What’s on the Table for New Virginia Sustainability Legislation Next Month?

December 12, 2011

Finals week is here and that means the holidays are almost upon us. Like a belated holiday treat, each January this state’s legislators begin their General Assembly session to vote on the new Virginia laws.

It is a small window when the General Assembly is actually in session – only two months this year, so groups prepare their legislative priorities early. Sustainability bills will definitely be on the agenda. Here are some major issues that should come up for vote this winter:

* Uranium mining: Banned since the ’80’s, there is a powerful lobby to have the ban lifted this year. There is serious risk that uranium mining can result in radiation contamination in rivers and groundwater. Environmental groups are in heated opposition.

* Renewable Energy: The Virginia Conservation Network will push for the General Assembly to pass a mandatory renewable portfolio standard program that would require more use of solar and wind power in the state. Additional goals are increased tax incentives for solar installations and continued funding for wind power research.

* Mountaintop Removal Mining: Environmental groups will oppose about $44.5 million in subsidies for mountaintop removal mining in Virginia.

* Budget Allocations for Water Quality: Conservationists seek about $40 million for assistance to farmers to implement best practices for water quality. Funding is also wanted for water treatment facility upgrades.

* Transportation: Always a huge priority, transportation will be a big issue this budget year. There is a choice to be made between prioritizing highway construction and alternatives that incentivize public transportation, carpooling and walking.

Want to know more? The General Assembly streams the legislative sessions live online. After January 12, you can watch the House of Delegates in session here and the Senate here.

Happy Holidays!

Caitlin Kilpatrick
Master of Public Policy, Class of 2013

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