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Northam announces budget will include $733 million for environment, clean energy

The proposed budget makes historic investments in Chesapeake Bay restoration, environmental quality and equity, clean energy and offshore wind.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam was in Virginia Beach Wednesday to announce his proposed budget, which includes $733 million in new funding for the environment. He announced at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Brock Environmental Center.

Northam said the budget creates Virginia's first Office of Offshore Wind. It also invests up to $40 million to upgrade the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, to secure new investments in the offshore wind supply chain.

He said these investments will help Virginia achieve 2,500 megawatts of energy generated from offshore wind by 2026.

RELATED: Gov. Northam announces largest state renewable energy contract in the nation

RELATED: Dominion Energy plans 220-turbine wind project offshore of Virginia Beach

The proposed budget also supports the Chesapeake Bay clean water blueprint that Governor Northam released earlier this year. It supports major investments to help local governments tackling stormwater pollution, upgrade wastewater treatment plants, and assist farmers in implementing conservation practices to reduce farm runoff.

RELATED: Gov. Northam released Virginia's final Chesapeake Bay restoration plan

When added to another $10 million for oyster reef restoration, these investments in clean water total more than $400 million and will put Virginia on track to meet the 2025 Bay cleanup deadline. 

Governor Northam also proposed an additional $15.5 million investment for the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grant program, bringing it up to $20 million each year, to support targeted land protection through the Governor’s groundbreaking ConserveVirginia initiative.

RELATED: Gov. Northam announces land conservation grants to protect 17,000 acres

During his announcement, Northam said that proving a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand. Having both in the Commonwealth is what makes it "such a great place to live, work and play."

"These significant investments in environmental protection, environmental justice, clean energy, and clean water will combat climate change and ensure we maintain our high quality of life here in Virginia,” Northam said.

The budget also includes over $25 million to help the Department of Environmental Quality increase efficiency and responsiveness in permitting, enhance environmental protection, and improve public engagement. Of the $25 million, $2.7 million from the DEQ will be used towards environmental justice and community outreach efforts each year.

Northam also said the budget will include reducing the climate impact to build a clean energy future for Virginia. The budget provides $10 million for a  revolving loan fund that will enable both private citizens and local government institutions to make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

To ensure Virginia reduces carbon pollution, the Governor’s proposed budget removes language, added by the General Assembly, prohibiting Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The Governor will also propose legislation making Virginia the newest member of RGGI.

House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, issued the following statement about Northam's announcement about the RGGI:

“Radical environmentalists spent big during the 2019 campaign to get Democrats elected, and they expect a return on their investment. Now we know what that return looks like: a carbon tax that will cost Virginia jobs, and stick hard working families with higher energy bills -- nearly $6 billion over 10 years. The lower income Virginians that Democrats say they support the most will be the ones hurt the most by this policy. Republicans will continue to work diligently to hold the line against the Governor's proposed carbon tax — and ensure that Virginians know just how much these policies will cost them." 

Governor Northam is expected to address the Joint Money Committees on December 17 to share the full details of his budget plan.