Virginia Budget Agreement Includes Investment in Environmental Programs

General Assembly Budget Does Not Reinstate Virginia in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Virginia state lawmakers proposed investments in key clean water and conservation programs in a budget agreement with Gov. Glenn Youngkin unveiled on Saturday, May. 11.   

The budget proposed support for resilience efforts, flood protection, conserving the state’s disappearing trees, continued investments in beloved species like oysters, and reducing pollution to critical waterways. 

But the agreement does not include a provision that would have reinstated Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which ended in 2023 after two years in the program.  

The budget announcement comes as Virginia and other states are expected to miss many of the 2025 deadlines for Chesapeake Bay restoration goals. Legislators are expected to vote on the budget agreement during a special session on Monday, May 13. Then it must be signed by Gov. Youngkin to become law.  

Lawmakers proposed the following levels of investment over the two-year budget period:  

Pollution Reduction  

  • Building off last year’s historic investment in farmers, legislators recommended fully funding the Virginia agricultural cost-share program at $231 million. Practices like fencing cattle out of streams and planting streamside trees are among the most cost-effective steps Virginia can take to restore the Chesapeake Bay and improve water quality.  
  • Legislators also supported a $20 million investment for a pilot Pay for Outcomes Program, where pollution reduction projects with verified, successful results are compensated.   
  • Legislators recommended $400 million in bond funding for upgrades at wastewater treatment plants, which are essential to continuing progress in reducing nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution.   

Tree Conservation  

  • With the state losing tree canopy at an alarming rate, the budget includes $1.16 million in funding to study the Commonwealth’s loss of trees and ways to expand tree canopy.  

Climate Resiliency    

  • The budget maintains the $100 million that the Governor proposed for the Community Flood Preparedness Fund (CFPF). Communities from Southwest Virginia to Fairfax to the Eastern Shore have used the CFPF for projects that protect homes and businesses from flooding.    
  • The budget also includes $1 million over the biennium to create the Office of Commonwealth Resilience, which will help coordinate climate adaptation efforts across Virginia government as we build towards a Climate Ready Commonwealth.   

Tackling Invasive Species & Rebuilding Keystone Species   

  • The budget proposes $11 million over the biennium for oyster restoration and replenishment activities. This funding is vital to thriving waterways and local economies that until recently had long suffered from overharvesting, pollution, and disease.    
  • Strengthening the blue catfish industry also received support from lawmakers. The final budget for this initiative includes $500,000 over the biennium. A robust commercial fishery for blue catfish will help reduce their predatory pressure on other commercial and recreationally important fishery species.    

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Policy Manager Jay Ford issued the following statement:    

“This budget is an important step forward in protecting Virginians and the state’s waterways from harmful pollution. Significant funding is proposed to help Virginia farmers install best management practices and to keep making needed investments in our wastewater treatment facilities. There is also tremendous support for oysters, a keystone species that supports industry and improves the environment. 

“It’s deeply disappointing that the budget did not ensure Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, helped communities across Virginia prevent flooding that threatens homes and businesses, and supported projects that lead to cleaner waterways and a healthier Chesapeake Bay. We will work with legislators and elected leaders to ensure Virginia will be reinstated in RGGI.  

“There were important steps made this year in Virginia’s work to adapt to climate change. The funding for statewide resiliency coordination included in the budget will help the Commonwealth shift to proactively responding to climate change threats and effectively protecting communities from detrimental flooding and sea level rise.  

“The investments in this budget reflects the fact that clean water and conservation are a shared concern for Virginians from coastal communities to rural areas to densely populated cities and suburban neighborhoods. We applaud these investments and look forward to continue working with legislators and the Youngkin Administration to further protect Virginians and the environment.”  


Kenny Fletcher 90x110

Kenny Fletcher

Director of Communications and Media Relations, CBF

[email protected]

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