Climate 411

New federal policies can supercharge Virginia’s energy and climate goals

Mom helping young son charge electric car

Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s the beginning of a new year and this year – despite some opposition – can be the year Virginia turns the corner to embrace a clean energy economy future.

Virginia has already taken critical steps in its clean energy transition to make communities more resilient and to address climate change. Steps like joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – a multistate program under which power companies pay for the pollution they create – passing legislation like the Virginia Clean Economy Act to establish a 100% clean energy standard and commit to a zero-carbon-emissions electricity grid by 2050 and having deployed nearly $100 million in RGGI funds for flood risk reduction from Roanoke to the Eastern Shore in less than two years, with more to come.

Major federal legislation recently passed in the form of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will supercharge those efforts with increased funding for infrastructure projects, clean energy initiatives and tax incentives, climate resilience, and other programs that address the climate crisis and create good jobs. In 2021 there were already 92,315 Virginians employed in clean energy jobs. Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs and young people overwhelmingly want to work in industries that are serious about addressing the climate crisis.

Virginia is only beginning to see the funding opportunities flowing from these unprecedented federal investments. Here are three examples highlighting how the BIL and IRA are having an impact:

1. Electric Vehicles and charging stations

The IRA makes buying electric vehicles (EVs) easier and cheaper, with thousands of dollars in tax credits to buy new and used EVs. The bill also includes tax credits for electric heavy duty trucks, like the ones produced at the Volvo Trucks New River Valley Plant. Switching to zero and low-emission vehicles will help lower air pollution from Virginia’s highways and roads and save Americans money at the pump.

To support the increase in EVs on the road, the Commonwealth is planning an EV charging network with stations along busy transportation corridors across the state, funded with $5 billion from the BIL.

An additional $106 million from the BIL could fund over 883 DC Fast Chargers. Using these resources to build a robust EV charging network will increase EV vehicle adoption in Virginia, driving down climate pollution and creating jobs.

2. Clean School Buses

A popular BIL program is the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, which has awarded nearly $30.8 million to 11 school districts in Virginia to replace existing diesel school buses with 78 electric models. Electric buses reduce air pollution inside and outside a bus, making them safer for children and communities by emitting little to no greenhouse gas emissions and making black diesel fumes a thing of the past.

Demand for the program and its electric buses is so high it has spurred the EPA to increase funding to nearly $1 billion.

3. Cleaning up our electric grid

Virginia’s electric power sector will also benefit from federal investments. The IRA modified and extended tax credits for renewable energy projects, like deployment of wind farms and solar arrays, and states with strong, binding pollution limits like RGGI will have greater incentives to use these tax credits to their advantage.

Once-in-a-generation federal investments will help build the clean, reliable and affordable power grid of the future. It only takes one extreme weather event like the unexpected and unplanned deep freeze in Texas a year ago to wreak havoc on older, existing power grids.

Virginia’s clean energy future

Virginia cannot afford to miss this opportunity to leverage federal dollars for necessary electric power sector investments, to be a climate leader and grow jobs in the clean economy.Smart state policies will work in tandem with the federal investment programs, increasing their impact. Analysis from EDF shows that federal programs like the IRA will spur at least 10 times the amount of investment from the private sector.

It is encouraging to see many state agencies recognizing the opportunity and engaging to secure federal funds to invest in Virginia – proving that investing wisely in the clean economy to benefit all Virginians does not need to be a partisan issue. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment and we need the Governor, legislature, business leaders, and local officials all working in unison to ensure these crucial funds are accessible and easy to apply for, especially for businesses, counties, towns, schools, and other community organizations. Virginia’s clean energy future depends on it.

Also posted in Climate Change Legislation, Energy, Policy / Comments are closed

New Inflation Reduction Act Tracker Launched by the Sabin Center and EDF

This piece was co-authored by EDF Clean Air Legal Fellow Richard Yates and Sabin Center for Climate Change Law Fellow Eleonor Dyan Garcia. It is also posted on the Sabin Center’s website.

The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Environmental Defense Fund have just launched This free online resource includes a searchable database that catalogues all of the climate change-related provisions in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as well as a tracker that records actions taken by federal agencies to implement those provisions.

Read More »

Also posted in Innovation, Partners for Change, Policy / Comments are closed

Washington state is holding its first cap-and-invest auction. Here’s what to expect.

Photo of the Asgard Pass in Washington state.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Blog co-authored by Kjellen Belcher, Manager, U.S. Climate

Washington state is getting ready for an exciting development in its new nation-leading climate program, the Climate Commitment Act, which is slated to deliver healthier air, more clean energy jobs and a safer climate future for communities.

After experiencing costly and historic wildfires, heat waves and flooding — all within the past few years — Washington communities are ready for this cap-and-invest program to fast-track the transition to a stronger and more equitable, clean economy. Now, the program will take a major step forward with Washington’s first allowance auction to be held on February 28.

Here’s what you should know about the program and how the allowance auction works. Read More »

Also posted in Carbon Markets, Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Policy / Comments are closed

4 reasons why Colorado legislators should strengthen the state’s climate targets

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This blog was co-authored by Alex DeGolia, Director, U.S. Climate.

Last month, Colorado’s Senate Transportation and Energy Committee approved SB 23-16 — a wide-ranging bill that strengthens Colorado’s commitment to cut statewide climate pollution beyond 2030. It would put new targets in law requiring cuts of at least 65% by 2035, 80% by 2040, 90% by 2045, and strengthen the state’s 2050 target to ensure a 100% cut in pollution by 2050.

This climate bill arrives at a moment of great urgency and opportunity for the state.

As Colorado faces down the consequences of more climate change-fueled impacts, like droughts and wildfires, Coloradans are looking to their leaders to raise the state’s climate ambition and secure a safer, healthier future for their communities. At the same time, Colorado now has more opportunity than ever before to make that ambition a reality, thanks to billions in federal climate and clean energy investments from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Here are 4 reasons why the legislature should pass these ambitious climate targets:

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Also posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Policy, Science / Read 2 Responses

Banking Regulators Take Critical Steps to Account for Climate-Related Financial Risks

(This piece was co-authored by Bridget Pals at NYU Law School’s Institute for Policy Integrity. It is also posted on the Institute for Policy Integrity’s website)

This fall, following a summer when climate change fueled catastrophic heat waves, droughts, floods, and fires, key U.S. authorities acknowledged the urgent need to act on climate risks to the banking system. Recent actions and remarks are beginning to shed light on what the next wave of policies to address these risks might entail. They’re likely to look a lot like many other, existing financial risk regulations.

The heads of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) both delivered remarks highlighting actions their agencies have already taken to address climate-related banking risks and identifying additional steps they will take. Michael Barr, the Vice Chair for Supervision of the Federal Reserve (Fed), similarly stated that climate-related financial risks implicate the Fed’s “supervisory responsibilities and [its] role in promoting a safe and stable financial system,” so the Fed plans to issue guidance in coordination with fellow financial regulators and conduct scenario analyses.

The officials’ recent statements build on earlier actions by the OCC and FDIC, which both issued draft principles in the last year on how banks should manage climate risk to meet safety and soundness expectations. The Institute for Policy Integrity and Environmental Defense Fund submitted joint comments supporting both guidance documents as important steps toward addressing the risks that climate change poses to the structural integrity of our financial system.

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Posted in News / Comments are closed

One year later: What’s next for the bipartisan infrastructure law’s historic investments in new climate tech?

A year ago, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, the largest investment in infrastructure since the New Deal.

Among the many key climate investments included, the infrastructure law put a long-awaited down payment on several new and promising climate solutions including carbon dioxide removal, hydrogen, long-term energy storage and technologies to support clean industry.

We spoke with Natasha Vidangos, Senior Director for Climate Innovation and Technology at Environmental Defense Fund, about what’s next for these investments and how they can help us tackle the climate crisis.

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Also posted in Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Innovation / Comments are closed