Northam: Budget to Include $733 Million for Environment, Clean Energy

December 20, 2019 · 2 minute read
Northam: Budget to Include $733 Million for Environment, Clean Energy

Governor Ralph Northam announced that his budget will include $733 million in new funding for the environment and clean energy—including a half-billion-dollar capital investment.

The budget creates Virginia’s first Office of Offshore Wind. It also invests up to $40 million to upgrade the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, to secure new investments in the offshore wind supply chain. These investments will help Virginia achieve 2,500 megawatts of energy generated from offshore wind by 2026.

“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,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

The proposed budget supports the Chesapeake Bay clean water blueprint Governor Northam released earlier this year with investments to support local governments tackling stormwater pollution, upgrade wastewater treatment plants, and assist farmers implementing conservation practices to reduce farm runoff. When added to another $10 million for oyster reef restoration, these investments in clean water total more than $400 million and will put Virginia on track to meet the 2025 Bay cleanup deadline.

Governor Northam also proposed an additional $15.5 million investment for the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grant program, bringing it up to $20 million each year, to support targeted land protection through the Governor’s groundbreaking ConserveVirginia initiative.

“This is great news for everyone who cares about clean water,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker. “The Governor’s proposed budget would substantially boost investment in key state programs that are already working to restore our rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay. We are grateful to Governor Northam and his staff for their dedication and commitment to the Chesapeake Bay and ensuring clean water for all Virginians, now and in the future.”

As a result of Executive Order Six, which required a full needs assessment for the Department of Environmental Quality, the proposed budget includes more than $25 million to help the agency increase efficiency and responsiveness in permitting, enhance environmental protection, and improve public engagement. Notably, $2.7 million from DEQ will be directed towards environmental justice and community outreach efforts each year. In addition, Governor Northam will propose legislation to create a permanent Environmental Justice Council.

To ensure Virginia reduces carbon pollution, the Governor’s proposed budget removes language—added by the General Assembly—prohibiting Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The Governor will also propose legislation making Virginia the newest member of RGGI.