Taking steps to fight climate change, ocean acidification in Virginia

Virginia will be taking a series of actions to help address the impacts of carbon pollution from fossil fuels.

Earlier this week, Governor Ralph Northam announced he has directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to identify ways to improve environmental protections in the Commonwealth.

According to a release, leaders from several U.S. states and other countries gathered at the Global Climate Action Summit this week to work on climate solutions.

Virginia has committed to join the Transportation and Climate Initiative to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector, join the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification and help with the Ocean Acidification Action Plan, and develop a framework for limiting methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure and landfills.

In the Transportation and Climate Initiative, Virginia will work collaboratively with Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce the pollution from the transportation sector.

The release says more than one-third of all carbon pollution comes from transportation, and in Virginia, it is the largest contributor of greenhouse gasses.

Virginia is already working with this group of states to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative concerning greenhouse gasses produced by electric power generation.

The International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification focuses on the planet’s oceans, which are the largest carbon sink and store about 93 percent of all carbon dioxide.

As emissions have increased, the oceans have taken up more carbon dioxide, making them more acidic, which has negative implications for marine wildlife like corals, oysters and plankton.

As a member of this alliance, Virginia will develop an Ocean Acidification Action Plan and work with other governments to raise the visibility and importance of ocean acidification issues in public discourse and policy development.

While natural gas has a significant potential to help reduce carbon pollution while governments transition to clean energy sources like solar and wind, its benefits can only be realized by keeping natural gas from leaking into the atmosphere.

The DEQ will lead this effort and establish a workgroup of stakeholders to support it in collecting and evaluating data to inform regulation development.

“I am committed to ensuring that Virginia is a leader in developing solutions to prevent the worst impact of a warming climate and changing ocean chemistry, and doing more to reduce carbon pollution,” said Northam.

Northam is also working on a regulation to reduce carbon pollution from large power plants by 30 percent over ten years, negotiating a deal to commit regulated electric utilities to 5,000 MW of solar and wind over the next decade and more than $1 billion in energy efficiency investments, and permanently authorizing Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program.

He is also awarding a $14 million contract from the Volkswagen mitigation settlement fund to EVgo to begin building out an electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Virginia.

CBS19 NEWS, 14 September 2018. Article.

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