In a press release, Gov. Ralph Northam is calling for $733 million in spending on environmental quality and renewable energy, including heavy investments in Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.
The funding request is part of Northam’s two-year budget proposal, which so far includes investments in maternal health and early education. Northam plans to unveil his signature budget in full on Tuesday. It will be the only spending plan Northam will propose and implement before the end of his term in January 2022.
Northam’s request includes $400 million for programs meant to restore water and air quality to the Chesapeake Bay — a years-long cleanup effort that includes other states along the bay and is slated to wrap up in 2025.
That request includes the “largest-ever investment” in the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, which helps localities reduce pollution caused by water running off roads and parking lots into streams and rivers. It would also boost funding for wastewater treatment, oyster reef restoration and support to help farmers avoid farmland runoff.
“In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand — and having both is what makes our commonwealth such a great place to live, work, and play,” Northam said in a statement.
On environmental protection, Northam is also proposing an additional $25 million in funding for the Department of Environmental Quality, which oversees environmental permitting and conservation programs.
A $2.7 million portion would fund environmental justice and community outreach efforts. Northam will also call for the creation of an “Environmental Justice Council.”
The administration also hopes to boost funding for the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, a grant program that funds the protection of open spaces and parks, historic landmarks and other natural areas. Northam is also calling for heavy investments in Virginia state parks.
On the clean energy front, Northam’s request includes $40 million to upgrade the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, which the Northam administration believes is critical to attract offshore wind manufacturing businesses.
Northam’s budget request would also include $275,000 per year for the creation of a new “Office of Offshore Wind” to support Northam’s goal of making Virginia a leader in the emerging industry.
The Northam administration is pitching $10 million in financing programs that would help citizens and local governments invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Northam plans to push ahead with carbon emissions regulations and the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative a multistate compact to curb greenhouse gases linked to climate change.
The cap would be lowered over time, forcing Dominion Energy and industrial energy producers to curb emissions or purchase emission allowances from the RGGI marketplace. Republicans argued the plan would unnecessarily raise electric bills and put a strain on families and businesses.
“These significant investments in environmental protection, environmental justice, clean energy and clean water will combat climate change and ensure we maintain our high quality of life here in Virginia,” Northam said in a statement.