Vetoes Devastate Environmental Progress

Vetoes Devastate Environmental Progress

Governor vetoed 153 bills, amended 117, including dozens of priority conservation and environmental bills.

This week, the General Assembly reconvenes in Richmond to consider Governor Youngkin’s unprecedented number of amendments and vetoes to legislation we passed during the regular session. All told, the Governor vetoed 153 bills and amended 117 others, including the biennial budget bill. This veto count may creep even higher, because if the General Assembly rejects the Governor's recommendations on a bill during the Reconvene, the Governor may then veto that legislation when it returns to him.

Hanging in the balance among those vetoed and amended bills are dozens of priority conservation and environmental bills. With Earth Day coming up next Monday, I wanted to highlight the environmental policy and funding that our Democratic leadership in the General Assembly will be fighting to preserve and restore during the Reconvene session.

The Governor gutted critical environmental provisions from the state budget, including stripping out language requiring the administration to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Virginia’s participation in RGGI helps low-income households lower their energy bills and localities combat flooding. Also removed were grant programs and incentives to adopt parking lot solar canopies and rooftop solar, and proposed funding to establish the Office of Commonwealth Resilience which the Governor included in his own introduced budget. Funding to support meeting Virginia’s clean water goals and Chesapeake Bay restoration were reduced, including staff positions for Soil & Water Conservation and wastewater projects.

For those of us in Northern Virginia, the Governor saw fit to slash the funding allocated to WMATA by 76%. Delegate Sickles and I carried the original House budget amendments to close WMATA’s operating funding gap and meet matching formula commitments by DC and Maryland.

Perhaps most egregious is the elimination of all funding and staff positions added into the budget to mitigate the impact of invasive species in support of the goals outlined by the Virginia Invasive Species Management Plan. As you may remember, the Governor handed down my first-ever veto this session of HB 1167, which would have authorized any locality to adopt an ordinance to prohibit the sale of English Ivy (Hedera helix) within its jurisdiction. The Governor doubled down on this action by vetoing two more bills that would have required signage posted at retailers that sell invasive plants to educate consumers about invasive plant species and encourage consumers to ask about alternatives. Without adequate public education, funding and local options and support, Virginians and our natural areas are left at the mercy of the unmitigated spread of invasive plants, which will continue to cost millions of dollars to remove.

While your elected legislators are fighting for Virginia’s environment here in Richmond, there’s so much you can participate in locally to volunteer or learn more about how to care for our planet. The efforts we have made as a community have reduced Fairfax County’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent between 2005 and 2020.

The easiest ways to make an impact are to properly recycle and compost your household waste to reduce the items that end up in landfills, decrease air and water pollution, reduce greenhouse gasses and maintain our precious natural resources. Fairfax County has several helpful guides and resources available online to help you learn the process:

If you are interested in installing solar panels on your home, there are three programs available to Fairfax County residents to install a quality rooftop solar system at lower costs. Using solar power can reduce your monthly energy bills, increase your home’s value, and benefit the environment. Visit to learn more. Outdoors, you can incorporate native Virginia plants and pollinator-friendly elements into your landscaping.

This Saturday, you can join me and Sen. Scott Surovell for our annual cleanup of Little Hunting Creek from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Supplies such as trash pickers and bags will be provided. During this popular event, volunteers collect dozens of bags of trash out of the creek every year, including odd items such as tires, mattresses, and even shopping carts. Visit to choose a site to participate. 

I also encourage you to attend Supervisor Dan Storck’s annual Mount Vernon Environment Expo on April 27 at Fort Hunt Park. This free, family-friendly event is designed to educate and inform attendees about the environmental challenges that we face daily and how we can all act to save our planet. Bring your family and enjoy live music, food, live reptile and raptor programs, electric vehicle showcases, electric bikes, and more.