Gov. Northam announces $34 million investment to update Port of Virginia with clean energy

Gov. Northam announces $34 million investment to update Port of Virginia with clean energy
Gov. Ralph Northam (Source: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday that Virginia will use $34 million toward electric and clean energy options at the Port of Virginia and other sites across the commonwealth.

About $14 million from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust will replace diesel cargo equipment at the Port of Virginia with zero-emission electric equipment.

$20 million from the Clean Air Communities Program will electrify government fleets in Virginia.

“As we continue to fight this global pandemic, we are reminded daily that we must prioritize public health in every way possible,” Northam said in a release. “With this initiative, we will electrify operations at the Port of Virginia and drive the much-needed transition to clean transportation across our Commonwealth.

This is the fourth funding allocation that Virginia has made from the Volkswagen emissions settlement. The Department of Environmental Quality is the designated agency acting as the state’s beneficiary to distribute Virginia’s share of $93.6 million from the settlement.

Last year, Northam announced $20 million from the trust for an electric school bus initiative and $14 million to fund electric transit buses. In 2018, the governor allocated $14 million to develop an electric car-charging network.

“The public health, public safety, and economic consequences of climate change are undeniable,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “The Commonwealth is in the process of developing a comprehensive strategy for addressing transportation’s climate impacts, and investments like these help to ensure no population, especially those who have been historically underserved, is left behind.”

The Port of Virginia is the third largest container port on the U.S.‘s East Coast, serving as a gateway to commerce and supporting hundreds of thousands of Virginia jobs. Around two-thirds of cargo is transported on trucks, with nearby communities disproportionately impacted by diesel pollution, Northam’s release said.

The Port of Virginia project will eliminate more than 3,000 tons of diesel pollution, more than 71,000 tons of greenhouse gases, and more than 6 million gallons of diesel fuel, according to a release from the governor’s office.

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