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.

Climate and Energy News Roundup 5/25/2023

Despair is just deadly. We know how challenging all the climatic problems are that are now unfortunately baked into the environment. But we need to start every conversation with saying, “We can do this.” – Washington Governor Jay Inslee

Our Climate Crisis

The World Meteorological Organization warns that record-hot global temperatures in recent years are just the start of the kind of heat we’re headed toward. That’s because human-caused global warming will be combined with an emerging “El Niño” weather pattern that also warms the globe. There’s a two-thirds chance that at least one of the next five years will breach the 1.5 C threshold of increased global warming set by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.

The property insurance market is collapsing along the Gulf Coast following a series of destructive climate related storms. The insurance crisis has been created by insurance associations in Florida and Louisiana being forced to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to pay the hurricane claims of now insolvent insurers. Borrowing could reach a combined $1.35 billion, leading to soaring premiums and the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of homeowners’ policies.

This spring a heat wave in Southeast Asia has broken all-time heat records. In April temperatures broke former records in both Vietnam and Thailand. This came on the heels of a record-breaking heat wave in Southern Europe and North Africa, which scientists say was “almost impossible” without climate change.

The number of internally displaced people reached a record 71.1 million worldwide last year due to various climate calamities and conflicts such as the war in Ukraine. That number is a 20% increase since 2021, with an unprecedented number of people fleeing in search of safety and shelter.

Politics and Policy

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced a proposal for the tightest limits ever on power plants’ planet-warming pollution. This is a giant step toward meeting President Biden’s pledge to halve U.S. emissions by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. In response, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he’ll oppose every EPA nominee put forward until the administration backs off.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office has become an engine of the Biden administration’s efforts to aggressively advance clean energy. As part of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, Congress supersized the office’s authority to arrange loans to companies trying to bring emerging energy technologies to market. Its loan capacity increased tenfold from $40 billion to more than $400 billion, making it potentially one of the biggest economic development loan programs in U.S. history.

Skyler Zunk, a young conservative activist, co-founded Energy Right last year to promote solar energy in rural Virginia. Today roughly 6% of Virginia’s electricity comes from the sun. To Zunk, that number falls woefully short. “Virginia has to be producing more energy. We’re a net importer and we need to be an exporter,” he argues. “It’s an enormous opportunity to seize.” His goal is that rural counties will see Energy Right as the nonprofit to seek out when they’re considering solar projects.

Weatherization providers for low-income households, such as Community Housing Partners,  are concerned about losing vital funding as Governor Youngkin continues to push for Virginia to leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Funds provided by RGGI finance outstanding repairs on houses before they can qualify for federal or state or utility sponsored weatherization programs.

Texas rolled out the welcome mat for renewables in 1999 by deregulating the electricity market. With ample wind and sunshine, a business-friendly regulatory regime, and state-backed construction of new high-voltage transmission wires, the state quickly became the nation’s renewable energy leader. This makes it hard to understand why Governor Greg Abbott and Republicans in the state legislature are now tripping over themselves to introduce bills designed to kill the Texas clean energy boom.

In a political climate trade-off the White House endorsed a plan by Sen. Joe Manchin to speed the approval of some fossil fuel projects in order to also hasten the construction of new transmission lines critical for meeting President Biden’s climate goals. The announcement of the deal drew swift opposition from many environmental groups, which are still seething over the administration’s support of the Willow oil project in Alaska and the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia.

The U.S. has more than enough proposed clean energy and storage projects needed to clean up the electricity sector. They’re, unfortunately, stuck in the queue and can’t get connected to the grid. Only about 21% of proposed projects get built because of the high costs of connecting to the grid and it takes about 5 years for a project to become operational once it enters the queue. Legislation is needed to help speed up the development of energy projects but Congress is haggling over permitting reforms for clean energy versus fossil fuel projects.


Dominion Energy says it expects the number of electric vehicles in its territory to roughly double by the end of next year. It forecasts another doubling by 2026. After five years, in 2027, it expects there will be 220,000 electric vehicles in its territory. That will mean a substantial increase in electricity usage. In related news, Dominion has created an energy plan document that completely ignores the legal requirements of the Virginia Clean Economy Act.

The global shift to electric vehicles is unfolding much faster than was expected even one year ago. The International Energy Agency says that by 2030, electric vehicles — including both fully electric and plug-in hybrid models — could make up 35% of new vehicle sales globally.

The investment boom in ​‘renewable natural gas’ (RNG), derived from trash, food, and manure, is sparking debate about its pros and cons. These investments, which are partially driven by federal tax credits, are soaring as energy companies seek what they claim are cleaner ways of powering the economy. The jury is still out on how clean RNG will prove to be. In any respect, it will hardly be a big player in providing clean energy.

The holy grail of fusion nuclear power has always been just beyond our grasp. Now Microsoft has inked a power purchasing deal for electricity with fusion start-up Helion Energy on a timeline beginning in 2028. If real, that would be game-changing but scientists remain skeptical. Both the technology and the cost are huge hurdles that need to be overcome.

China’s carbon emissions grew 4% in the first quarter of this year, reaching a record high. At the same time, renewables and nuclear, passed 50% of China’s installed power capacity for the first time, overtaking coal and other fossil fuel-based capacity. The rapid expansion in low-carbon energy, if sustained, could enable their carbon emissions to peak and enter structural decline in the near future.

Climate Justice

Research by the Common Wealth thinktank shows that the US fund managers BlackRock and State Street use funds with an “environment, social and governance” (ESG) label to invest in fossil fuel firms. Despite claims that their ESG funds offer a green and socially responsible option for investors, they remain significantly exposed to fossil fuel companies.

Our fleet of roughly half a million school buses is our nation’s single biggest transportation fleet. To date, 5,600 electric school buses have been funded or put in operation through government awards. The transition to electric buses will significantly reduce carbon emissions while benefiting local neighborhoods and the more than 20 million students who currently breathe in harmful diesel exhaust. Government funding through the Clean Bus Program is focused on serving lower-income, disadvantaged and rural school districts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing nearly $11 billion to bring affordable clean energy to rural communities throughout the United States. Rural electric cooperatives, renewable energy companies and electric utilities will be able to apply for funding through two programs. This is the largest single federal investment in rural electrification since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act in 1936 as part of the New Deal.

Climate Action

Transportation creates 27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Switching to EVs could reduce emissions up to 48% by 2050, but that still leaves us short of our climate commitments. Furthermore, many will still be without access to reliable and affordable transportation options. To significantly reduce transportation emissions, local governments will need to expand public transit, biking, and walking options and enact land use policies that encourage dense development and affordable housing around transit.

It is estimated that by 2050 one in every seven people in Bangladesh will be displaced by climate change, and up to 18 million people may have to move because of sea level rises. One climate mitigation effort is dredging earth from rivers to create a large, oval-shaped plateau that can withstand the oncoming rush of water during monsoons.  This creates a space for safe housing as well as to accommodate displaced families and their possessions during floods.

Food accounts for 10-30% of an American household’s carbon footprint and 75% of that comes from meat or dairy. You don’t need to go completely vegan to make a big environmental impact. The Michael Pollan family recommends eating a “plant-based diet with a focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds with the inclusion of meat and other animal products in moderation.” An added plus is that this is a much healthier diet.

Globally, about 2% of  carbon emissions are produced from burning wood for cooking, roughly the same share as aviation. Additionally, exposure to smoke from cooking fires is linked to an estimated 3.2 million premature deaths annually around the world and remains one of the main drivers of pollution-related disease and death in Africa. Inexpensive and energy efficient insulated cook stoves make a huge difference yet making the switch has been difficult.

Climate Victory Gardens is a movement inspired by the collective action of Americans taken during the WWI and WWII victory gardening movement, when 20 million gardeners produced 40% of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. at the time. They’re bringing victory gardens back. This time, it’s for the climate. Click onto their website to learn more and to register your own garden, no matter how small it may be.

A staggering one-third of all food in the U.S. gets thrown out and most of that ends up in landfills. Each year, the greenhouse gas emissions from all that discarded stuff represents the estimated equivalent emissions of 42 coal-fired power plants. Yet, there’s a simple solution, beyond simply reducing waste. A new scientific study shows that composting food scraps results in 38 to 84% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than tossing them in landfills.

Earl Zimmerman
CAAV Steering Committee

Climate and Energy News Roundup 5/3/2023

Only in the last moment of human history has the delusion arisen that people can flourish apart from the rest of the living world. – E. O. Wilson

Our Climate Crisis

Scientists have documented an abnormal and dramatic surge in sea levels along the U.S. gulf coast in the past decade. Sea-level rise in the area has been nearly 5 inches between 2010 and 2022—more than double the global average rate of sea-level rise. This raises questions about whether New Orleans, Miami, Houston and other coastal communities might be even more at risk from rising seas than once predicted.

The Horn of Africa is suffering its worst drought in 40 years after five consecutive years of below-average rainfall. New scientific studies have shown that the drought would not have happened without the human-made impact of the climate crisis. A conservative estimate is that climate change has made droughts in the region about 100 times more likely to occur.

A growing number of young people are “hesitant to have children” because of decades of climate denial and inaction. A global survey of people between the ages of 16 and 25 shows how widespread these sentiments are. Close to 60% say they feel “very” or “extremely” worried about climate change and nearly 4 in 10 said they are therefore “hesitant to have children.”

Politics and Policy

House Republicans are confident that pushing the production and use of fossil fuels will be a winning political strategy in 2024. They’ve already wrapped this agenda into their demands in the national debt standoff. So far, however, the voters they’re hoping to attract don’t seem to care.

Going beyond offering incentives for clean energy, the Biden administration recently announced ambitious Environmental Protection Agency auto pollution rules aimed at accelerating the shift to electric vehicles. Last year EVs accounted for just 7% of vehicle sales. The ambitious goal is to increase that to two-thirds of passenger cars, half of freight delivery vehicles and a quarter of heavy trucks purchased in a decade from now.

The enormous $8 billion Willow oil project on Alaska’s North Slope represents a small fraction of the hundreds of new oil and gas extraction projects approved in the past year across the world. Many more are expected to be approved this year. This surge in extraction ignores the warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that fossil fuel production must start declining sharply to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency is tightening its rules on the emissions of mercury and other harmful pollutants from coal-fired power plants, updating standards imposed more than a decade ago. Such emissions can harm brain development of young children and contribute to health problems in adults. The stricter rules will likely lead to the early retirement of some coal-fired power plants.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit again blocked the Mountain Valley Pipeline from moving forward in West Virginia. The reason for the ruling was that the pipeline builder has repeatedly failed to comply with state stormwater and water quality requirements.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is encouraging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to proceed expeditiously on new permits for the Mountain Valley pipeline, the natural gas project favored by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and opposed by environmentalists. She made the ironic claim that the pipeline will “play an important role” in supporting the transition to clean energy and in safeguarding our energy system.

After a nearly two-decades-long permitting process, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management gave final approval to begin building the $3 billion TransWest Express high-voltage transmission line. It will carry enough electricity from a large wind energy project in a former coal-mining community in Wyoming to power about 2 million homes in Arizona, Nevada, and California.


Automakers and battery manufacturers are developing solid-state batteries, which are lighter, less flammable, and have the potential for longer ranges than current lithium-ion systems. Some companies claim they are just a few years from releasing the first cars with solid state batteries.

Installing roof solar on warehouses could generate enough clean electricity to power every household in every state’s most populous cities, according to a report by two environmental research organizations. One of the researchers comments, “If we want to create a clean energy future, we should look first to the already-built environment that could host the tools we need. Warehouse rooftops provide a perfect opportunity—they’re big, they’re flat, and they’re begging to be put to this crucial use.”

Globally, electricity generated from wind and solar surged to 12% last year—up from 10% in 2021 and 5% in 2015. Renewable sources, including nuclear power and hydroelectric, now account for 39% of world electricity. The rest comes from fossil fuels that cause planet-warming carbon emissions. Coal, at 36%, remains the single biggest global energy source.

Virginia regulators approved nine solar projects and one energy storage project totaling about 500 megawatts that will be owned by Dominion Energy. The approved projects also include contracts with third-party developers who will build solar and storage facilities, totaling about 300 megawatts, and sell the energy to Dominion. This is in line with the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which seeks to decarbonize the electric grid by 2050.

The shipping industry is searching for cleaner ways to power the behemoth vessels that underpin the modern economy. Methanol is gaining favor as an alternative ​“drop-in” fuel that can be used immediately as companies develop truly zero-carbon solutions. If made from renewables, it can sharply curb carbon emissions compared to using oil-based fuels.

Climate Justice

While developed countries have historically contributed the most greenhouse gas emissions, that is rapidly changing. The top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases today (other than the United States and Canada) are emerging economies. This means providing international support in lowering emissions in poor countries as well as taking a surgical approach to reducing emissions by country and sector.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reports that women working in agriculture “tend to do so under highly unfavorable conditions” – often in the face of “climate-induced weather shocks and in situations of conflict.” Addressing these inequalities and empowering women would improve their well-being and that of their households.

The Menominee tribe has sustainably logged its 235,000 acre forest in Wisconsin for 160 years. The tribe has been recognized by the United Nations and certified by the Forest Steward Council, the gold standard for responsible forestry, among other awards. Foresters from around the world routinely come to study the forest, which is healthier today than it was a century ago.

Small farmers in Malawi are becoming some of the most creative farmers in the world in response to global warming. They are sowing pigeon peas to shade their soils from a hotter, more scorching sun. They are resurrecting old crops, like finger millet and forgotten yams, and planting trees that naturally fertilize the soil. And they are turning away from one legacy of European colonialism, the practice of planting rows of corn and saturating the fields with chemical fertilizers.

Climate Action

Community Housing Partners (CHP) held a weatherization program at Mosby Heights in Harrisonburg last week. The nonprofit makes weatherization improvements, including attic insulation, air sealing, low flow shower heads, LED bulbs, an energy efficient water heater, and even an energy efficient heat pump HVAC system, to low income households at no cost to the homeowner or renter. This is a big win in driving down energy costs while reducing local greenhouse gas emissions. The CHP Weatherization Program application form is available at

Electrification has become a major tool in lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming the economy so that more things run on clean electricity is a cornerstone of slashing emissions to nearly zero by 2050. It will require major efforts to strengthen and upgrade our electrical grid. Using electric power will be especially challenging in sectors such as aviation and heavy industry. Switching to clean electricity will be a formidable challenge but not impossible.

Our country’s largest solar array is being built in Springfield, Illinois. The massive 593-megawatt Double Black Diamond solar project will power O’Hare Airport and Chicago government buildings. This is part of the commitment of the Chicago city government to use 100% renewable electricity in city buildings by 2025.

A growing concern in rural Virginia is that  solar farms are taking over usable agricultural land. Dominion Energy is combating that with an alternative way of keeping things green at its 200 acre solar farm in Sussex County. Their solar grazing program uses a herd of sheep to clean up more than 40 acres of grass a day across five of their solar farms. Grass-fed animals produce fewer emissions than grain-fed animals, while concentrating that carbon back into the soil.

Woodstock Gardens, in Woodstock, VA,  is one of three garden centers across the state piloting a Virginia Department of Forestry program offering significant discounts to customers who buy and plant native trees and shrubs. Native trees and shrubs require less maintenance and resources and additionally improve water quality by filtering out pollutants, storing harmful greenhouse gases and reducing erosion.

Virginia’s voluntary Pollinator-Smart program encourages pollinator-friendly solar development. Solar energy facilities designed to support bees, butterflies and birds are now beginning to take hold through this innovative program to improve biodiversity. For example, Foxhound Solar, an 83-megawatt solar installation on 600 acres in Halifax County, is the second solar facility to be certified Pollinator-Smart in the commonwealth.

James Madison University is now offering a new Climate Science minor. Program coordinator Bill Lukens says that “human activity is changing Earth’s atmosphere and oceans in ways that we haven’t seen on Earth for millions of years.” Students taking courses in the minor will explore past climates through geological records and then contextualize them within our current and future world.

Researchers at Washington State University have developed a viable formula for a carbon-negative, environmentally friendly concrete that is nearly as strong as regular concrete. They did it by infusing regular cement with environmentally friendly biochar, a type of charcoal made from organic waste, that had been strengthened beforehand with concrete wastewater.

Earl Zimmerman
CAAV Steering Committee

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.

Princess Mononoke Film Screening for Earth Month 2023

Tuesday, April 18 6:30 – 8:30pm

Memorial Hall Auditorium, 395 S High St, Harrisonburg

On Tuesday, April 18, Princess Mononoke, an anime film by Studio Ghibli, will be shown at James Madison University’s Memorial Hall, sponsored by the JMU Environmental Management Club, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Earth Day Every Day, Harrisonburg High School’s Earth Club, and Sierra Club.

Princess Mononoke is set in the late Muromachi period of Japan (approximately 1336 to 1573 CE) where it follows a young Emishi prince named Ashitaka, and his involvement in a struggle between the gods (kami) of a forest and the humans who consume its resources. The film is rated PG-13 and was created by Hayao Miyazake of Studio Ghibli.

All welcome! Admission is FREE.

There will also be door prizes of up $150 in value.

MovieWeb has rated this film the 4th best climate change film, calling it “a brilliant animated film… visually stunning and deeply poignant.”

The Rotten Tomatoes rating is 93%.

CAAV chose this film to engage a young audience with the hope that it will be a positive force in their search for connection to others and to a critical issue that will impact their future.

Climate and Energy News Roundup 4/3/2023

We need the right kind of climate optimism. Climate pessimism dooms us to a terrible future. Complacent optimism is no better. – Hannah Ritchie

Our Climate Crisis

The recently released synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows hopeful progress in developing low-carbon technologies, more ambitious national commitments, and more funding.  This is, however, still not enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels—the threshold necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Every fraction of a degree of warming we can mitigate will make a big difference.

Scientists have long cautioned that global warming would lead to wetter and drier extremes—increasingly severe rainfall and more intense droughts around the world. A new satellite study shows that it may already be happening. It provides an emerging picture of precipitation extremes over the past 20 years, leading to distortions in the total amount of water both above ground and also in aquifers deep beneath the Earth’s surface.

Antarctic sea ice reached the lowest levels ever recorded by the end of February. This is concerning because open water around the continent can melt its glaciers from beneath. Antarctica holds enough ice to raise sea levels by many feet. On the other pole, Arctic sea ice declined dramatically in 2007 and has never recovered. This may be proof of the sort of climate tipping point that scientists have warned the planet could pass as it warms.

Recent record snowfall and rain have helped to loosen drought’s grip on parts of the American west. Lake Powell on the Colorado River could gain 35 feet as snow melts over the next three months. That may sound like a lot of water for one of the nation’s largest reservoirs, but it will still be only one-third full.

Politics and Policy

The Biden administration approved the controversial Willow project to drill oil in Alaska. Environmentalists roundly criticized the decision despite the administration’s announcement of new protections against future oil production in other North Slope and coastal areas of the state. At peak production Willow carbon emissions will be roughly equal to running two coal-fired power plants during those 30 years.

California will now require half of all heavy trucks sold by 2035 to be electric, complementing their requirement that all cars sold be 2035 be electric. This is an effort to significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, the sector of the American economy that generates the most greenhouse gases.

Funding from the federal Rural Energy for America Program could enable cash-crunched small farmers to save big with clean energy and substantially cut their operating costs. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act allows funding in guaranteed loans and grants of up to 50% of the cost of a clean energy project. The daunting application process is a barrier for small farmers.

Governor Youngkin’s push to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has faced a flood of mostly negative public feedback. Comments on the public portal have been running about 50 opposed to his push for every person who supports it.

The bulk of the funding for Virginia’s Community Flood Preparedness Fund, which provides money to localities that need to reduce their flood risks, comes from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Flood-prone Communities may lose this lifeline if Gov. Youngkin succeeds in his effort to pull the state out of RGGI.

China’s Supreme People’s Court encouraged judges to hear climate-related cases and weigh up carbon impacts to help the country achieve its emission reduction goals. China’s climate goals are to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and be carbon neutral before 2060. At the same time, China is rapidly increasing its coal power capacity and decarbonizing the country will be a major challenge.

There is growing bipartisan support in the US Senate for instituting a tariff on carbon-intensive goods. Environmentalists have long considered a carbon tax to be a crucial tool to combat climate change but have been unable to get the necessary political support. The carbon tariff, on the other hand, is seen as a way to level the playing field against carbon intensive products being produced in countries like China.


Renewable energy is growing rapidly around the world—especially solar. Total capacity was 3.4 terawatts at the end of 2022 compared to 2.2. terawatts in 2017. It continues to gain in overall share of total generation capacity, now standing at 40.2% compared to 38.3% a year ago. China is leading the growth in global solar energy expansion, which now exceeds 1,000 gigawatts, compared to just 100 gigawatts a decade ago.

Georgia’s big new nuclear power plant is billions over budget and years behind schedule. It’s the first new nuclear reactor built in the U.S. in the last 30 years and it may be the last. Rather than representing the dawn of a new nuclear renaissance, it’s more likely the swan song of the conventional nuclear industry in the U.S.

The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation last year allowing gas companies to use biogas, a form of gas made by capturing methane emissions from landfills, sewage plants, manure, and abandoned coal mines. But is it really clean energy? Some environmentalists worry that it will support the existing gas infrastructure while hindering the needed transition to wind, solar, and green hydrogen energy.

Coal use in the UK fell by 15% last year. The last time coal use was that low was in 1757 before the industrial revolution. The decline, driven by strong growth in wind and solar power among other factors, helped drive down the nation’s emissions by 3.4%. The UK is now around halfway to meeting its net-zero emissions target in 2050.

A consortium of energy companies led by BP is investing in a high-tech gamble to make hydrogen clean, cheap and widely available. It involves as many as 1,743 wind turbines and 10 million solar panels in Australia’s Outback. All of the energy produced, equivalent to a third of what Australia’s electric grid currently requires, will be used to manufacture green hydrogen that is cheap enough for industrial uses such as manufacturing steel and concrete.

Toyota was the forerunner in producing hybrid electric vehicles but has been slow to transition to battery electric vehicles (BEVs). That’s because the company has been focused on developing hydrogen cell technology. It is now beginning to market BEVs while still developing hydrogen powered vehicles. The company recently introduced a limited offering of a hydrogen powered vehicle in California.

The Hampton Roads Alliance, in partnership with Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, is creating a $6.5 million green hydrogen fuel program to help kick-start a local industry. The plan is to be part of a Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub that would add 9,000 new jobs, generate $1.7 billion in economic activity and create $490 million in state and federal tax revenue by 2030.

Climate Justice

The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a feasibility study on demand-response public transit that provides curb-to-curb service. They were responding to lots of groundwork by Valley Interfaith Action (VIA) culminating in a public event that turned out more than 500 people. The feasibility study is a crucial step toward providing public transit for all as well as lowering transportation carbon emissions in the county. Shenandoah Valley Faith and Climate helped organize with VIA to make this happen.

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia organizer and politician, is leaving campaign politics behind to focus on weaning America off fossil fuels. She recently took a job as senior counsel for the non-profit Rewiring America. Her role will be helping people across America wean their homes and businesses off fossil fuels and on to electricity. A goal will be to especially benefit low-income communities and communities of color.

The American Institute of Architects in DC is offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions from a major renovation of its building with a $500,000 donation to Habitat for Humanity Virginia. The startup Give Solar will coordinate with Habitat in using the donation to cover the cost of solar panels on an estimated 72 Habitat homes. Jeff Heie, who directs Give Solar, says the gift is huge in breaking through barriers in providing solar energy to low income households.

Climate Action

ACTION ALERT: Gov Youngkin is trying a backdoor approach to weaken the Virginia Clean Energy Act through adding anti-climate amendments to energy legislation. Through this  Chesapeake Climate Action Network link, you can send a letter to your VA state senator urging him or her to reject these amendments and hold the line on climate.

Carba, a Minneapolis startup company wants to become a leader in the emerging carbon capture and storage market. They have developed a portable reactor that converts plant waste into a charcoal-like substance called biochar that can be buried to seal carbon in place for generations. This promises to consume a fraction of the energy of other carbon capture technologies, such as direct air capture methods.

Third Act, a climate protest group for people aged 60 and older (calling themselves the Rocking Chair Rebellion) organized an action in D.C. and 100 other locations across the country. The action targeted Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Bank of America, the biggest investors in fossil fuel projects. Collectively, the four banks have poured more than $1 trillion into oil and gas between 2016 and 2021.

It is common knowledge that highly religious Americans tend to deny or express less concern about our warming environment. Some people of faith are now beginning to leverage their faith traditions to drive action. Emerging organizations such as Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, Green MuslimsFaith Alliance for Climate Solutions, and Dayenu are drawing from their own religious and spiritual traditions to engage in climate action.

JAUNT, the public transit agency in Charlottesville and surrounding counties, is conducting a preliminary study on using alternative fuels such as battery electric, or hydrogen fuel cells in their vehicles. Ted Rieck, their executive director, says “One of our goals is to reduce greenhouse emissions by about 45% by 2030 and net zero by 2050.”

The Conservative Energy Network seeks to convince farmers, landowners, evangelicals and state lawmakers that wind, solar and other forms of renewable power are good for their wallets, rights and votes. While the group believes the science underpinning climate change, it eschews terms like “green energy” and “net zero.” Its message, instead, focuses squarely on energy independence, free markets, land rights and consumer choice.

Technology firm Intuit is partnering with Staunton based Secure Solar Futures to develop solar projects and help start job training programs in Virginia and West Virginia. Qualifying community colleges and K-12 public schools will receive awards ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 per campus to deploy solar power solutions and prepare local students for careers in renewable energy.

Earl Zimmerman
CAAV Steering Committee

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.

Climate and Energy News Roundup 3/3/2023

The climate crisis is not a science problem. It is a human problem. The ultimate power to change the world does not reside in technologies. It relies on reverence, respect, and compassion—for ourselves, for all people, and for all life. This is regeneration. – Paul Hawken

Our Climate Crisis

The public is increasingly paying more attention to our climate crisis. This is changing the dominant strategy of fighting climate change through global treaties where it’s easy to dream up bold agreements but hard to make them stick. Public buy-in is enabling highly motivated governments and companies to invest in new technologies and business models. They can, in effect, run experiments and quickly learn what works in the drive toward a greener future.

This January was the warmest on record in seven states, including the entirety of New England. It was also the sixth warmest on record for the Lower 48 states and third warmest in Europe.  Five of the six warmest Januaries in the United States have occurred since 1990.

Rising tides are impacting coastal Virginia’s rural communities, which do not have the public infrastructure that urban areas have. This pushes more of the cost burden onto individual households. FEMA is helping people raise their houses but they still need to contend with waterlogged septic systems and water wells that turn brackish. Sea level rise in the Hampton Roads region is up roughly eight inches since 1970.

We have entered a new chapter in the climate and ecological crisis that presents us with difficult decisions. Severe climate events draw focus and resources from tackling the underlying causes of global warming and ecological loss—creating a possible doom loop. Our challenge is to navigate through the shocks while staying focused on creating a more sustainable world.

The megadrought made worse by climate change forced Texas farmers to abandon 74 percent of their planted crops last year. This especially impacted the global supply and price of cotton, made even worse by the cotton crops destroyed by the massive flood in Pakistan. The extreme drought in the American Southwest could re-create the dust bowl conditions of the 1930s.

Last fall, the Alliance for World Scientists published their “Warning of a Climate Emergency 2022” along with a 35 minute documentary. This marks the 30th anniversary of the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” signed by more than 1700 scientists in 1992. Since then there has been a roughly 40% increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Politics and Policy

The gas industry is under fire. It’s fighting back by creating a group dubbed Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future and recruiting prominent Democratic politicians as spokespersons. Among them are former senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and former congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio). The argument they are making is that, while we need wind and solar power, gas is a needed abundant, cheap, and potentially “clean” energy source.

A new French law will require canopies of solar panels to be built atop all substantial lots in the country. Upon completion, this will generate as much electricity as 10 nuclear power plants and add as much as 8% to France’s current electrical capacity.

Michigan will be home to the $3.5 billion Ford battery factory that Virginia governor Youngkin rejected over his concern that a Chinese company is a partner in the venture. The 2,500 jobs the factory will create now go to Michigan instead of Virginia.

A Republican bill sponsored by Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, seeking to end a Virginia law tying the state to emissions standards set by California, that will ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035, died in the state Senate on a party line vote. Virginia Democrats have defended the law on the grounds that it puts Virginia at the front of the line to receive electric vehicles from automakers who are transitioning their fleets and it will improve air quality.


Texas is building utility scale solar faster than any other state and is expected to soon surpass California as the state with the most solar capacity. Utility-scale solar is surging ahead across the United States, which is forecast to add 29.1 gigawatts of new capacity in 2023.

Energy giant BP has reported record annual profits, which more than doubled to $27.7bn in 2022; other energy firms have seen similar rises. BP had previously promised to lower emissions 35-40% by the end of this decade. It has now cut that target to 20-30%, saying it needs to keep investing in oil and gas to meet current demands.

Methane from cow manure can be purified into a product being billed as “renewable natural gas” (RNG), which is virtually indistinguishable from fossil fuel natural gas. Major fossil fuel companies have inked deals with the dairy industry in California to build manure digesters. But is RNG carbon negative? It depends on if one calculates it as being derived from a waste product versus becoming an integral income stream in the very carbon intensive dairy industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy is providing funding for up to seven pilot projects that will test the efficacy and scalability of enhanced geothermal systems. Geothermal energy currently generates about 3.7 gigawatts of electricity in the U.S.; with the development of these enhanced systems it could provide 90 gigawatts of firm, flexible power to the U.S. grid by 2050.

Dominion Energy reports that its $9.8 billion wind farm 27 miles off the shores of Virginia Beach is on track and on budget. The installation, which could provide carbon-free power to more than 650,000 homes and businesses, is slated for completion by the end of 2026.

Last year European wind and solar production overtook natural gas in electricity generation.  That had seemed unimaginable one year ago on the cusp of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Solar capacity alone has doubled since 2018 and is on track to triple in the next four years.

Climate Justice

Prioritizing a transition to electric cars has an equity problem because low-income Americans cannot afford them and are more likely to use public transit. Sita M. Syal, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, says that the EV transition should, therefore, be part of a broader shift to clean mobility that invests in public transit, walking, and biking, as well as systems like EV charging that support private car use.

Minnesota paid Enbridge, the company replacing the corroded Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline and doubling its capacity, $8.6 million to fund police and other agencies to respond to the acts of civil disobedience that the project would surely spark. Protestors, who then experienced mass arrests and detention, now contend that the financial arrangement created an unconstitutional police and prosecutor bias that violated their rights.

Climate Action

ACTION ALERT: Please submit your comments in support of keeping Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on the Virginia Townhall website before March 31. Gov. Youngkin is continuing his effort to use regulation to withdraw the state from RGGI through the Air Pollution Control Board. To this end, they recently put this proposed regulation out for public comment. Let him know that there is broad public support for RGGI.

Using an inexpensive inverter, it’s now possible to power your home from your EV during a power outage. This is the leading edge of how EVs will be integrated into of our electrical power grid and become a key step in the transition to renewable energy. In the near future, with a bidirectional charger and a home integration system, your EV will be able to draw energy from the grid when there is ample supply and then resupply it during hours of peak demand.

Many in the younger generation are shunning getting a driver’s license or buying a car. In 1997, 43% of 16-year-olds and 62% of 17-year-olds had driver’s licenses. In 2020, those numbers had fallen to 25% and 45%.

The ability to commercially produce low carbon ethanol from rice and wheat straw, sugar cane, and corn stalks has been tantalizingly just beyond our grasp for decades. A big hurdle has been  collecting and distributing what is essentially a bulky waste product. Another has been processing this dirty, abrasive stuff after it reaches the plant. Now, after many fits and starts, we may be on the precipice of some significant breakthroughs that will make it viable.

Prince William County, the second largest school district in Virginia, is going solar. They will install solar power systems on the roofs of buildings at twelve school sites. The combined electric capacity will be 7.9 megawatts, which will save the district more than $16 million in energy costs over the next 25 years. Students will also be offered training and hands-on science experiments on energy.

The push is on to boost the production of sustainable aviation fuel. United Airlines recently launched a $100 million fund to support startups working to solve the supply problem. The goal is to increase production of sustainable aviation fuel from 1% today to 7.5% by 2030. Thirty-eight major airlines, including United, have committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

News and experiences from the Harrisonburg  Pollinator Program will be included in the new “Parks and Pollinators: Taking Action and Advancing Sustainability” resource put out by the National Recreation and Park Association. The program is enhancing the environmental health of the city and doing its bit to help reverse our climate crisis. Find out more and explore opportunities to get involved here.

Earl Zimmerman
CAAV Steering Committee