Multiple efforts progressing in the Virginia General Assembly would strengthen the state’s carbon emission reduction and adaption work. These proposals would lead to significant advancement in the Commonwealth’s resilience to climate change risks.
The initiatives include aligning climate resiliency resources statewide through the creation of a new office, prioritizing equity in flood protection funding, developing plans to better preserve wetlands, and returning Virginia to the multi-state, carbon emission reduction program known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
- Budget amendments to rejoin RGGI
Budget amendments requested by House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, would require Virginia to rejoin RGGI. Millions of dollars from RGGI have funded community-based resiliency projects across the state while reducing carbon emissions.
- Investment in the Community Flood Preparedness Fund (CFPF)
Virginia’s withdrawal from RGGI means this fund won’t have any new investment unless legislators act. Lawmakers should allocate $200 million over the two-year budget to this program, which prioritizes nature-based projects and comes with equity requirements. Nature-based solutions like living shorelines rely on natural, cost-effective, and sustainable resources rather than materials like concrete.
- Creation of the Office of Commonwealth Resilience and Chief Resilience Officer: HB 1458 introduced by Del. Phil Hernandez and SB 733 introduced by Sen. David Marsden
These bills provide leadership and maximize co-benefits in Virginia’s response to climate impacts and implementation of resilience and adaptation strategies. They also ensure that these strategies prioritize the protection of Virginia's natural resources, execute nature-based designs, and support the state’s statutory obligations to clean water.
- Establishing a workgroup to develop a plan to protect Virginia’s tidal and nontidal wetlands in the face of climate change: HB 357 introduced by Del. Shelly Simonds
Wetlands are one of the most effective tools to protect communities from rising seas driven by climate change, but Virginia’s Coastal Resilience master plan estimates that 89 percent of tidal wetlands and over 50 percent of nontidal wetlands will be lost to climate threats by 2080 without action. This bill would create a workgroup to develop a comprehensive plan for protection, enhancement, and migration of Virginia’s wetlands.
- Prioritizing low-income communities in the Virginia Resilient Revolving Loan Fund: HB 673 introduced by Del. Michael Feggans
Virginia businesses and homeowners are looking for resources to help with increased flooding events. The Virginia Resilient Revolving Loan Fund can help meet that need by providing funds for parcel-scale resilience adaptation projects. Climate change is already disproportionately falling on low-income Virginians and Environmental Justice communities. This bill ensures climate change solutions are equitable.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Executive Director Chris Moore issued the following statement.
“Virginia still has a lot more work to do to become a climate ready Commonwealth. These initiatives deserve support from lawmakers looking to reduce carbon emissions, strengthen flood protection, reduce storm damage to homes and businesses, and ensure cleaner air and water for their communities.”
“The Commonwealth desperately needs to act in order to shift from reacting to these damaging weather events driven by climate change to building our resilience. We have plans and priorities in place, but it’s time to get more boots on the ground and ensure worthwhile projects already underway aren’t halted.”