Climate

From rising sea levels to riverine flooding, extreme storm events to rising temperature, the impacts of climate change have affected every part of Virginia. Now is the time to act. Virginia has and will continue to introduce policies that will slow climate change and its impacts. 

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)

In 2020, Virginia became the first southern state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  This regional cap and invest program will reduce climate pollution from fossil fuel power plants in Virginia and dedicate revenue to improving energy efficiency and resilience across the Commonwealth. 

Transportation

According to the U.S. EPA, transportation is the largest emitter of climate pollution across all sectors. Transportation pollution alone represents nearly 30% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This is why Governor Northam has made reducing transportation emissions a key element of his Administration’s climate work.

 The Commonwealth’s investments in clean energy are a key part of securing a strong economic path forward. Virginia has allocated the majority of the nearly $75 million the Commonwealth received from the Volkswagen “dieslegate” settlement. We have invested in cleaner school buses, an advanced electric vehicle charging network and upgrading the vehicles at the Port of Virginia.

In 2018, Governor Northam first announced a $14 million investment to develop a statewide public electric vehicle charging network and an additional $14 million to fund the deployment of all-electric transit buses in several Virginia localities.Virginia’s transition toward a clean energy economy includes curbing pollution by expanding electric transportation. In 2019, Virginia allocated $20 million of the Commonwealth’s share of $93.6 million from the Volkswagen environmental settlement to replace old diesel school buses with new electric ones.

Since Governor Northam took office, his Administration has been focused on transforming Virginia’s electric grid and making it easier to develop clean energy resources. 

In 2019, Virginia signed the Transportation Climate Initiative MOU. TCI is a consortium of likeminded states whose mission is to address transportation pollution and create a program to reduce vehicle emissions and invest in clean transportation. 

Last year, Governor Northam signed legislation to increase the Commonwealth’s gas tax. This once-in-a-generation package will boost our economy, reduce congestion, and dramatically transform rail and transit throughout the Commonwealth. Virginia will also increase state transit funding by more than 30% as a result of that legislation.

Clean Energy

Virginia is at a pivotal moment in history. Governor Northam has taken historic steps to secure an affordable, clean energy future in the Commonwealth. Virginia is in the transition to a new energy era, and The Northam Administration has established bold energy efficiency standards and provided a pathway for new investments in solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, and energy storage.

Virginia has a unique opportunity to fundamentally transform the state’s electric grid in a way that powers our COVID-19 economic recovery and drives down harmful carbon pollution. That is why in 2020, Governor Northam amended the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act and signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, landmark legislation to drive new investment in solar energy storage. The Act establishes renewable portfolio standards, new energy efficiency standards, and advances offshore wind and solar in the Commonwealth. 

This summer, Virginia launched Clean Energy Virginia, a new initiative to drive investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency and help meet the Commonwealth’s goals for clean energy production, which include powering 100 percent of Virginia’s electricity from carbon-free sources. The goal is to create good-paying jobs and drive new investment in this burgeoning industry. Virginia’s competitive advantages continue to attract international companies seeking to establish their U.S. headquarters.

Governor Northam signed an executive order on Sept 2019, laying out ambitious statewide targets for boosting clean energy deployment and increasing energy efficiency.

Statewide Clean Energy Goals

  • 30% of Virginia’s electric system will be powered by renewable energy resources by 2030
  • At least 3,000 megawatts of solar and onshore wind are under development by 2022
  • 100% of Virginia’s electricity will be produced from carbon-free sources such as wind and solar by 2050
  • 2X the level of energy efficiency investments from the Commonwealth’s agencies and executive branch institutions

Executive Order SixExecutive Order Supporting the Critical Role of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in Protection of Virginia's Air, Water and Public Health

On August 19, 2019, Secretary Strickler released the final report to Governor Ralph S. Northam on recommended actions for enhancing protection of air, water, and public health in Virginia, as required under Executive Order Number Six. Governor Northam signed Executive Order Six in April 2018, which directed the Department of Environmental Quality to update outdated regulations, strengthen enforcement of Virginia’s environmental standards, identify the causes of permitting delays, and improve transparency.

Read the Executive Order 6 Report