Why Virginia Needs Climate Action Now

By making critical climate investments, the Build Back Better Act will create millions of good-paying jobs, lower energy costs for families by roughly $500 a year, invest in disadvantaged communities and tackle the climate crisis. Not only are Virginians demanding climate action now, with 78% of registered voters supporting Congressional action on climate change, they are experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change. Virginia is projected to experience almost 5 feet of sea level increase by 2080, demonstrating precisely why Congress must act now and pass the Build Back Better Act to secure Virginia’s future. Here’s why Virginia needs the climate investments in the Build Back Better Act now: 

Voters in Virginia  want solutions to the climate crisis.

Investing in clean energy means jobs for Georgia.

  • In 2020, Virginia was home to 94,423 jobs, including 15,161 jobs in generating renewable electricity, 2,305 jobs in energy storage, 71,505 jobs in energy efficiency, and 5,452 jobs in clean vehicles.
  • One report published in 2020 found that even modest federal clean energy stimulus investments could generate 17,046 jobs in Virginia per year over a 5 year period. 

Virginians are already feeling the impacts of climate change.

  • Virginia currently sees 31 days per year with a heat index above 90 degrees. Currently, more than 160,000 Virginians are especially vulnerable to extreme heat.
  • In 2021, Tropical Storm Elsa knocked out power to around 60,000 Dominion Energy customers in total across Central and Eastern Virginia.
  • In the past 60 years, Virginia experienced a 33% increase in heavy rainstorms and snowstorms and an 11% increase in precipitation from the largest storms.

If we do nothing, it will get worse for communities across the state and cost billions.

  • Climate change will cost Virginia $9.8 billion a year by the year 2100. Climate change is projected to cause a 21.43% loss in crop yields in Virginia, including a 19% loss in oil crops (soy, rapeseed, palm, and sunflower,) and a 36% loss in grain.
  • By 2050, the number of days per year with a heat index over 100 degrees is projected to increase by more than 600% to 33 days.
  • Virginia is projected to experience almost 5 feet of sea level increase by 2080, and by 2100, roughly 3,000 commercial properties, currently assessed at approximately $3 billion, will experience chronic flooding.

Climate change and fossil fuel pollution have a disproportionate impact on people of color in Virginia.

  • In 2020, the Washington-Baltimore-Arlington metropolitan area, which is  25% Black and 13% Latino/Hispanic, was the 24th most polluted city in the U.S. by ozone. Ozone is a trigger for asthma attacks and can reduce lung function. African American children are four times more likely to be admitted to the hospital and ten times more likely to die from asthma.
  • Industry in Portsmouth, whose population is 52% Black, has spilled thousands of tons of chemicals into the Elizabeth River over several decades, contaminating groundwater and soil. By 2009, there were half a dozen EPA Superfund sites within a mile of the river.
  • Norfolk and Richmond are warming faster than the state on average. Both cities, where the populations are 46.6% and 40.5% Black, respectively, have warmed 2.3 degrees since 1970, over 50% faster than the state as a whole.

The Build Back Better Act will help reduce climate pollution and create jobs while investing in disadvantaged communities. 

  • The Build Back Better Act will put our clean energy economy into hyperdrive, including through clean energy tax incentives that will also create jobs and reduce climate pollution.
  •  The Build Back Better Act will make direct investments in  low-income and disadvantaged communities, who have historically bore the burden of pollution and are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. 
  • The Build Back Better Act will create millions of jobs and invest in workforce development to train workers for better jobs. These programs will also train a more diverse workforce that will address climate change and focus on community resilience projects around the country.
  • The Build Back Better Act will lower household energy costs by investing in clean energy, energy efficiency and home weatherization programs. A report from the Rhodium Group found that the average U.S. household would save roughly $500 a year in energy costs under the Build Back Better Act.