Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, promoting renewable energy sources particularly from solar and wind and going forward with a Clean Power Plan for Virginia are three top environmental priorities for the remainder of Governor McAuliffe’s term in office. Governor Terry McAuliffe highlighted these priorities as he addressed attendees of the 27th Annual Environment Virginia Symposium on April 6 in Lexington.
The Governor’s address at the Symposium emphasized his $140 million commitment (reflected both in the budget approved by the General Assembly and bond initiatives) to improve water quality throughout the state. Despite the stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year to delay implementation of EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the Governor announced that he intends for Virginia to move forward with the development of a plan of its own. Under EPA’s Clean Power Plan states will be required to achieve a 33 percent reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 2005 levels from electricity generating plants. The 33 percent reduction from 2005 levels is to be met by 2030. To date, 27 states (not including Virginia) have filed law suits challenging the EPA plan.
The 2016 “Environment Virginia” Symposium featured many breakout and general sessions that provided valuable information relating to environmental policies and programs. One breakout session provided information about a water recycling project being undertaken by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District that is intended to recharge the aquifers of eastern Virginia through the injections of highly treated wastewater that is clean enough to meet drinking water standards. This project is being accomplished through installations of 55-60 injection wells throughout eastern Virginia, including middle peninsula jurisdictions.
The Symposium also featured a “hot topics” session, where the directors of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), along with representatives from various corporations and non-profit organizations presented their top environmental issues. For local governments, the most important of these issues relate to water quality, and the anticipated development in 2017 of the so-called Chesapeake Bay “Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan” (WIP.) Under this program Virginia will be required to develop a strategy for achieving certain pollution reduction targets for the Chesapeake Bay. These targets will need to be met by 2025. The lion’s share of work for implementing the WIP will be done at the local level. In the development of the WIP, local governments will need to be an integral part of the process. More news about development of the Phase 3 WIP will be forthcoming.
Additional information about the Environment Virginia Symposium (including presentations) is available at http://www.vmi.edu/Conferences/EV/Environment_Virginia.
VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE