Twenty Loudoun nonprofits have joined a call for county supervisors to take more aggressive action toward fighting climate change, in a county where the data center industry has made Loudoun one of the most energy-hungry localities in the state.
The calls come as supervisors were preparing for their environmental summit, scheduled for Wednesday, July 27.
The county government is working to revise its energy plan. Currently, that effort includes a mission to work toward net-zero emissions by 2045 and a carbon-free power grid by 2050. But a resolution prepared by the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, and the Native Plant Society Piedmont Chapter, calls to commit to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2030, and to go carbon-free by 2035. The groups are pushing supervisors to adopt the resolution, but so far, no supervisor has agreed to bring it forward.
Representatives from a broad range of organizations prepared comments for the July 19 Board of Supervisors meeting.
“We all have a shared responsibility to do what we can today to protect tomorrow, and action to address climate change and secure a sustainable future at the local level has never been more important,” wrote Lee Francis, deputy director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. “As one of our state’s fastest growing and most energy intensive counties, Loudoun has an especially large role to play in cutting pollution, protecting green spaces, and ensuring a clean energy future.”
The resolution points out areas of concern such as greenhouse gas emissions increasing from Loudoun even as the region decreases its emissions; the county’s shrinking wetlands, forest and farmland; and its growing road network. It calls for a range of actions, including new regulations and incentives in the county’s zoning ordinance, and requiring all development proposals to include an assessment of their impacts on water and soil, species diversity and habitat, transportation, and energy demand.
Comments prepared for the July 19 meeting emphasized the range of issues affected by climate change.
“We support the resolution because, while environmental harm affects all members of our community, the impact is often disproportionately felt by poor communities and communities of color,” wrote New Virginia Majority organizer Sofia Saiyed. “We support policies at the state and local level that will move us toward an equitable 100% clean and renewable energy plan, provide meaningful opportunities for community accountability, and support low-income individuals and people of color to be able to obtain the green jobs of tomorrow.”
“Children are more vulnerable than adults to many of the effects of the climate crisis,” wrote Mom’s Clean Air Force Director Julie Kimmel. “Rising temperatures and decreased air quality can increase asthma attacks, allergies, and the incidence of pest-borne diseases, like Lyme; they can also create food insecurity and contribute to mental health problems. But most importantly, the climate crisis is threatening our children’s future, their survival, on this planet.”
The action was organized by the Loudoun Climate Project, a combination of Loudoun 350 and Sustainable Loudoun.
The youngest commenter was Anshu Palicherla, a rising 11th grader at Briar Woods High School speaking a on behalf of Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative.
“As a growing county it’s important we still maintain the integrity of Loudoun through preservation and renewable energy,” she wrote. “Loudoun must take steps toward a more sustainable county. As one of the highest and most innovative counties in the country, we deserve to be at the front of change in the environment.”