This past Monday, January 23rd, over 200 conservation organizations and activists joined together in Richmond to participate in Virginia Conservation Network’s largest Conservation Lobby Day in recent history. Nearly 100 meetings were held with state legislators and aides urging them to support environmental policy advancements. Priority issues that participants brought up with their legislators included:
- Keeping our drinking water and rivers clean by updating storage for toxic coal ash and preventing the oil and gas industry from hiding what chemicals they use.
- Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay watershed by fighting for full funding for critical land and water programs and preventing rollbacks to the Chesapeake Bay Act.
- Working to harness the power of the sun through community solar programs.
- Protecting our landscapes by fully funding programs, such as the Land Preservation and Historic Tax Credits.
- Ensuring development of new roads doesn’t skirt environmental and planning reviews.
- Reforming our redistricting process by working to ensure voters pick their legislators — not the other way around.
For a full summary of Conservation Lobby Day, click here.
General Assembly Updates
Protecting Local Authority
We’ve learned about two pieces of legislation tied to telecommunications that are likely to come up for a vote in the General Assembly next week, potentially as early as Monday or Tuesday. Both are American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC)-drafted bills recommended by Verizon and other major telecom companies that remove local government’s ability to provide oversight or engage in constructive solutions. Both bills instead give greater control to the major telecommunication corporations.
Removing Consideration of Historic Districts or Entrance Corridors
HB2196/SB1282 would remove local government consideration of historic districts and entrance corridors as they relate to wireless communication facilities, clearing the way for the construction of intrusive facilities in sensitive landscapes without features designed to conceal the structures.
Some believe the legislation might bring coverage to underserved areas. But that belief has little validity, as population and profitability are the main factors in determining where companies choose to build towers. It is an industry give-away, not an attempt to address the real issues facing rural communities of the Commonwealth. Take action here.
Preventing Local Investment in Broadband
HB2108 would prevent localities from building their own infrastructure. The effect of which would be to stop municipal government from providing broadband in areas where the utility companies are unwilling to make the investment. The bill would be bad for residents and bad for businesses (except the telecommunications giants).
Just yesterday, the patron introduced a substitute to the original language. However, from what we’re hearing from those close to the issue, the substitute bill doesn’t address the fundamental flaw in the concept. Take action here.
Expanding Solar Power in Virginia
Yesterday, a special Senate Subcommittee on Renewable Energy took action on expanding access to solar power in Virginia. The four members of this subcommittee (Chafin, Sturtevant, Dance, and Wagner) unanimously voted to send SB1393 to the full Commerce & Labor Committee. The full committee will consider the bill on the afternoon of Monday, January 30th. If your legislator is on the list below, please call them NOW and ask them to support SB1393, which will expand access to solar power in Virginia.
Across the Commonwealth, many individuals and families are expressing an interest in local, clean power sources. However, not all Virginians are able to install a solar system at their homes for various reasons (cost, physical characteristics of their property, renting a home, etc.). These barriers prevent a large segment of Virginians from taking advantage of solar energy.
Community solar is a solution to this problem. By developing a solar energy project that serves a number of households or businesses, community solar projects reduce the price of renewable energy for participating customers. These solar projects are normally located close to the communities they serve, allowing Virginians access to the benefits of solar even if they are unable to install solar systems on their own homes. A good example of this concept would be a church with a solar installation dispatching clean energy to its congregants.
Coal Ash Bills Coming Up Next Week
Responsible coal ash cleanup has been a top line priority for many Virginians over the past year. This upcoming Thursday, February 2nd, thewill hear three strong coal ash bills carried by Senator Surovell: SB1383, SB1398, and SB1399.
SB1383: Requires a certain amount of coal ash to be treated so that it can be recycled in a responsible manner.
SB1398: Requires a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of coal ash sites, long-term safety, and water pollution.
SB1399: Requires clean and safe closure by removing coal ash waste and storing it in synthetically-lined landfills.
We need everyone to show support for these bills. Contact the following ACNR Committee members today and ask for their support on SB1383, SB1398, and SB1399:
|Senator Stuart||(804) 698-7528|
|Senator Hanger||(804) 698-7524|
|Senator Ruff||(804) 698-7515|
|Senator Obenshain||(804) 698-7526|
|Senator Petersen||(804) 698-7534|
|Senator Marsden||(804) 698-7537|
|Senator Stanley||(804) 698-7520|
|Senator Black||(804) 698-7513|
|Senator Ebbin||(804) 698-7530|
|Senator Lewis||(804) 698-7506|
|Senator Chafin||(804) 698-7538|
|Senator Dance||(804) 698-7516|
|Senator Suetterlien||(804) 698-7519|
|Issue Area||Bill Number||Patron||Description||Position|
|Budget||91G||N/A||Funds to the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund are proposed to be cut from $1,000,000 to $250,000 in the second year.||OPPOSE|
|Budget||365D.1||N/A||Funds to the Virginia Land Conservation Fund are proposed to be cut from $8,000,000 to $4,500,000 in the second year.||OPPOSE|
|Budget||367H||N/A||Funds to the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund are proposed to be cut from $1,000,000 to $676,528 in the second year.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB1678||Robinson||Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); trade secrets submitted to the Department of Mines.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB1679||Robinson||Well permit applications; disclosure of trade secrets.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB1573||Helsel||Marine Resources Commission; licenses; revocation.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB1575||Helsel||Marine Resources Commission; oyster dredge; sanctuary area.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB1619||Bulova||Watershed discharge permits; review of allocations.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||HB1635||Sullivan||Historic rehabilitation tax credit.||OPPOSE|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB1034||Howell||Historic rehabilitation tax credit.||OPPOSE|
|Energy||HB1636||Sullivan||Energy efficiency programs; total resource cost test.||SUPPORT|
|Energy||HB1703||Sullivan||Electric and natural gas utilities; energy efficiency goals.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||HB1766||Habeeb||Utility Facilities Act; associated facilities of an electrical transmission line.||OPPOSE|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB1110||Stanley||Utility Facilities Act; associated facilities of an electrical transmission line.||OPPOSE|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB887||Chafin||Prioritization of statewide transportation projects; exceptions.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB2008||Hodges||Stormwater; erosion and sediment control, 10,000 square foot minimum disturbance.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB2089||Kory||School boards, local; lead testing of potable water in schools.||SUPPORT|
|Water||SB1359||McPike||School boards, local; lead testing of potable water in schools.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||HB2136||LeMunyon||Washington Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||HB2136||LeMunyon||Washington Metrorail Safety Commission Interestate Compact||SUPPORT|
|Energy||HB2198||Kilgore||Coal tax; limits aggregate amount of credits that may be allocated or claimed for employment, etc||OPPOSE|
|Land Use & Transportation||HB2244||Jones||Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995; changes name of Advisory Committee.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB1322||Carrico||Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995; changes name of Advisory Committee.||SUPPORT|
|Energy||SB1471||Locke||Virginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act; established, report.||SUPPORT|
|Water||HJ572||Knight||Study; regulation of menhaden fishing; report.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB806||Stanley||Interstate 73 Corridor Development Fund and Program.||OPPOSE|
|Water||SB898||Stuart||DEQ; combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls; Potomac River Watershed.||SUPPORT|
|Water||SB910||Stuart||Virginia Oil and Gas Act; sampling and replacing contaminated wells.||SUPPORT|
|Water||SB911||Stuart||Orphaned Well Fund; surcharge.||SUPPORT|
|Energy||HB2112||Keam||Electric utilities; community renewable projects.||SUPPORT|
|Energy||SB1208||Wexton||Electric utilities; community renewable projects.||SUPPORT|
|Water||HB1423||Albo||Potomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc.||SUPPORT|
|Water||HB1454||Austin||James River; designation as component of Virginia Scenic Rivers System.||SUPPORT|
|AntiReg||HB1566||Webert||Professions and occupations; active supervision of regulatory boards.||OPPOSE|
|AntiReg||HB1654||Loupassi||Examining and approving a statement in lieu of the settlement of accounts; fee for commissioner.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB1870||Lopez||Deleterious substances; discharge into state waters.||SUPPORT|
|Energy||HB1974||O'Quinn||Clean Power Plan; state implementation plan; General Assembly approval.||OPPOSE|
|Energy||HB2018||Villanueva||Virginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act, established, report.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||HB2023||Villanueva||Highway maintenance payments; bicycle lanes.||SUPPORT|
|Other||HB2182||Sickles||Voter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles; opt-out voter registration.||SUPPORT|
|AntiReg||HJ545||Head||Constitutional amendment; powers of General Assembly, etc.||OPPOSE|
|Other||HJ704||Bulova||Study; Secretary of Natural Resources and Secretary of Education; environmental education; report.||SUPPORT|
|Other||HJ763||Landes||Constitutional amendment (first resolution); apportionment; political considerations prohibited.||SUPPORT|
|Other||SB1051||Ebbin||Automatic Voter Reg||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB1251||Barker||Washington Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact; Virginia authorized to become signatory.||SUPPORT|
|Water||SB1383||Surovell||Coal ash; treatment by utilities; recycling.||SUPPORT|
|Water||SB1398||Surovell||Coal combustion residuals unit; closure permit; assessments required.||SUPPORT|
|Water||SB1399||Surovell||Coal combustion by-product impoundments; closure requirements.||SUPPORT|
|Energy||SB1496||Lewis||Virginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act; established, report||SUPPORT|
|Other||SJ290||Howell||Constitutional amendment; criteria for electoral districts (first reference).||SUPPORT|
|AntiReg||SJ295||Vogel||Constitutional amendment (first resolution); legislative review of administrative rules.||OPPOSE|
|AntiReg||SJ311||Carrico||Constitutional amendment; legislative review of administrative rules (first reference)||OPPOSE|
|Budget||448#1h||LeMunyon||WMATA Compact Revisions Required||OPPOSE|
|Budget||4-5.03#3h||LaRock||No DRPT Funding Unless Conditions Related to WMATA Enacted||OPPOSE|
|Budget||C-48.10#1s||Hanger||Stormwater Local Assistance Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||370#1h||Landes||Stormwater Local Assistance Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||370#2h||Lingamfelter||Stormwater Local Assistance Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||C-48.10#6h||Yancey||Stormwater Local Assistance Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#2s||Hanger||Water Quality Improvement Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#6h||Landes||Water Quality Improvement Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#5h||O'Bannon||Water Quality Improvement Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#6s||Ruff||Dept of Conservation Recreation||SUPPORT|
|Budget||3-6.01#1s||Ruff||Recordation Tax Fee||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#4h||Ruff||Recordation Tax Fee||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#10h||Lingamfelter||Reflect Increased Dedication of Recordation Fee to NRCF||SUPPORT|
|Budget||3-6.01#1h||Lingamfelter||Direct Recordation Filing Fee to NRCF||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#1s||Lewis||Water Quality Improvement Fund||SUPPORT|
|Budget||364#3h||Webert||Fully Fund Ag BMP Requirements||SUPPORT|
|Energy||HB2390||Kilgore||Renewable energy power purchase agreements; expands pilot program.||OPPOSE|
|Energy||SB1393||Wagner||Electric utilities; community solar pilot programs.||SUPPORT|
|Energy||SB918||Edwards||Renewable energy; third-party power purchase agreements.||SUPPORT|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB1423||Wagner||Electric utilities; viewshed mitigation payments.||OPPOSE|
|Land Use & Transportation||SB1282||McDougle||Wireless communications infrastructure; procedure for approved by localities.||OPPOSE|
|Land Use & Transportation||HB2196||Kilgore||Wireless communications infrastructure; procedure for approved by localities.||OPPOSE|
|Water||HB2383||Lingamfelter||Combined sewer overflow outfalls; DEQ to identify owner that discharges into Chesapeake Bay.||SUPPORT|