Letter: Virginia backs down on environmental issues

Editor: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s report on the rapid pace of sea level rise should prompt more urgent action on climate change, but instead Virginia’s progress and our clean energy saving are under attack in the General Assembly.

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

This is slowing down the transition to a 100% clean energy economy. This does not benefit Virginians, but rather a precautionary movement initiated by the natural gas industry to limit the autonomy of localities and preserve their profit margins.

Over the past few years, we’ve made steady progress on initiatives that would clean Virginia’s air and water, making our state a better place to live, work and breathe. Good legislation has become good laws, including laws that will lead to lower electricity bills, improved air quality, expanded access to electric vehicles, and stronger actions that put our money where our mouth is to protect communities in Virginia who are suffering the worst effects of the currency climate.

These laws also create jobs for Virginians. They bring huge economic benefits to rural areas and regions that desperately need them – communities that for years have borne the brunt of the brunt that pollution from the electricity and transport sectors has dealt.

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

Through the senses. Petersen, Saslaw and Marsden, we have successfully defended these laws and all they mean to Virginia. But there is still much to do and little time to do it, as the legislative session ends in a few weeks.

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

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

Kathleen Price, MD, and Krupal Shah, MD

the the authors are members of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.