The Trump Administration has already begun its all-out assault on the environmental protections that keep Virginians healthy and make our communities great places to live. To continue making progress in fighting climate change, reducing harmful pollution, and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia has to take the lead and hold Trump accountable when he fails to enforce conservation laws. As Governor, Lieutenant Governor Northam will fight Donald Trump’s attempts to weaken environmental protections and make Virginia a leader in state-driven conservation solutions.
As Governor, Ralph Northam will prioritize the following environmental policies:
Fight climate change and sea level rise, even if Trump won’t
- Keep Virginia’s commitment to implement the Clean Power Plan. If the Clean Power Plan changes or is done away with under the Trump Administration, Virginia must set its own goals for implementation to reduce carbon emissions.
- Continue to oppose offshore drilling. Lieutenant Governor Northam has consistently opposed drilling off Virginia’s coast, citing concerns related to the operations of the Department of Defense and NASA, Virginia’s thriving tourism and aquaculture businesses, and the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. As the only candidate for Governor who has opposed offshore drilling, a Northam Administration will continue to lead in protecting Virginia’s coast and oppose any efforts to endanger it.
- Continue to work with our partners in Hampton Roads to build coastal resiliency to sea level rise and strengthen vulnerable communities through the $120 Million sea level grant Virginia received working with Old Dominion University and stakeholders under the McAuliffe-Northam administration.
Build on Chesapeake Bay progress
- Virginia must continue to adhere to its Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) under the U.S. Clean Water Act, and ensure the other states in the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed do, too. Should the Trump administration change or do away with the TDML, Virginia must work with its watershed partners through the Chesapeake Bay Commission and otherwise to continue to build on the progress we have made restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
- Increase oyster, wetland, and shoreline restoration projects and integrate with climate resiliency efforts. Keeping with the spirit of previous governors who have pledged open space conservation goals, a Northam administration will commit to an acreage goal of preserving and expanding wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation, and oyster beds.
Remove barriers to the development and use of clean energy
- Promote competition and energy choice while facilitating decentralized generation. With advances in technology and the maturation of the solar market, we are now able to make major strides with net metering so that households that generate more energy than they use can feed that energy back to the grid. In addition, a Northam administration will work with localities across the Commonwealth by providing guidance on zoning issues as it relates to promoting and encouraging solar and wind development.
- Utilize existing funding, specifically the $87M Volkswagen settlement funds, to build electric and clean vehicle infrastructure and support programs to decrease vehicle emissions.
Give all Virginians a voice to help protect the places they live, work, and play
- Direct the Secretary of Natural Resources, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, and the Attorney General to form 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.
- Lieutenant Governor Northam supports Governor McAuliffe’s decision to amend legislation before the reconvene session related to the closure of coal ash sites. There must be a full accounting of cost and environmental impact at these sites before any permits should be issued for closure.
- Specifically, for the Chesapeake Energy Center, a task force should be convened with all stakeholders to establish the most environmentally responsible path forward for closing that site. As part of this effort in Chesapeake, there should be a renewed call to revitalize the entirety of the Elizabeth River; utilizing existing vehicles like the Elizabeth River Project, we must work with all associated businesses and government entities to clean up this important tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.
- A Northam Administration will oppose lifting the 35 year ban on uranium mining. As a State Senator and Lieutenant Governor, Northam has consistently opposed lifting the ban, citing environmental and economic risks.
- A Northam Administration will support localities’ ability to regulate or oppose fracking. Northam is not convinced fracking can be done safely and without contaminating sources of waters. Northam opposes fracking in Taylorsville basin, especially given that it sits on top of a freshwater aquifer.
- Lieutenant Governor Northam has recommended to Governor McAuliffe and the Department of Environmental Quality that the permitting processes for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects be as thorough and environmentally responsible as permitted under state and federal law.
Ensure that state agencies are working together and have the tools they need to protect Virginia’s environment
- Conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the permitting, compliance, and enforcement programs of all natural resources and environment related agencies to identify opportunities for improvement and ensure they have the resources to pick up the slack for a weakened EPA. Specifically, 2018 is the 25th anniversary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Over the years when there have been cuts to state government, DEQ’s cuts have not been restored. A Northam Administration will commit to a fully functioning and funded DEQ that is able to fulfill its mission, especially in monitoring and enforcement. DEQ’s permitting process needs to be reevaluated to ensure that it is consistent across its boards.
- Create a “Conservation Cabinet” let by the Secretary of Natural Resources that will ensure coordination across all agencies that can bring resources to bear to address environmental issues, including encouraging the use of clean energy, utilizing energy efficiency, and ensuring environmental best practices are standard across the entirety of state government.
As Lieutenant Governor and State Senator, Ralph Northam has a long and accomplished track record protecting Virginia’s environment:
Northam Fought Oil And Gas Drilling Off Virginia’s Coasts.
As State Senator and Lieutenant Governor, Ralph Northam fought efforts by Republicans and Democrats to open Virginia’s coast to offshore oil and gas drilling. He has also urged Congress to lift the liability cap that limits what energy companies must pay when they cause oil spills that damage our coastal communities.
Northam Championed Efforts To Preserve And Revitalize The Chesapeake Bay.
Ralph Northam led efforts to stop the introduction of non-native Oysters to the Chesapeake Bay and to end winter dredging of blue crabs. He supported working with farmers on best practices to restore the water quality of the Bay and its tributaries, and helped write a law banning the use of phosphorous in home fertilizers to reduce chemical runoff. Northam has also championed efforts to jumpstart Virginia’s aquaculture industry, especially crabs and oysters.
Northam Fought For Renewable Energy Development In Virginia.
Ralph Northam has consistently supported the expansion of Virginia’s renewable energy industries, and he carried legislation directing the state to study the creation of a mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard. He also voted for net metering in Virginia, and supported cracking down on utilities that game the renewable energy portfolio system.
Northam Championed Efforts To Combat The Effects Of Climate Change.
Ralph Northam secured funding to study strategies to address rising sea levels in Virginia, and has served on climate change advisory commissions for Governors Kaine and McAuliffe. He also worked with state and federal officials to address the effects of rising sea levels on Tangier Island, where Ralph used to work as a kid.
Northam Fought Against Uranium Mining And For Tougher Enforcement Of Environmental Quality Laws
Ralph Northam supported expanding the ability for Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality to fine polluters. He also helped block efforts to weaken wetlands protection, reduce transparency in water quality decisions, and he’s fought against lifting Virginia’s ban on uranium mining.
Northam Supported Preserving Virginia’s Natural Heritage
Ralph Northam supported expanding funds for conservation easements and farmland preservation. He also supported improving Virginia’s land preservation tax credit program, and helped block legislation to override the ability of localities to write their own zoning laws.