(The Center Square) – A Democratic lawmaker has introduced legislation to speed up Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s climate initiatives.
The Green New Deal Act, which was introduced by Del. Sam Rasoul, D- Roanoke, takes inspiration from New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s federal Green New Deal legislation. The bill drastically would speed up Northam’s initiative to make Virginia’s electric utilities carbon free.
Rasoul’s legislation, House Bill 1937, would require the commonwealth’s electric utilities to produce 80% of its energy from renewable sources by 2028. By 2036, 100% of the energy would have to come from renewable sources. Legislation signed by Northam last year requires these utilities to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045 for Dominion Energy and 2050 for Appalachian Power.
Beginning Jan. 1, the proposed legislation also would prohibit state agencies or political subdivisions from approving new electric-generating facilities that generate fossil fuel energy through the combustion of fossil fuel resources and import or export terminals for fossil fuel resources. It would prohibit approval of certain maintenance activities related to importing and exporting fossil fuel resources and pipelines that would use eminent domain to transport any fossil fuel resources on private property. It also would prohibit certain maintenance activities for such pipelines and prohibit exploration of fossil fuels unless preempted by federal law.
The legislation also would set a goal for Virginia to achieve a 36% reduction in electric energy consumption in buildings by 2036 and would establish a Transitioning Workers Program to provide those who work in the fossil fuel industry with job training, relocation support, income and benefit support and early retirement benefits.
Rasoul’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square. Although the legislation seeks to improve the environment, some critics are warning the regulations negatively could affect the economy.
“The new majority in the Virginia General Assembly is seeking to radically transform our Commonwealth into a socialist dystopia,” the conservative Virginia Rising Action said in a statement. “The Virginia Green New Deal will not only displace thousands of Virginia workers but will also make it impossible for the average Virginian to provide for their families and put food on the table.”
A spokesperson for Virginia Rising Action could not be reached for comment.
The Green New Deal proposal has support from some legislative Democrats, but it is expected to be met with fierce opposition from Republicans who fought against Northam’s slower timetable for these reforms. Democrats hold a majority in both chambers of the General Assembly.