Governor Ralph Northam is expanding upon executive actions to address climate change that were initiated by former Governor Terry McAuliffe. Governor Northam’s efforts are targeted at moving forward in bringing clean energy and economic growth to Virginia. These actions are summarized below.
The Grid Transformation and Security Act
During the 2018 legislative session, Governor Northam’s team engaged in developing and negotiating the final version of the Grid Transformation and Security Act (GTSA). The GTSA updated Virginia’s Code to enable greater use of renewable energy, grid modernization, and investment in energy efficiency, among other things. Governor Northam signed the bill into law on March 9, 2018 and the bill went into effect on July 1, 2018.
The Virginia Energy Plan
As required by § 67-201 of the Code of Virginia, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) updated Virginia’s Energy plan based on stakeholder input from across the commonwealth. The ten year plan was released in early October, 2018. It places an emphasis on moving Virginia toward cleaner energy and is a step toward getting Virginia on the path to a zero carbon energy future.
On September 12, 2018, Governor Northam announced three initiatives to address climate change as part of the Commonwealth’s participation in Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. These three initiatives are:
- Join the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to work on reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector.
- Join the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification and develop and Ocean Acidification Action Plan.
- Develop a framework for limiting methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure and landfills.
Governor Northam has also
- Allocated funds from the Volkswagen mitigation settlement fund to begin building out Virginia’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- Continued work on establishing a CO2 Budget Trading Regulation.
U.S. Climate Alliance
The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to be a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which was established “to move forward on the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the federal government from the accord.” The United States Climate Alliance is a bi-partisan coalition of 14 states and one U.S. territory committed to the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.