Legislation Roundup 2020

We are providing a new space on our website that focuses on national, state, and local legislation that we want folks to know about. Our first presentation pertains to the recent VA General Assembly (GA) session. If you have questions about what you find here, please reach out to contactcaav [at] gmail.com.

This year’s GA considered a huge number of bills pertaining to the environment, climate change, energy, conservation, and utilities. The session has now ended and many bills await the Governor’s signature. Because the number of these bills is so large, and because of their potential to change the landscape in these important areas, CAAV is presenting a summary of 15 of what we believe are among the most significant. We are including how the Central Valley Legislators voted on them.

See the spreadsheet below; passed bills are in green and those that failed are in red. Use the sliders to access the entire spreadsheet. If you have a different state senator and/or delegate than those shown, you can use the listed link to locate a bill on Virginia’s Legislative Information System (LIS), https://lis.virginia.gov/, to find out how your representative voted. We have included a few bills that did not pass. We are also providing links to media coverage of several of the more notable bills, identified by subject.

The document below the spreadsheet provides details from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network about the VA Clean Economy Act, arguably one of the most complex bills passed.

Joy Loving for the CAAV Legislative and Elections Committee

Media Coverage


Electric Utility Regulations

Clean Energy


View the spreadsheet below in Google Sheets HERE.

Click “Ctrl” (Control) and “+” to enlarge the print if needed for ease of viewing. Note that this may cause extra sliders to appear just outside the original, shorter ones which allow viewing of the complete spreadsheet.  You can use “Ctrl/-” to reset the size.

View this document on CCAN’s website HERE.


Turn Truth into Action

24 Hours of Reality Presentation by Steve Gardner
Thursday, November 21 | 5-6:30pm
Pale Fire Brewing Co.
217 S Liberty St, Harrisonburg

You’ve seen the headlines. You know the climate crisis is devastating the Earth. You want to know what we can do. What you can do. You’re not alone – and we think it’s time for answers. 

So, on Thursday, November 21, Harrisonburg will be part of 24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action, a global conversation on the truth of the climate crisis and how we solve it. 

Well-known former Harrisonburg resident Steve Gardner is a retired dentist who has been trained by the Climate Reality Project started by Al Gore. Not only a Master Naturalist, but a committed activist, in September of this year Steve completed a 600 mile long bike trip along the crest of the Blue Ridge to raise awareness of climate change. He is eager to share his passion in his hometown. Steve’s easy-going style and the relaxed setting makes this challenging issue easier to talk about. Join Steve as we all think about “Truth in Action” and what that means for us. Now, while we still have time.  

Peanuts and pretzels will be provided as snacks!

Hosted by Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, the Shenandoah Group of the Virginia Sierra Club, and Pale Fire Brewing Company  

Dr. Steve Gardner appeared on WHSV’s Bob Corso’s 1on1 on November 20, 2019. Find the interview here.

Run Down on Local Candidates’ Stands on Climate Change

CAAV Steering Committee member Sally Newkirk drew up this quick list of where the candidates stand on Climate Change. Most of the information came directly from the candidates’ websites.

District 20 House of Delegates:

Jennifer Lewis:

  • Opposes both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines.
  • Supports reforming the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
  • Doesn’t accept money from Dominion or Appalachian Power.
  • Supports moving towards a 100% clean and renewable energy future.
  • Endorsed by Sierra Club and Clean Virginia.

John Avoli:

  • No comments on our environment except to project that farmers want clean air and water.

District 25 House of Delegates

Jennifer Kitchen:

  • Supports the Green New Deal.
  • Opposes Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Chris Runion:

  • No issues stated on anything. Expressed a desire to maintain conservative status quo.

District 26 House of Delegates

Tony Wilt:

  • Nothing stated on Environment
  • Voted along party lines to stifle distributed solar.

Brent Finnegan:

  • Opposes pipelines.
  • Supports a green economic plan.
  • Supports Virginia Solar Freedom Bill.
  • Wants to adopt “better than federal motor vehicle standards”.
  • Supports a just and equitable carbon tax.

District 24 State Senate Race

Emmett Hanger:

  • Nothing on climate.
  • Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
  • Advocates expanding State Parks.
  • Introduced and passed bill removing solar panels from being taxed as personal property.

Annette Hyde:

  • Believes in protecting water and air for future generations.
  • Virginia should be moving away from fracked gas.
  • Supports a bill that expands distributed solar through tax credits, rebates and low interest rates.

District 26 State Senate Race

Mark Obenshain:

  • Talks about “energy independence”
  • Supports clean coal, wind energy, biomass and offshore drilling.

April Moore:

  • Climate Change is her number 1 issue.
  • Wants to bring more green technology jobs to the Valley.
  • Supports moving toward a clean and renewable energy future.

Compost Art Celebration

Thanks to everyone who attended and participated in our celebration! Photos from the event are posted HERE.


The Compost Drop-off program received grant funds from the Arts Council of the Valley earlier this year to commission local artist Erin Murray to create a compost-related painting for installation at the downtown Community Compost Drop-off spot.

It’s completed, a print of it has been installed at the bins spot, and it is amazing! Go by the location to view it and/or come celebrate this work and the magic of composting at a dedication event on Saturday, August 17 from 10-11AM during the Farmers Market.

Come to the Community Compost Drop-off spot at the gravel parking lot at Warren and S Liberty St on Saturday, August 17 between 10 and 11 am for a dedication of newly installed artwork, and celebration of composting. Meet the artist, Erin Murray, and local composting champions. Learn about local composting efforts and how you can compost at home.

Meant to be enjoyed by users of the compost drop-off program and passers-by alike, this public artwork is a whimsical look at the “No Waste World” of wildlife. By mimicking nature, we too can recycle much of our waste to create new life. Whether with a backyard compost bin or a community compost drop-off program, composting makes ACV logo-black.300our world richer.

Thanks to the Arts Council of the Valley and the creative talents of local artist Erin Murray for this inspiring and fun way to promote composting!

Also thanks to Harrisonburg Parks & Rec Department’s Jeremy Harold for providing the cedar logs used to create the artwork print frame and posts, and Headwaters Master Naturalist David Forrer for volunteering his time and woodworking skills to build the frame post.

More about the Artwork Dedication & Celebration of Composting Event

Erin Murray will be on hand with her original painting* and be available to discuss her work.

Representatives of Soil Cycles can let you know about what they’ve been doing to get Harrisonburg composting.

We’ll have a kids’ activity we’re calling a “compost critter safari” where we will be searching through finished compost to find and identify all the hard-working critters we have to thank for helping to turn garbage into great stuff. Of course, you don’t have to be a kid to have fun with this!

Headwaters Master Naturalist Chris Bowlen will have a worm composting set up to demonstrate for anyone interested.

Kathy Yoder, who facilitates the composting efforts and vegetable gardens at Waterman Elementary, will be on hand to tell us about her work with these projects.

Matthew Freed with Eastern Mennonite University helps manage their campus-wise composting program and will be available to discuss about it.

Also look for displays on the many benefits of composting and how you can compost at home.

* Watch for this painting to appear inside public areas around the valley over the coming year!

Bins spot, July 2019, with artwork print recently installed.

H’burg Environmental Action Plan Released


The Environmental Action Plan (EAP) is a road map for city leaders, staff, and community members to implement sustainability visions and principles. Sustainability is defined by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” To-date, the City of Harrisonburg has taken steps to address the quality and care of our natural resources; however, the latest science indicates that more ambitious actions are required to mitigate the impacts of environmental degradation and the changing climate that will affect our community’s health, economy, and well-being. – Harrisonburg’s Environmental Action Plan draft, May 30, 2019

It’s been a long time coming but with big efforts from the citizen Environmental Performance Standards Advisory Committee (EPSAC) and select Harrisonburg City staff, Harrisonburg completed its draft of an Environmental Action Plan and shared it with the public in early June 2019. Harrison Horst of Harrisonburg’s The Citizen covered this along with the public open house held at City Hall on June 5 for city staff and EPSAC members to discuss the plan with interested citizens: Harrisonburg’s draft Environmental Action Plan goes public – minus a focus on renewable energy

The draft is available online here.

The comment period for Phase 1 ends on Wednesday, June 26.

Comments delivered by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley are viewable on this pdf: Response to Harrisonburg EAP.

Renew Rocktown solicited public input via this petition and shares their comments here.

Photo at top is from the cover of the draft EAP


Spring into Summer!


Potluck Picnic
Thursday, June 20 | 6:30-8:30PM
Ralph Sampson Park, Shelter #2
431 E Washington St, Harrisonburg

Come catch up with old friends in the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) or make new relationships with like-minded members of the community. Learn about different climate change issues CAAV is tackling in a relaxing setting, and share your ideas on how else we can help make Harrisonburg-Rockingham a regional leader in climate action and resilience.

Conversation Topics (or suggest your own!): Solar & renewable energy, Climate change education, Composting, Climate-related legislation & elections, No pipeline activist art, Climate resilience

From 6:30 – 8:30 PM, CAAV Members and allies will gather at Ralph Sampson Park (Shelter #2) to share food for the body and soul. Bring your own dish to share. Come and go at your convenience, but stick around until 8:43PM if you want to take in a beautiful Valley pre-Summer solstice sunset.

Please come connect with us, and bring along your colleagues, friends, and loved ones!

Facebook event page HERE.

Thanks to everyone who came to the potluck picnic! It was great meeting new folks and revisiting with old friends. Photos below by Cathy Strickler.

Celebrating Earth Day with a Free Screening of The Red Turtle


In celebration of Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley and Court Square Theater are offering a FREE, community showing of the Academy-Award-nominated animated film The Red Turtle!

The Red Turtle
Monday, April 22 | 7PM
Court Square Theater
41-F Court Square, Harrisonburg
FREE! All welcome!

The Red Turtle‘s simple but stunning story about humankind’s struggle against nature will appeal to audiences young and old. The film is completely dialogue free, so members of the community who speak different languages can appreciate its universal message together!

At its simplest level, the film is about a man who is isolated on an island and battles a giant turtle. Looking at it symbolically, Dutch illustrator, animator and director Michaël Dudok de Wit says that the man represents humankind and the turtle represents nature. In recorded interviews he calls it “a love letter to nature.” He also intended the story as a statement about the power of nature and about humankind reconnecting with nature.

The 80-minute animation was a hit at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, critically acclaimed at its 2017 U.S. release, and later nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Rotten Tomatoes, a leading review website, gave it 94% and called it “…a beautifully animated effort whose deceptively simple story boasts narrative layers as richly absorbing as its lovely visuals.”

The Red Turtle appeals to viewers young and old, English-speakers and non-English speakers, casual movie-goers and analytical movie-goers. De Wit successfully uses visual storytelling and the characters’ face and body language to convey emotion in place of dialogue. He describes The Red Turtle as kid-friendly, though there is animal death which reviewers suggest will be appropriate for children age 10 and up.

Early arrivers can enjoy FREE POPCORN thanks to support from the Shenandoah Group of the Sierra Club! (Limited supply of free small popcorn for the first 33 guests).

Come celebrate our connection to Earth with your community this Earth Day!

Check out the movie trailer HERE.

Learn more about The Red Turtle in this interview with the movie’s director Michaël Dudok de Wit HERE.

Bob Corso of WHSV-TV interviewed organizer Lynn Smith for 1 on 1 about the film and Earth day on April 22, 2019:


Click here or on the image above to find this 1 on 1 segment.

Wake up Virginia!!! Recap


On March 20, 2019, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley presented “Wake up Virginia!!! Mobilizing for Our Climate Crisis.” We proudly hosted Karen Campblin of Fairfax, Co-Chair of the Green New Deal Virginia Coalition, and Environmental and Climate Justice Chair for the Virginia NAACP; Bob Shippee of Richmond, Legislative and Political Chairs of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter; and April Moore of Shenandoah County, member of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Board of Directors, to answer questions on state level legislative ways to address the rapidly evolving issue of fossil fuel-driven environmental degradation. Some 85 community members gathered at the Rockingham County Government Center’s community room to be part of this discussion.


Moderator Karen Lee posed a series of five questions to the panelists, followed by questions from the audience. These questions, and the responses, are summarized below:

About the scope of the climate problem—Are we looking at a crisis where we need to mobilize like we did in WW II?  What lessons do you think that experience offers us today? 

The three panelists all agreed that the Climate Crisis facing our nation and world is unequivocally worthy of a World War II scale mobilization and investment. They agreed that we are experiencing a true emergency that calls for leadership by government, science, and business to ensure we respond promptly and effectively.

What is the status of the legislation you have been focusing on? What have been the biggest obstacles to getting them passed?

Major legislation during the 2019 General Assembly session included bills focused on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced like the name “Reggie”), Solar Freedom, Solar Demonstration Project, and Coal Ash Removal. RGGI would have authorized proceeds from carbon auctions to belong to Virginia and Virginia would determine how to use them. Without RGGI, the utilities would receive proceeds and decide on their use. The Solar Freedom legislation would have removed existing barriers to Virginians—individuals and businesses—who want to deploy solar energy.  The Solar Demonstration Project would have allowed a pilot project to examine the feasibility of solar in low and moderate income communities. Coal Ash Removal would require appropriate disposal of massive amounts of toxic coal residue from several “ponds.” All but the last piece of legislation was defeated because of legislative partisanship and parochialism and the persuasive power of Virginia’s largest utility.

What strategies are your organization and partners using to move forward the legislation you support in future legislative sessions?

The newly formed Virginia Green New Deal is hosting an April 27 partner summit during which it hopes to form alliances and partnerships with other organizations to develop legislative framework for the 2020 General Assembly session. The panelists suggested not only participating in this activity but also having off-season conversations with legislators and organizations around issues such as clean air, safe water, renewable energy, local-scale agriculture, and job training.

What suggestions do you have about how we can work with other groups to move Virginia toward more renewable energy and toward less fossil fuel dependence? I am thinking of groups like conservatives for clean energy, evangelicals, creation care groups, libertarian groups, and environment social justice groups.

Suggestions included:

  • Develop local “people power” such as local solar cooperatives.
  • Establish relationships with diverse organizations that share a common interest such as labor groups, coal miners, cleaner transportation advocates, and health workers.
  • Do coalition building within a community and among other Virginia communities to focus on the intersection of economic, climate, and social justice priorities and propose ways to move forward within that overlap.
  • Don’t build walls. Meet others where they are. Look for commonality.

Even though next year’s General Assembly session convenes in January, we recognize that a lot of legislative work happens much earlier. What are the most effective actions we can take as individuals and communities, especially between now and when they convene?

  • Get involved in the election process. Find the candidates whose positions you agree with and help them get elected. Canvas for them. Donate to their campaigns.
  • Reach out to local legislators and let them hear what you want; do that repeatedly. “Badger” your elected leaders … all year.
  • Write letters to your legislators spelling out your priorities as their constituent. Letters appear to have the most impact; emails and phone calls can be effective provided they are personalized. Personal stories are compelling. Form emails and petitions have less value. Then send your letters to the newspapers.
  • Become aware of the local budget process to learn the local elected officials’ priorities. Speak up about budget proposals. Look at local zoning rules to see if there are areas for improvement.
  • Early submissions for a General Assembly session begin in November. So don’t wait to put forward your requests.
  • In reaching out to others, be cognizant of your approach. Using words like “conserve” and “preserve” might resonate better with some people than “climate change.” Talk jobs (e.g., clean energy jobs, retraining of coal industry workers).  Raise health risks from environmental degradation. Express solutions in terms of “free market” methods.
  • Use the Virginia Public Access Project’s website to learn how your local legislator voted and where your political contributions are going.
  • Consider supporting campaign finance reform in Virginia.

A few other ideas from the question and answer session:

  • Read The Solar Patriot by Erik Curren to learn how to “pitch” the value of solar energy to conservatives and libertarians, as well as progressives and liberals.
  • Do what plays to your strengths and personality. Noise, rallies, protests all play a role and help inspire others.
  • Join the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) mailing list. Read its Weekly Climate News Roundup, ask to work on one of its four standing committees: Coalition Building, Education and Events, Legislation and Elections, and Speakers Bureau. Write CAAV at contactcaav [at] gmail [dot] com to ask questions, offer ideas, learn where to look for information.
  • Reach out to organizations like local Rotary clubs and the Christian Coalition.
  • Stay informed. Our National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provides reliable online resources here.
  • Volunteer! Local grass roots groups like CAAV, Renew Rocktown, and RAPTORS could all use your help.
  • And not least: plant a tree! 🙂

CAAV Founder, Steering Committee member and one of the event planners, Cathy Strickler, was pleased with the “great questions and comments from the audience.” She noted that “the panelists were very strong on intense contact with elected officials, the immoral power of Dominion, the importance of the State Corporation Commission … , ways to communicate with conservatives, and the importance of outside pressure ‘street actions’ on elected officials.”


Media Roundup!

Liesl Graber reported on it for Harrisonburg’s The Citizen here: Virginia’s Green New Deal can be built on common ground between people of all political stripes, activists say

WMRA’s Anna Saunders covered the discussion here: Panel Discusses Need to Address Climate Change.

The Daily News-Record‘s Jessica Wetzler’s article Panel Talks Politics Of Climate Change, Election was published on March 22.

JMU’s The Breeze published Experts speak on Virginia climate change legislation by Christian Lovallo on March 25.

Karen appeared on WHSV-TV3’s 1on1 with Bob Corso earlier in the day on March 20, to help promote the event: Climate crisis forum is tonight in Harrisonburg.


Wake up Virginia!!!

Find our recap, and media coverage of this event HERE.


Wake up Virginia!!! Mobilizing for Our Climate Crisis
A panel discussion featuring experts on state climate legislation

Wednesday, March 20 | 7-8:30PM
Community Room
Entrance C
Rockingham County Administration Center
20 E Gay St, Harrisonburg
All welcome!

… [C]limate change is running faster than we are – and we are running out of time.” – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, December 3, 2018

A recent report to the United Nations from the world’s leading climate scientists indicates the humanitarian crisis and scale of ecological devastation to come has seen no precedent in human history. Likewise the scale of needed intervention requires an unprecedented, united will and effort. Are we up for it?

The Harrisonburg-based Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) has invited three regional experts in Virginia climate legislative initiatives for a panel discussion focused on current efforts and next steps needed to turn the tide of the climate crisis and slow our sinking ship! The program, “Wake Up Virginia!!! Mobilizing for Our Climate Crisis,” will be held on Wednesday, March 20 at 7PM at the Rockingham County Administration Center in Harrisonburg. In addition to looking at efforts now underway, it will explore options and possibilities, including the hope, scope and promise offered of a Green New Deal, and concrete actions for audience members.

“Wake up Virginia!!! Mobilizing for Our Climate Crisis” will feature Karen Campblin of Fairfax, Co-Chair of the Green New Deal Virginia Coalition, and Environmental and Climate Justice Chair for the Virginia NAACP; Bob Shippee of Richmond, Legislative and Political Chair of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter; and April Moore of Shenandoah County, member of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Board of Directors.

CAAV is encouraging all citizens to attend! There will be a drawing for some great door prizes after hearing from the guest panelists and an audience question and answer segment.

Door Prizes include:

  • Certificate for 4 adults to have refreshments and a home and garden tour in Bridgewater. (The home has 8.3 kW rooftop solar, solar tubes, and a densely planted landscape of native plants and edibles.)
  • owlprintsnipBoxed set of two exterior solar spotlights
  • Hand crafted earrings of fused glass in climate-friendly green
  • Print of a Great Gray Owl created by local artist Karen Lee for The Defenders project

The event is co-sponsored by the Shenandoah Group of the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

About our invited panelists:

Karen Campblin.250Karen Campblin of Fairfax is Co-Chair of the Green New Deal Virginia Coalition, and Environmental and Climate Justice Chair for the NAACP’s Virginia chapter. Green New Deal Virginia’s co-founder, Delegate Sam Rasoul of Roanoke, says that environmental, economic and social justice cannot be separated. A Green New Deal, he believes, would give Virginia a way to greatly reduce poverty and bring economic prosperity by “creating tens of thousands of good paying jobs in clean energy”.

BobShippee.250Richmond resident Bob Shippee is Legislative and Political Chair of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. As Legislative Chair, he tracks legislation, does lobbying, leads the chapter’s legislative committee and collaborates with them to develop position papers. Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the country.

April Moore Portrait.250April Moore is a climate activist, organizer, and author, who lives in Shenandoah County.  She is a board member of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and a member of CAAV’s speakers’ bureau. Her long-running blogsite, www.theEarthConnection.org, offers “to nourish and inspire people who love the earth.”

CCAN’s website says its major successes, since its founding in 2002, include cleanup of coal-related mercury in Wise County, cleanup of three dump sites of coal ash in Maryland, an anti-fracking law and strong carbon cap in Maryland, and the groundbreaking Clean Energy DC Act of 2018 in Washington D.C., the strongest climate law in the country.

Contact Karen Lee: karenrlee [at] gmail [dot] com

Please share this event with friends, family, and community groups! Printable flyer is HERE.