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Chapter Awards Environmental Champions in Legislature

 

Mark McClain Dan Crawford Sen. Edwards Diana Christopulos Rupert Cutler Freeda Cathcart (3)

For the first time, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club will recognize our members of the General Assembly with awards lauding their work in the Legislature as champions for Virginia. Delegates and Senators were nominated for four categories of accolade by the Chapter’s Legislative Committee. The Committee voted to recognize five Senators and six Delegates for their work on energy policy, litter reduction, public transit and outstanding public service.

The following Representatives will be recognized:

Senator Janet Howell (D-32)
Green Transportation Award
The Senator from Northern Virginia worked tirelessly as one of ten Conferees tasked with hammering out a compromise between the House and Senate Virginia transportation funding bills. Her efforts to get state funding for the Silver Line were successful, and the final bill passed with funds for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, also known as the Silver Line. Senator Howell is receiving the Green Transportation Award in recognition of her work to give Virginians the mobility, safety and economic benefits that mass transit provides. The Silver Line will reduce the number of cars on our roads, improve our air quality, and help alleviate Northern Virginia’s traffic congestion and noise, creating a better quality of life for residents.

Senator John Edwards (D-21)
Legislator of the Year
The Senator from Roanoke is receiving the Legislator of the Year Award in recognition of his outstanding record of public service and commitment to his constituents and welfare of our Commonwealth. In addition to the leadership he has provided over the years on the Commerce and Labor Committee, in 2013 Senator Edwards patroned a bill that allows customers of Dominion Virginia Power to install solar projects as large as 1 megawatt using a Power Purchase Agreement financed by private companies. The law’s significance cannot be understated, as the power purchase agreement model has been the driver for most solar projects around the country in recent years, making solar energy available with low risk and minimal upfront cost. For an opportunity to learn more about what this law can do in your community, CLICK HERE. The Senator was also a leader in defending voter’s rights.

Senator Don McEachin (D-9)
Energy Freedom Award
The Senate Democratic Caucus Chair from Richmond introduced legislation to reform the badly broken Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and even won the support of Dominion Virginia Power for provisions that would limit most future purchases for the RPS to high-quality projects like wind and solar. Unfortunately the bill did not pass, but Senator McEachin remains a valued ally and powerful voice for Virginia’s environment.

Senator Adam Ebbin (D-30)
Water Champion Award
The Senator from Alexandria introduced legislation for the fourth year running to limit the use of plastic bags by placing a small fee on their use in the grocery store. The bulk of the fee would have been used to target environmental cleanup, reclamation and restoration efforts on impaired waterways, as well as continue a public education campaign and provide free reusable bags to Virginia residents. Unfortunately the bill did not pass, but Senator Ebbin shows continued courage in doing the right thing for our streams and rivers.

Senator Barbara Favola (D-31)
Energy Freedom Award
The Senator from Arlington passed a bill requiring electric utilities that use a declining block rate price structure (including Dominion Virginia Power) to assess the effects of their pricing model on energy conservation, energy efficiency and equity– fairness among consumers with large and small carbon footprint. Senator Favola is a trusted friend in the Senate.

Delegate Dave Toscano (D-57)
Energy Freedom Award
The House Minority Leader from Charlottesville reached across party lines to co-patron an environmentally friendly bill with Delegate Minchew allowing the electricity from a single solar, wind or digester gas facility to be attributed to two or more electric meters as long as they are on contiguous property with a single owner. For example, a farmhouse, barn and other out-building can all share the benefits of a single solar panel installation. The law goes into effect July 1.

Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-74)
Water Champion Award
The Delegate from Richmond introduced a bill to place a fine on cigarette butts as litter. Once the tiny pieces of litter enter our marine ecosystems they wreak havoc on our wildlife and water quality. Because cigarette filters are specifically designed to “catch” toxins, each butt can contain carcinogens capable of leaching into water where they can harm aquatic life including fish, crustaceans, and zooplankton. Delegate Morrissey also took on single-use plastic bags. Reducing plastic litter protects our groundwater, streams and rivers, hundreds of birds and marine species, and limits our use of fossil fuels. Unfortunately the bill did not pass, but the Delegate’s initiatives to reduce litter will continue to be fully supported by the Club.

Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44)
Solar Champion Award
The Delegate from Mount Vernon patroned a successful bill that will add solar thermal energy to the definition of renewable energy in the Code of Virginia, providing an incentive for investment in solar thermal under the Renewable Portfolio Standard. More solar thermal means cleaner air and a healthier future.

Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-49)
Energy Freedom Award
The Delegate from Arlington introduced a bill that, if successful, would have helped wind and solar compete against notoriously price-volatile natural gas by requiring utilities and the State Corporation Commission to consider the long-term price stability of fuels used in electric power generation. Delegate Lopez also introduced legislation to reform the badly broken Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Such an overhaul would have changed the face of energy generation in the Commonwealth. The Delegate’s work as he continues to champion common-sense policy that protects our Commonwealth and our future is vital.

Delegate Randy Minchew (R-10)
Energy Freedom Award
The Delegate from Leesburg reached across party lines to co-patron an environmentally friendly bill with House Minority Leader Delegate Toscano allowing the electricity from a single solar, wind or digester gas facility to be attributed to two or more electric meters as long as they are all on contiguous property and have the same owner. For example, a farmhouse, barn and other out-building can all share the benefits of a single solar panel installation. Originally the bill would also have enabled community net metering, otherwise known as ‘solar gardens’. The law goes into effect July 1. Delegate Minchew’s work is greatly appreciated.

Delegate David Yancey (R-94)
Energy Freedom Award
The Delegate from Newport News patroned a bill in 2013 that allows customers of Dominion Virginia Power to install solar projects as large as 1 megawatt using a Power Purchase Agreement financed by private companies. The law’s significance cannot be understated, as the power purchase agreement model has been the driver for most solar projects around the country in recent years, making solar energy available with low risk and minimal upfront cost. The law goes into effect July 1. For an opportunity to learn more about what this law can do in your community, CLICK HERE.

Celebrate these Member’s accomplishments with us by joining the Legislative Committee or your own District’s Lobby Corps. Broadcast your voice as a community leader and engage in the policy making process by establishing a personal relationship with your representatives in the Virginia House and Senate. Contact Susan Stillman at Stillman.Susan@gmail.com for more info about joining the Legislative Committee or Lobby Corps.

About the Author

Corrina Beall is the Legislative Coordinator for the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.