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Legislative Priority: Environment

photo credit: US Capitol Flickr

Protecting Our Environment

The state of our environment, around the world and here in the Commonwealth, is at a crossroads. The successful efforts of the last generation to reduce industrial pollution of our air, water and land must now be joined by changes in our own lifestyles, including in our homes, cars, neighborhoods, congregations, malls, recreation areas and workplaces. The ultimate decision of what kind of world we leave behind for our children and grandchildren is ours to make right now.

Clean Air

Fairfax County continues to be a Clean Air Act “non-attainment area”, meaning that our air has higher than acceptable air pollution levels. In order to combat this problem we need to find workable, common sense solutions to get cars that contribute a great deal of the air pollution off our roads. As your Delegate, I will work with local and state officials to make sure we have incentives and an infrastructure that provides the maximum number of good options for citizens to get to where they need to while driving less. We need to expand opportunities for mass transit, telework and other transportation alternatives. If we’re going to ask people to make changes to their lives that are good for our environment, the state government needs to make it as easy as possible.

Clean Water

The condition of Virginia’s waterways is tied up with the fate of the Chesapeake Bay, an environmental treasure of which Virginia is one of the major stewards. Unfortunately, the battle to save the Bay is one that we are not winning. Future growth and development will be a powerful factor in our efforts to keep our waters clean. More development mean more pressure on sewer systems already stretched to the limit; and this means more harmful pollutants making their way into our water.

As your Delegate I will push for low impact development which includes more greenery and less concrete and asphalt. This approach to development reduces the stormwater runoff that carries urban pollution more quickly into our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, and protects wildlife habitat. I will also promote using permeable pavements for our roads, sidewalks and trails, allowing stormwater to dissipate slowly and naturally. These proactive, problem-solving steps will have an immediate impact on our waterways.

Decoupling utility sales and revenue

Virginia was recently ranked 32nd of 50 states in terms of our energy efficiency policies. We are locked in a vicious cycle. Utility companies profit when customers consume the most power, and this profit incentive leads to building more power plants instead of encouraging energy efficient policies. As your Delegate, I will work to reverse this incentive process by promoting legislation to decouple utility sales from revenue. This way utility companies can profit by encouraging their customers to conserve energy. Maryland, our partner in protecting the Chesapeake Bay, is implementing this change, and Virginia must implement this policy as well. We are a great state, and we should be a leader on our energy policies.

Encourage Renewable Energy Portfolios

Virginia recently expanded its voluntary renewable energy portfolio goal to 15% by the year 2025. As your Delegate I will only encourage utilities to participate in the program and work with my colleagues to expand production and access to renewable energy resources. I support the development of off-shore wind turbines as a source of renewable energy and the construction of the turbines in our home state of Virginia. I will also work to make this goal mandatory for our utilities, as it is in 28 other states.

Green Building

On the Fairfax County School Board, I’m very proud to have led the fight to put an emphasis on environmentally friendly policy in our Capital Improvement Plan. I am responsible for the construction of the new Glasgow Middle School, one of the greenest schools in the area, and for promoting the use of environmentally friendly practices in elementary school renovation. Green building means employing practices that are healthier for our environment and for the people inside of them, including energy efficiency, water conservation, recycled materials and good indoor air quality. As your Delegate, I will to make our public buildings greener and to provide more incentives for private homeowners and businesses to green their buildings.

Green Job Creation

President Obama has spoken at length about the need to create green jobs to usher in a wave of renewable energy production. In Northern Virginia we have an opportunity to be on the forefront of this fight. As your Delegate I will work to gain funding for our universities, colleges, and community colleges to provide education and training for green jobs. These jobs include green building, energy auditing and retrofitting, renewable energy development, and green business consulting. But the fight can’t stop there, we also need to ensure that Virginia businesses have access to tax incentives for renewable energy use and production, green building, and the purchase of efficient vehicles such as hybrid and electric cars and trucks to make it as advantageous as possible to green their businesses.

Parklawn’s Anti-litter campaign

I support neighborhood initiatives such as Parklawn’s anti-litter campaign ”Keep Parklawn Clean,” a public awareness program to spotlight its litter problem and enlist community support in keeping the neighborhood free of scattered trash.  I am working with the Parklawn Civic Association to expand the program into the local schools.

Smart Metering

Richmond needs to take a leadership role is in developing smart metering and investing in a smart electric grid. Such investments allow us to use more renewable power and to save energy easily. As your Delegate, I will fight for greater investments in smart metering technology. This will benefit consumers by providing them an avenue to track energy consumption in real time. It will also benefit utility companies because they can create incentives for reducing power consumption by charging less for people who use less. I will also fight to ensure that the state supports the Obama administration’s efforts to build a smart grid, and see that Virginia gets its fair share of funding.