Last May, the Community Climate Collaborative formed the Green Business Alliance to encourage sixteen companies to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to reduce their collective emissions by 45 percent by 2025, five years ahead of when both Albemarle County and Charlottesville pledged to meet the same objective.
This morning the nonprofit entity reports the group has a collective 28 percent reduction in the first year since a baseline was established.
“Comparing 2021 emissions to the baseline year, which varies by member, the [Green Business Alliance] Boffset a total of 4,800 metric tons of CO2-equivalent,” reads their press release.
Last November, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which included $238 million in funding for programs to reduce pollution that makes its way into the Chesapeake Bay.
This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that $40 million will be made available through two separate programs.
“I am pleased to announce the new funding that will help support ready-to-go projects throughout the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe in a news release. “This unprecedented funding can go straight into projects that will protect public health, improve water quality and help restore lands, rivers and streams that impact the Chesapeake Bay – from farm fields to suburban neighborhoods to city streets.”
More state funding is on the way to help localities make the transition from diesel-powered school buses to electric ones. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced Wednesday that the Clean School Bus Program will award more than $14 million across Virginia, and that includes Albemarle County.
The funding comes from Volkswagen, a company that lied to its customers about the fuel efficiency of some vehicles. Virginia received $93.6 million from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.
“DEQ has also committed funds for innovative clean transportation projects including electric transit buses, medium and heavy duty trucks, electric equipment at the Port of Virginia and development of a statewide charging network for electric vehicles,” reads a press release.
In six years, the amount of electricity generated by solar panels in increased by 12,150 percent. That’s according to data cited in the first ever survey of Virginia localities on their policies related to permitting large utility-scale installations as well as rooftop panels.
The survey was conducted by the Virginia Department of Energy and the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia and asked a series of questions to officials in Virginia’s 133 localities.
“In Virginia, the permitting and siting of solar energy and energy storage facilities is heavily informed by local governments,” reads the report. “Therefore, to realize the full potential of solar energy development in Virginia, it is important to understand and support the solar experience, concerns and priorities of local governments.”
As Albemarle County and Charlottesville both consider levying a tax on plastic bags, a major grocery chain has announced they will phase out their use by the end of this calendar year.
“With this decision, the company’s goal is to shift all customers to reusable bags, the best option to solve the environmental challenge of single-use grocery bags,” reads a press release on the company’s website.
In March 2021, former Governor Ralph Northam signed an executive order banning state agencies from buying, selling, or distributing single-use plastics.
His successor, Governor Glenn Youngkin, has called that directive “burdensome” and yesterday replaced it with a new one that directs state agencies to recognize the value of recycling.
“It is the policy of the Commonwealth, and all executive branch state agencies, including state institutions of higher education, and their concessioners (Agency or Agencies) to increase awareness of the importance of recycling and better capture recyclable material, as well as encourage the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) products and biodegradable materials,” reads Executive Order 17.
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that production of greenhouse gas emissions across planet Earth were at their highest levels in recorded history, but suggests the rate may be slowing.
“Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach,” reads the press release to mark the approval yesterday of an IPCC working group’s report called Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change.
Virginia State Code assigns the task of overseeing the Comprehensive Plan to the Planning Commission. Earlier this month, members of the Tree Commission urged Planning Commissioners to consider the importance of woody perennial plants.
“Our tree canopy is declining at an increasing rate,” said Jeffrey Aten, the vice chair of the Tree Commission. “We have good intentions and are planning for a robust urban canopy in our Comprehensive Plan. But we believe more needs to be done to ensure this is the case as we build for more affordable housing and adjust streets to be more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists.”
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has now held two work sessions on a proposed $565 million budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The budget goes by the name Transform Albemarle and for the first time anticipates a very small portion of revenues from a tax on plastic bags.
“It is proposed to be effective January 1, 2023,” said Andy Bowman, the chief of the Office of Management and Budget for Albemarle.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative has held its latest auction of carbon allowances to organizations that generate electricity. Virginia will receive $74.2 million in proceeds from the latest sale last week. That’s the fifth time Virginia has participated since joining the interstate compact in 2020 for a total of $301,855,695.52.
“RGGI is a cooperative effort among eleven states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” reads the nonprofit’s website.
Those states have received nearly $5 billion in proceeds. By law, Virginia is required to direct 45 percent of its funding to the Community Flood Preparedness Fund and 50 percent to support energy efficiency programs for low-income households.