Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam yesterday issued proposed amendments to Virginia’s 2020 to 2022 biennial budget. Notably, the proposal includes the following provisions related to the environment and Chesapeake Bay:
- An additional $12 million for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), allowing for a significant staff increase, and;
- An increase of $13.5 million for Virginia’s agricultural cost-share program.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Peggy Sanner issued the following statement.
“Governor Northam’s call for a substantial increase in funding for DEQ will help address the years of crippling funding cuts that have recently hobbled the agency. Restoring DEQ funding is critical to expanding the agency’s environmental justice efforts, increasing air and water quality monitoring to detect pollution threats, and ensuring an efficient permitting review for projects that affect the environment.
“Additional investment in Virginia’s agricultural cost-share program would allow more farmers to put conservation projects on the ground, the most cost-effective way to restore local waterways.
“Virginia has a 2025 deadline to meet its commitments to reduce pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. Considerable work lies ahead. The only way for Virginia to meet Bay restoration commitments is to significantly accelerate investment in three state programs: agricultural cost-share, the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, and sewage treatment plant upgrades. Legislators must prioritize these programs and DEQ investment in the upcoming General Assembly session.
“We thank Governor Northam for taking important steps forward in his budget for the environment, the COVID-19 pandemic, and addressing racial equity and historic injustice.”