Haven’t made it to a general meeting in a while? Wondering what we’ve been working on and how you can help? Here is what you’ve missed.

Green New Deal Virginia

Jolene Mafnas of Food & Water Watch Virginia joined our November general meeting to talk about Virginia’s 2021 Green New Deal Act. This omnibus energy bill would put an immediate moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure, set a renewable portfolio standard of 100% by 2036, put 40% of clean energy investments in environmental justice communities, provide transition assistance for fossil fuel workers, and implement strong labor standards in the energy sector. 350 Fairfax is all-in on the Green New Deal Act.

But Virginia’s Green New Deal is not just this ambitious energy bill. It is a suite of legislation that includes

  • an independent fossil fuel infrastructure moratorium bill sponsored by Del. Cole,
  • a local food infrastructure bill sponsored by Del. Rasoul,
  • a repeal right to work bill sponsored by Del. Carter,
  • a paid sick leave bill sponsored by Del. Guzman, and
  • a healthy soil and carbon sequestration bill sponsored by Del. Gooditis.

Read more about these bills here.

ACTION: Email your state legislators today to support Green New Deal VA Legislation. Find contact info for your legislators and sample emails here.

Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act

We don’t often work on federal legislation, but the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is exactly in our (plastic pollution) wheelhouse. This bold and comprehensive bill is the first to create a national approach to solving the plastic pollution crisis. The bill

  • requires manufacturers to take responsibility for collecting and recycling waste,
  • creates a nationwide 10-cent beverage container refund policy and a nationwide carryout bag fee,
  • provides for source reduction and the phasing out of the top-polluting products,
  • creates a minimum recycled content requirement and standardizes recycling and composting,
  • allows a state to enact more stringent standards if it choses, and
  • temporarily pauses the building of new or expanded plastic-producing facilities until the appropriate federal agencies can study the impact of such facilities.

Read more about the bill here.

ACTION: Call or tweet your members of Congress and senators to ask them to co-sponsor the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act.

Sen. Mark Warner: (202) 224-2023, @MarkWarner
Sen. Tim Kaine: (202) 224-4024, @timkaine
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10): (202) 225-5136, @JenniferWexton
Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08): (202) 225-4376, @RepDonBeyer
Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11): (202) 225-1492, @GerryConnolly
(Connolly is already a co-sponsor, so call or tweet to thank him!)

Fairfax County Plastic Bag Ban

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is considering implementing a county-wide 5-cent tax on single-use plastic bags. The tax would apply to disposable plastic bags provided by grocery stores, convenience stores, and drugstores and could drastically reduce the estimated 3 billion bags used and trashed in Virginia each year.

The Virginia Department of Taxation estimates that if the 5-cent tax were imposed statewide, it could potentially generate $20–$24 million in revenue for localities. Revenues collected from the tax will be used to clean up our roadsides and streams, prevent pollution and litter, educate the public on this issue, and provide reusable bags to recipients of federal food support, like WIC and SNAP.

ACTION: Call, email, or tweet your supervisor in support of the 5-cent tax on plastic bags TODAY. Find your supervisor’s contact information here.

Community-Wide Energy and Climate Action Plan

Fairfax County convened a task force of community stakeholders to create a Community-Wide Energy and Climate Action Plan in early 2020. The task force has continued to meet virtually through the pandemic and was able to set a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors by 2050.

To develop the actions and strategies necessary to meet that target, the task force has been split into two working groups: one focusing on buildings and energy and one focusing on transportation and waste. These working groups will continue to meet and hash out ideas for the next few months.

Public engagement is essential to ensure the final CECAP is both equitable and ambitious. Our members participated in force in the first public comment period back in September.

Read more about the CECAP process here.

ACTION: Stay tuned! Additional public meetings and surveys on the CECAP process will open in February and May 2021.