We Did It, Again! US Blocks Roadbuilding in Alaska’s Largest Forest, Gov. Youngkin Loses, VA Wins!

by | Jan 27, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

We did it, again! Plus US blocks roadbuilding in Alaska’s largest forest, and Gov. Youngkin loses, VA wins!



Last week, in honor of the second anniversary of The Climate Daily podcast, we launched the Climate Champions campaign. The goal was to prove that a a small group of people could make a massive impact in a short amount of time.  To get 33 folks committing to donate $3/day for four months to plant 10,000 trees–a 20-acre forest in California. The other goal was to get all 10K trees donated in one week. And guess what?! We did it! Thanks to everybody who donated and became a Climate Champion!!! Check out the green status bar at theclimate.org/change-champions to see for yourself.

10K trees in one week! That was bananas!!! It really happened!

DEEPER DIVE: The Climate’s Climate Champions



According to the Associated Press, A federal agency said Wednesday it’s reinstating restrictions on road-building and logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. This is the latest move in a long-running fight over the country’s largest national forest in the southeast part of that state. In late 2021, The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it was beginning the process of repealing a Trump administration-era decision that exempted the Tongass — a rainforest that is also home to rugged coastal islands and glaciers — from the so-called roadless rule. The agency on Wednesday said it had finalized that plan. 

The new rule will take effect once it’s published in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen Friday, said agency spokesperson Larry Moore. Roadless areas account for about one-third of all U.S. national forest system lands. But Alaska political leaders have long sought an exemption to the roadless rule for the Tongass, seeing the restrictions as burdensome and limiting economic opportunities. They supported efforts under former President Donald Trump to remove the roadless designation for about 9.4 million acres on the Tongass. 

Why does this decision matter to us? The Tongass is roughly the size of West Virginia and provides habitat for wildlife, including bears, wolves, bald eagles and salmon. Habitat equals biodiversity. Biodiversity equals climate resiliency. Resiliency gives us a chance against the worst effects of climate change.

DEEPER DIVE: E&E NEWS, Tongass National Forest, NYT



A committee of the Virginia Senate on Tuesday defeated a bill backed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) that would withdraw the state from a regional carbon-trading initiative. The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee voted down Senate Bill 1001 in a party line 8-6 vote. The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Richard Stuart (R), would repeal the state Clean Energy and Flood Preparedness Act, which entered Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an interstate program that mandates that power plants buy credits for their carbon emissions. The initiative returns the proceeds of the auctions of the credits to the state.

Last year, Youngkin signed an executive order calling on the state Air Pollution Control Board to consider RGGI withdrawal. The board voted to leave 4-1, with two abstentions, in December. Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont are also members of the initiative, with Pennsylvania attempting to join last year though court challenges are still pending. Virginia joined in 2020 under Youngkin’s predecessor, Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

The state Senate’s Democratic majority has countered that withdrawal would require a vote by the entire General Assembly, just as entering the initiative did. Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said , “We are grateful to our champions in the Senate for doing the right thing for Virginians and climate action by rejecting this misguided repeal effort, but also know our work isn’t over. Why does this climate victory in VA matter to us? It demonstrates the ability of legislators to defend against one governor’s ongoing attacks to override the legislative process and put polluters ahead of what’s best for its citizens. It also provides hope for other legislators in other states (and countries) who are facing the same burden.

DEEPER DIVE: The Hill, VA Mercury