tabling. Tickets here.
  • Climate Action VA’s online Eco Book Club’s discussion about Richard Powers’ The Overstory! – Even if you haven’t yet read this great book. It’s happening Thursday, March 30, 5:30 – 6:30pm EDT. This discussion will cover topics covered in the first half of the book, with plenty of room for a broader conversation relating to topics in the story. Reach out to if you have any questions. Register here.
  • The Annual Native Plant Sale, April 30, 1:00 – 3:00, at Ivy Creek Natural Area’s Barn Lawn, 1780 Earlysville Road, Charlottesville, VA. Choose from over 50 species of native perennials, trees, shrubs, wetland plants and a large selection of spring wildflowers and groundcovers, mid/late season flowering species, and woodies including spicebush, red osier dogwood, and red mulberry.
  • Riverfest Waynesboro 2023, April 29, Saturday, April 29, 2023, 10 – 4:30, Conservation Park. This is the Year of the River Otter! Website:
  • Charlottesville’s C3 Collaborative’s Annual Open House, April 27, 5-6:30 pm at 415 8th St NE (Tarleton Square Building). Learn about its current projects and priorities, and talk about anything and everything climate! Get some ideas for what you can do for the climate in your community, Details here.
  • “A new documentary film showcasing communities who helped stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline [that] will be screened … April 13, 7 pm at The Paramount Theater in Charlottesville.”
  • This article describing how you can find remedies for aches and pains in the “garden, farmer’s market, or refrigerator.” Think mint, sage, hot peppers, cherries, and ginger.

Why not…

  • Celebrate spring and visit these three “natural wonders” in VA, profiled in Blue Ridge Country magazine?
  • McAfee KnobA “moderately challenging … hike … to one of the most visited, photographed and famous spots on the Appalachian Trail.… Avoid parking lot headaches and take the weekend (Fri-Sun) shuttle to the trailhead. Find nearby attractions and lodgings. 4440 Catawba Valley Drive, Catawba.
  • Crabtree Falls. Six “miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the ‘highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.’ Five large falls and several smaller ones create a 1,200-foot drop! There are five overlooks of the falls and Tye River Valley—the first is accessible for all abilities via a paved trail.” Find nearby attractions and lodgings. 11581 Crabtree Falls Highway, Montebello.
  • The Channels Natural Area Preserve. Wind through a maze of 400-million-year-old sandstone crevices and boulders. The singularly unique 20-acre labyrinth is an otherworldly destination formed during the last ice age. The remoteness of this high-elevation forest requires planning ahead for food, drinks and sufficient time to explore. Find nearby attractions and lodgings. 4250 Hayters Gap Road, Saltville.
  • Go camping in one of Virginia’s State Parks, most of which opened March 3?
  • Join Climate Ride in the Blue Ridge Mountains, April 28-30? Bike or hike through the mountains for a good cause: our climate! Join the team that Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is forming and be part of a weekend of cycling, hiking, camping, and bonding. Cyclists can choose from three different levels and hikers can choose to hit the Appalachian Trail. You’ll be fully supported along the way, plus bike mechanics, campgrounds setup and meals. Register here. Use “CCAN” promo code when signing up and select “CCAN” to join its team. Check out CCAN’s Facebook page.
  • Attend Virginia League of Conservation Voters’ (LCV) virtual event, Farmers to the Table, April 19, Wednesday, April 19, 6:30 – 7:30pm EDT? Join LCV’s climate action team and a round table of farmers and agricultural workers to learn how our food supply can help protect the environment, what we can do to help our friends in agriculture, and to advocate for a more sustainable future. Register here.
  • Tell DEQ what you think of its draft guidance, Environmental Justice in the Permitting Process, which it’s released for an informal comment period? The guidance outlines a permit evaluation process for all DEQ permitting actions and establishes processes for further evaluation of permits of particular concern to environmental justice communities. DEQ will accept informal public comments until May 1, followed by a formal public comment period after internal review. Submit comments 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.

Statewide environmental news roundup: 2023 General Assembly recap

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: 2023 General Assembly recap

A contributed perspectives piece by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV)

Editor’s Note: This is a special edition of a regular series of contributed news roundups about statewide environmental and energy news. This piece highlights, with links to further coverage in various media outlets, some of the energy, transportation, and utility bills introduced during the recently-ended 2023 General Assembly (GA) session. Not all-inclusive, the bills noted include actions by area legislators (Delegates Avoli, Runion, Wilt; State Senators Hanger, Obenshain). This GA session saw many bills introduced in these categories. CAAV selected those we consider most noteworthy. At this writing, some (perhaps most) of the following bills are awaiting the Governor’s action. There will be a special session soon to finalize the budget; there could be more surprises in the offing. In addition to the links below, here are some additional items about the GA session, developed by various bloggers and organizations: CCANIvy MainVPAPUtility DiveVPMWashington PostSteve Haner of Bacon’s Rebellion, and Associated Press.  

Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA)

The VCEA (HB 1526 and SB 851) passed in 2020, establishing requirements for clean energy to reduce Virginia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions very significantly by 2050. There were a number of bills introduced in 2023 targeting one or more of the VCEA provisions for repeal or to lessen requirements. Results were mixed; while the VCEA was perhaps somewhat weakened, overall it remained intact.

  • HB 1430 would have exempted some large energy buyers and manufacturers from paying their proportionate costs of VCEA’s costs. Area delegates voted in favor; the bill passed the House of Delegates but was later pulled by its patron, because of the expectation of failure in the State Senate.
  • HB 2130 would have authorized the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to weaken utilities’ Renewable Performance Standards (RPS) obligations. Area delegates voted in favor; the bill passed the House of Delegates but failed in the Senate.

Other bills would have expanded the statutory definition of renewable energy (RE) to include coal mine methane (HB 1643/SB 1121 and HB 2178), biomass (HB 2026 and SB 1231), nuclear and hydrogen (HB 2311 and HB 2197).

  • HB 1643/SB 1121 were amended to encourage a policy “to encourage capture & beneficial use” of methane; they passed both House and Senate and area delegates and senators voted in favor. HB 2178 added methane to the definition of “green jobs”, thereby making tax credits available for methane extraction jobs. It pass both House and Senate and all five area legislators voted in favor.
  • HB 2026/SB 1231, as amended, will allow Dominion’s “biomass-fired facilities to qualify as RE standard eligible sources” and thus continue in operation past the VCEA deadline of December 31, 2028. The bills passed both House and Senate; area legislators voted in favor.
  • HB 2311/HB 2197 would have added both nuclear and hydrogen to the RE definition. HB 2311 failed in the House while HB 2197 passed, with support from area delegates. It failed in a Senate committee; Senator Obenshain voted against “killing” the bill.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

SB 1001 would have repealed the law authorizing Virginia’s participation in RGGI. It was voted down in committee; Senator Hanger abstained and Senator Obenshain opposed killing it. The Governor’s attempt to withdraw Virginia through regulatory action continues, however. Public comment on the regulation is possible through March 31 at CAAV opposes the regulatory action and will submit comments before the deadline.


There were numerous bills to repeal Virginia’s Clean Car Standards, passed during special GA session 1 in 2021. At that time, all area delegates and senators voted against establishing the standards, which tie “the state to emissions standards set by California that will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035.” The standards require that “the State Air Pollution Control Board implement a low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program for motor vehicles with a model year of 2025 and later.”

  • HB 1378, which Delegate Wilt sponsored in 2023, was one of many bills to repeal the standards. All repeal attempts failed, including HB 1378, which passed the House, with all area delegates supporting the repeal. It was voted down in a Senate committee; both area senators opposed killing it.
  • HB 1588/SB 1466 would have authorized a grant program for electric vehicle (EV) chargers in rural areas. Both area senators supported SB 1466 when it passed the Senate. Delegates Runion and Wilt supported HB 1588/SB1466 in committee, but it died in another committee.
  • SB 1312 would have allowed localities to require EV chargers in certain circumstances, through their zoning authority. SB 1312 passed the Senate over the opposition of both area Senators, but failed in the House; area delegates voted against the bill.

Energy Efficiency

SB 1323 requires the SCC “to establish for Dominion Energy Virginia annual energy efficiency savings targets for customers who are low-income, elderly, disabled, or veterans of military service. The bill requires the Commission, in establishing such targets, to seek to optimize energy efficiency and the health and safety benefits of utility energy efficiency programs.” There is already a requirement that 15% of program investment be directed to low-income customers. The bill passed both chambers with broad, bipartisan support, including from area legislators.


Solar bills, in contrast, didn’t fare as well and generally didn’t receive bipartisan support.

  • SB 848 was looking to help make school buildings cheaper by deploying more solar panels to power them. It would have led to standards for local school systems to follow. It passed unanimously in the Senate but failed in a House committee, reportedly because of concerns over the respective roles of local versus state government.
  • HJ545, a resolution, sought to request a VA Department of Energy study of ways local governments could overcome barriers to purchasing solar for themselves and their constituents. It failed in a House committee; Delegate Wilt voted to “kill” it.
  • SB 1333 proposed to create a “Commonwealth Solar and Economic Development Program for low-income and moderate-income Virginians [, expanding] the Low to Moderate Income Solar Loan and Rebate Fund to extend grants in addition to loans or paying rebates to electric customers who complete solar installations or energy efficiency improvements subject to certain requirements….” It passed the Senate, with Senator Hanger supporting and Senator Obenshain opposing. It passed in one House committee, with Delegate Wilt supporting and Delegate Runion opposing; it later failed in another House committee.
  • Resolution HJ487 sought a study and report on solar panel installation and use in divided highways’ medians. Assigned to the House Rules committee of which Delegate Wilt was a member, it wasn’t acted upon.
  • SB 2355 wanted to establish “a stakeholder work group to develop recommendations [in its report] for consumer protection regulations regarding the sale or lease of solar energy generation facilities … under 25 kilowatts in capacity.” It failed in a House subcommittee.
  • SB984 would have clarified “the legality of solar leases; although it passed the Senate unanimously, and in one House subcommittee, with Delegate Wilt supporting, it was not acted upon by the house committee.
  • SB949 proposed to extend C-PACE (Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy) loans to residences including condominiums. C-PACE is “a voluntary special assessment lien that secures a loan for the initial acquisition and installation of clean energy, resiliency, or stormwater management improvement.” A Senate committee decided to “kill” the bill, with Senator Hanger’s agreement.
  • SB 1083 was a bipartisan effort to improve the results of earlier legislation that allowed Dominion to establish a shared solar program resulted in the SCC authorized $55 as the “minimum” amount Dominion could charge shared solar customers. The shared solar utility program “allows customers … to purchase electric power through a subscription in a shared solar facility.” The authorized minimum would disincentivize customer participation. SB 1266 wanted to expand shared solar in Appalachian Power territory (Southwest Virginia).

The two bills would have required “that a customer’s net bill for participation in the shared solar program …[would] not exceed the [SCC-approved] minimum bill … [and would have included SCC] considerations … such as minimizing the costs shifted to non-participating customers, and … the calculation of a customer’s minimum bill …. They [also included convening] a stakeholder workgroup to evaluate incentives for certain shared solar projects and … a report of its recommendations.” Both bills passed the Senate with Senator Hanger’s support; Senator Obenshain opposed. They both died in House sub-committees.

  • SB 1419 would have permitted “individual retail customers of an electric utility to purchase electric energy provided 100 percent from RE from any licensed supplier.” In other words, it would have given Virginia utility customers a choice about their RE sources. It died in a Senate committee; Senator Obenshain voted to “kill” it.


  • HB 1797 would have held Dominion customers “harmless” if Dominion’s project underperformed based on Dominion’s projected net capacity of 42 percent. Dominion lobbied against the bill, which nonetheless passed the House, with area delegates’ support. It died in a Senate subcommittee; Senator Obenshain voted in the bill’s favor.
  • SB 1477 allows “Dominion Energy Virginia, in connection with certain offshore wind projects, to establish an offshore wind affiliate … [to obtain an] equity financing partner for the project [that could] operate as a public utility in association with the utility.” As amended in both Senate and House, and with support from area delegates, the bill passed.
  • SB 1441/HB 2444 requires the SCC to “duly” consider, during its cost recovery proceedings, “economic development benefits” [to the state from Dominion’s offshore wind project], including capital investments and job creation…. The bills [would have moved forward the timeline] from 2034 to 2032 for public utilities to construct or purchase one or more offshore wind generation facilities.” They passed House and Senate on a bipartisan basis, with support from area legislators.
  • On the other hand, HB 1854, which would have required the SCC “to submit … [annual status reports about approved] offshore wind energy projects …. The bill [would have required] electric utilities proposing offshore wind development to consider and incorporate information [and recommendations] from the Commission’s annual reports….” Such recommendations could have saved ratepayers money. The bill failed in a House subcommittee.

Natural Gas

HB 1783 would have stopped localities from limiting customer access to “natural gas service and supply from both utility and non-utility gas companies, … from denying building permits solely based on a proposed utility provider…,[or from restricting] an applicant’s ability to use the services of an authorized utility provider.” It passed the House with the support of area delegates but failed in a Senate Committee, with Senator Obenshain voting in favor of the bill.


  • HB 1779 proposed establishing a “Nuclear Education Grant Fund and Program, to be administered by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, … [to provide competitive] grants … to any public [or private]institution of higher education … that seeks to establish or expand a nuclear education program….” It passed the House and the Senate on a bipartisan basis, including support from area legislators.
  • HB 2333 would have authorized the SCC “to establish a small modular nuclear reactors [SMR] pilot program [within 10 years].” It passed the House, with support by area delegates; the Senate added an SCC requirements to look at costs as compared to alternatives and to protect ratepayer risks if the SMR never went live. The Senate voted unanimously for the bill as amended, but it failed in the House, with area delegates voting against the Senate version.

Utility Reform

Bills around this policy subject were a major focus of attention and efforts by legislators, lobbyists, environmental and other organizations, and Dominion. Results were mixed, with ratepayers gaining some relief and Dominion getting some of what it wanted, though not all.

  • Considered pro-consumer, HB 1604/SB 1321 were a bipartisan effort that succeeded, passing unanimously as amended in both Houses. Called The Affordable Energy Act, the legislation is arguably a major energy reform bill because it restored the SCC’s authority to lower a utility’s base rate if/when it determines that the utility has overcharged customers. That authority had been removed several years ago by the GA.
  • Another bipartisan effort at the behest of Dominion, SB 1265/HB 1770 wanted to increase Dominion’s guaranteed rate of return, thereby ultimately raising customer rates, though offering some initial “savings” that would have been more than offset in the longer term. The bills’ effect would also have been to greatly lessen Virginia’s ability to meet its VCEA goals. With active interest from the Governor, as well as many stakeholders, the bills’ final language reduced negative effects on ratepayersstrengthened SCC authority, and removed the threat to the VCEA. They passed the Senate unanimously and with only one negative vote in the House; area legislators voted in support.
  • SB 1166/HB 2275 was yet another bipartisan effort—this one to reactivate and reform the long-dormant Virginia Commission on Electric Utility Regulation, with its purpose being to conduct legislative “energy planning & electric utility oversight.” With amendments, both House and Senate approved the final version unanimously. Going forward, the Commission is tasked with overseeing Virginia’s utility policy and do so in a proactive way that avoids presentation of type of sweeping bills like SB 1265/HB 1770 at the outset of a GA session, whose duration doesn’t allow for adequate exploration and debate of ideas, consideration of expert opinion, and, perhaps most significant, formulation of utility policy with appropriate analysis. In theory, the Commission—made up of GA members—should provide much needed, and timely, support to the entire GA.

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 February 2023

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 February 2023


A public radio station story explored the effects of declining coal on electric bills in Virginia, where natural gas, nuclear power and renewables “now supply far more electricity.” The US Energy Information Administration provides extensive data on Virginia’s energy profile, including this: “In 2021, natural gas accounted for 57% of Virginia’s total electricity net generation, nuclear supplied 30%, renewables—mostly biomass and solar energy—provided 9%, and coal fueled less than 4%.”

Data centers are becoming part of the Virginia landscape; their growth is not without controversy. A proposed data center at Bristow in Prince William County is one example of how local opposition can affect a locality’s decision-making processes. “The booming data center industry is coming to Manassas…. The data center industry has a massive and growing footprint in Northern Virginia, with Prince William County serving as the epicenter for new data center construction…. Nearly 18 million square feet of land in Prince William County are covered by data centers, and the county government has moved to make more land available for the industry as it continues its rapid growth.” Loudoun County’s centers have driven growth in its real estate tax base. “Luck Stone Corp., a Richmond-based quarry company, has applied to rezone some of its Ashburn land [in Loudoun County] for up to 2 million square feet of new data centers….“ An issue surrounding two proposed data centers in Sterling, in Loudoun County, concerns how close such facilities should be to residences. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is considering lifting restrictions on how data centers use their backup diesel generators at they continue to face shortages in Dominion Energy’s distribution.” Warrenton’s Town Council has wrestled with noise levels and other conditions at a data center proposed for Blackwell Road and, despite vocal opposition, voted to approve it. There is developer interest in Spotsylvania County. “Water and electricity usage are key concerns, as are noise and heat effects on areas near the data centers.” “As Big Tech [Amazon] pushes to put a data center in small-town Virginia, Fauquier County’s influential conservation groups have stopped at nothing to resist the company.” A blogger says “Building more Virginia data centers requires increased pollution controls.” “As the industry faces constraints in other parts of Virginia, InvestSWVA makes the case for locating in Southwest”, including growth, jobs, and minimal costs to localities.

“The church in downtown Charlottesville that had its request to install solar panels denied by the city’s Board of Architectural Review in January will appeal the decision to City Council.” The Board’s decision that the panels would be “inconsistent with historic standards”, came soon after the city updated its Comprehensive Plan to include a Climate Action Plan. A Charlottesville climate activist believes such restrictions highlight “The reality … that solar projects routinely confront out-of-date local code restrictions, which derail projects and hinder opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money. “ Elsewhere in Virginia, proposals for commercial-scale solar facilities continue to be considered, with differing outcomes. Recent examples include Isle of Wight CountyAmherst County, Montgomery CountyPittsylvania County, Surry CountyHalifax County, Franklin County, Henry County, and Culpeper CountyNPR reported that rural solar project applications have been hampered by the efforts of a “nonprofit called Citizens for Responsible Solar” that has spread misinformation in “at least 10 states [including Page County in Virginia].”

Prince William County and a Staunton solar developer reached agreement on installation of solar panels on 12 schools, saving the school system $16 million over the next 25 years.

Climate and Environment

“A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between landowners and conservation groups that restrict a land’s use.” Albemarle County “now contains more land under conservation easements than any other locality in Virginia.” Two Staunton area landowners have placed their 250 acres into a conservation easement, by donating development rights to Valley Conservation Council (VCC). “In 2022, the VCC oversaw almost 70 easements in the Valley, with 30 in Augusta County. The conservation council protected 1,909 acres this past year, the most in its history.” An Augusta County farmer and blogger believes “Farmland Conservation is Critical for the Shenandoah Valley.” A “Virginia program [Farmland Preservation Program awarded] $875,000 in matching grants to preserve farmland…. This year’s localities are Clarke County, Chesapeake, Fauquier County, Stafford County and Virginia Beach.”

Bristol has resolved the landfill suit filed by Virginia’s Attorney General with a consent decree [that] “specifies deadlines for landfill work.” “HOPE for Bristol, the grassroots organization dedicated to helping address landfill issues and concerns, is renting air monitoring systems.” “The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors approved a measure that will allow for a larger private rubble landfill near the Plum Creek area, a decision that went against the concerns of a number of neighbors [who] voiced concern over issues such as traffic, noise and the environmental and health impact.” The Lunenburg County landfill launched a “green” program that “convert[s] landfill gas to an energy collection and conversion system.” Reportedly, the process prevents the gas from “escaping into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.”

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Virginia Tech have made available the “Virginia Land and Energy Navigator (VaLEN) … for public use. VaLEN brings together GIS information related to prime farm and forestland, conserved lands, brownfields and mined lands, transmission lines, and other topics to support land use planning and decision-making at the local level. VaLEN enables users to cross reference GIS layers with multiple themes and has a zoom feature that allows users to look at the highest resolution available, up to parcel scale.” [Source: DEQ Feb 6 2023 Email Newsletter]

“On the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) congratulated Governor Youngkin on the successes of Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program. DEQ serves as the lead agency for the Virginia CZM network of state agencies and coastal localities. Since its inception, Virginia CZM has financed 36 land acquisition projects (3,800 acres and $10 million in funds) and 37 public access construction projects ($1.2 million in funds). These projects have saved and restored critical migratory bird and wildlife habitat and increased Virginia’s coastal resilience.” [Source: DEQ Feb 6 2023 Email Newsletter]

The “Norfolk waterfront [is] getting [a] new look [and] recreation space as part of years-long floodwall plan…. The Coastal Storm Risk Management Project will be completed in five phases over the next decade and is aimed at protecting some of the city’s more critical areas….” Norfolk isn’t the only coastal locality with significant flooding problems. “Rising tides are impacting coastal Virginia’s rural communities” like Gloucester County. A recent study in Nature Climate Change estimated that “properties in vulnerable areas are overvalued by $121 billion to $237 billion, and that if those unacknowledged risks are realized, low-income homeowners in particular stand to lose significant amounts of equity.” These risks exist in non-coastal communities also, such as in Appalachia.

“Environmental and agricultural groups reached a compromise over legislation seeking to push back the deadline for farmers to voluntarily implement practices that aim to reduce the amount of polluted runoff entering Chesapeake Bay waters.” The revised bill included “specific reporting requirements to track farmers’ progress in implementing the practices.” The Shenandoah Riverkeeper objected to the delay until 2028, arguing that “Any extension is unwise and unwarranted, and should not be supported. We already know that the longer cattle stay in the river, the longer the persistent problem of algae growth will go unanswered.”

Roanoke CountyMartinsville/Henry County, and Botetourt County are expanding their existing greenway trails, thanks to additional federal or state funding. A public transportation advocate points out “Roanoke offers public transit to hiking trails”, and asks ”Should more parts of Virginia do the same?” Roanoke is seeking “additional funding [for] its shuttle program to the Appalachian Trail and McAfee Knob. “ “Harrisonburg’s Friendly City Trail received state recognition…. The greenway [was] selected as a winner of the 2023 American Public Works Association Mid-Atlantic Chapter’s Project of the Year Award for the category of Transportation Less than $5 Million.” Waynesboro is seeking federal grant funding for a trail between the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel and downtown to provide hikers and cyclists a safer route. The Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley is scheduling community input sessions for the planned Shenandoah Rail Trail. The sessions will happen between late February and early spring, in nine localities through which the Trail will run.


  1. Virginia’s Governor wants to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). BUT the General Assembly established RGGI participation by law; regulatory action cannot change what the law says. AND If Virginia withdraws from RGGI, there is NO replacement funding for the home improvement and flood resilience programs that RGGI provides. Too many Virginians, especially in rural areas, bear a huge burden as they struggle to pay their energy bills.

CAAV believes we all must do what we can to leave our children and grandchildren a habitable and economically stable future. Success will depend on how well we manage a rapid transition away from polluting energy into a clean energy economy. We urge all Virginians to publicly support staying in RGGI. Contact DEQ and…

Demand — RGGI must continue to help reduce energy bills and reduce the financial harms of flooding.

Insist — Withdrawing from RGGI would give a free pass to polluters while wasting opportunities to lift up the lives of all Virginians by shifting to clean energy sources as soon as possible.

Make it clear — Trying to repeal RGGI is shortsighted, cruel, and a betrayal of Virginians, present and future.

Comment by March 31 at

  1. CAAV 2023 Strategic Planning – Survey and March 18 Meeting!

YOU can help shape the goals and direction for CAAV in 2023! We will have a facilitated, focused, two-part strategic planning process with a short online survey, and an in-person planning meeting. The outcome of this process will be a set of prioritized goals and projects.

RSVP here if you’d like to attend our March 18 Strategic Planning Meeting from 10am-2pm at Community Mennonite Church (70 South High St, Harrisonburg). Attendance is free and requires an RSVP. Lunch is brown bag (BYO).

Take the 10-minute Online Survey here. It’s open to anyone on the CAAV email list, even if you cannot attend the meeting. Responses are due by 8pm Monday, March 13, and will inform discussion at the meeting.

Check out…

  • This opportunity for a Virginia Conservation Network Summer Environmental Fellowship Program to work with its Outreach or Policy teams. Fellows will gain first-hand experience working in Virginia’s environmental community. This is a ten-week, full-time, paid position running from June 5th to August 11th. The deadline to apply is March 17th. Details here.
  • Harrisonburg Electric Commission’s (HEC’s) “Go Green” webpage. If you are interested in solar energy, take a look at HEC’s Friendly City Solar program. This is a way for those who can’t go solar themselves to participate in the solar energy generated at the solar farm on Acorn Drive. Although all of a household’s energy will not come from solar, a subscription will support HEC’s effort. Because of recent increases in HEC’s non-solar energy sources, the costs associated with the company’s solar program may be less than regular rates.
  • This picture of an EV charging station at a Henrico County Walmart. The item was titled “The Future is Here.”
  • “Virginia’s Lost Appalachian Trail” … published Monday by The History Press.” Written by a George Mason University professor, the book covers some “largely forgotten pre-1950s local history, when the trail passed through Roanoke, Franklin, Floyd and Patrick counties…. [It] also features eight maps of the existing AT and its older, pre-1952 route through western Roanoke County, and another east‑of-Roanoke planned route that never happened….”
  • WMRA’s story on a master gardener’s February 7 talk about “creating a bird-friendly yard.”

Why not…

  • Join Piedmont Master Gardeners for these virtual events, part of its Spring Lecture Series (cost is $10.00 for each event, times 7 to 8:15 pm)?

March 2 – “Africulture and Unique Organic Vegetables You’ll Want in Your Home Garden.”

Speaker Michael Carter Jr. will highlight the many contributions the African continent and people of African descent have made to farming and food traditions in the United States. Register here.

March 9 — “Attracting Birds and Other Wildlife to Your Garden with Easy-to-Create Water Features” This webinar will feature an online multimedia presentation [to] demonstrate water’s powerful attraction to birds and other wildlife in every season and will suggest ways to enhance our enjoyment of nature by bringing water into our backyards. Register here.

March 16 — “Designing a Pollinator Victory Garden for a Changing Climate.” Speaker Kim Eierman, an ecological landscape designer specializing in native plants, will cover the dramatic decline of pollinators due to factors that include climate change and will offer simple strategies gardeners can use to support bees and an array of other. Register here.

  • Attend CCL’s Conservative Climate Leadership Conference and Lobby Day, March 28-29 in Washington DC? CCL’s approach s is to work with everyone along the political spectrum to enact climate solutions. The conference provides the opportunity to engage climate advocates and lawmakers who are right of center by gathering conservative volunteers and members of Congress to make climate a bridge issue as conservative concern over climate change grows. Application deadline for attending the conference and securing a limited lobbying spot is March 10. The application deadline for attending the conference with no lobbying is Mar. 14. Learn more and register here.
  • Attend the 10th Annual Virginia Green Travel Conference & Travel Star Awards Celebration & the Green Tourism Business Expo, celebrating Keep Virginia Beautiful campaign’s 70th anniversary? It’s happening March 21-22 in Virginia Beach. Learn how residents and businesses can support “green travel” from experts on all things travel and tourism. Register here.
  • Learn how to plant a tree on your property that will have the best chance to survive and flourish in the site you want to plant it? Register here for Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards “tree basics” webinar happening March 7 via Zoom.
  • Educate yourself about how to recycle effectively?
  • Learn about bees from a Richmond area beekeeper?

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 January 2023

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 January 2023


The Nature Conservancy [TNC] reported that the current General Assembly session, happening from January 11 to February 25, … will consider nearly 3,000 pieces of legislation, [indicating TNC will be] weighing in on a select group of impactful policies. These include bills on Energy and Climate and Virginia’s Lands and Waters. “Electric utility rate reform [is] back on [the] General Assembly agenda, [with reformers filing a] bill to increase regulatory power, [and] Dominion …backing a] bill offering sweeping changes to the system.”… [The] “two competing electric rate reform bills, with one focused on giving state regulators greater power to lower rates and the other offering a broader overhaul of the state system backed by utilities”, are getting a lot of attention. A blogger said “Dominion wants to rewrite its own rules again “, arguing the latter more complex bill “will raise costs to customers.” At least theoretically, both bills “call for more oversight of power bills.”

“As Virginia lawmakers negotiate proposals to reform the laws regulating the state’s two largest electric utilities, a separate [bipartisan] push is being made to reinvigorate a commission intended to allow more in-depth consideration of such issues outside the legislative session. Senate Bill 1166 … and House Bill 2275 … would outline a greater role for the Commission on Electric Utility Regulation, or CEUR, in reviewing the state’s energy policy.… [T]he Virginia State Corporation Commission [SCC] oversees utility regulation in the commonwealth; the CEUR, established in 2008 and composed of lawmakers, is charged with overseeing how the SCC implements the laws governing Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company.” 

The 2023 General Assembly session will end on February 25. A Virginia energy commentator thinks there are several bills that “could bring more clean energy to your community”, also noting that local governments are working along these lines as well. She references several bills addressing “solar schools, climate resiliency, [and] energy efficiency.” (There is also a bill to “allow Appalachian Power customers to purchase solar energy from third parties. “) Nonetheless, she points out, “Attacks on Virginia’s climate laws are front and center at the General Assembly.” Two of these relate to Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the state’s clean cars standards. To date, efforts to kill or weaken both laws have failed in the Virginia Senate. A Democratic State Senator penned this opinion piece in support of Virginia’s continued participation in RGGI. A Norfolk engineer supported the Governor’s efforts to withdraw the state from RGGI.

Delegate Wilt’s bill to repeal the clean cards standards passed 52 – 48 in the House of Delegates. Enacted in 2021, Virginia’s standards tie “Virginia to California vehicle emissions standards that are set to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars in 2035.” Under the Clean Air Act, Virginia has ”two choices on vehicle emissions regulation” in setting standards. “California was granted an exception to set its own standards … [and] over a dozen other states have” followed California’s lead, enacting standards more stringent than federal requirements. Virginia could have elected to follow the less stringent federal standards when it decided to establish standards. Wilt believes “the California standards place burdensome cost demands on Virginians and [that] the 2035 target is unrealistic. [He also argues that] EVs will also put a strain on the grid.” Democrats counter that “Virginia’s adoption of the Clean Cars standard positions it as a leader in the ‘acceleration’ toward electric vehicles [and that] passing Wilt’s bill sends a message that the state doesn’t want to lead ‘or, worse yet, can’t compete…. Wilt’s bill faces a rocky road in the Senate, where Democrats have killed several Republican bills aimed at the same goal.” A Senate sub-committee previously declined to pass comparable legislation, along party lines, but the full Senate will vote on the House bill following crossover on February 7.

 “State regulators … approved a plan by Roanoke Gas Co. to convert biogas from a sewage treatment plant into natural gas for distribution to customers in the region.… The State Corporation Commission found that the joint project with the Western Virginia Water Authority is in the public interest.” The company considers this to be “a renewable natural gas project.”

Energy Right, a Virginia-based non-profit that brings a conservative perspective to clean energy conversation” noted that —

“The commonwealth’s energy policies are the point of frequent contention, but not all Virginians are toeing the historical party lines on clean energy policy. Clean energy is not the political wedge issue that it once was, and for good reason: this old dichotomy misses what Virginians actually care about. In addition to getting policy right in the eyes of Virginians, our leaders would be well served to first consider the proper role of government, if any, in energy decisions at the local level.” 

Nuclear energy and nuclear waste made headlines recently:

[W]hat we know about nuclear waste disposal in Virginia.”

Small modular reactors are not going to save the day.”

Youngkin’s nuclear initiative would make Virginia an energy innovator.

Dominion Energy plans to deploy small modular nuclear reactors statewide by 2032.

25 questions about small nuclear reactors.”

First small modular reactor gets certification from Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”

Game over for the Mountain Valley Pipeline”? A commentator believes “The Mountain Valley Pipeline is down $6 billion with seconds on the clock in overtime. Even casual viewers can see that the game is over. MVP has lost. Gamblers should cut their losses while they still can.” “A long-running legal dispute over a corporate venture’s authority to seize private property for a natural gas pipeline [MVP] has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where landowners see signs of hope.” A FERC attorney believes that a “company that monitors environmental compliance by the [MVP] has a relatively small but continuing conflict of interest caused by its work on separate projects by developers of the controversial pipeline….” “Environmental groups asked the Fourth Circuit during oral arguments Tuesday to toss a key water permit for the [MVP], which would lead to even more delays for the $6.2 billion project that developers aim to resume constructing this summer.”

Arlington County announced all of its facilities are now powered by renewable energy, “two years ahead of schedule. As part of the Community Energy Plan adopted in 2019, Arlington County committed to transitioning 100% of county operations to renewable sources by 2025.” In other recent solar news, various Virginia localities have rejected proposals for large-scale solar farms or adopted policies limiting them: Isle of Wight County, Mecklenburg County, Culpeper County, Halifax Town, and Patrick County,

Climate and Environment

“The Virginia Climate Center is expected to launch in late January… [and] will work with local communities across the state, listening to what they need and providing information to help them develop strategies to manage their risks from a warming climate…. ‘It’s entirely a community-oriented organization. Almost an extension service like many states have for agriculture. It’s modeled in very much the same way: combining research that is going on inside the university with real-life problems going on outside of the university.’ The VCC team was awarded a 2-year, $2 million grant from NOAA to develop the pilot project.”

Meanwhile, “Virginia Tech experts have been studying extreme weather patterns and have some predictions for 2023 and beyond. The U.S. experienced 18 natural disasters related to weather and climate in 2022 that exceeded $1 billion dollars in damage and loss…. ‘[T]he general expectation looking forward to 2023 and years beyond is for a continuation of an upward trend in high-dollar disasters stemming from weather and climate events….’ [E]arly predictions suggest this year will be the hottest on record.”

“The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation … [awarded] $51,757,388 in supplemental awards from the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund. These newly funded [22] projects will expand flood prevention and protection projects including mitigation, capacity building, planning and studies throughout VirginiaCharlottesville was one of the grant recipients.

The “Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army announced … the final revised definition of Waters of the United States.” The new definition serves as a … reset of the [prior] Administration’s … rollback of longstanding clean water protections…. With the new definition, limits are established ‘that appropriately draw the boundary of waters subject to Federal protection.’ And the new definition notes that this does not mean activity cannot take place in Waters of the United States. It means the activity must not violate the Clean Water Act.”

The “Chesapeake Bay [is] still in poor health, [with] blue crabs suffering, says [the most recent] State of the Bay report.” The report gave the Bay a D+ rating. “The effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay has made little overall progress the past two years, with improvements in some categories offset by stagnation or deterioration in others” according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Its “dredge survey results found the lowest number of blue crabs in the survey’s 33-year history.” A recent study reported on the considerable economic benefits Virginia’s seafood industry provides the state. Two legislators would like to see a Virginia blue catfish industry that might help protect the Bay. A local farmer and blogger touted the benefits for farmers and the Bay of the “Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay … program that helped [farmers to be more efficient] and safer… with conservation vouchers. It’s called the Healthy Streams Farm Stewardship program.”

Tangier Island residents hope new oyster reefs will help in its challenges from rising waters. “Two potential projects would deploy oysters, one of the cornerstones of the island’s seafood-based economy, as protection against land-devouring waves and storm surge. Both are in the early stages of development.” Artificial habitats inland may help Smith Mountain Lake’s fish population.

Bristol Virginia’s landfill woes continue. The “New mayor, vice-mayor set landfill as top priority.” A judge granted its request for mediation in a lawsuit filed by sister city Bristol Tennessee. A citizen group is seeking “air monitoring” for the landfill. A local group is fundraising for air monitors. Virginia’s Attorney General sued the city over the landfill’s “stench.” Some legislators think Bristol should receive some federal aid.

The Valley Conservation Council reported its “Land conservation efforts successful in 2022; 2023 could be banner year.”

Check out…

  • Sierra Club Piedmont Group’s virtual program on Charlottesville’s Climate Action Plan – Feb. 8, 7:00 PM to learn about Charlottesville’s newly adopted Climate Action Plan and ask questions of staff. Register here. Consider whether there are reasons for other localities to develop such a plan.
  • Renewal of Resistance – an evening with StopMVP Artivists – Jan. 31, online 7 PM – for music, dance, and poetry. Register here.
  • These sources about the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) tax credits that take effect this year IRA take effect. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the ways you can save money with solar and more starting now. Below are links to the federal code text regarding HOMES and HEEHRA. Virginia will create its own plan for dispersing these funds ($186M in total).

§18795a. High-efficiency electric home rebate program (HEEHRA)

§18795. Home energy performance-based, whole-house rebates (HOMES)

Residents and businesses aren’t the only beneficiaries. So are non-profits and schools. You can encourage your school system and your church or congregation to install solar. And your neighbors. And commercial facilities. Generation180’s Solar for all Schools program created a toolkit that interested parents, community members and schools can use (and a helpdesk) to help their school go solar. Its last report showed a tripling of the amount of solar on Virginia schools. 

  • Locations of the top 50 Virginia localities with the most temporary emergency shelters per‑capita. “The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters means that the need for emergency evacuation and shelter plans has never been greater. According to the Federal Emergency Management Association, understanding your climate risk, or proximity to probable natural disaster, is an important first step for making a plan. Tools like the Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation allow you to assess your risk by location. Knowing where nearby emergency shelters are located is another way to prepare for the worst. In the event of flooding, hurricane-level winds, or other disasters, emergency shelters offer a place to sleep, and also often provide food, water, and first aid services.” Closest to the Central Valley (though not necessarily west of the Blue Ridge), among the 50 localities are the Counties of Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, Albemarle, Greene, Madison, Culpeper, Fauquier, Clark, and Nelson. Cities include Staunton, Winchester, Lexington, Buena Vista, Covington, and Charlottesville.
  • These 6 charts that track air quality and precipitation in Virginia, plus other environmental indicators.” For example, recently air quality in the Shenandoah Valley National Park was rated good.

Why not…

  • See a film or two playing during the 13th RVA Environmental Film Festival, starting March 10with the heartfelt documentary, “Wildcat,” playing at The Dome of Science Museum of Virginia at 7:30 PM? The festival continues at the Byrd Theater March 11-12. Showings will continue until March 19 at various venues throughout the community. The lineup includes films for all ages and covers environmental topics such as forest conservation, survival amidst climate change, mysteries of sea life, pollinator decline, natural gas pipelines, and more. Details are here.
  • Attend Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL)’s Conservative Climate Leadership Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. – March 28-29? CCL’s approach to enacting climate solutions is to work with everyone along the political spectrum. The Conservative Climate Leadership Conference and Lobby Day provides the opportunity to engage climate advocates and lawmakers who are right of center. The application deadline for attending the conference and securing a limited lobbying spot is March 10. The application deadline for attending the conference with no lobbying is March 14. Find details here.
  • Attend the Waynesboro Parks and Recreation’s 10th Annual Shenandoah Plant Symposium 2023A Plant Palette, March 24 from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Wayne Theatre in downtown Waynesboro? Waynesboro Parks & Recreation will present a lineup of speakers. Find “inspiration for your backyard garden…. Registration is limited to 250 people. A boxed lunch will be served. The cost is $90 per person.” Register here.
  • Watch an Eastern Mennonite “Professor’s work featured in ‘Wetlands of Wonder: The Hidden World of Vernal Pools’ documentary? At 54-minutes long, it might suit your kids too.

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 December 2022

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 December 2022 


Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

“Virginia … [began its] official withdrawal [via the regulatory process] from [the] regional carbon market [known as RGGI, although] debates over legality of [the Youngkin administration’s and the Air Quality Control Board’s] move persist.” “Virginia began participating in RGGI following passage of the … Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act of 2020…. Virginia power producers must buy allowances for each metric ton of carbon they emit, with the number of allowances available for purchase at auction declining every year.” The previous and current Attorneys General provided different opinions as to the legality of the Youngkin approach. A Southern Environmental Law Center attorney argued such action must be done legislatively. A National Resources Defense Council lawyer tweeted “Weird [that the Governor]’s budget would make taxpayers pay for VA’s exorbitant flooding & energy costs. Yet in Q4 [22] alone, under VA’s RGGI law, big polluters just paid up another $70+ million, to do exactly that….” Other opinion writers, environmental organizations, and a legislative committee echoed that sentiment questioning the logic of eliminating the RGGI funding source for community flood resilience and energy efficiency improvements for low and middle income Virginians and allowing polluters to emit CO2 while proposing budget expenditures to pay for the recurrent damages that coastal and inland flooding that the state has experienced and will continue to experience. A blogger presented details about the proceeds from the RGGI auctions, describing them as “taxes”, noting that to date they’ve totaled close to $524 million. The Acting Secretary of Virginia’s Department of Natural and Historic Resources argued that RGGI is “a bad deal.” The regulatory action to withdraw Virginia from RGGI will continue in 2023.

Solar, Wind, and Nuclear

“The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors approved a large solar farm near Port Republic …. The permit [is] for a large-scale, ground-mounted solar facility on the south side of U.S. 340, … [on] … land previously disturbed by a quarry, and [the project] would produce 50 megawatts of power, … enough electricity to power 20% of the county’s households.” Franklin County’s Board of Supervisors voted to approve a siting agreement for … the county’s first utility-scale solar facility, a … 160-acre project ….” Other localities that recently approved similar projects include Halifax County and Henry County. Not all solar facilities meet with approval; recent examples of local opposition happened in Carroll County, in Isle of Wight Countyin Bristersburg/Fauquier County, and in the town of South Boston.

A bill passed in the 2022 General Assembly called for a work group study to address solar development. That group delivered its report but achieved ”little consensus on [what new regulations should look like.] Solar developers were wary of regulation, and farm and conservation groups expressed concerns about land impacts. The report was “a 717-page document that included discussion of 41 proposals around definitions, processes and who should be involved with implementing the new regulations. The work group reached consensus on only four of those proposals and came close to consensus on 14. But on 23 — more than half of those considered — they remained deadlocked.” One opinion writer praised the bipartisan “consensus”.

An Augusta County solar developer is training students for careers in clean energy. The same company will install solar panels on two Bedford County schoolsIt also helped a Richmond homeless shelter reduce its energy costs by going solarVirginia Beach students created light displays “powered by solar panels and [a] wind turbine.” “More than 80 students from five public school divisions in Virginia gave topics, “including students from Augusta County.

In Virginia, shared, or community, solar allows eligible residents of multi-family buildings and those who cannot install their own solar to subscribe to utility and 3rd party developer programs. However, “Shared solar launches in Virginia but still faces an uphill battle.” “Dominion Energy is demanding that a planned 1.2-megawatt community solar project pay to install a high-speed fiber optic line between the array and the nearest substation, which the developer says will increase costs by about 50%.”

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) “effectively signed off on an agreement Dominion reached this fall with the Virginia attorney general and other parties, in which the company agreed to implement several consumer protections in connection with the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.” Not everyone applauded the SCC’s action. A blogger asked “Why does Dominion fear a wind output promise?” Another argued that “Dominion’s Wind Gamble Could Cost Customers.” Another made a case that “Dominion’s Planned Offshore Wind Farm Need Not – and Must Not – Be Built Where Planned.” Dominion has filed a request with the SCC for a rate surcharge for its off-shore wind project. The federal government advanced Virginia’s off-shore wind projects. Meanwhile, “Plans for Botetourt County [on-shore] wind farm [are] moving along – although slowly.”

A Canary Media chart detailing the largest electricity source in each state showed that “In 12 U.S. states last year, the largest source of electricity generation was zero-carbon — wind, hydropower or nuclear.” Virginia was not among the 12; its largest source was fossil gas. The Governor proposed “a $10 million investment in the upcoming budget to turn Virginia into a leader in energy innovation …. [He announced] ‘With technologies like carbon capture and utilization, and resources like critical minerals, hydrogen, and nuclear, we will make Virginia the epicenter for reliable and affordable energy innovation’.”

The Governor and nuclear proponents want Southwest Virginia to be the site of a small modular nuclear reactor but critics, including area residents, want to be informed and consulted about such a project. Some experts say the project is doable with necessary approvals in place. Several start-ups are working on ways to demonstrate feasibility. A Lynchburg company started “production of a type of nuclear fuel, fuel, called TRISO, [that] will power the first micro reactor built and operated in the United States…. {The company believes such fuels will be] used for a variety of new technologies, including micro reactors that provide clean energy to remote communities, or areas recovering from natural disasters.” Virginia Tech nuclear researchers received a federal grant to “work to improve computer models that are used to study the safety of nuclear power plants.” “Dominion Energy plans to deploy small modular nuclear reactors statewide by 2032 … [and] is evaluating several sites in Southwest Virginia, including retired fossil fuel plants and former coal mines. Appalachian Power Company says it’s also looking at the new nuclear technology.” Politicallycurrent activities show that there is international interest in nuclear energy on both the right and the left.

Southwest Virginia may become a hub for numerous research and development activities and job opportunities, including “The Energy Discovery, Education, Learning & Technology Accelerator, or DELTA, Lab… in Wise County”; the “Energy Storage and Electrification Manufacturing (ESEM) jobs project” in Tazewell County; numerous projects funded by the recently passed federal 2023 funding bill; and hydrogen research, including a green hydrogen project in Buchanan County.

Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), Biogas, and Extraction/Mining

Republican legislators introduced pipeline permitting reform bills in both houses of Congress to “create regulatory certainty for natural gas pipeline construction and approve Mountain Valley Pipeline completion.” In response, “more than 40 environmental and advocacy groups called for a “fair and open” review of the pipeline’s plan to cross the Jefferson National Forest.” Senator Manchin’s [and others’] efforts to speed up the energy permitting process (and thereby facilitate if not guarantee the completion of the MVP), will likely continue in 2023 despite the lack of success in 2022. “The U.S. Forest Service[, under a court order to produce a ‘ Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement before a final statement next summer’,] has proposed new construction guidelines that, if adhered to, would enable the 303-mile intrastate natural gas pipeline to traverse a 3.5-mile section of the Jefferson National Forest in Giles and Montgomery counties, the project’s final missing link.”

“Utility executives said they have plenty of opportunity to invest in renewable natural gas, or RNG, supply projects, even as major energy and investment companies continue to acquire RNG developers.” Dominion Energy “invested in … [RNG] projects at dairy and swine farms and sees the opportunity to add to its project pipeline.” Roanoke Gas Company seeks “to partner with a western Virginia wastewater plant to capture, treat, and deliver biogas to local customers. Environmental groups have objections to how the deal is structured ….”

“A Canadian company has bought interest in the uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County and has set its sights on overturning the state’s moratorium on uranium mining. Experts say the risks are real, but some can be mitigated with modern technology.” “Southside legislators said there’s little local enthusiasm for overturning the moratorium ….” 

“The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is working towards the answer [to the question ‘Might there be Gold in Virginia hills’]. Virginia Tech faculty members … were part of a 13‑person technical team convened by NASEM to provide their subject‑matter expertise to produce “The Potential Impacts of Gold Mining in Virginia” report ….” Two of the conclusions:

  1. “Virginia’s laws and regulations currently … are not up to the task of minimizing the risks to Virginia’s communities and environment …. [The] report points to opportunities to strengthen these systems to minimize risk of harming water resources, ecosystems, and human health….”
  2. “The most effective way to minimize potential impacts from gold mining is to begin with a cradle‑to‑grave approach that considers all aspects of exploration, development, mining, remediation, closure and long-term monitoring from the very earliest stages and, importantly, solicits and includes input from all stakeholders involved ….”

The study was done pursuant to legislation; one question is “What happens next?” Buckingham County formed a commission to recommend what its next steps will be, possibly addressing whether the county should ban gold mining there.


“A representative state survey released last week found 55% of Virginians are likely to consider buying an electric vehicle (EV). In January, however, the key policy that gives Virginians’ more access to EVs may be in jeopardy. [An opinion writer noted that] Unfortunately, bills have been filed to repeal the Clean Car standards in the upcoming Virginia General Assembly.” However, “With higher gas prices, electric vehicles [are] surging in popularity with buyers.” The town of Stanley recently installed its first EV charging station at a local park. Loudoun County is planning to “acquire [a] low-to-zero emissions … fleet.” “As more transit agencies in Virginia roll out electric buses to reduce environmental impacts, the need to recharge those buses throughout the day remains a chief concern.”

Richmond’s Pulse has driven its way to becoming one of the most successful bus rapid transit services in the country. Now transportation leaders from as far away as Ohio, Maryland and Florida are taking notice…. [P]assengers are turning to rapid transit services due to their frequent stops and reliability compared to buses.” Blacksburg’s town council voted to provide free bus service to all riders. But the Roanoke Valley’s Metro system cannot afford to do so without “new funding or significant budget cuts.” DC eliminated Metrobus fares starting next summer, but Virginia riders from DC may continue paying them. “Virginia transit officials say state law and regulations effectively prohibit the state from eliminating Metrobus fares for riders in the commonwealth, but legislative changes could alter that.”

Climate and Environment

“An innovative new technique to assess the health of fish population that set lower triggers for catch quotas has found that menhaden — probably the most controversial catch in Virginia — are doing even better than expected. As a result, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission increased its coastwide quota for menhaden by 20%, while leaving its cap on the Chesapeake Bay catch at 51,000 metric tons.

A recent study by the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Virginia Tech showed there is “Money in [Virginia’s] water: Virginia seafood industry [is] worth billions, supports thousands of jobs.” A recent Chesapeake Bay Foundation study reported “good news” for the Bay: “Dead zones are shrinking, but [there’s] still a long way to go.” “The Chesapeake Bay watershed in Virginia will be supported by more than $13 million in grant awards for restoration and conservation…. Awarded through the Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grant Program (INSR) and the Small Watershed Grants (SWG) Programs, core grant programs of the federal-state Chesapeake Bay Program partnership that are administered under NFWF’s Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF), the award include $15 million provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds, the first set of awards from the infrastructure funding. Funding will also be provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and private funding by Altria Group, Zoetis, and Astra Zeneca. Additional funding will come from the Bezos Earth Fund.” Total funding will be over $26 million. The Governor proposed setting “aside historic funds [$685 million in the biennial budget] for conservation and preservation … [and] for resiliency and the Chesapeake Bay.”

Thanks to “legislation passed earlier this year allowing Virginia’s state and federally recognized tribes to receive grants from VLCF, one of the state’s premier sources of conservation money, funded through the budget,” “two tribes were awarded grants directly from the … VLCF to acquire and preserve forestlands for the first time. The grants will only cover a portion of the cost of the land acquisitions and will be available to the tribes for two years.”

“Five localities receive[d] funds [from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Farmland Preservation] to place working farmlands, forests under conservation easements.” “The General Assembly’s passage of full funding for agricultural best management practices is a historic decision for farmers…. From July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2024, $295 million will be allocated in Virginia’s budget for aid farmers in implementing conservation practices.”

Check out…

Why not…

  • Sign up to lobby your legislators on Virginia Conservation Network’s Our Common Agenda this coming session? Join the Virginia Conservation Network and hundreds of fellow environmental advocates on Tuesday, January 31st, 8 am to 1 pm in Richmond for its annual Conservation Lobby Day. Register here.
  • Join Earthjustice for its Climate Action Party: Food Justice Webinar, Jan. 12, 7 pm? Learn how climate-concerned citizens can urge government leaders to help accelerate the transition to a more just and sustainable food system. The featured guest Peter Lehner will spotlight opportunities for climate activists to advocate for policymakers to use the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Farm Bill, Inflation Reduction Act, and SEC regulations to drive even faster, systemic change in the ways we produce our food. Register here.
  • Learn about three ways to receive tax credits for going green in 2023, thanks to federal funding under the Inflation Reduction Act?
  • Gain some insights into how SustainFloyd takes small steps by “Thinking Globally [and Acting Globally in Floyd Virginia”?
  • Read this story of Hog Island residents who moved to the mainland to retreat from the rising seas, only to find those seas have followed them?
  • Try washing your clothes in cold water and wash them less frequently? Doing so will increase the life of the clothes and reduce environmental harms from the washing process.
  • Learn about Mountain Lake’s “mysterious” fluctuations that result in periods of low to no water.
  • Invite Songbirds to Your Winter Garden”?
  • Visit an “International Dark Sky” state or national park? Virginia has four, three relatively near the Central Valley. West Virginia has three parks with this designation. Before you go, learn “Why we need to make the world a darker place.”

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 November 2022

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 2022 


As noted in our last Perspectives piece, not everyone is happy with the Governor’s recently released Energy Plan. An “advanced energy advocate says … [the] plan ‘falls short’ [and is a] ‘U-turn away from a cleaner and cheaper energy future.’”

The Governor “wants Virginia to be the first state to commercialize [small nuclear reactors, SMRs]”; he wants one located in Southwest Virginia. This technology hasn’t been developed on a large-scale. The Governor said recycling nuclear waste will be a priority. He also said Southwest Virginia could become an “energy epicenter” for the state, the US, and world. An Environment and Energy reporter explained what an SMR is.

There are concerns that the efforts to bring an SMR to Virginia may also lead the state to lift its long‑standing ban on uranium mining. “A Canadian mining venture … is buying a big uranium ore deposit in Pittsylvania County despite Virginia’s 40-year moratorium on mining the radioactive metal.” “The largest uranium deposit in the United States is in Pittsylvania County at a 3,000-acre site …. [A] 1982 moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia has prevented any development of the site for 40 years. Several attempts to repeal the moratorium have been unsuccessful since then. The most recent, in 2013, was so unpopular that it was pulled before even going to committee.”

“With exploration for gold continuing in Buckingham County, a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found Virginia’s current system of regulating gold mining ‘is not adequate to address the potential impacts’ of commercial extraction.” Piedmont Environmental Council’s “interactive map  shows the location of former gold mine sites in Virginia, and importantly, visually displays each mine site’s ‘OLAC ranking,’ a measure of prioritization for reclamation based on site assessments and potential contamination….”

Mountain Valley Pipeline owners said they “will not rest” until the project is completed. “For the third time in six years, the U.S. Forest Service will study the environmental impact of burrowing a large natural gas pipeline through a 3.5-mile stretch of the Jefferson National Forest. The latest evaluation comes after a federal appeals court rejected two earlier approvals … [because] the Forest Service did not adequately address the erosion and sedimentation to be caused by clearing land and digging a trench for a buried pipe that will traverse steep slopes through federal woodlands in Giles and Montgomery counties.”

Harrisonburg’s Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project received funding from several local non‑profits and recently celebrated its newly installed energy efficiency improvements and solar panels with a picnic. “New River Community College recently received state approval to offer a new training program for those interested in becoming a solar technician.”

“Virginia solar developers say stormwater rules could wash away their margins. The state’s Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ] is reviewing proposed stormwater regulations that would treat ground‑mounted solar arrays the same as parking lots, likely requiring developers to acquire more land.” Applications for solar installations–sometimes called solar “farms”–continue. In Pulaski County, Supervisors denied a permit. Planners in Isle of Wight County approved expansion of an existing solar farm. The Amherst County Planning Commission recommended approval of the permit to … operate a utility-scale solar generation facility on a 141-acre tract.” Cumberland County’s Planning Commission recommended approval of a large solar installation on 2,340 acres. “The Depot Solar Facility in Campbell County is the third solar project Appalachian Power has brought online in less than a year. The more‑than-50,000 solar panels produce 15 Megawatts of energy, enough electricity to power 2,600 homes.” “A new solar facility in Charles City boasting over 514,200 panels …, is expected to generate 175 Megawatts. That’s enough to power approximately 30,000 homes — over ten times the number currently in Charles City County.” “A new solar facility in Climax — set to power local homes served by Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative — is nearing the finish line…. [The] 2.8 megawatt facility will be able to supply about 2,100 meters serviced by the cooperative’s substation in Climax….”

Fairfax County’s School Board approved “a pilot rooftop solar power purchase contract at Annandale High School, the first rooftop solar program in the county school system.” “Community Housing Partners’ [CHP] 3,300-plus” apartment and townhouse dwellers [near Christiansburg] will soon be able to take advantage of Dominion Energy’s shared solar program that allows them “to buy their electricity from a solar developer.” Residents of CHP units served by Appalachian Power do not have a similar opportunity. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is due to release a report soon that will address this disparity.

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) ruled that Dominion shareholders may need to cover costs if performance of Dominion’s offshore wind energy facility doesn’t meet what Dominion said it would deliver. Subsequently, “Dominion Energy … agreed to implement several consumer protections in connection with its massive offshore wind project under a proposed agreement with the office of the Virginia attorney general and other parties …. The proposed agreement, which includes performance reporting requirements and provisions laying out a degree of construction cost sharing, is still subject to final approval by the [SCC].” However, the agreement removes “a performance guarantee Dominion had criticized.” A blogger believes the agreement is not good for ratepayers. Another blogger argued that other East Coast wind projects are “faltering” because of economics. Canary Media reported that “Dominion Energy …agreed to protect customers if costs run over budget or performance falls short of expectations on $10B landmark offshore wind project.” The SCC conducted another hearing on the matter. Those appearing included parties to the agreement. Issues included “wind construction risk” and potential cost overruns. The SCC currently has two of its three Commissioners and one of those announced her resignation effective December 31. At least two Commissioners are needed to make decisions. The General Assembly, which did not fill the vacancy in the September special session called for that purpose, now has two to appoint.

“[Twelve] Local school systems will receive federal grants totaling nearly $11 million for the purchase of electric buses [as part of the federal] … Clean School Bus Program.” Several companies are operating electric trucks in Southwest Virginia. Advocates say states should take advantage of federal money to promote the use of EVs, Virginia included. Charge Up Fairfax is working to assist county residents overcome challenges to charging station access.

“American Climate Partners will work with Dominion to capture carbon in the soil in the company’s largest solar installation at Fort Powhatan…. Measurements of changes in soil carbon caused by the application of biochar which is created from waste wood will occur in the pilot project. Biochar will be placed under the solar panels and carbon reductions will be measure over four years in the pilot study.”

James Madison University’s Center for the Advancement of Clean Energy sponsored its second annual Rocktown Clean Energy Festival on October 29th. The Festival opened “community conversations about renewable energy.” Big Stone Gap received a $1 million grant from the “DOE’s Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER) Funding Program … to ‘improve energy resiliency as the country transitions to new energy technologies.’”

Climate and Environment

“Fairfax County … Board of Supervisors voted to adopt The Resilient Fairfax plan, which analyzes the impacts climate change will bring to the county in coming decades [and] lays out a roadmap to help residents and infrastructure adapt to a warmer and wetter climate.”

Buchanan County residents affected by a flash flood in July continue to experience hardships because of slow recovery efforts and FEMA’s refusal of federal aid. Virginia won’t appeal FEMA’s turndown of individual aid to flood victims. The Appalachian Regional Commission provided a $100,000 grant to pay for a new case manager to assist affected individuals. Recurrent flooding in the Hampton Roads area prompted “17 Hampton Roads cities and counties … [to] oppose [the Governor’s] proposal for Virginia to leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [RGGI],” which provides funds to address flood resilience. “The Virginia Dam Safety, Flood Prevention and Protection Assistance Fund is offering $5 million in grant funding to dam owners in Virginia [for flood resilience]…. {M}ore than 2,600 regulated dam owners are eligible.”

Thanks to Appalachian Regional Commission funding of $1.5 million, “the New River Valley Regional Commission will construct or improve four public launches along the New River Water Trail, as well as expand the New River Trail website, which connects the Water Trail to existing activities and businesses in the area.” The Nature Conservancy awarded “Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment …$2.25 million of [a] USDA-funded [agroforestry] project to help mid-Atlantic and Appalachian farmers reduce carbon emissions, improve water quality, enhance biodiversity, and increase profitability.”

The Virginia “Department of Forestry [worked with The Nature Conservancy to create] … its 200th conservation easement in the Commonwealth…. With the addition of the 1,428-acre property in Wise County known as Pine Mountain, VDOF has now protected 91,597 acres of land, 84,112 acres of forest and nearly 460 miles of streams and rivers. [The easement will] help conserve more than 1,400 acres of managed forests and four miles of headwater streams.” “The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation … awarded a record $14.9 million in grant funding … [to] help conserve 13,955 acres in the Commonwealth.”

Virginia received $22.8 million of federal money for abandoned mine land reclamation projects …, which advocates and officials say will resolve environmental hazards and create well-paying jobs along the way.” DEQ and the Western Virginia Water Authority investigated the source(s) of “forever chemical” contamination in the “South Fork Roanoke River watershed.” “They identified a plant in Elliston that services industrial water treatment equipment.” The chemical is GenX, used in “a “chemical washing process.”

“Negotiations between the city [of Bristol] and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on a consent order governing actions at the city landfill [were] referred to the state attorney general.” A lawsuit filed by Bristol Tennessee against its “sister city” is still pending. DEQ and the Waste Management Board issued new regulations to “tighten” rules governing landfills. “But the citizen group Virginians for Conservation and Community Rights, an organization that emerged out of local opposition to the proposed Green Ridge landfill in Cumberland County, says the regulations still fail to protect the environment and surrounding communities, particularly when it comes to groundwater contamination. Especially concerning to the group is a continued lack of protections for private wells that lie near landfills.”

“Experts from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Virginia Institute of Marine Science concluded that hypoxic conditions in the Chesapeake Bay are better than average in 2022.” This means that the “Bay has a smaller than average dead zone this year, shortened by cool temperatures and strong winds…. A dead zone is an area of low oxygen that forms in deep Bay waters …. In such an area [are] low-oxygen, or hypoxic, conditions at the bottom of the Bay. This year’s dead zone was determined to be the 10th smallest since 1985.”

Oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay are showing resilience; “Virginia is the largest oyster producer on the East Coast.” Efforts to restore a Bay watershed species, freshwater mussels, will move forward thanks to “grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation [that] will allow [projects by] the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and James River Association.” “Recreational anglers and environmentalists are ratcheting up their pressure on Virginia leaders to shut down large-scale commercial menhaden harvests in the Chesapeake Bay…. Their ire is directed at … [a] Reedville, VA-based fleet of fishing vessels, guided by spotter planes, [which] is responsible for about 70% of the East Coast menhaden harvest.” State Delegate Tim Anderson introduced a bill “for the next session of the Virginia General Assembly to place a two year moratorium on Atlantic menhaden reduction fishing in Virginia’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay.”

“Investments in agricultural best management practices have positive returns for the economy, according to a report … by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation…. The report found that for every dollar spent on farmers’ best management practices within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, $1.75 is returned through higher sales of goods and services as well as earnings. Investments are also contributing to the creation of an estimated 6,673 jobs annually between 2020 and 2025.”

Check out…

Why not…

  • Skip bagging your leaves this fall? Here’s why.
  • Enjoy some of Virginia’s ample apple harvest.
  • Learn “why Virginia oaks [are] in danger.”
  • Register for the Citizens Climate Lobby Conference – Dec. 3-4, to learn what to expect going into 2023; it’s free. There will be several seminars and sessions helpful for volunteers, including an in‑depth policy look at the Inflation Reduction Act, a workshop about diversity and inclusion outreach in your chapter, and a workshop about conservative climate pillars and volunteer outreach.

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 2022 (Part II)

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 2022 (Part II)


Virginia’s Governor issued his Energy Plan. A Southwest Virginia editor noted that the “plan shows the changing politics of energy [with] … the Republican governor of a coal-producing state who is not talking up coal.” A long-time follower of Virginia energy policy and laws expressed skepticism, asking “You call that an energy plan? Youngkin doesn’t have a lot of ammunition to use against the switch to renewable energy.” She argued that the Governor’s document is not actually a plan and doesn’t meet the statutory requirements for what each Energy Plan must address.

Canary Media graded Virginia a B on fostering community-led clean energy; its grades “reflect whether states have a range of policies to promote community-led clean energy.” The Institute for Local Self‑Reliance’s Community Power Scorecard also rated Virginia a B on “how [its] policies help or hinder local clean energy action.” The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) announced “the greater Washington, D.C., region [exceeded] its 2020 goal of reducing greenhouse gases 20% below 2005 levels, thanks to “Fewer miles traveled on the roads along with a drop in energy usage in buildings facilitated by the pandemic-induced lockdowns in 2020 along with a cleaner power generating grid.” Virginia Conservatives for Clean Energy reported that the Port of Virginia plans to transition to 100% Clean Energy by 2024 through “a new power purchase agreement signed this year [that] will allow it to power all of its energy needs with solar, nuclear and wind resources through Dominion Energy.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is joining 18 other states in an investigation of six major American banks over their environmental, social and governance, or ESG, investing, citing harms to Virginia farmers and companies. ESG is an umbrella term used to describe companies’ consideration of environmental, social and governance factors such as climate change and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in their business dealings.”

Protestors from Pulaski County visited with legislators in DC to express their views about the climate justice aspects of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) project. There is a pending appeal from environmental groups of a previous water crossing certification because of prior MVP violations of water quality standards. The “three-judge panel with a history of tossing out permits for the Mountain Valley pipeline appeared ready … to reject yet another approval for the natural gas project.” ”MVP owners “decided to withdraw eminent domain actions against land in North Carolina the company sought for its Southgate extension, a 75-mile offshoot of the main pipeline that would carry gas from Pittsylvania south to Rockingham and Alamance counties.” However the owners denied “giving up on [the] Southgate Extension after [its] eminent domain pullback [was] cheered by opponents.”

Given the Governor’s intent to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), some legislators are considering what legislative remedies might lessen the impact on ratepayers of the utilities’ passing on to consumers their costs associated with participation in RGGI. “One legislator, however, wants the General Assembly to change how utilities such as Dominion Energy pass along those costs, asserting that adding them to the base rate could help customers by prompting more scrutiny from regulators.”

Following a request for reconsideration, the SCC has let stand its determination that $55.10 is a reasonable monthly administrative fee for Dominion’s multifamily shared solar administrative fee. Critics believe the fee “is too high. But those interested in a different solar program for people who live in multifamily housing like apartments will see a lower administrative fee ($16.78) than initially proposed by the utility…. Both programs were created by legislation in the 2020 session to expand options for solar use, with the shared solar program intended for those with solar restrictions like shady yards. The multifamily solar program was intended to be used by those living in apartments.”

“The Wood Brothers Road Solar project will be located on a portion of an active soybean farm in Middlesex County, where it’s slated to reach commercial operation in the first half of 2024. Along with adding solar energy to the farm’s harvest, Wood Brothers also provides supplemental income to the landowner in the form of land lease payments over the lifetime of the project.” Goochland County wants to “get ahead of requests for solar projects” and its supervisors “voted unanimously to begin the process of amending the county’s current ordinance governing those operations.”

Dominion Energy … proposed 23 new solar and energy storage projects totaling over 800 MWs that could power more than 200,000 Virginia homes at peak output.” The company announced its “acquisition of a 15.7MW battery storage project in development” as part of its plan. One of its planned solar projects is “an 835-acre, 100-megawatt solar array at Dulles Airport. Loudoun County Supervisors “advanced for action a proposal to rezone the airport land to an industrial district [from its current residential zoning], a holdover from the land’s pre-airport history …. But until now the need to change that zoning has never arisen—the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is exempt from local zoning control for airport-related development.” Dominion also plans “to build [a] city‑block-sized electric vehicle charging park [in a vacant parking lot in] downtown” Richmond. The non-profit Partnership for Smart Growth reacted: “While we support EV’s, this is still a parking lot (albeit with some green space) in a city seeking to become less car dependent.”

A long-planned mountaintop wind farm, the Rocky Forge Wind project in Botetourt County, received renewed approval from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. If the project is completed, it would be the state’s first on-shore wind farm.

Citing his “all-of-the-above” Virginia Energy Plan,” the Governor said he will seek $10 million from the legislature for an “Innovation Fund for research and development of innovative energy technologies including nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and utilization and battery storage.” After Governor Youngkin declared his support for a “push for small nuclear reactors” in coal communitiesVirginia’s and West Virginia’s House Speakers both jumped on board. The Governor also announced that the Energy DELTA Lab, “an outgrowth of the Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority, which the General Assembly created in 2019, will “pitch [previously set-aside] land for energy companies who are looking for a place to test new technologies – be it solar and wind or hydrogen or carbon capture or … small nuclear reactors.” Local citizen groups expressed concerns about nuclear development and about the lack to date of community engagement. An editor wondered whether “Youngkin’s nuclear pledge to Southwest Virginia [is] full of potential or just empty.” A Virginia Tech professor and “director of the nuclear engineering program” argued that “Virginia is well positioned to be a leader in nuclear energy.”

Climate and Environment

planned landfill in Cumberland County is raising concerns because of its proximity to a historic Black School. A Southwest Virginia group is pushing “for [a] halt to open burning at [the] Radford Army Ammunition Plant” because of concerns about undesirable health risks. The Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Onsite Water and Wastewater Services will reexamine its sewage handling and disposal regulations; such a review was last done 20 years ago. The current effort is spurred by “climate change pressures” that cause flooding of septic systems from “sea-level rise and intensified rainfall.” Ironically, a state “Program [that] provides safe water and septic to Virginians [is now] out of funding.

Kroger grocery store chain began “effort to eliminate single-use plastic bags in mid-Atlantic stores [with its Henrico County store piloting the] bag program.”

During a recent meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council … to set goals for 2025, Virginia’s Governor acknowledged that Virginia will not meet federal guidelines for Chesapeake Bay cleanup by 2025, despite “the General Assembly [having] dedicated record funding this year to state programs that help farmers pay for pollution reduction practices like streamside fencing. About three-quarters of the pollution reductions Virginia still has to achieve are expected to come from the agricultural sector.” The Environmental Protection Agency just issued its own mixed though generally sunny assessment.

 “Farmers and landowners can access a record $235 million next year in state funds to help pay for an array of practices aimed at protecting the nation’s largest estuary. The funding is available through the Virginia Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program.” The “Chesapeake Bay Watershed Task Force co-chairs issue[d] $3.5 million in grant funding” through the Chesapeake WILD grants. The awards will protect more than 3,300 acres of fish and wildlife habitat, the restoration of nearly 1,000 acres of forest and marsh habitat and more than 20 miles of rivers and streams across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

The Chesapeake Bay watershed region is “losing ground” despite efforts to increase tree canopy. Efforts continue to help the declining and endangered fresh water mussel population, with one project happening in the South River, near Waynesboro. This article outlines ways of “Helping the Chesapeake from way upstream.”

Following a July flooding event, “Dickenson County [was] awarded $2.2 million from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to fund an acquisition, floodproofing and restoration project in the county.” The Governor announced that “State aid for Hurley flood victims to arrive ‘well before Christmas.’”  However, FEMA denied financial help to Buchanan County property owners after [the] July flood.

The Governor “endorsed eight [abandoned mine] sites in Southwest Virginia for funding by the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) grant program.”

Good news! The American “chestnut is not dead. Every now and then, mostly in remote and rugged areas, a full-grown American chestnut is discovered. And scientists at Virginia Tech recently helped confirm one.”

“The Virginia Grassland Bird Initiative works with landowners and farmers in a 16-county region to preserve bird habitat during several species’ nesting periods in the spring and early summer. Their working region stretches from Frederick and Loudoun counties down to Augusta and Albemarle.” This “program that protects bird populations in the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, and Shenandoah Valley regions is entering its second year.” “Conservation of grassland birds may provide incentives for qualifying farmers.”


  • Help let Harrisonburg residents know about the no-cost home weatherization opportunity from Community Housing Partners. 50by 25 Harrisonburg will lead a walk-around in several neighborhoods on Saturday, November 12, from noon to 3 pm. Sign up here if you can come out and help your neighbors lower their energy bills.
  • Learn ways that Harrisonburg can become more healthy and sustainable. Attend this discussion on Nov 10 from 5 to 6:30 pm at the Massanutten Main Library, sponsored by several local organizations including Livable Harrisonburg and Sierra Club/ Shenandoah Group. Join UVA Professor Andrew Mondshein for a presentation on the high cost of mandatory parking minimums.

Check out…

Why not…

  • Consider becoming a beekeeper? Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will provide help and up to three beehives.
  • Learn how to protect your farmland from development, and help clean up the Chesapeake Bay, as explained by an Augusta County farmer who succeeded.
  • Plan a hike through the “Blue Ridge Tunnel, which runs between Nelson and Augusta counties, [and] was recently recognized for its historic significance. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources announced … the tunnel and eight other historic sites have been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register.”

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.