Virginia Is Building a Cleaner Future; Youngkin Wants to Stop That

Virginia Is Building a Cleaner Future; Youngkin Wants to Stop That

Virginia’s toddlers deserve a clean air future. (Photo: Marcia Harper)

Like many toddlers, my two-year-old son is obsessed with the song, “The Wheels on the Bus,” but we’ve added a few customized verses. In addition to the wheels just going around and wipers just swishing, we also have dinosaurs roaring and frogs jumping up and down. It’s quite a busy bus, providing transit options for a lot of things in his very active imagination. And because I very much want clean air for my child’s future, we also sing, “With cleaner air from the EV bus we breath in and out, in and out, in and out…all through town.”

My son, and many toddlers in Virginia, are growing up in a Virginia that over the last few years committed to cleaner air by passing legislation like the groundbreaking Clean Cars law. Now Governor Youngkin wants to overturn that law and condemn the Commonwealth and its youngsters to a dirtier future.

According to my colleague, Walton Shepherd, “under Virginia’s Clean Cars law, everyday Virginians will soon enjoy the fruits of the American auto industry’s critical transition to produce cheaper, cleaner electric vehicles (EVs). Virginians’ embrace of that industry-wide shift is vital to ensure that the Commonwealth maximizes the benefits associated with the transition to EVs. Just as everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, when no one did  a decade ago, so too will electric vehicles be a common sight on our roads, and on new and used car lots across Virginia. Indeed, last year nearly 1 in 10 new vehicles sold in Virginia were electric. This growing consumer demand for better cars will continue to be met, owing to the Clean Cars statute’s requirement that sufficient EVs be available on new car lots across the Commonwealth to meet demand.”

This past state legislative session saw nearly 10 bills passed out of the GOP-controlled House of Delegates that would have repealed Virginia’s Clean Cars law or restrict electric vehicle infrastructure and access. Thankfully, wisdom prevailed and climate action champions in the Senate blocked those bills, protecting the Clean Cars from legislative harm.

But the fight isn’t over. Gov. Youngkin and his fossil fuel-funded allies in the legislature continue to make thwarting Virginia’s progress on climate change a top priority.  That’s why the NRDC Action Fund has placed new ads on Hampton Roads-Williamsburg area radio, highlighting the hard work that Hampton Roads’ State Senators Mason, Lewis, Rouse, Locke, Spruill, and Lucas are doing to protect clean and fight climate change. Because these climate leaders in the Virginia legislature—especially on the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee—stood up for Virginia’s kids, batted down this flood of attack bills and corrected disinformation about the law with actual facts, Virginia’s landmark Clean Cars program remains the law of the land. For now.

Despite relentless attacks from hyper-partisan legislators who want to protect dirty, polluting fossil fuels, we held the line on major climate progress during the year’s legislative session – and we’re going to continue to hold it until the wheels going round on most Virginia busses, cars and trucks are powered by clean, efficient electric power.

Jossie Steinberg is a senior advisor to the NRDC Action Fund.