Richmond, VA -- Although the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act has been met with fanfare as Virginia becomes the first southern state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Virginia’s environmental and social justice community has come together to educate about the law’s inadequacies and demand better legislation next session.
The sign-on letter, released today, includes signatures from over 20 Virginia groups, including Virginia Poor People’s Campaign, Virginia Justice Democrats, Indivisible Virginia, and Food & Water Action. In total, these groups represent membership in the tens of thousands. In the letter, the coalition emphasizes the VCEA’s pitfalls: its too-late deadline for a 100% transition, failure to shut down fossil fuel construction already polluting communities in Virginia, and refusal to place an emphasis on equity in plans for a renewable energy transition.
The letter also critiques RGGI, a program that the VCEA legislation commits Virginia to. The sign-on letter refers to RGGI as a “pay-to-pollute scheme,” an ineffective corporate-driven program that neglects Environmental Justice (EJ) communities.
“This piece of legislation amounts to little more than what corporations have previously committed to without any push from Virginia’s government,” says Jolene Mafnas, Virginia Organizer for Food & Water Action. “Because of its industry alignments, the VCEA fails to protect Virginia’s communities and workers. We need a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035, and that transition needs to place the communities already most impacted by the fossil fuel industry and climate change front and center. The VCEA doesn’t meaningfully address these issues, but we will continue fighting for legislation that does going into the 2021 session.”
"Now is not the time for half measures when it comes to tackling the number one threat to our existence, climate change,” says Jennifer Lewis, President of Friends of Augusta. “We are in desperate times and we must take drastic steps to a clean, more just future, now. Our elected officials have a responsibility to listen to science and research instead of corporate donors."
“Climate scientists in 2018 said we had 12 years to drastically reduce our carbon emissions; that means the target year is 2030, not 2050,” says Andrea Miller, founder and Executive Director of People Demanding Action. “Either the authors of this bill are climate science deniers or extremely bad at math.”