VIRGINIA

VIRGINIA

Virginia is located on the East Coast of the United States, midway between the southern tip of Florida and the northern coast of Maine. The state stretches almost 430 miles west to east and includes the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay. The coastal plain that occupies the eastern part of Virginia includes the nation’s largest coal export port. To the west, the flat coastal plain meets the rolling hills and basins of the Piedmont region along a boundary known as the Fall Line because it is characterized by rapids and waterfalls. However, most of the state’s hydroelectric power plants are further west, where the rolling hills of the Piedmont rise into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The valleys and ridges that occupy the western part of the state are parallel to the spine of the Appalachian Mountains and, along with the Appalachian Plateau, contain most of the state’s coal, the primary energy resource produced in Virginia. The Appalachian Plateau, which cuts across the southwestern corner of Virginia, also holds almost all the state’s crude oil and natural gas fields. Nearly two-thirds of Virginia is forested, and the state’s widely distributed forests hold abundant biomass resources. Virginia has offshore wind energy potential as well. Uranium, the source for nuclear fuel, has been discovered near the state’s southern border. The deposit, although not developed, may be one of the nation’s largest.

Natural gas fueled 60% of Virginia’s electricity generated in 2019 with nuclear supplying 30%, renewables 6% (which includes hydroelectric, biomass and a bit of solar).

Virginia’s climate is changing. Most of the state has warmed about one degree in the last century, and Virginia is one of seven states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to have record sweltering heat in July, 2020. Predictions are that by 2050, the typical number of heat days will increase from more than 10 days to nearly 60 days a year. Temperatures are not the only noteworthy statistic in Virginia. The sea is rising one to two inches every decade. Higher water levels are eroding beaches, submerging low lands, exacerbating coastal flooding, and increasing the salinity of estuaries and aquifers. And, in 2020 two Virginia cities experienced their wettest year on record. In the southwestern part of the state the city of Lynchburg picked up nearly 70 inches of rain, surpassing 2018 as the wettest on record.  It was also 0.1 degree shy of their warmest year on record. Things played out similarly in the city of Roanoke, which saw nearly 63 inches of rain beating the previous record from 2018.  Roanoke also tied 2012 and 2019 for the warmest year on record, with an average temperature of 59.5 degrees.

Any doubt about the state’s long-term commitment to renewable energy faded when Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act in April 2020. Not only does it require Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power to be carbon-free by 2045 and 2050 respectively, but it also specifies that having a target of 16.7 gigawatts of solar power produced in Virginia would be in the “public interest.” Additionally, the bill promises to make the state a leader in offshore wind and in energy storage, to shutter nearly all of its coal-fired power plants,  and includes provisions to cap energy bills for low-income households. By August, the governor officially joined the Regional Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-invest program in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that places a limit on electricity sector emissions. Virginia is the first southern state to join.

The largest utility in Virginia, Dominion Energy began its response by divesting its natural gas holdings in November 2020 and then selling its Questar Pipeline subsidiary in October 2021. Dominion Chair, President and CEO Robert M. Blue said in a statement. “This transaction represents another significant step in our evolution as a company, allowing us to focus even more on fulfilling the energy needs of our utility customers and continuing growth of our clean-energy portfolio, including development of the largest offshore wind farm in North America.” Dominion also responded with solar and batteries, proposing 15 new energy projects and 32 third-party power purchase agreements, including 11 utility-scale solar projects, a standalone battery energy storage project, and a collaboration between Dominion and the Nature Conservancy to develop one of the first utility-scale solar projects on former surface mines in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia.

Five years ago, there were no utility-scale solar facilities in Virginia. Since then, they have exploded. In 2020, more than 1.4 gigawatts of solar were installed, making Virginia 4th in the country (behind only California, Texas and Florida). With this growth has come a building friction between the state’s ambitious renewable energy goals and the desire of many rural communities to preserve productive farmland and, their agricultural heritage.

Virginia is one of twenty-four states, along with Puerto Rico, committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.

CURRENT NEWS

The Virginia Energy Plan is a start. Now we need lawmakers to support Virginia families and our communities

By Scott Seaton 02/10/23
In the Virginia 2022 Energy Plan, leaders in the Commonwealth outlined a data-driven roadmap to transform Virginia’s energy future that considers all energy sources to maximize affordability, reliability, competitiveness, innovation, and job creation. The plan…
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Attacks on Virginia’s climate laws are front and center at the General Assembly

By Ivy Main 01/18/23
Every year I do a round-up of climate and energy bills at the start of the General Assembly session. This year, as expected, Republicans continue their assault on the hallmark legislation passed in 2020 and…
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Youngkin says he blocked Ford battery plant on China concerns

By Gregory S. Schneider 01/13/23
Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) said this week that he had rejected efforts by Ford Motor Co. to consider locating an electric battery plant in Virginia over concerns that the automaker’s partnership with China created a…
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Youngkin inches closer to pulling Virginia from regional climate program

By Maxine Joselow and Others 12/08/22
Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! Thanks to everyone who sent us suggestions for alternatives to “permitting reform” in response to our request yesterday. Our favorite might be “paw-mitting reform.” 😻
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Virginia begins official withdrawal from regional carbon market

By Charlie Paullin 12/07/22
Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board officially began the process of withdrawing Virginia from a regional carbon market by regulation following guidance from the attorney general’s office, but critics maintain the move isn’t legal.
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On the edge of retreat

By Chris Mooney and Others 11/28/22
A century ago, about 250 people lived on Hog Island, a seven-mile expanse off the Virginia coast. They raised livestock and gathered oysters. They lived in a town called Broadwater, worked at the lighthouse and…
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Soaring West Virginia Electricity Prices Trigger Standoff Over the State’s Devotion to Coal Power

By Marianne Lavelle 11/20/22
West Virginia regulators accuse American Electric Power of driving up costs with skimpy use of its coal plants. Others say the high costs of those aging plants are a growing burden to citizens in one…
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Virginia is changing the way it teaches history, social studies. Here’s how

By Hannah Natanson 11/16/22
Over the weekend, the Virginia Department of Education released new standards of learning that, if approved next year, will radically reshape what and how students in the state learn in history and social studies lessons.
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California’s 2035 ban on new gas-powered cars set to apply to Virginia

By Sarah Vogelsong 08/26/22
California’s decision to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars beginning in 2035 will also halt the sale of such vehicles in Virginia due to a 2021 law linking the commonwealth to the western state’s…
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Jamestown races to protect colony from climate change

07/13/22
Rising sea levels are threatening to wash away America's early history. Jamestown, Virginia, is listed among the nation's most endangered historic sites. Kris Van Cleaves takes a look at the mounting threat.
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Virginia could lose 42 percent of its tidal wetlands by 2100 due to sea level rise, study finds

By Alejandra O' Connell - Domenech 06/13/22
Tidal wetlands provide numerous environmental benefits like providing a habitat for fisheries, capturing and storing carbon dioxide and acting as a defense against coastal storms and erosion. But many tidal wetlands are at risk of…
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Another delay and cost increase announced for Mountain Valley Pipeline

By Laurence Hammack 05/03/22
Mountain Valley Pipeline will again seek new permits that have twice been cast aside by the courts, delaying completion to the second half of 2023 and boosting the project’s cost to $6.6 billion.
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PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

Dominion ‘on track’ with $9.8 bln Virginia offshore wind farm

02/09/23
Dominion Energy Inc (D.N) executives said on Wednesday that the electric utility's $9.8 billion offshore Virginia wind farm is on track and on budget, having recently entered a critical phase of the environmental review process.

Virginia Senate passes competing energy legislation

02/08/23
The Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would adjust the way state regulators set and oversee Dominion Energy's electric rates and profitability.

Advocates, Dominion clash again over utility reform legislation in Virginia

01/30/23
Competing bills could help determine how much customers pay for Dominion Energy’s clean energy transition. <strong>Advocates, Dominion clash again over utility reform legislation in Virginia</strong> is an article from Energy News Network, a nonprofit news…

In Virginia, carbon emissions drop as data centers boom, thanks to RGGI pact

01/16/23
An environmental policy professor explains how the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is helping Virginia lower its emissions amid a data center building spree that’s expected to drive a 38% increase in electricity use by 2035.…

Virginia approves 1 GW solar and energy storage expansion by Dominion Energy

03/17/22
The Virginia State Corporation Commission has given Dominion Energy the green light on a planned 1,000 MW renewable energy expansion, including what will become Dominion Energy Virginia’s largest solar-plus-storage project to date.

Va. to end ‘carbon tax’ as emissions reduced from cleaner power

03/17/22
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order 9 on Jan. 15 to direct the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) to examine the impact of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and “start the process of…

Giant, turbine-installing ship is Dominion Energy’s $500M bet on U.S. offshore wind

03/08/22
Shipbuilders in the port city of Brownsville, Texas, are nearing the halfway mark on shaping 14,000 tons of steel into a vessel designed to ensure the country’s gamble on offshore wind is less dicey.

In Virginia, abandoned coal mines are transformed into solar farms

03/03/22
In 2019, the Nature Conservancy acquired 253,000 acres of forest in the central Appalachian Mountains that it calls the Cumberland Forest Project. It’s one small part of the group’s efforts in the mountain range, which…

RFP Alert: Appalachian Power seeks 150MW of West Virginia solar

02/17/22
West Virginia utility Appalachian Power released an RFP requesting 150MW of solar capacity in the state. Eligible projects must be at least 50MW in capacity, with the option to include a battery-energy storage system.

Virginia clean energy job training program climbs its own learning curve

01/25/22
The hands-on solar panel lesson for rookies at Sankofa Community Orchard in mid-January might have been a bust if student Mary Lewis hadn’t shown up with her A-game — and her F-150 pickup truck.

How to address climate locally? These 6 places have plans

01/05/22
While much of the nation’s attention to climate adaptation has focused on large coastal cities with outsize risks, some of the most forward-leaning climate policies are coming from less urbanized places such as Marina, Calif.;…

Groups urge bigger targets, more equity as RGGI states consider changes

12/21/21
As the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI, undergoes a thorough review by participating states, environmental advocates are demanding more ambitious emission reduction targets and a mandate for equitable distribution of the revenues.

Virginia adopts bold clean energy law

11/02/21
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act Saturday, enacting bold legislation that will require zero-carbon generation of all energy in the state by 2050. This landmark legislation, which SELC worked hard to…

Virginia Joins the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Finally

11/02/21
In a tweet this July, Governor Ralph Northam announced Virginia’s determination to tackle climate change by officially joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-invest program in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that places a…

Rural counties wrestle with solar power demands from Northern Virginia

10/11/21
The Fauquier County Planning Commission has rejected two proposals to build utility solar fields on farmland in the county. The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors voted down a plan to construct a solar field covering…

Dominion Energy to sell Questar Pipeline to Southwest Gas for $1.9B

10/05/21
Richmond-based Dominion Energy Inc. has reached an agreement to sell its Questar Pipeline subsidiary to Las Vegas-based Southwest Gas Holdings Inc. for $1.975 billion, the Fortune 500 utility announced Tuesday.

Utility Dominion continues push towards Virginia clean energy targets with solar and batteries

09/20/21
US utility company Dominion Energy Virginia has proposed 15 new energy projects and 32 third-party power purchase agreements (PPAs), totalling 1GW of power, which Dominion Energy claimed was the largest group of clean energy projects…

Dominion acquires 20MW Virginia battery

09/17/21
Dominion Energy Virginia has acquired the 20MW Dry Bridge energy storage project from East Point Energy for an undisclosed price.  

Dominion proposes 1 GW of new Virginia solar + storage by 2023

09/16/21
Dominion Energy Virginia, in its annual clean energy filing with state regulators, has proposed a 1 GW portfolio of new solar and energy storage projects in the state to make progress toward the goals of…

The Nature Conservancy, Dominion Energy Announce Innovative Collaboration for Solar Development on Former Coal Mine in Southwest Virginia

09/13/21
The Nature Conservancy and Dominion Energy Virginia today announced an innovative collaboration to develop one of the first utility-scale solar projects on former surface mines in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia.

U.S. solar developers see opportunity in America’s post-industrial lands

By Dan Rhys and Nichola Groom 06/23/21
 On a recent spring morning, coal mine operator Dale Murray stood atop a stretch of land in western Virginia that had been dozed flat by mountaintop strip mining, and he enjoyed the panoramic view it…

Appalachian Power contract with public authority customers to include renewable energy programs, other new services

By Chris Galford 06/22/21
Finalization of a new four-year contract between Appalachian Power and public authority customers, including schools and governments, was reached last week, ensuring access to renewable energy programs and other new services in Virginia.

Dominion Energy Virginia Customers to Benefit from a Stronger Grid, Expansion of Renewable Energy

06/22/21
Dominion Energy Virginia customers will continue to experience more reliable service, new tools to manage energy usage, and greater access to clean energy sources as efforts continue on the Company's ten-year plan to transform the…

What will it take to modernize Virginia’s public transit systems?

By Wayatt Gordon 06/15/21
A bus stop in a bucket is by no means representative of the average amenities provided by transit systems across the commonwealth, but the all-too-common sight is far from befitting 21st century public transportation.

Harnessing the wind: Historic offshore wind project now producing energy off Virginia Beach coast

By Andy Fox 06/14/21
Dominion Energy is investing billions of dollars to change the energy equation in Hampton Roads, Virginia and the United States as a whole.

Appalachian offers all-renewable electricity to its customers — for a price

By Laurence Hammack 06/05/21
Two years ago, Appalachian Power Co. offered a deal to its customers: For an extra $4.25 a month, all of their electricity would come from wind, water and sunlight.

HB 1965 State Air Pollution Control Board; low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program.

By Lamont Bagby 05/11/21
State Air Pollution Control Board; low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program. Directs the State Air Pollution Control Board to implement a low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program for motor vehicles with a model year of 2025 and later.…

A Year After Clean Economy Act, VA Sees Renewable Jobs Expand

By Diane Bernard 05/04/21
One year after Virginia adopted its Clean Economy Act, workforce development and new jobs in clean energy are booming in the state, as its economy expands into renewable-energy industries.

McAuliffe releases plan to address climate change, secure Virginia’s clean energy future by 2035

By Chris Graham 03/25/21
Terry McAuliffe is back at it with bold plans, the latest promising to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2035, aligning Virginia with President Biden’s climate goals.

McAuliffe releases plan to address climate change, secure Virginia’s clean energy future by 2035

By Chris Graham 03/25/21
Terry McAuliffe is back at it with bold plans, the latest promising to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2035, aligning Virginia with President Biden’s climate goals. “Climate change is one of the greatest threats to…

HB 1965 State Air Pollution Control Board; low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program.

By Lamont Bagby 01/11/21
State Air Pollution Control Board; low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program. Directs the State Air Pollution Control Board to implement a low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program for motor vehicles with a model year of 2025 and…

Preparing for Climate Change in Virginia

08/30/20
This page provides an overview of the steps Virginia is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Virginia enacts Clean Economy Act – Renewable Energy Standards and Carbon Free Future Achievable

By Duane Morris 08/20/20
On August 17, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (the “VCE Act”), which establishes mandatory energy efficiency standards and provides a pathway for new investments in solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, and energy storage.

Virginia’s Strategy for Safeguarding Species of Greatest Conservation Need from the Effects of Climate Change

04/11/19
From the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Conservation Network, and the National Wildlife Federation, this report is to be appended to Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan. It forms the basis for wildlife inventory…

Virginia Climate Change and Resilience Commission Report to the Governor

04/10/19
In December 2015, the Virginia Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission issued its report and final recommendations to then Governor Terry McAuliffe. The report identifies the Commission's top five recommendations for climate action in the…

KEY RESOURCES

Virginia State Profile and Energy Estimates

10/19/21
Virginia is located on the East Coast of the United States, midway between the southern tip of Florida and the northern coast of Maine. The state stretches almost 430 miles west to east and includes…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The State of Climate Adaptation in Public Health An Assessment of 16 U.S. States

10/06/20
EcoAdaptpartnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council to assess the state of climate adaptation planning and implementation for climate-related threats to public health in 16 U.S. states.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Virginia

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, Virginia experienced three tropical cyclones, six severe storms, two winter storms, and one freeze. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

State-by-State: Climate Change in Virginia

08/07/20
Virginia Climate and Energy Facts

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

02/28/20
Virginia’s diverse geography and abundant natural resources benefit agriculture, industry and commerce and provide a rich environment for people, plants and wildlife. To ensure the continued vitality of what the Commonwealth has to offer, the…

The Virginia Renewable Energy Alliance

02/28/20
Advancing renewable energy at all levels in Virginia through finding common ground and serving as an authoritative resource.

VIMS Initiative for Coastal Climate Change Research

02/13/20
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) of the College of William and Mary is committed to conducting state-of-the-art scientific research focused on marine and adjacent coastal components of the Earth system. Many of the Institute's research…

Climate Change and Virginia Forests

02/13/20
The world’s forests, including the forests of Virginia, play a large, positive role in the climate change issue. Reports estimate that forest tree growth in Virginia sequesters 6.42 million metric tons of carbon each year…

MORE NEWS

Ongoing Funding Would Keep Virginia on Track to Restore Native Oysters

02/20/20  
Investments in reefs will pay dividends for communities, ecosystems.
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Virginia bills would let utility customers shop around for renewable energy

By Elizabeth McGowan   02/19/20  
Independent energy suppliers would be allowed to compete head-to-head with monopoly utilities under the proposals.
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Clean Energy Act Will Ensure Virginia is a Leader in the Net-Zero Emissions Future

12/31/19  
Ceres welcomes new clean energy legislation unveiled this week by Virginia lawmakers to transform the electricity grid and ensure Virginia leads the way in the transition to a net-zero emissions future.
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The 100% Clean Economy Act Follows New York’s Lead on Climate

By John Day   12/13/19  
In New York and other states across the country, communities are already experiencing the catastrophic effects of climate change, such as sea-level rise, severe storms, floods, wildfires, and rising temperatures.
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Voters Flip Virginia’s Legislature, Clearing Way for Climate and Clean Energy Policies

By James Bruggers   11/07/19  
In a light, off-year election nationally, Virginia's legislative races stood out. Both the Virginia House and Senate flipped from Republican control to Democrat. That new Democratic legislature will now be pressed to back an aggressive…
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Running on Green New Deal, Virginia Democrats Take Full Control of State Government for First Time in Decades

11/06/19  
By Jake JohnsonThe Virginia Democratic Party took full control of the state government for the first time in nearly three decades Tuesday night by winning majorities...
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Climate Groups Hope Virginia’s Rapidly Rising Sea Levels Will Motivate Young Voters

11/01/19  
Millions of Virginians are threatened by sea level rise, and climate change groups are working hard to elect Democrats who will combat the issue. ...
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Virginia signs largest state renewable energy contract in US with 420 MW Dominion deal

By Robert Walton   10/21/19  
Dominion Energy will supply 420 MW of renewable energy to Virginia government buildings and facilities in a deal announced Friday that aims to help the state meet new clean energy goals.
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Virginia governor sets renewable energy goal of 100 percent by 2050

By Sarah Rankin   09/17/19  
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday he signed an executive order setting a goal for the state to produce 100% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050.
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Health Officials (Mostly) Not Waiting to Act on Climate

By Juanita Constible   07/09/19  
A new report released by EcoAdapt with the support of NRDC finds that public health departments in 16 U.S. states are building their capacity to deal with the myriad health harms of climate disruption—even if…
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Energy audit inspires Yogaville, Virginia leaders to ‘stand up for something that’s important’

07/08/19  
Yogaville leaders hope their investments in solar power send a message about opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline....
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Two very different Virginia congressmen will be key players in climate fight on Capitol Hill

By Robin Bravender   04/11/19  
Two Virginians with starkly different views on climate change have landed seats on a new U.S. House committee set up to tackle the hot-button issue.
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Northam vetoes two bills he says would restrict his options on climate change

By Mel Leonor   03/14/19  
Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday vetoed two measures that he said would hamstring the state’s plans for curbing carbon emissions from power plants and vehicles.
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Norfolk, Virginia: An Immediate Threat

06/03/18  
Sea levels are rising everywhere, but the Navy town of Norfolk, Virginia has it worse. The land is sinking as much as an inch-and-a-half per decade. Scientists also believe that a slowing Gulf Stream is…
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Virginia becomes latest US State to commit to action on climate change

By The Climate Group   11/11/17  
Virginia has today become the latest US state to commit to action on climate change, becoming a member of the Under2 Coalition of leading sub-national governments at a side event hosted during the 23rd UN…
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PEW

Virginia Wilderness Expansion Would Link Ecologically Vital Areas

By John Gilroy   11/10/17  
Proposal seeks to protect 5,500 acres of prime wildlife habitat, streams, and trails.
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It Took This Coal Miner 14 Years To Secure Black Lung Benefits. How Come?

By Lathan Gourmas   09/17/17  
Bethel Brock, a soft-spoken 77-year-old, has black lung disease from decades working in the coal fields of Virginia. Despite the federal Black Lung Benefits Act, it has taken him 14 years of battling the Westmoreland…
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Sea Level Rise Is Creeping into Coastal Cities. Saving Them Won’t Be Cheap.

By Nicholas Kusnetz   12/28/17  
Norfolk and Miami frequently see nuisance flooding now. The cost to protect them and other coastal cities in the future is rising with the tide.
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The Energy 202: Democratic surge puts climate change on agenda in Virginia

By Dino Grandoni   11/07/19  
It is hard to miss the effects of climate change in much of coastal Virginia. Now the issue will get much more attention in the state's capital.
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