Building a Clean Energy Future and Protecting Our Environment

Virginia is blessed with extraordinary natural beauty and resources, and we must protect and preserve our environment for future generations. In order to do so, we must recognize that the threat of climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s hurting Virginians every day. Hampton Roads is the second-most vulnerable area to climate change in the country, and flooding is getting worse every year. Yet we still see elected officials denying reality and claiming that we can just ignore the problem. We must also recognize the unprecedented threat posed by the Trump administration’s regressive policies on climate change and environmental protection and commit at the state level to fighting these dangerous and misguided efforts. 

For decades, I have worked on protecting our environment and building our clean energy future, as a grassroots organizer, an advocate for interfaith coalitions to fight climate change, a Congressman, and a diplomat. I am dedicated to ensuring that our natural resources, from the mountains of Wise County to the Chesapeake Bay, are protected for the next generation.

Leading Virginia to the forefront of the new energy economy is also crucial for giving Virginians a shot at the next generation of good jobs. When I was in Congress, I created a New Energy Blueprint for my district.  This plan holistically maximized energy efficiency by improving home, building and production efficiency, investing in smart grid and broadband technology, promoting locally grown food, and making clean energy a priority. And I delivered on it, bringing solar jobs to the district, along with funding for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy investments.

I will bring the same commitment to my role as Governor. I know when we push for real and meaningful renewable energy development and energy efficiency upgrades, we create good, local jobs, save Virginians money, and protect Virginia’s natural heritage. Unfortunately, Virginia is falling behind our neighbors when it comes to developing the energy sources of the future. North Carolina, for example, has 100 times as much solar capacity as we do, while every single neighboring state ranks ahead of us on energy efficiency. And those aren’t just statistics, but the loss of real jobs and money in pockets because of higher bills.   

This isn’t an accident: it’s the product of a regulatory environment that has failed to adapt to a new energy economy and that actively discourages new investments in renewables like solar and wind. We have to do better. That’s why I oppose the construction of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, which would bind Virginia to an unsustainable and environmentally costly energy source while infringing on the land and heritage of thousands of Virginians. And that’s why I believe we need to invest instead in next-generation energy sources that create next-generation jobs. As Governor, I will make these investments a cornerstone of my agenda because Virginia deserves a clean energy economy to power its future and ensure stewardship of our children’s environmental inheritance.