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Friday, March 24, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: Virginia moving backward on environmental issues

Letter: Virginia moving backward on environmental issues

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Editor: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s report on the rapid rate of sea-level rise should be sparking more urgency for action on climate change, but instead, Virginia’s progress and our clean-energy economy is under attack at the General Assembly.

Specifically, HB 1257 prohibits all state and local-government entities from passing laws to avoid natural-gas fuel in new buildings.

This slows the transition to a 100-percent clean-energy economy. This does not benefit Virginians, but rather is a preemptive move initiated by the natural-gas industry to limit the autonomy of localities and preserve their profit margins.

Over the last few years, we made steady headway on initiatives that would clean up Virginia’s air and water, making our state a better place to live, work and breathe. Good legislation became good laws, including laws that will result in reduced electricity bills, improved air quality, expanded access to electric vehicles, and beefed up actions that put our money where our mouth is on protecting Virginia communities that are experiencing the worst effects of climate change.


These laws are creating jobs for Virginians, too. They’re bringing in huge economic benefits to rural areas and regions that desperately need it – communities that for years have borne the brunt of the blows that electricity and transportation sector pollution have dealt.

HB 1257 and other bills that would reverse our progress are being debated by our state legislators right now. These bills would endanger the health, economic and environmental benefits that every single Virginian needs to thrive – not to mention the health of future generations.

Thanks to state Sens. Petersen, Saslaw and Marsden, we’ve had some success defending these laws and all they mean for Virginia. But there is much more to be done and not much time left to do it, as the legislative session ends in a few weeks.

We need our legislators to demonstrate leadership and strength in the face of this attack on our economic, health and environmental progress, ensuring that Virginia stays on the right track. Now is not the time to waver.

We’re just starting to see positive results in Virginia. The climate crisis and the health of our most vulnerable populations will continue to worsen if we lose ground.

Kathleen Price, MD, and Krupal Shah, MD

The authors are members of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.

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