Virginia’s Biennial Budget Includes Record Investments for Resilience, but Misses Opportunity to Support RGGI

EDF statement of Emily Steinhilber, Director, Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Virginia

May 13, 2024
Jenny Tolep, 248-410-2666, jtolep@edf.org

(RICHMOND, VIRGINIA) - This week, Virginia lawmakers are preparing to vote on a newly released budget agreement with Governor Youngkin that includes some notable wins for climate and flood resilience.

Within the budget, lawmakers allocated $100 million toward Virginia’s Community Flood Preparedness Fund, aimed at building local governments’ capacity to plan and implement natural infrastructure and flood mitigation solutions. This marks the first time the General Assembly has appropriated general funds for the program, supporting the Commonwealth’s long-term resilience funding needs.  

The budget also included $1 million over the biennium to support statewide resilience coordination and capacity building within the Office of Commonwealth Resilience, which will ensure a coordinated approach across Virginia’s agencies and provide technical assistance for localities jumpstarting climate adaptation efforts across the Commonwealth.   

However, the budget did not include language which would have required Virginia to immediately rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a proven emissions reduction program that has generated over $800M in funding for the Community Flood Preparedness Fund and energy efficiency programs in the Commonwealth.  

“We thank lawmakers for investing in Virginia’s Community Flood Preparedness Fund and supporting the essential role of the Chief Resilience Officer, which will support local governments and communities across the Commonwealth to build necessary capacity and implement flood resilience projects. Without this critical funding, many localities would not be able to implement important resilience initiatives to combat increasing flood risks. 

“However, we are disappointed that the budget did not include provisions ensuring Virginia’s immediate participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which reduced Virginia’s carbon pollution by 22% in two years of participation in the program. That said, we stand ready to work with lawmakers to address these concerns and meet the Commonwealth’s resilience needs and goals moving forward.” 

-Emily Steinhilber, Director, Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds, Virginia, Environmental Defense Fund  

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