To sign up for our Public Policy e-newsletter, please email Karen@LRNow.org
LRNow works with our elected officials and community leaders to advocate for good environmental policy at the local, state and federal levels. We invite you to subscribe to our Public Policy electronic newsletter by emailing Karen@LRNow.org. We also invite you to participate in a variety of programs on public policy issues that we offer throughout the year. We also welcome your participation in programs offered by our partners, Virginia Conservation Network and Choose Clean Water Coalition, at the state and regional level.
Watch the E-News for the date and time of our fall Candidates Forum. The 2019 fall Candidates Forum will include all of the candidates vying to represent us in the Virginia General Assembly House and Senate.
Seismic Testing and Offshore Drilling for Oil and Gas
During 2017 and 2018, we have worked hard with a wide range of partners to oppose seismic testing and drilling for gas and oil off the coast of Virginia. At the end of 2016, the seismic testing permits for the Atlantic were rescinded and the lease sale withdrawn. It looked like we had prevented with potentially destructive and detrimental activity in the Atlantic Ocean. However, after Donald Trump took office in January, 2017, he opened up all of the waters off the American coast to leasing by oil companies and we began our work again to prevent this from happening.
Currently, the fist comment period has ended and we are awaiting a ruling from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in the Department of the Interior on whether the lease sale will proceed. There are many reasons to oppose drilling off of the Virginia coast. They inlcude:
- Seismic testing and drilling are extremely dangerous and potentially deadly to marine mammals and other ocean wildlife.
- Tourism is a major contributor to our economy in Virginia Beach and could be devastated not just by a major spill, but also by the cumulative impact of the small spills that are a part of day to day oil and gas drilling operations.
- Healthy local seafood is important to all of us and employs many who make coastal Virginia their home. Crabs, oysters, clams and commercial and sport fish are put at great risk by drilling operations.
- NASA’s activities at Wallops Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia will be compromised by oil and gas activity in the Atlantic off the coast of Virginia.
- And lastly, the US Navy has identified most of the area off the coast of Virginia as critical to their training activities which do not mix with oil rigs and drilling operations.
For these reasons, LRNow has taken a position in opposition to seismic testing and offshore drilling. We appreciate the unwavering support of Governor Northam. We also appreciate the support of Senator Kaine, Senator Warner, Congressman Taylor and the Mayor, Vice-Mayor and Virginia Beach City Council.
Virginia General Assembly
Every year, LRNow follows some bills in the General Assembly that directly affect Virginia Beach and our work. The General Assembly meets for 45 or 60 days. The 2019 session will be 45 days in January and February. Our Virginia Beach representatives are listed below.
In this year’s General Assembly session, we are advocating for the following issues:
- Addressing Sea Level Rise:
- The Administration under the direction of the Governor’s Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection develop Virginia-specific projections for temperature change, sea level rise, storm intensity, and changes in rainfall.
- All State Agencies and departments should evaluate and consider climate impacts when making decisions on agency operations, programs, funding allocations, planning documents, and regulations.
- The Administration under the direction of the Governor and the Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection should provide consistent guidance, updated regularly, on climate change endpoints for which localities should plan.
- The Administration and state legislature should establish a state requirement that all localities and regional planning authorities include climate impacts in all long-range planning processes (e.g. comprehensive, transportation, water-supply, hazard mitigation) and land use decisions.
- The Administration and state legislature should fund adaptation efforts through existing funding mechanisms beginning with $50 million annually to the Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund.
- Develop new or refocus existing programs to conserve natural areas along vulnerable coastlines to protect against development and to allow for marsh migration.
- Revisit design-storm criteria in Virginia’s water quality regulations to ensure that they reflect
current precipitation data.
- Reducing Carbon Pollution and Investing in the Commonwealth
- The General Assembly should pass legislation allowing Virginia to formally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
- Policymakers should invest a significant portion of auction revenue in projects that directly benefit Virginians, such as flooding resilience, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and economic development.
- Opposing Offshore Drilling:
- The Virginia General Assembly should prohibit seismic exploration, offshore drilling, and drilling infrastructure in Virginia coastal waters.
- The Virginia General Assembly should repeal Virginia Code section §67-300 A and B, which currently expresses support for drilling 50 miles off the Virginia coast. Instead, policymakers should enact legislation that reflects opposition to any offshore drilling activity, including seismic exploration, to protect the Commonwealth’s coastal waters and resources.
- The Virginia General Assembly and the Northam Administration should strengthen policies that protect Virginia’s coastal zone from the risks associated with offshore drilling to Virginia’s fisheries, marine life, coastal habitats, wetlands, and other coastal resources.
- Reducing Litter Pollution in Virginia’s Waterways:
- The Litter Tax (58.1-1707), an annual $10-25 fee (established in 1977) on retailers that sell commonly littered products, needs to be adjusted to account for 41 years of inflation.
- Legislators must consider allowing local jurisdictions to invoke fees or bans on commonly littered items such as single-use plastics. Furthermore, any legislation with a possible fee-based structure should consider diverting said funds towards cleanup programs or education that helps reduce waste.
- Sample language of potential bill (adapted from McWaters SB1103 bill in 2015): “Allows any locality by ordinance to prohibit or add fee to the distribution or sale of disposable plastic shopping bags to consumers. Potential fee could be retained by retailer or utilized by locality for pollution and litter mitigation. The bill exempts from any such prohibition reusable bags of a certain thickness; bags that are used to carry certain products, such as ice cream or newspapers; and garbage bags that are sold in multiples.”
- Stormwater Infrastructure Improvements for Water Quality and Water Quantity
The historical investments in wastewater treatment plants have been critical to improving the health of our rivers, streams and the Bay. That same level of investment is needed now to address the growing problem of polluted runoff.
- $50 million is required annually for the Commonwealth to keep up with its stormwater obligations. The Stormwater Local Assistance Fund is the perfect mechanism to provide these funds, and stable, consistent deposits will allow for great forward momentum towards meeting our restoration goals.
- We ask legislators to not weaken and where possible to improve Virginia’s Stormwater Management Program.
- Rebuilding Virginia’s Oyster Population through Restoration and Replenishment Efforts
- Allocate $4 million in the budget for wild oyster replenishment.
- Allocate $1 million for ecological oyster restoration.
Virginia Conservation Network
The Virginia Conservation Network is a coalition of over 100 conservation organizations across the state. LRNow is proud to be a partner organization. The coalition offers network partner organizations the opportunity to work together on issues of mutual interest and have a stronger voice in the General Assembly and beyond. VCN tackles issues related to Clean Energy, Healthy Waters, and Smart Communities.
LRNow staff and volunteers participate on the Water Workgroup and in the three primary events sponsored by VCN each year: Environmental Forum in the fall, General Assembly Preview Day in December, and Lobby Day at the General Assembly in January. All who are interested are invited to participate in these events. Please watch our E-News for dates, locations, and registration information. Karen Forget currently serves as the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of VCN.
For more information, go to www.vcnva.org
Choose Clean Water Coalition
Choose Clean Water is a coalition of groups throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed who are working on water quality issues. This group supported by the National Wildlife Federation brings together voices from Virginia Beach to New York to learn about and common issues, work together on solutions, and have a collective strong voice in Washington, DC on water quality issues that are a part of the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
LRNow staff participate on monthly workgroup calls, the annual conference and lobby day on Capital Hill.
For more information, go to https://www.choosecleanwater.org/
Our Elected Representatives
Mayor Bob Dyer
Louis Jones – Bayside District
David Nygaard — Beach District
Jim Wood — Lynnhaven District
Rosemary Wilson — At-Large
John Moss — At-Large
Aaron Rouse — At Large
Shannon Kane — Rose Hall District
Sabrina Wooten — Centerville District
Barbara Henley — Princess Anne District
Jessica Abbott — Kempsville District
For City Council meeting schedules, agendas, minutes, and email addresses, to go:
Virginia General Assembly
Senator Bill DeSteph
Senator Frank Wagner
Senator Lynwood Lewis
Delegate Chris Stolle
Delegate Jason Miyares
Delegate Bobby Knight
Delegate Cheryl Turpin
Delegate Kelly Fowler
Delegate Glenn Davis
For information on General Assembly bills or access information for our representatives, go to the Virginia Public Access Project (https://www.vpap.org/),
Richmond Sunlight (https://www.richmondsunlight.com/) or the
Virginia General Assembly website (https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/).
Senator Tim Kaine – https://www.kaine.senate.gov/
Senator Mark Warner — https://www.senate.gov
Congressman Elaine Luria –