Virginia General Assembly 2021: Action Center

The General Assembly is considering a variety of proposals this year that could bring positive change in the Commonwealth for years to come. Help us build on the progress we and our partners have been making on environmental justice, solar energy, fracked-gas pipelines, just transition and fairness for electricity ratepayers.

Below we have listed out bills you can support by contacting your elected officials. Watch this space for updates throughout the session! (You can also check the official General Assembly website.)



solar panel installation

Solar Energy

In 2018, the solar industry generated $157 million in investments in Virginia — and it’s poised to do much more! But some of Virginia solar policies still stifle jobs and economic opportunity across the state. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • Power Purchase Agreements (HB 2034/SB 1420): Ensures that schools and local governments in Southwest Virginia have access to this financing program so they can save money with solar power. (Sen. Edwards, Del. Hurst)
  • Brightfields (HB 1925): Creates a grant program to promote renewable energy development on coal-mined sites and other brownfields. (Del. Kilgore)

Latest update:

Jan. 18: The House Energy Subcommittee passed both bills unanimously; they now go to the House Committee on Labor and Commerce. Our Southwest Virginia staffers Austin Counts and Chelsea Barnes testified at the subcommittee hearing.



The result of failed erosion control during construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia. Photo courtesy of Mountain Valley Watch.

Pipelines

Virginians know all too well how fracked-gas pipeline projects can wreak havoc on water quality in our streams, rivers, wetlands and drinking water sources. We’re supporting bills that would strengthen the state’s oversight and enforcement of water quality standards.

  • Water quality protections (SB 1311): For pipelines permitted by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, (1) requires the agency to strengthen erosion and sedimentation plans that fail to protect our water from pipeline construction, and (2) enables the agency to evaluate potential water impacts when project developers seek changes in other construction permits. (Sen. McClellan)
  • Adverse impacts to water (SB 1265): Strengthens DEQ’s authority to issue a stop work order for pipeline construction when adverse impacts to water quality are found. (Sen. Deeds)

Latest update:

Jan. 19: The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meets to discuss these bills.

Tell your senator to SUPPORT SB 1311 and SB 1265!



Consumer Protection

For years, Dominion Energy has convinced state legislators to allow the utility to write its own rules and escape standard regulation of an electric monopoly. As a result, Dominion has “legally” overcharged its customers more than $500 million since 2017.

This is an outrage — especially now, as a growing number of families struggle to make ends meet during the Covid crisis. Help us convince lawmakers to stop this ratepayer ripoff by restoring full oversight of all electric utilities in the commonwealth.

  • State Corporation Commission: Restores the discretion of the regulatory commission to set fair rates for electricity customers and to limit runaway profits of electric monopolies.
    • HB 2200 (Del. Jones)
    • HB 2057 (Del. Ware)
  • Customer refunds: Guarantees full refunds (100%!) of money that utilities overcharge ratepayers.
    • HB 2160 (Del. Tran)
    • SB 1292 (Sen. McClellan)
  • Rate reductions: Eliminates accounting gimmicks that currently allow monopoly utilities to avoid rate reductions and empowers the SCC to set fair rates going forward.
    • HB 1835 (Del. Subramanyam)
    • HB 1914 (Del. Helmer)
    • HB 1984 (Del. Hudson)
  • Utility overcharges: Removes a utility’s ability to keep overcharges and apply them to new investments.
    • HB 2049 (Del. Bourne)
  • Campaign contributions: Prohibits campaign contributions from monopoly utilities.
    • HB # to come (Del. Josh Cole)
    • SB 1236 (Sen. Petersen)


Aston Bay’s gold mine in South Carolina has roughly the same footprint of what the company might have in store for Buckingham County, Va.

Justice for Virginia Communities

Far too many communities are impacted by industrial pollution or the threat of proposed projects, including fracked-gas facilities. Others are at risk of economic loss from the ongoing shift to cleaner energy. Help us ensure these communities have fair and equal opportunity to be involved in the decisions that impact them.

  • Environmental Justice Act (SB 1318): Expands last year’s act to ensure state agencies create and enforce environmental justice policies. (Sen. Hashmi)
  • Environmental justice omnibus (HB 2074): In addition to those amendments, the omnibus package (1) strengthens public engagement and environmental justice analysis in agency permitting processes, (2) requires local planning commissions to include environmental justice tenets when updating their comprehensive plans, and (3) directs the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice to examine Virginia’s current air pollution monitoring practices. (Del. Simonds, Del. Keam)
  • Power plant closures (SB 1247/HB 1834): Requires power plant owners to provide information about the facility’s financial status and advance notice when the plant will close to support communities in transitioning from fossil fuels. (Del. Subramanyam and Sen. Deeds)
  • Gold mining moratorium (HB 2213): Establishes a moratorium on gold mining in the commonwealth while a study of environmental and health impacts is conducted. (Del. Guzman)

Tell the House Rules Committee to pass HB 2213.



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