Virginia Lawmakers Pass Landmark Climate Resiliency Bills

Statewide Coordination and Equity Key Elements of Legislation

The largest and most effective steps Virginia has taken to ready the state for climate change now await the governor’s approval to be signed into law. The Virginia General Assembly has sent two passed bills to Governor Youngkin that would significantly bolster the state's resiliency to climate change threats.   

The legislation enjoyed historic support from state lawmakers when they passed these bills in the final days of the General Assembly session.  Sea level rise, flooding, and other climate change threats increasingly harm Virginians’ lives.  

The same week of the bills’ passage, parents in the Hampton Roads region dealt with their children’s schools being closed due to flooding, drivers navigated swamped roads, and communities across the Commonwealth prepared to mark Flood Awareness Week by sharing memories of severe storms that damaged their homes and businesses.  

“The rural coastal areas of Virginia are among the most at risk and vulnerable to flooding, natural disasters, and hazards that impact resiliency. It is crucial to coordinate statewide resources to proactively protect the businesses, homes, and livelihoods of these residents and the community,” Delegate Hillary Pugh Kent, R- Warsaw, said. 

Lawmakers responded in a bipartisan manner this session with legislation that aligns climate resiliency resources statewide through the creation of a new central office, prioritizes equity in flood protection funding, and returns Virginia to the multi-state, carbon emission reduction program known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) through the budget. Key legislation includes:

Creation of the Office of Commonwealth Resilience: HB 1458 introduced by Delegate Phil Hernandez 

  • This bill creates a new state office dedicated to coordinating climate adaptation efforts across Virginia's government, providing leadership and maximizing co-benefits in the state’s climate response. It ensures equity in the implementation of resilience and adaptation strategies, prioritizes the protection of Virginia's natural resources, executes nature-based designs, and supports the state’s statutory obligations to clean water. The proposed budget also includes $1 million over the biennium to create this Office of Commonwealth Resilience. “This essential legislation shifts the Commonwealth beyond just reacting to these damaging weather events to readying Virginia for climate change. This is a comprehensive approach that better supports critical local projects across the state and maximizes the value of investments,” Hernandez said.  

Prioritizing low-income communities in the Virginia Resilient Revolving Loan Fund: HB 673 introduced by Delegate Michael Feggans

  • This bill ensures climate change solutions are equitable by prioritizing low-income communities in funding from the Virginia Resilient Revolving Loan Fund. This fund supports resources to help with increased flooding events. 

“Virginia has a chance to be a leader on resiliency in the face of climate change,  but there’s still more work to do to become a climate-ready Commonwealth. These initiatives reduce carbon emissions, strengthen flood protection, reduce storm damage to homes and businesses, and ensure cleaner air and water for communities,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Policy Manager Jay Ford said.  


Vanessa Remmers

Virginia Communications & Media Relations Manager, CBF

[email protected]

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