Jan 23rd, 2021

Cities and Counties Unify Seeking Clean Transportation

January 22, 2021 

Contact: susan@theclimatecollaborative.org

Seven Virginia cities and counties joined a call for legislation to advance cleaner transportation in the Commonwealth. Albemarle County, Mayor and Vice Mayor of Alexandria, Mayor of Blacksburg, City of Charlottesville, City of Fairfax, Mayor of Norfolk, and Mayor of Richmond signed onto a letter shepherded by the Community Climate Collaborative (C3) asking the General Assembly to pass strong standards for the amount of low and zero emissions vehicles in Virginia.

“Municipalities across the Commonwealth are setting aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lead on climate,” said Sena Magill, Vice Mayor of the City of Charlottesville. “A significant portion of emissions in every community come from the cars we drive. By acting this year to set improved standards for zero and low emission vehicles in Virginia, the General Assembly will be supporting the hard work cities and counties are doing to reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint.”

According to a recent Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action (VCCA) report, the health impacts attributable to Virginia-specific transportation emissions are valued at $750 million annually. Moreover, air pollution and the associated costs disproportionately impact low-income and minority communities, where respiratory illness is correlated with higher exposure to emissions from fossil fuel vehicles. The VCCA study found that Virginia could significantly reduce healthcare costs by implementing low and zero emissions vehicle standards.

“Richmond is proud to join with other localities in the Commonwealth to urge the General Assembly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, and to improve air quality for all Virginians,” said Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney. “It is often low income and black and brown communities that are disproportionately impacted by transportation pollution, and I am pleased that legislators are considering solutions this session.” 

Legislation sponsored by Delegate Lamont Bagby of Henrico County, House Bill 1965, would make Virginia the 12th state to adopt standards for low and zero emissions vehicles operating in the Commonwealth by requiring that a small percentage of each manufacturer’s annual sales of new light-duty vehicles in the state qualify as electric or hybrid electric vehicles, and that percentage gradually would increase.

“88% of Virginians live in urban and suburban communities, and all are impacted by transportation emissions and pollution,” said C3 Executive Director, Susan Kruse. “I am thrilled to see these localities, representing more than 850,000 residents of the Commonwealth, are joining their voices to ask for solutions.”

Additional Quotes from Virginia City and County Leaders 

Diantha McKeel, Albemarle County Supervisor: “Just like the Commonwealth, 48% of Albemarle County’s greenhouse emissions come from personal and commercial vehicles.  While we are committed to reducing emissions locally, the Commonwealth enacting standards for low and zero emission vehicles is critical to our shared work in reducing Virginia’s carbon footprint.”

Leslie Hager-Smith, Mayor of Blacksburg: “The Town of Blacksburg is committed to addressing the climate emergency, and we know that tackling carbon pollution from the transportation sector is a critical piece of that work. Expanding access to low- and zero emissions vehicles will not only help us meet our climate goals as a community, it will also reduce a key source of air pollution that contributes to respiratory ailments disproportionately borne by low-income and minority communities. Blacksburg heartily supports action on this and other legislation before the General Assembly that accelerates the transportation sector’s clean fuel and energy transition.”

Andria McClellan, Norfolk City Councilmember and Candidate for Lieutenant Governor: “In Norfolk, climate change isn’t a future issue. We experience it regularly with flooded, impassable roads due to sea level rise and increased, more intense precipitation events. It is critical that we address this now, and work to reduce our carbon footprint and improve air quality for all Virginians by encouraging and incentivizing more EVs on our roads. I love driving my EV and hope others will soon join me in making this switch!”

The sign-on letter can be accessed HERE.

About the Community Climate Collaborative

The Community Climate Collaborative aims to bring communities together to lead on climate by working closely with schools, businesses, citizens, and local governments to implement carbon emissions reductions, develop climate action plans, and enact equitable policies that accelerate climate action. Our Home Energy Challenge and the Better Business Challenge deliver climate solutions that are practical, tangible, and quantifiable. To learn more, visit theclimatecollaborative.org.


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