All seven local General Assembly members fared well in the Sierra Club Virginia chapter’s recently released “Climate, Energy and Justice Scorecard 2022,” with three earning perfect scores.
The organization ranked state senators on how they voted on 15 bills concerning policies on climate change, energy and equity, and judged House of Delegates members on their votes on 13 bills.
Lawmakers received one point for each time their vote aligned with a Sierra Club position and got an extra point if they were the chief patron of bills supported by the group.
Four local legislators received “A” grades from the environmental group.
State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington-McLean) scored 100 out of a possible 100 points and has a five-year average score of 92.
Dels. Mark Keam (D-Oakton-Vienna) and Marcus Simon (D-McLean-Falls Church) also received 100 scores and have average five-year scores of 97 and 96, respectively.
The final one of the group who (narrowly) received an “A” grade was Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Arlington-McLean), who got a 90 score and has a five-year average score of 94.
The remaining three legislators took home “B” grades. State Sens. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax-Vienna) and Janet Howell (D-Reston-Arlington) both scored 83 and have average five-year scores of 85 and 93, respectively.
Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-McLean-Great Falls) got a score of 82, but has a five-year average score of 94.
The lowest scorers in both houses of the General Assembly were state Sen. T. Travis Hackworth (R-Richlands), who received a 14, and Del. Thomas Wright Jr. (R-Victoria), who got an 18.
Sierra Club leaders celebrated the defeated nomination of Andrew Wheeler, who headed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the Trump administration, as secretary of natural resources. Gov. Youngkin later hired Wheeler as a senior adviser.
Fifty-eight out of the 140 legislators – all Democrats – scored an “A” on this year’s scorecard, which ventured beyond environmental issues to also focus on topics such as voting rights.
As has been the case with other environmental groups, the Sierra Club went after the new-for-2022 Republican governor and the GOP majority in the House of Delegates.
“This year’s General Assembly session was mired with blatant attempts to roll back progress, largely led by Gov. Youngkin and right-wing conservatives,” the organization said.
The environmental group bewailed passage of bills that incentivized methane production at commercial farms. The bill will force state residents to subsidize gas infrastructure, but not require emissions reductions, group leaders said.
The Sierra Club also was unhappy with passage of legislation the repealed the ability of Virginia’s citizen Air Pollution Control and Water Control boards to issue or deny permits, authority for which has been transferred to the Department of Environmental Quality.
In addition, the club lamented the defeat of bills that would have:
• Required new construction or renovation of public buildings to include solar-ready roofs.
• Allowed localities to opt into the International Green Construction Code instead of using what the group said was the weaker statewide code.
The Virginia Sierra Club has a membership of about 20,000. For the full scorecard, see the Website at https://vasierra.club/legscores2022.