Budget lacks green vision
In the city of Richmond’s proposed budget for coming the fiscal year, Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration is leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table in utilities savings, and breaking its promises to cut harmful emissions.
As a parent of two children who will live out the consequences, I’m deeply concerned about this budget’s failure to take even the most obvious, commonsense steps towards a more sustainable future. The city declared a state of climate emergency in 2021, but Stoney’s budget is silent on replacing old boilers with heat pumps, or mandating any sustainability standards for new building construction.
The Richmond Police Department is getting new police cruisers — not electric, not even hybrid, with gas prices spiking — and with no end in sight to high fuel prices. Building basic energy efficiency into scheduled roof and building system replacements would make basic fiscal sense, emissions aside. It would make even more sense if the city chose to apply for even one of the many federal grants offering millions to support cities in building renewables, electrifying vehicles and increasing energy efficiency.
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Finally, the city is pumping millions into building new gas infrastructure, while telling the press it plans to cut emissions to zero by 2045. Every impact of climate change — from heat, to flooding, to air quality — compounds existing racial and economic inequality. Fortunately, a coalition of local environmental groups has done a deep dive on this budget, and made a host of actionable recommendations. Implementing them would save the city a ton of money.