• The Clinch Coalition

New Legislation Supports Solar Energy and Justice for Frontline Communities

Good news from our friends at Appalachian Voices following the end of the Virginia General Assembly session:

Legislation supporting solar energy and justice for frontline communities—as well as bills reining in pipeline pollution and gold mining— are expected to be signed into law by the Governor.

Solar for Schools: Schools and local governments in Southwest Virginia are now able to access Power Purchase Agreement financing for clean energy, thanks to HB 2034 (Hurst) / SB 1420 (Edwards). This is an important financing tool that ensures tax-exempt entities can go solar!

Solar on Abandoned Coal Mines: The Brightfields Act, HB 1925 (Kilgore), creates a grant program that will promote renewable energy development on coal-mined sites and other brownfields.

Stronger Pipeline Permitting Process: Applications for pipeline permits are now subject to a stronger review of a project’s potential impacts on soil and water quality thanks to SB 1311 (McClellan). Meanwhile, SB 1265 (Deeds) expands the Department of Environmental Quality’s authority to issue a stop-work order when construction harms water quality.

Power Plant Transparency: Power plant owners are now required to provide information about the facility's financial status and to provide more information and transparency regarding power plant closures to support communities in transitioning from fossil fuels, thanks to HB 1834 (Subramanyam) / SB 1247 (Deeds).

Gold Mining Oversight: A group of state agencies, impacted community members and other stakeholders will now conduct a study on the environmental and health impacts of gold mining in Virginia, according to the directive of HB 2213 (Guzman). The bill also would have imposed a moratorium on large-scale gold mining until the study is completed, but this provision was removed by the Senate.

Economic Opportunities: The state will conduct a stakeholder process to look at how the Commonwealth can provide economic transition support to the coalfield region, thanks to HB 1899 (Hudson) / SB 1252 (McPike).