Home Climate change Virginia Enviro Groups Lay Out Ambitious 2020 Policy Agenda

Virginia Enviro Groups Lay Out Ambitious 2020 Policy Agenda

"Require utility investments in clean energy, including an enforceable near-term percentage target, such as a 50% clean energy standard by 2030."

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This morning, a coalition of Virginia environmental groups is rolling out its policy agenda for the 2020 General Assembly session. Click here, or see below, for the “2020 Environmental Briefing Book,” which includes a wide array of policy recommendations – lots of great stuff, ALL of which should be passed into law in the 2020 session! These include (bolding added by me for emphasis):

  • “Fully fund the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The agency does not have adequate funding to effectively administer programs.”
  • Restrict the Department of Environmental Quality’s practice of granting variances from regulatory requirements for pipeline projects.”
  • Reform outdated Virginia administrative review process for large natural gas infrastructure projects. Virginia’s review process does not give the State Corporation Commission authority to evaluate the actual need for gas pipelines.”
  • “Establish a program for registration and regulation of above-ground chemical storage tanks. The program should be modeled on the Commonwealth’s existing regulatory program
    for petroleum storage tanks”
  • Fund alternatives to driving.”
  • Increase funding for transit, rail, bicycle, and pedestrian projects, and ensure that a substantial percentage of any new state or regional transportation funding be devoted to such projects”
    • “Protect dedicated funding for passenger rail and secure additional federal, state, and local resources. In addition, the state should study the establishment of a Virginia Rail Authority to help ensure continuity of policies and investments and provide a mechanism for ownership of assets funded by taxpayers”
    • “Support freight rail as a preferred means of adding capacity in congested corridors with high truck density, such as I-81 and I-95, and ensure that opportunities to move cargo by rail are seriously considered during the review and study process for any highway expansion. Further, Virginia’s Rail Enhancement Fund should be reviewed—and amended if
    needed—to advance more projects that will shift freight from roads to rail.”
  • Better link transportation, land use, and climate planning, including: target transportation spending to existing communities and congested areas; improve analysis of land use impacts of sprawl-inducing projects; provide greater authority to localities to promote mixed use, transit-oriented, walkable communities; increase efforts to ensure transportation systems and communities are resilient to climate change and to protect natural features contributing to resiliency to sea level rise and flooding.”
  • Increase the share of transit and rail funding from 25% to 30% of the state transportation budget.”
  • “Allow regional tax revenues in Hampton Roads to be used for transit, rail, and other multi-modal improvements, and not just roads.”
  • “Support a dedicated regional revenue source for transit in the Richmond region, which lags most mid-sized regions in the extent of its transit system.”
  • Accelerate the transition to EVs
  • Implement Advanced Clean Car standards for new vehicles as 13 other states have done, and join states adopting the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Program which would require manufacturers to sell an increasing number of electric and hybrid electric cars”
    • “Participate fully in the Transportation and Climate Initiative to explore regional programs to reduce GHG emissions”
    • “Adopt tax or other financial incentives to encourage EV purchases”
    • “Fund and provide incentives for public chargers
    • “Adopt building code provisions requiring that level 2 chargers (or better) be installed in multifamily dwellings, and requiring that new houses with garages or driveways have outlets needed to charge EVs”
    • “Develop rate schedules that encourage EV charging in off-peak periods
    • “Adopt requirements for electrifying state vehicle fleets and provide incentives for localities and regional transit agencies to purchase electric vehicles, including buses”
  • “Target scarce state infrastructure dollars to compact, walkable, transit-oriented places.
  • Enable local governments to ensure new development pays its fair share through proffers, impact fees, or other contributions, and enable them to provide incentives to encourage development within compact growth areas. “
  • Strengthen land conservation tools including Transferable Development Rights, Purchase of Development Rights, and conservation easements.”
  • “Establish a state requirement that all state agencies, regional planning authorities, and localities include climate impacts in all long- range planning processes (e.g. comprehensive, transportation, water supply, hazard mitigation) and land use decisions.”
  • “Develop new or refocus existing programs to facilitate utilization of natural and nature based strategies in sea level rise resiliency efforts including programs that support re-naturalization of lands to support their most sustainable use.”
  • “Adopt Energy Efficiency Resource Standards that…Require electric and gas utilities to achieve industry-leading efficiency-driven load reduction goals, and Require utilities and regulators to prioritize energy efficiency and DSM solutions over building new facilities and burning more fuel.”
  • “Clarify that utilities may only recover lost revenues when and if a utility fails to meet its annual base rate revenue requirement. Provide utility profit incentives tied to program performance rather than program spending.”
  • “Implement a robust state revolving fund to finance efficiency measures by local governments, schools and possibly others.”
  • “Require that building codes meet or exceed the latest national and international standards and empower local governments to require greater energy efficiency within their
    jurisdictions.”
  • “Require – or allow local governments to require – building landlords and sellers to publicize average energy costs.”
  • Incentivize zero-net energy and zero-net carbon construction.
  • “Require timely conversion to LED lights in indoor and outdoor fixtures serving state or local entities, while allowing affected entities flexibility to choose lighting characteristics.”
  • “Enact legislation to formally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.”
  • Devote no less than 50% of RGGI revenue to energy efficiency programs with a meaningful portion of that dedicated to low-income Virginians.
  • “Invest in coastal resilience through devoting some RGGI revenue to the Shoreline Resilience Fund.”
  • Support distributed solar through incentives such as tax credits, rebates, or low-interest loans.”
  • Remove barriers that limit customers’ access to distributed solar, including lifting the 1% cap on net metering for customers in investor-owned utility territories, affirming the legality of third-party power purchase agreements for all customers, and allowing local governments to use electricity from a solar project on one property to serve buildings on nearby properties.”
  • “Implement specific programs to expand access to distributed energy for low- and moderate-income customers.”
  • Reject any changes to the net metering compensation structure, unless those changes, at a minimum: Grandfather all existing net-metering customers;  Mandate that any changes to net metering do not take effect for at least five years; and, Ensure the economic incentives are as good as or better for customers than the current net metering system.”
  • Prompt Dominion to expedite the development of the larger commercial lease area and the launch of an offshore wind industry in Virginia. Potential legislation includes a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with an offshore wind carveout.”
  • Repeal Virginia Code section §67-300 A and B, which currently expresses support for drilling 50 miles off the Virginia coast.”
  • “Protect Virginia’s coast by prohibiting seismic exploration, offshore drilling, and drilling infrastructure in Virginia’s three nautical-miles of territorial waters.”
  • “Prioritize energy savings, with a focus on mandatory energy savings targets, peakshifting and peak-shaving rate designs and programs, stronger building and appliance
    codes, clarity on when and how utilities may collect lost revenues, and performance incentives for successful savings programs.”
  • “Require utility investments in clean energy, including an enforceable near-term percentage target, such as a 50% clean energy standard by 2030.”
  • “Direct the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the Department of Environmental Quality, and the State Corporation Commission to begin planning for 100% clean energy.”
  • Prioritize energy storage, offshore wind, and distributed solar, including on homes and apartments of low-income Virginians, and solar-plus-storage on buildings serving as resiliency hubs and emergency shelters.”
  • “Restore – and even expand – the SCC’s ratepayer protection powers to minimize the customer cost of coal and gas plant retirements through financial tools such as amortization and securitization.”
  • “Uphold Governor Northam’s pledge to invest 2% of general funds in Virginia’s natural resources by fully funding land conservation, water quality, environmental justice, outdoor recreation and sustainable development programs as recommended throughout Our Common Agenda, as well as providing increased funding to Virginia’s natural resource agencies in the 2020-2022 budget.”
  • “Incentivize solar developers to use previously developed or degraded land, such as post- mining land, by offering tax credits.”
  • “Break down barriers to distributed solar so that it can become a viable option in Virginia.”
  • “Virginia should establish a team of experts and relevant agency representatives to study, identify, and map potential wildlife corridors, both terrestrial and aquatic, across the Commonwealth. The team should consider the best management practices to protect and enhance these areas and create a strategy on how to protect the corridors.”
  • Codify an environmental justice council and appropriate $100,000 for operational funding. This funding is essential for the council to perform its basic task of providing recommendations with the input of environmental justice communities. This statewide body should be tasked with
    oversight on environmental justice issues to most effectively prevent disproportionate burden.”
  • Pursue policy reform on environmental justice including: Adopting the U.S. EPA’s definition of environmental justice in the Code; Requiring an environmental justice analysis for new energy, industrial and infrastructure projects; and, Weighing health impacts and environmental justice as a factor in all siting, rule-making, and permitting decisions.”
  • “Pass legislation that bans candidates and campaigns from accepting contributions from investor-owned utilities that operate as public service corporations in Virginia.”
  • “Pass legislation that bans their members from owning stock in any Virginia-based investor-owned electric utility.
  • “Pass legislation requiring public service corporations to file a “Statement of Government Influence Spending” that details in full their spending on lobbying, trade association fees, and other influence-related activities.”