Whether or not politicians care to admit it, climate change is real, and Ralph has been fighting to address its effects for years. As a state senator, Ralph brought legislation to create a coastal flooding working group to study how Virginia’s coastal communities can prepare for the effects of climate change. Today, Ralph serves on the Governor’s climate change commission, which is tasked with recommending ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and as governor, he’ll ensure Virginia meets the standards put forth in the Clean Power Plan. To pick up slack created by the Trump administration’s EPA budget cuts, Ralph will build a Virginia “Conservation Cabinet” led by the secretary of natural resources.
Protecting the Chesapeake Bay and clean water
Virginia needs a champion to defend the Chesapeake Bay from the Trump Administration’s threats to the agencies that protect it. Ralph is a strong advocate for the Chesapeake Bay, and led the charge to protect the bay from non-native oysters, as well as to ban the winter dredging of blue crabs. As a state senator, Ralph carried legislation to remove phosphorus from home fertilizers in order to reduce chemical runoff into the bay. He’s also supported efforts to provide state funding for oyster restoration. Ralph has long opposed offshore drilling in Virginia, and in 2016, helped lead the resistance to Virginia’s involvement in federal oil and gas exploration off the Atlantic coast. Ralph will allow localities to regulate or oppose fracking and will ensure a thorough permitting process for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline as permitted under state and federal law. Ralph opposes lifting the 35 year ban on uranium mining and will stick with Virginia’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) pollution diet, and increase oyster, wetland, and shoreline restoration projects.
Renewable energy production
Ralph believes in prioritizing clean energy innovation. In the state senate, Ralph held electric companies accountable by voting for policies that, if passed, would have cracked down on utilities profiting on renewable energy incentives by purchasing credits for power generated outside Virginia instead of investing in the commonwealth. He also voted in favor of solar power and wind energy legislation, diversifying Virginia’s energy economy and reducing the state’s carbon footprint. Ralph will remove barriers to the development and use of clean energy by encouraging competition and energy choice while making it easier to decentralize generation and build an electric and clean vehicle infrastructure.
Air pollution threatens public health across the Commonwealth and is exacerbating respiratory illnesses and chronic lung conditions, like childhood asthma, and allergies. As a member of the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission, Ralph developed recommendations for how Virginia can reduce its carbon footprint, which will help relieve the 700,000 Virginians suffering from asthma and other chronic lung diseases. The highest concentration of those suffering are in Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads—also the areas in Virginia with the highest concentration of minority communities. People in those communities are also often those living without adequate health care, creating a vicious cycle of illness and costly medical treatments. As governor, Ralph will continue his work fighting air pollution and its health effects and will give local communities a bigger role in local permitting by forming an environmental justice task force to address environmental threats in vulnerable communities, particularly in the areas of urban air quality, energy infrastructure siting, and drinking water.