Richmond, VA - Today, Delegate Rip Sullivan passed his Clean Economy Act bill (HB 1526) through a key House committee. The Delegate did not disclose major bill changes to legislators and the general public until just a few minutes before the hearing.
Dozens of advocacy groups have criticized the original bill for failing to stop the buildout of fracked gas plants and pipelines in Virginia. HB 1526 lacks a clear transition plan for workers and environmental justice communities as Virginia moves away from fossil fuels, and also fails to do away with fossil fuel dependency until the year 2050, with major loopholes for nuclear and other dirty fuels.
In response, Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director for Food & Water Action, issued the following statement:
“It’s become clear throughout the session that Governor Northam and his leadership have designed an industry-friendly energy package riddled with giveaways to the oil, gas, and monopolistic utilities, and moving Virginia to 100% renewable energy only on their timeframe. The passage of the bill today, with its sponsors not disclosing major changes until the last minute, fits a problematic pattern. The bill’s stipulations have been kept secret from the public and negotiated behind the scenes with deep-pocketed utilities like Dominion Energy.
“From the little we know about Delegate Sullivan’s CEA bill (HB 1526), it does not put a stop to the buildout of fracked gas plants, pipelines, and other fossil fuel infrastructure still under consideration in Virginia, which will stifle the growth of clean renewables like wind and solar. The bill also allows dirty fuel options to factor heavily in the state’s ‘renewables’ program and includes carve-outs for nuclear energy, all without allowing a full review by the general public.
“Since last year, Governor Northam has made it clear he wants an energy package with a low bar, giving him political cover to say he’s done at least something on renewable energy. It seems the General Assembly is aiming to give the governor exactly what he wants. We are still hopeful that leaders in both chambers will strengthen their climate legislation, fully addressing the environmental peril that could await Virginia if we do not act with urgency.”