Richmond, VA -- Today, the Virginia House of Delegates failed to kill the Clean Economy Act (VCEA), instead moving the highly inadequate legislation forward in the House of Delegates by a margin of 52-47. While this vote sends a pro-industry signal and shows many elected officials are less ready to tackle the climate crisis head-on than constituents had hoped, the narrow margin reflects growing opposition to the buildout of fracked gas plants and pipelines, as well as support for worker protections and environmental justice communities.
The VCEA adheres to a weak 2045 deadline for the state’s transition to renewables, neglects to halt the buildout of the fracked gas projects already harming Virginia’s environment and public health, and makes no considerations for the frontline communities battling the impacts of climate change. However, legislators are still fighting to pass a truly comprehensive climate change package this session.
“The passage of the weak Virginia Clean Economy Act through the House is basically a hand-out to industry, but we’re not losing hope,” says Jorge Aguilar, Southern Region Director for Food & Water Action. “We have an amazing opportunity to properly address the climate crisis alongside the environmental advocates Virginians have elected to office, and we’re not going to let the VCEA be the final word.
“It’s clear that the Governor and industry introduced loopholes into the legislation at the eleventh hour, which confused legislators. One major issue is that the bill’s carbon zero energy program tackles only carbon dioxide and not methane. Virginia is basically greenlighting fracked gas plants and pipelines, and enabling other fossil fuel plants to stay open or expand if they use the right technology. We will continue battling to protect Virginia’s communities from the worst impacts of climate change, and we won’t give up our fight until we see the legislation Virginia needs and deserves passed into law.”