The Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted Tuesday night to adopt the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' interim climate mitigation goals, joining other Northern Virginia jurisdictions in aiming for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 100% renewable electricity by the same year. 

The vote followed yet another round of contentious discussion that culminated in a 5-3, party-line vote, with Republican supervisors Yesli Vega (Coles District), Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville District) and Pete Candland (Gainesville District) opposing the measure.

Sponsored by Occoquan Supervisor Kenny Boddye, the resolution makes no commitments or substantive policy changes, but is meant to begin a process by which the county’s government can identify feasible means of cutting its emissions. Democratic supervisors mentioned potential long-term ideas such as enhancing building efficiency standards, electrifying the county’s fleet of vehicles and incentivizing the use of renewables.

“In the long run, not only is it good for our planet and the environment, … but it’s good tax dollar stewardship as well,” Boddye said Tuesday night. “When we really invest and take seriously when it comes to climate change and environmentalism and clean energy and efficiency goals, we get a lot better bang for our buck.”

The Council of Governments’ climate goals were adopted by the regional body’s board of directors in October.

“It is time that we take environmental policy very seriously, and what this does is simply set goals for the county to try to attain,” said Woodbridge District Supervisor Margaret Franklin. “This is a really good step in the right direction for Prince William County. We’ve never done anything like this before, and it’s really time that we stepped up to the plate.”

Republicans on the board ultimately asked that Boddye postpone a vote on the resolution until they could have more input on its language. Lawson led the opposition, arguing that a previous language change had removed the resolution’s recognition of the role that land use plays in the county’s emissions.

Those concerns gave way to arguments from Candland and Vega that the targets could ultimately cost taxpayers in energy costs or taxes.

“I think we all agree that we want cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner soil, absolutely concur with that. How we get there, we might differ a little bit, but those are the devils in the details,” Lawson said. “Our land-use policies really need to be tied to this or we’re not going to accomplish a reduction in greenhouse gas, especially when you consider that the biggest emitter of them are vehicles. If we don’t grow in a smart manner … and build communities that are tied to mass transit that get cars off the roads, we’re not going to reduce these gasses no matter how much we try.”

Laswon accused the Democrats of removing the previous land-use language to appease developers, but Boddye said that wasn’t the case. He said certain language on land use had been removed and turned into an action item in the resolution, which calls on the county to incorporate “equity principles and environmental justice” into the comprehensive plan.

But Vega argued that the resolution would stand in conflict with the Council of Governments’ target for the county of adding another 70,000 new residences by 2030. Board Chair Ann Wheeler responded that how and where the county allowed those homes to be built would make the difference.

“[The council] isn’t telling us that we’re going to have 100,000 people. … They know that those people are coming; it’s not like we’re inviting them here. They know that the Northern Virginia region is going to grow,” Wheeler said. “[They talk] specifically about activity centers in Prince William County and growth within those activity centers.”

In its 2019 report on the future of housing in the region, the Council of Governments said the region should aim to add 75% of the estimated 320,000 housing units needed between 2020 and 2030 in “activity centers” – which feature dense, multi-use development designed to limit the need for vehicle trips – or in locations near high-capacity transit.

But Lawson said the current board hadn’t always lived up to those ideals when deciding on land-use issues.

In March, Democrats voted 5-2 to approve just over 500 homes in relatively low density levels at the Devlin property, which was rezoned from agricultural to planned mixed residential to allow for the Stanley Martin development.

“If you pass this as it’s written, expect us to criticize your land-use votes that are counter to the environment,” Lawson said.

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

Reporter

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

(25) comments

Rebel

😂😂😂

PWC resident since '69

What a bunch of garbage...no pun intended

fake_journalist

Margaret Franklin is really displaying that she is a complete twit and has no business in a leadership position.

covid2021

What democrats really need to do is implement birth limits and incentives not to have kids. By ignoring the land-use issue it is clear they really do not care about the environment and just want votes/power. More humans is the #1 threat to mother earth. COVID-19 is also something that is leading us to democrat utopia at an accelerated pace and they should mandate people get infected to reduce the population further.

Allen Muchnick

You support communist China's one-child mandate?

covid2021

It's the only way!

Citizen52

Covid2021, you are right about human activity via overpopulation being the number one threat to the environment. I do not agree with government-mandated one-child mandates. I think the better option is birth control available and covered by health plans, including Medicaid, to both women and men. Add to the required Personal Finance the cost of raising a child and the negative impact of having children on the opportunities of girls/young women.

Brad

What a total waste of time, money and energy. Unless PWC can regulate the worlds largest polluter (China), you are wasting your time. Fools get what they vote for. You vote for democrats who are clueless, you get this garbage to go with it.

Allen Muchnick

China already leads the world in solar photovoltaic capacity [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_by_country ] and will soon leave the U.S, in its economic dust, thanks to the fossil fuel industry's corrupting influence on U.S. politics, especially the Republican party.

covid2021

Being so far ahead of us, we can only hope that our air quality catches up to them soon.

Joe Christmas

100% agree regarding China. Talking about climate in VA is completely pointless.

citizen1

More legislation and policy that will make rich white people happy.

Allen Muchnick

That explains why four of the five supervisors who voted for this resolution are of African-American descent and why the resolution emphasizes equity and environmental justice.

Soily

I wonder if these dummies have ever noticed what happens when vile leftist regulations do go in affect. California used to be a nice place. Now, they have rolling brownouts because there is not enough power for its growing third world population. Income disparity has skyrocketed there. The wealthy and politically connected do great, but the masses suffer. Many elderly people have died because their air conditioning or medical equipment wouldn't work. Others died because their fire sprinkler systems and water wells wouldn't work without power. But the rich still got their tax payer funded tax breaks for buying $100,000 electric cars. Meanwhile poor people driving old clunkers saw gas taxes skyrocket to encourage them to buy electric cars too. Can these crazy supervisors give us a single example where their leftist ideas work. No, and they don't care. They are rewarding their out-of-county donors, and that is what is important.

Allen Muchnick

When it comes to the survival of human civilization on planet earth, science should trump ideology.

Soily

These goals have nothing to do with science.

tman

Republicans supported the measures but wanted more time to understand the language and tax implications. Did any of you actually read it, or just post your reaction vomit?

Citizen52

‘Environmental justice.’ That’s a only a construct. Understand the language of Newspeak? Try reading 1984.

tman

I've certainly read 1984, and have been hearing newspeak out of Trump's fat mouth for four long years. Fortunately he won't be in charge of anything more than a prison cell after January!

Citizen52

Tman, Trump doesn’t use Newspeak. He just rants.

Soily

Nowhere in the article did it say Republicans supported the measures. Lawson said "“I think we all agree that we want cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner soil". That in no way means he supports the measures. What Republicans were concerned about was costs and the impact the measures would have on economic growth and following the general plan. Democrats never consider costs. They don't know or care what the costs are. They can always raise taxes later.

yourenotthebossofme

"The resolution makes no commitments or substantive policy changes." - Nothing worse than moronic, pandering, and impotent virtue signallers. Pass all the idiotic resolutions you want. You can't enforce them and the public will ignore them.

Jpwcred

This reminds me of the Paris Accords - promises to do something by 203o but with no enforcement or accountability standards. So, what happens if we don't meet the 2030 standards? Do the elected politicians lose their jobs? Or, what?

FixPrinceWilliam

I'm tired of these neo-liberals thinking they can fix the world. First they want to close schools during a pandemic, now they want to try to "get on board" with metro clean air, what's next!? "Equal Rights", "Equal Pay", "Safe Working Conditions"!? Disgusting.

Stewart and Anderson sold the county to developers long ago, only for a bunch of suburban Karens to move in and try to fix it. It's already broke. Deal with it.

charles T

So it does nothing..waste of time for the board of pandering. As usual.

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