Public Comments for 01/20/2021 Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources - Natural Resources Subcommittee
HB1760 - Conservation easements; certain easements be liberally construed in favor of purpose which created.
Last Name: Strouse Organization: The Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) Locality: Norfolk, Virginia, United States

This bill represents the effort of 1 and 1/2 years work to clean up and re-organize the dangerous dog statute. A number of loopholes are closed and processes streamlined. Using surveys, classes, and public meetings the work group actively sought input from stakeholders and victims (who had often had no voice when previous revisions were undertaken. This bill has the support of VACA, the Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters (VAAS), the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies (VFHS) and the office of the Attorney General. This bill was unopposed on the Senate side. Kathy Strouse, Legislative Liaison Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA)

Last Name: Gibson Organization: Self Locality: Fauquier

Conservation easements have been purchased using taxpayer money and they should be protected full and without compromise for the use they were intended. HB1760 should be passed only if it does not dilute the value of our open spaces agreements.

Last Name: Morrow Locality: McLean

I SUPPORT this bill's call to more liberally construe the continued existence of easements. This is an important part of protecting wildlife and natural spaces.

Last Name: Baetis Organization: Friends of Accotink Creek Locality: Fairfax County

The Friends of Accotink Creek support HB1760. The bill provides that conservation easements will fulfill the actual purpose for which the Commonwealth makes them available - the essential necessity to protect our precious natural heritage for all generations of Virginians to come.

Last Name: Bartz Locality: Albemarle

Hello, I would like to voice my support for HB2159 banning the intentional release of balloons in the Commonwealth. I know this sounds a bit silly on the surface, but balloons can contribute to litter of our beautiful rivers, like the Rivanna, and also pose a threat to our wildlife. I would also like to support the strengthening of conservation easements through HB1760. Working with the Soil and Water Conservation District I've seen the benefits conservation easements have toward water and soil quality here in Virginia. While there is a need for development to address housing needs in the state, we shouldn't be redirecting land set aside for conservation for this purpose. Thank you, Navarre Bartz

Last Name: Brandt Organization: Weasel Creek Watershed Expeditions Locality: Arlington

Please support HB1760. Courts need to protect conservation easements when land is sold to a new owner. Our planet and human existence need wild spaces to survive.

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax supports HB1760. Conservation easements are a critical aspect in protecting Virginia's natural and cultural spaces. This bill ensures conservation easements are protected to fulfill their intended purpose. Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Rovner Organization: The Nature Conservancy Locality: Richmond

The purpose of this bill is for the General Assembly to give some direction to courts that may be called upon to interpret conservation easements. The bill simply provides that an easement shall be “liberally construed in favor of achieving the conservation purposes for which it was created.” We think this is the best way to effectuate the public policy the General Assembly adopted when it authorized conservation easements back in the 1960’s. Virginia has built an incredibly strong easement program since then, and this legislation ensures public confidence in those easements as land changes hands in the future.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) supports Del. Webert’s HB1760 and Del. Guy’s HB2159. We hope that is the pleasure of the subcommittee to support these bills.

Last Name: Holmes Organization: The Piedmont Environmental Council Locality: Culpeper

The Piedmont Environmental Council is fully supportive of HB 1760. Some courts have interpreted conservation easements in a way that is inconsistent with the intent of the donor of the conservation easement, leading to the erosion of protections intended by the parties to the original transaction (the donor and the easement holder). While disputes between landowners and easement holders are rare, they do sometimes occur, particularly with landowners who acquire property after an easement has been established. This legislation would provide direction to the courts, favoring neither the holder nor the landowner, instead simply ensuring the conservation purpose of the easement remains intact. It is needed to protect the intent of the easement donor and the conservation values held in trust by the Commonwealth or a private land trust.

Last Name: Kilmer Locality: City of Manassas

I support all the proposals that I have checked. Please continue to protect our fishing waters. Robert KIlmer

HB1804 - State parks; DCR to develop recommendations for funding, report.
Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Sheldon Organization: The Nature Conservancy Locality: Richmond

The Nature Conservancy supports HB 1804. Land conservation in Virginia has been continually underfunded, and while the Virginia state park system is only part of that equation, we hope that this bill will advance additional discussions on the broader need for dedicated funding for Virginia's land conservation programs.

Last Name: Gillenwater Organization: The Piedmont Environmental Council Locality: Charlottesville

The Piedmont Environmental Council supports HB 1804. We believe that dedicated funding for Virginia's state park system is a good idea and hope that this bill helps to engender a broader conversation about the well-established need for dedicated funding for additional land conservation programs in the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB1833 - Conservation and Recreation, Department of; leasing of land.
Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

HB2067 - Solar facilities; permit by rule.
Last Name: Bent Organization: ENGIE Locality: Chicago, IL

ENGIE North America Inc., (“ENGIE”) respectfully submits the following comments OPPOSING House Bill 2067 (“HB 2067”), which would lower the maximum generation capacity of a solar energy facility to qualify for a permit-by-rule (PBR) from 150 megawatts to 50 megawatts. ENGIE is the world’s largest provider of energy and energy-efficiency services and has a significant Virginia presence, including a portfolio of five grid-scale solar projects. Two of these projects are currently under construction and the remaining three are in late-stage development. The Virginia DEQ’s PBR process is a strict and sophisticated tool used to streamline project development while still adequately considering all environmental, archaeological, and cultural impacts a project may have. This process is predictable, efficient, and transparent – it reduces administrative costs, while allowing the public and other stakeholders ample opportunities to provide input. Furthermore, the DEQ is not required to issue a PBR for all projects under 150 MW – projects requiring more scrutiny are able to undergo additional reviews if deemed necessary by DEQ. The PBR process allows solar project developers to work collaboratively and successfully with local and state permitting agencies to address any concerns and incorporate specific requests. Reducing the threshold to 50 MW would result in additional costs, time, and uncertainty to solar project development – which ultimately increases the price that Virginia customers pay for energy. Virginia set the stage for the clean energy transition last year when the Legislature passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA). Ultimately, the VCEA aims to lower energy costs for all ratepayers, increase grid resiliency and reliability, create new jobs, and stimulate economic investment. HB 2067 makes these goals much harder to accomplish.

Last Name: Dubon Organization: BayWa r.e. Solar Projects LLC Locality: Irvine

On behalf of BayWa r.e., a leading renewable energy developer, service supplier, distributor and energy solutions provider, we STRONGLY OPPOSE HB 2067. Lowering the maximum generation eligible for PBR from 150 to 50 MW would have negative consequences for the deployment of solar power for the State of Virginia. This would increase the cost and timing of developing solar in Virginia, and hurt businesses that intend to invest in the State. Again, we STRONGLY OPPOSE HB 2067. Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter.

Last Name: Posey Locality: Fairfax County

If this bill passes it would delay the development of solar projects already in the works by changing the rules on them and forcing them to comply with an overly strict process - the processes in place currently are very rigorous and more than sufficient. This would have a direct effect on jobs and investments in Virginia communities. By changing the rules mid-stream it would also make it harder for the state of Virginia to meet its Clean Economy Act goals that were set last year.

Last Name: Martin Organization: Martin Energy LLC Locality: St. Paul, VA

I am writing to oppose shrinking the PBR process from 150 MW to 50 MW. This Bill would delay approvals of solar projects by forcing developers to apply for a CPCN with the VA SCC. This approach would delay economic benefits of construction jobs and economic benefits to Counties and add more bureaucratic burden to the permitting process. Solar companies may choose to avoid the CPCN altogether, leading to the development of more projects at smaller sizes. This reduction in economy of scale would drive costs up and be bad for the ratepayers of the Commonwealth. Sincerely, James K. Martin, President, Martin Energy LLC

Last Name: Hodsoll Organization: SolUnesco, LLC Locality: Loudoun County, Virginia

I am one of the founders and the CEO of SolUnesco. On behalf of my company and employees we oppose HB 2067. We are a Virginia company founded in 2015 that employs Virginians and our projects represents several billion in investment in rural areas. Further, we spearheaded the solar workforce development program in partnership with Southside Community College. We have fourteen projects in eleven counties. HB 2067 will slow economic development throughout the state of Virginia. This is a Bill that is reversing a well-understood process for conducting thorough environmental, cultural and historic due diligence for these projects. In fact, Virginia citizens interests are served when DEQ governs this permitting process given the nature of these projects. A vote for 2067 is a vote against economic development, it is a vote against protecting the interests of all Virginians.

Last Name: McCarty Locality: Suffolk

A change of this magnitude so soon after the Clean Economy Act being passed will significantly impact many projects that are currently in development. We are working tirelessly with localities and communities to establish timelines in an effort to remain transparent throughout these processes and collaborative in every way possible. This will derail these processes and force localities to take a step back to reevaluate our relationships.

Last Name: Maughan Locality: Reston, Virginia

I am a utility scale solar energy developer working for a small, Virginia-based company with several Virginia clean energy projects under active development. I are very excited buy the Clean Energy Economy act that this body put in place last year, but am very concerned about the proposed HB 2067 will severely limit the commonwealth's ability to meet these goals. The CPCN process is FAR more cumbersome to developers than the current DEQ PBR process, without adding any benefit or safeguards. In fact, I would go as far as to say that, for this size project, the CPCN provides less benefit, in terms of project due diligence, than the PBR process. Further, and more concerningly, switching the required processes jeopardizes all projects that mine and other companies currently have in development, along with the substantial investments that we have made in them. These projects are at various stages in a years-long development cycles. Changing the development rules mid-development will severely limit our ability to get them across the goal line, and limit Virginia's ability to meet the goals it has set for itself. Please do not vote in favor of HB 2067.

Last Name: Hillis Organization: SolUnesco LLC Locality: Leesburg

SolUnesco LLC is a utility scale solar developer currently developing several project in Virginia. This bill will slow development of our projects, forcing them to go through the more complex, burdensome, and unnecessary CPCN process at the SCC. We strongly oppose this bill. • This legislation changes the rules in the middle of the game. Developers are working with localities, landowners, and farmers as we speak to develop solar projects. This change in the PBR process would fundamentally disrupt this process for solar projects between 50 MWs and 150 MWs. • Changing the rules in the middle of the game sends the wrong message to clean energy businesses that are trying to work and grow in Virginia, endangering the jobs and investment they bring to the Commonwealth. • Changing these rules will make it harder for Virginia to meet the Clean Economy Act goals it set last year by making it more challenging to deploy affordable, clean solar energy at scale.

Last Name: Maamari Organization: SolUnesco Locality: Falls Church

This legislation changes the rules in the middle of the game. Developers are working with localities, landowners, and farmers as we speak to develop solar projects. This change in the PBR process would fundamentally disrupt this process for solar projects between 50 MWs and 150 MWs. Changing the rules in the middle of the game sends the wrong message to clean energy businesses that are trying to work and grow in Virginia, endangering the jobs and investment they bring to the Commonwealth. Changing these rules will make it harder for Virginia to meet the Clean Economy Act goals it set last year by making it more challenging to deploy affordable, clean solar energy at scale.

Last Name: Entsuah Organization: Virginia Advanced Energy Economy Locality: Richmond, Virginia

Virginia Advanced Energy Economy is in OPPOSITION to HB 2067, The Solar Facilities bill. Virginia’s Developers are currently working with municipalities, landowners, and our agricultural workers to develop solar projects. If this bill was to pass, it would fundamentally change the process for these projects without considering our workers. It would also disrupt the process for solar projects between 50 Megawatts and 150 Megawatts. This bill would send a terrible message to clean energy businesses that are trying to build in Virginia and invest in the Commonwealth. Finally this bill would make it harder for Virginia to meet the goals that were set by the Clean Economy Act that was passed this past year. We urge the committee to deny the passage of this bill.

Last Name: Kraus Organization: SolUnesco Locality: Washington, DC

• This legislation changes the rules in the middle of the game. Developers are working with localities, landowners, and farmers as we speak to develop solar projects. This change in the PBR process would fundamentally disrupt this process for solar projects between 50 MWs and 150 MWs. • Changing the rules in the middle of the game sends the wrong message to clean energy businesses that are trying to work and grow in Virginia, endangering the jobs and investment they bring to the Commonwealth. • Changing these rules will make it harder for Virginia to meet the Clean Economy Act goals it set last year by making it more challenging to deploy affordable, clean solar energy at scale

Last Name: Wofford Organization: Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley Locality: Sperryville

Thank you for the chance to comment. I am Kate Wofford, Executive Director of Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley is a place-based nonprofit working to protect the clean water, family farms, and thriving communities in six Valley counties. We support increased scrutiny of the very large solar applications. We are seeing applications for larger and larger utility-scale solar projects on farmland in the Valley, instead of lots of smaller solar proposals on brownfields, parking lots, rooftops, and marginal lands where most Virginians think they should be prioritized . In general, it's on these very large projects where we are more likely to see negative impacts to water quality, rural character, and prime soils. For that, we believe that increased scrutiny on the larger projects is good public policy. Thank you.

Last Name: Rosales-Cortez Organization: Chesapeake Climate Action Network Locality: Richmond

This bill will hinder the VCEA's ability to meet the goals of developing clean energy in Virginia by bottlenecking solar energy. Specifically: 1) By lowering that cap from 150 MW to 50 MW, this bill will make it harder for Virginia to quickly deploy solar, decarbonize our grid, and meet our VCEA goals 2) Solar projects between 50 MWs and 150 MWs have been approved and are being developed right now - this would disrupt that development process and send the wrong message to clean energy businesses trying to work in Virginia. This bill must not pass if we are to keep our current trajectory in developing clean energy.

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Smucker Organization: Chesapeake Solar and Storage Association (formally known as MDV-SEIA) Locality: Richmond City

CHESSA is in opposition to Delegate Webert's HB 2067, as it would shrink the MW limit on PBR solar projects from 150MWs (current code) to 50MWs, cutting the size of eligible projects by 2/3rds. This policy would work against the Commonwealth's directive by the VCEA and directly prohibit us from successfully achieving Virginia's ambitious clean energy goals. CHESSA supports Delegate Willet's HB 2148, which adds energy storage to the "Permit by Rule" (PBR) program, which will allow battery storage and hybrid (storage + renewables) projects to use DEQ's PBR process for permitting. This model program ensures that projects are permitted safely and quickly and remains a key attraction to solar developers. By expanding and streamlining this process for hybrid and standalone storage projects, the Commonwealth will be able to achieve its clean energy goals laid out by the VCEA while continuing to attract investment and create jobs in Virginia.

HB2148 - Small renewable energy projects; energy storage.
Last Name: Leyen Organization: Virginia League of Conservation Voters Locality: Richmond

Virginia League of Conservation Voters supports this legislation. This bill streamlines the permitting process for energy storage projects, allowing them to follow the same process currently used for solar and wind projects, known as ‘permit-by-rule.’ Specifically, this bill: Provides for efficient approval of energy storage, the process of capturing energy from renewable energy projects and storing it for later redistribution on the grid based on demand. Will make it easier to build hundreds of energy storage and hybrid projects, which combine clean energy and storage to make a resilient, reliable grid. Streamlines project approval to help realize over $3 billion in storage-related investment in Virginia over the next 15 years and will create good-paying jobs here in Virginia.

Last Name: Turner Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Richmond

Please support HB2074. Despite the passage of last year's Virginia Environmental Justice Act of 2020, the state still lacks the necessary tools to ensure EJ is meaningfully carried out throughout the Commonwealth. To accomplish this, it is necessary that we require EJ at the state and local levels, improve transparency and public involvement in decision-making, and authorizing agencies to make decisions to mitigate adverse impacts. Additionally, please support HB 2148. Simply put, this bill streamlines project approval for energy storage and hybrid projects, which combine clean energy and storage, to allow for rapid approval of solar projects up to 150MW, a necessary process to help us quickly and efficiently achieve our clean energy goals.

Last Name: Ross Organization: Virginia Interfaith Center Locality: Springfield

As climate change wreaks havoc on our world, it is increasingly obvious that our own actions and lifestyles have highly impacted and worsened the natural phenomenon of climate shifting. As a citizen of Springfield, it is utterly imperative that we seek alternate sources of energy, continue recycling, and provide healthy climate actions for future generations of all economic, racial, and other marginalized communities. The churches of Virginia have joined to raise our prayers and our voices to see that we treat our planet with the respect it deserves, and ensure a healthy life for all those to come. Please vote YES on HB 2074 and other initiatives that work to preserve our community so that many may enjoy it for decades of our future. Dixie Ross 7704C Lexton Place Springfield, VA 22152

Last Name: Estes Organization: Apex Clean Energy Locality: Charlottesville

To House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources - Natural Resources Sub-Committee Members, My name is Rachael Estes and I am the Senior Government Affairs Manager for Apex Clean Energy. I am writing to express our support for HB 2148, introduced by Delegate Rodney Willett. Apex Clean Energy is a renewable energy company that develops, constructs, and operates wind and solar power facilities across North America. We are based in Charlottesville, VA and employee over 200 renewable energy experts. We have over 1GW of projects in development in Virginia alone, including the first ever onshore wind project, Rocky Forge. We were thrilled to see the Virginia legislature pass the VCEA last session and look forward to helping Virginia accelerate the shift to clean energy. In order to do so, energy storage will need to be a part of that equation, as the VCEA acknowledges. However, the current approval process requires energy storage projects to be approved through a cumbersome and complex process at the SCC. Allowing energy storage projects to be permitted through the “permit by rule” process would help streamline energy storage projects by offering them the same clear process as wind and solar development. This is especially true for energy storage projects that are built in conjunction with solar projects – something that is becoming more common and will make a big difference in helping Virginia meet its ambitious clean energy goals. As a renewable energy developer heavily invested in Virginia, we strongly support incorporating energy storage into the PBR process. Please vote ‘yes’ on HB 2148. Thank you, Rachael Estes Senior Government Affairs Manager Apex Clean Energy Inc.

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: DePew Organization: Urban Grid Solar Locality: Midlothian

Madam Chairman and members of the Committee, Urban Grid is a Richmond based developer of utility-scale solar and solar + storage hybrid projects. Since our founding in 2011, we have been working and investing in Virginia. Urban Grid is strongly committed to enhancing economic opportunities and bringing solar energy to Virginia. On behalf of the Urban Grid Solar, we wish to express our strong support for Delegate Willett's HB 2148, which grants the Department of Environmental Quality the authority to permit hybrid solar + storage and standalone storage projects. With the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), the legislature saw fit to set a goal of constructing over 18,000MW of solar and 3,000MW of storage in the next 10-15 years. Virginia developers have heeded this call and to date have nearly 20,000MW of solar projects under development, with nearly 6,000MW considered combined solar and storage hybrid projects. As it stands, a significant portion of that 6,000MW figure is at risk due to the current system for hybrid storage permitting. Beyond the VCEA’s storage targets, Hybrid and standalone storage projects are essential to meeting the VCEA’s solar goals as well. As more solar comes online, hybrid and standalone storage is needed to better integrate these renewables into the grid. The current permitting system creates two separate, parallel permitting processes for different parts of a single hybrid project. Any hybrid storage project with storage over 1MW would need both non-discretionary approval from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for the solar and then discretionary approval from the SCC for the storage. Urban Grid believes that the current discretionary permitting frameworks at the SCC significantly increase the complexity, the risk and the development timeline for developing hybrid assets in Virginia. This is even before the potential for delay in the SCC process on the specific permitting for these plants, and the possible denial of permit applications late in the development cycle, further diminishing the Virginia solar queue needed to meet the VCEA’s goals. The issue here lies in the fact that both the solar component and the storage component are integral to the entirety of a hybrid project. Hybrid projects are planned, designed and engineered from the ground up to incorporate storage into the overall solar plant. This design supports a specific business model, which is much more complex than a solar only project. A developer could not simply remove the storage component from a hybrid project, that would be like trying to unscramble an egg. This legislation is designed to remedy the current predicament that we find ourselves in. By placing hybrid and standalone storage under the Permit By Rule process, this synchronizes and streamlines the permitting processes in the state for renewable, hybrid and standalone storage projects better enabling Virginia to meet its stated renewable goals. For these reasons, we thank you for your consideration and strongly support HB 2148. Sincerely, Frank DePew President & CEO Urban Grid Solar

Last Name: Smucker Organization: Chesapeake Solar and Storage Association (formally known as MDV-SEIA) Locality: Richmond City

CHESSA is in opposition to Delegate Webert's HB 2067, as it would shrink the MW limit on PBR solar projects from 150MWs (current code) to 50MWs, cutting the size of eligible projects by 2/3rds. This policy would work against the Commonwealth's directive by the VCEA and directly prohibit us from successfully achieving Virginia's ambitious clean energy goals. CHESSA supports Delegate Willet's HB 2148, which adds energy storage to the "Permit by Rule" (PBR) program, which will allow battery storage and hybrid (storage + renewables) projects to use DEQ's PBR process for permitting. This model program ensures that projects are permitted safely and quickly and remains a key attraction to solar developers. By expanding and streamlining this process for hybrid and standalone storage projects, the Commonwealth will be able to achieve its clean energy goals laid out by the VCEA while continuing to attract investment and create jobs in Virginia.

HB2159 - Balloons; release of nonbiodegradable balloons outdoors prohibited, civil penalty.
Last Name: Caywood Locality: Virginia Beach

I support HB2159 because what goes up inevitably comes down and creates litter and hazards to wildlife. Balloons snagged in trees can end in bird nests strangling nestlings. Deflated balloons washed out to sea choke sea turtles. And helium is not a renewable resource, but it has far more important uses. There are many other symbolic ways to honor life's milestones. Balloon releases are a totally unnecessary hazard.

Last Name: Jones Locality: McLean

I urge you to pass the ban on the intentional release of balloons into the sky. These balloons must all come down somewhere, rarely where they were released and could potentially be picked up. They are eaten by our animals and litter our landscape and there is absolutely no reason to do this. Please ban the intentional release of balloons! Thank you.

Last Name: Spanoulis Organization: Virginia Aquarium Locality: Virginia Beach

As the CEO of the Virginia Aquarium, I ask that you pass this bill to prohibit the intentional release of balloons. Balloons are the most common piece of litter found on our beaches, and have a devastating impact on our wildlife. Many of the animals the Virginia Aquarium removes from our beaches have balloon debris in their stomachs, not to mention the numerous other animals like birds that become entangled in them and suffer devastating consequences. This bill does not prevent you from purchasing a balloon, rather it correctly classifies the INTENTIONAL release of a balloon as liter. Please support this bill and protect our wildlife and their habitats.

Last Name: Marquez Locality: Fairfax

Please ban the release of balloons. When people release them, they do not think about where they end up, which is often in natural areas and waterways. Birds and mammals mistake the colorful balloons for food, and end up dying from malnutrition and obstruction. They also can be strangled with strings.

Last Name: Haluska Organization: Self Locality: Chesapeake

I am in complete support of this bill. I find mylar balloons in the Indian River when I go canoeing. These don't break down and continue to be a detriment to the ecological health of the waterway for many years. Releasing balloons outside should not be allowed. Dr. James Haluska Chesapeake, VA

Last Name: Newberry Locality: Oakton

As both a professional and amateur naturalist and native Virginian, I have covered much of this wonderful state pursuing its special flora and fauna. In many of the places I have visited, I have found balloons and their associated ribbon. I have discovered dozens of balloons in otherwise protected and trash free nature preserves, including several on the shores of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Each balloon I find I make a point of collecting to dispose of properly, however I am certain that there are far more lost and abandoned balloons out there harming our treasured wildlife than I am ever able to collect. Balloon litter must be stopped at the source. I urge you to support this bill to ban intentional balloon releases.

Last Name: Pavis-Shroeder Locality: Fairfax County

I was probably eight or nine when I first saw the campaign to recycle the plastic rings for six-pack beverages. The images on the campaign were terrible; wrapped around the necks of ducks, around turtle's shells and bellies, restricting their growth, around dolphin fins. I have not oncer - literally not ONCE - seen a six-pack plastic ring without cutting it. Friends' house, school event, my own house. It's a compulsion. I can't NOT do it. I also cannot release a balloon into the air, knowing where it ends up once it pops. In the stomachs of Canadian Geese. Inside the fish we eat. The ribbons wrapped around the necks of wildlife. Please support the ban on knowingly releasing balloons. Please also support a recycling campaign that will show how caring for our environment makes a positive difference. Thank you.

Last Name: Hindle Locality: Suffolk

Wholeheartedly support banning balloon releases!

Last Name: Thompson Locality: Virginia Beach

This important bill will have a positive impact on our wildlife. Please support this endeavor.

Last Name: Boehmer Organization: Environment Virginia Locality: Richmond

Support HB 2159- banning the intentional release of balloons. While it may not seem like balloons are a big issue when it comes to the plastic pollution crisis, evidence says otherwise. A study by the Virginia Aquarium found balloons to be one of the most harmful and frequently occurring form of debris on beaches across the Virginia coastline. According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy balloons are found to pose some of the greatest risks to wildlife including adverse effects from entanglement and ingestion. Wildlife affected in the study included seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There are many other ways to celebrate or remember that do not normalize and encourage plastic pollution and threaten our wildlife. Balloon releases are organized litter events and they should be treated as such. And it is important to remember that we already have existing laws on littering. Concerns that enforcement of this law would target children or teenagers is inconsistent with how litter laws are enforced right now and should be addressed when looking at our broader litter laws which have a higher penalty. Oppose HB 2173- “Advanced” Recycling definition. While we appreciate Del Plum's commitment to addressing our plastic pollution crisis, I am afraid this is not the solution. Despite claims to create like-new plastic products, the industry has almost exclusively employed technologies to convert or “downcycle” plastics into fossil fuels. Processes include pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis, and gasification. Of the dozens of facilities that have been proposed in the U.S., only 3 are currently operational and none have been proven to successfully recover plastic to make new plastics on a commercial scale. Recent investigative reports from Greenpeace and GAIA have further exposed these truths. Chemical “recycling” does not recycle. This bill would open Virginia up to industry that is not beneficial to the environment while other states are actively trying to eliminate new facilities. There are things Virginia needs to do to reduce waste and increase recycling of what is left. Bottle bills/deposit programs are a great example of just one solution. Chemical recycling is not.

Last Name: Gregoty Locality: Chesapeake

Ban balloon releases. Save an animal’s life. Reduce needless litter. Please, support the ban on balloon releases.

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax strongly opposed HB2173 to define advanced recycling as a manufacturing process. The Oregon Agilyx facility is often highlighted as a successful advanced recycling facility. In 2018, only around one-tenth of the expanded polystyrene Agilyx processed was actually turned into styrene and a similar amount was burned in cement kilns which are usually used to burn hazardous waste. This tells us the fuel produced by Agilyx was too contaminated or too low quality to use as fuel. In 2019, Agilyx processed only 641 tons of polystyrene - a miniscule portion of the 560,000 tons of container and packaging waste generated in the US every year. This facility received $25 million in private investments and a half million dollars in tax credits- to create of a known carcinogen. These are not the polices we want to bring to Virginia. Advanced recycling, pyrolysis and gasification, in particular, release toxic substances such as bisphenol-A, cadmium, benzene, brominated compounds, phthalates, lead, tin, antimony, and volatile organic compounds. Advanced recycling can’t handle mixed plastic polymers or black plastic and is also unable to recycle expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers. Advanced recycling is being sold by polluting corporations as a means to ensure their harmful products remain a fixture in our communities and waterways. The answer to the plastic pollution crises is reducing waste at its source. The answer is not succumbing to powerful corporations and building harmful facilities around our most vulnerable communities. Human health and economic development are not mutually exclusive, we should not be putting communities in the impossible situation to choose their personal and environmental health over having a job. Clean Fairfax supports HB 2159 to ban the intentional release of balloons Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Bort Locality: Norfolk

I would like to add my support to a complete ban of intentional balloon releases. As a marine biologist with 20 years of experience working with marine mammals (10 of them here in Virginia), I cannot stress enough the importance of reducing sources of marine debris. I've lived and worked in several areas along the coast and have not seen the levels of balloon litter in local waterways as I have here in Virginia and have been helping with the effort to collect data on the issue. This is a simple thing we can put into law to help stop this source of marine debris, and likely save protected and endangered marine species.

Last Name: Haycox Locality: Virginia Beach

Our marine life desperately needs HB2159 to be passed. There’s already so much they have to fight. This is such a no brainer, super easy fix!

Last Name: Robinson Locality: Norfolk

I am writing in support of HB2159. As a professional who has worked with wildlife and conservation, I can tell you firsthand the damage balloons have done to the local flora and fauna. The Virginia coast is a major tourist destination and people find garbage on our beaches and in our water, we need to take action. Balloons travel miles and fall into our oceans, tangle in our tress and livestock consumes them in fields. Banning balloon releases has no negative economic impact, only positive by sending a message that Virginia cares about the environment. Balloons are not a necessity, they are a frivolous party favor. We have seen the positive effects of banning littering, balloon releases are littering events. Why are we condoning releasing garbage into the air?! I have faith our government sees the reason behind banning balloon releases and the citizens of Virginia support the ban as well. Thank you.

Last Name: MacDonald Locality: Leesburg

Legislation prohibiting the release of balloons is long overdue in Virginia. Volunteers participating in the International Coastal Cleanup over the past 20 years report that balloons are the 12th most frequently collected items from our shorelines. We know that helium filled balloons are a major source of airborne pollution into our waterways. With more than 7,200 miles of shoreline in Virginia, these balloons have an impact on wildlife, ecosystems, coastal economies and, ultimately, on humans. We've all see the photo of the turtle about to eat the plastic in the water. Let's remove help remove these balloons from our waterways.

Last Name: Hammerquist Locality: Chesapeake

I am expressing my support of this bill. In addition to posing a hazard to wildlife and domestic animals, at times lethal, released balloons are unsightly and a nuisance, often ending up stuck in trees, ponds, and roadside ditches. Property owners are then tasked with retrieving and disposing of them. I can't think of any reason to allow this to continue.

Last Name: Bartz Locality: Albemarle

Hello, I would like to voice my support for HB2159 banning the intentional release of balloons in the Commonwealth. I know this sounds a bit silly on the surface, but balloons can contribute to litter of our beautiful rivers, like the Rivanna, and also pose a threat to our wildlife. I would also like to support the strengthening of conservation easements through HB1760. Working with the Soil and Water Conservation District I've seen the benefits conservation easements have toward water and soil quality here in Virginia. While there is a need for development to address housing needs in the state, we shouldn't be redirecting land set aside for conservation for this purpose. Thank you, Navarre Bartz

Last Name: Holtz Locality: OAKTON

I support HB 2159 to Ban Intentional Balloon Releases. I regularly pick up pieces of balloons and strings while doing trash clean ups on land and in water in northern Virginia. They are a huge danger to wildlife that eat them or get entangled in them. Allowing balloon releases is no different than allowing people to launch trash in the air & watch if fall to the ground or in the water. We can do better for Virginia wildlife.

Last Name: OHara Locality: Virginia Beach

Dear Delegates, As a marine scientist with 35 years of research experience on the problems caused by manmade debris in the marine environment, I am writing in support of HB2159 to stop the intentional releasing of helium-filled balloons into the environment. During an ongoing study of Virginia’s most remote beaches we have documented more than 11,000 balloons and balloon related litter items. During our most recent survey we found more than 200 balloon litter items on just 1/2 mile of Fishermen Island National Wildlife Refuge on Virginia’s remote eastern shore. Balloons are more than a litter problem. As a member of the Virginia Aquarium’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Team, I have witnessed first-hand the danger balloon litter poses to wildlife including endangered sea turtles and marine mammals. Thirty years ago, I worked to help pass Virginia’s current law which makes it illegal to release more than 49 balloons of any type within a one hour period (Virginia State Code: 29.1-101.1). As the first state to pass legislation addressing the intentional release of balloons, Virginia became a leader and many states and localities have also enacted balloon laws. At that time, however, we did not know the full extent of the balloon problem on Virginia’s wildlife and beaches. We now have solid research. It is my hope that Virginia can once again be a leader on this important issue by passing HB-2159. Thank you for considering this important bill.

Last Name: Weber Locality: Chesapeake

Please support Delegate Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. As an environmental volunteer in Chesapeake, I participate in several community cleanups throughout the year. Balloon litter accounts for a significant part of our collections along roadsides and in our parks. In addition to contributing to litter, balloons and the attached string can have a devastating, often deadly effect on wildlife when it becomes entangled in the balloon debris. Floating balloon debris can appear as food to marine wildlife and when consumed, can have the same devastating effect. Please support this bill and stop allowing litter in the form of intentional balloon releases! Amy Weber, Chesapeake

Last Name: Vehrs Locality: Prince William

I am writing in favor of HB 2159 to Ban Intentional Balloon Releases. Balloons do not just float "away." There is no magical "away." They eventually fall to Earth and become unsightly litter. They are dangerous to wildlife because they may appear as food (especially in water) and be ingested to fatal consequences. Ribbons and strings can wrap around appendages and necks of animals. Please vote in favor of HB 2159. Nancy Vehrs Manassas, Virginia

Last Name: Coyne Locality: Virginia Beach

I am in support of the HB2159 Bill, to ban the release of non biodegradable balloons. As a naturalist, avid surfer, and Virginia Beach resident for over 56 years I have encountered wildlife entanglements from both the balloon and the string. I would suggest adding to that description of the Bill to include “and any non biodegradable string” the affixed string poses as much if not more of the concern for wildlife entanglement which may lead to death.

Last Name: Brandt Organization: Weasel Creek Watershed Expeditions Locality: Arlington

Latex and Mylar balloons are deadly to wildlife and do not biodegrade. Please ban intentional balloon releases.

Last Name: Bushnell Locality: Virginia Beach

Please support HB 2159 which prohibits the intentional release of any non-biodegradable balloon outdoors. I live in the Thalia neighborhood of Virginia Beach and I am an avid kayaker. Every time I go out I bring two large trash bags to pick up all the trash that I find in the creek. Balloons are among the trash I find. My husband recently went offshore on a boat and they counted 7 sea turtles and 8 helium balloons in the water. Animals and birds can ingest bits of balloons and die. Children love balloons and they are a part of party decorations. This bill does not outlaw balloons, only releasing them outdoors where they can cause harm. We can make a minor sacrifice to have a healthier environment and save our wildlife. Please take a leadership position on this and support HB 2159. Thank you.

Last Name: Putnam Locality: Albemarle County

Please support HB2159 and ban the intentional release of nonbiodegradable balloons. Keep Virginia roadsides and streams beautiful by preventing this form of litter. The balloons eventually come back down to earth to become litter or worse to strangle marine life. Every day I see plastic bags or balloons caught up in the branches of trees and there they remain for weeks, months, and even years. They never go away! We must take action to stop plastic pollution. This is a simple action that everyone should be able to support. It is easy to find non-polluting alternatives to mark our celebrations.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Chesapeake

I support this bill. Seems like someone is always releasing balloons for all sorts of occasions and people don't think about what goes up must come down.

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Racette Locality: Charlottesville

I very much support a ban on the intentional release of balloons. Balloons are mistaken for food by wildlife and ingestion causes death. We can find appropriate ways to celebrate and ban balloon releases.

Last Name: Killius Organization: James River Association Locality: Richmond

The James River Association appreciates the opportunity to register our support for HB2159, a bill that will ban intentional balloon releases and reduce the amount of plastic pollution harming our coastal and marine habitats and wildlife . We thank the patron for dedication to this issue, and we urge the Committee to support the bill.

Last Name: Boehmer Organization: Environment Virginia Locality: Richmond

On behalf of Environment Virginia, I strongly urge you to support HB2159 and ban intentional balloon releases. Balloons are litter and should be treated as such. While it may not seem like balloons are a big issue when it comes to the plastic pollution crisis, evidence says otherwise. A study by Longwood University showed that balloon debris not including some balloon ribbons makes up 6.5% of all litter found on some of the most remote beaches along Virginia’s coastline. A similar study by the Virginia Aquarium found balloons to be one of the most harmful and frequently occurring form of debris on beaches across the Virginia coastline. According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy balloons are found to pose some of the greatest risks to wildlife including adverse effects from entanglement and ingestion. Wildlife affected in the study included seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There are many other ways to celebrate or remember that do not normalize and encourage plastic pollution and threaten our wildlife. Balloon releases are organized litter events and they should be treated as such. Please vote in favor of this bill.

Last Name: Burke Locality: Chesapeake

Releasing balloons is littering. What goes up, must come down. This is bad for wildlife, especially sea turtles that eat them, thinking they are jellyfish. Balloons released inland can travel 200s of miles. Mylar balloons conduct electricity and are a potential electrocution hazard. Please report this bill.

Last Name: Wood Organization: Oceana Locality: Washington, DC

Oceana Comments HB 2159 - Balloons; release of nonbiodegradable balloons outdoors prohibited, civil penalty January 19, 2021 Thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of HB 2159, prohibiting the intentional release or discarding of nonbiodegradable balloons. Oceana works to advance science-based policies that will restore the ocean’s abundance and biodiversity. We represent 24,630 Oceana supporters across Virginia, and we stand in strong support of HB 2159 and urge the Virginia General Assembly to pass this important legislation. Balloons, which can travel hundreds of miles after they’re released, must land somewhere. Those released anywhere in the state could end up in the Chesapeake Bay, which is home to hundreds of bird species, including many that are threatened with extinction. A 2019 scientific report found that among the marine debris items ingested by seabirds, balloons were the most likely to result in death. Plastic pollution like balloons can affect other types of marine life in addition to seabirds. After surveying dozens of government agencies, organizations, and institutions that collect data on the impact of plastic on marine animals, Oceana found evidence of nearly 1,800 animals from 40 different species swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic since 2009. Of those animals, a staggering 88% were from species listed as endangered or threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists have found plastic floating on the surface of the ocean, washing up on the world’s most remote coastlines, melting in Arctic sea ice, raining onto the Rocky Mountains, and even sitting at the deepest part of the ocean floor. Plastic pollution is everywhere, including off the coast of Virginia and in the Chesapeake Bay. According to a 2014 study, microplastics were found in 59 out of 60 water samples from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Passing HB 2159 and prohibiting the intentional release of balloons in Virginia would go far in protecting our marine life, coastal ecosystems, and coastal communities from the impact of discarded balloons and preventing one source of dangerous plastic pollution. We thank you for the opportunity to provide comments and urge you to pass this important legislation. Thank you for your time and consideration. Caroline Wood Field Campaigns Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region

Last Name: Dannenberg Organization: N/A Locality: Charlottesville

Please support a ban on the intentional release of balloons HB2159. What goes up does come down again & creates litter in water, on the land, on roadways, etc. It harms wildlife that ingest it by mistake or get tangled up in it. They die. All for a few moments of visual pleasure? That's selfish. Selfishness ends at noon on Jan 20th.

Last Name: Deppe Organization: Virginia Coastal Alliance Locality: Virginia Beach

The Virginia Coastal Alliance, a coalition of seventeen environmentally focused organizations and businesses in Coastal Virginia, voices strong support for Delegate Guy’s bill HB 2159 which bans intentional outdoor balloon releases in Virginia. Currently, the balloon litter problem is among the Commonwealth’s top four priorities according to the Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan. Balloon debris is pervasive throughout Coastal Virginia and the various components of balloons, ranging from ribbons, to balloons, to fasteners, all fall into the category of single-use plastics. Single-use Plastics never leave the marine environment and only break down into smaller and smaller pieces, which eventually add to our growing micro-plastics problem. Please ban balloon releases now, so that we can stop adding to Coastal Virginia’s plague of plastic debris in our Ocean, Bays and Rivers.

Last Name: Forget Organization: Lynnhaven River NOW Locality: Norfolk

Lynnhaven River NOW strongly supports Delegate Guy’s bill HB 2159 which bans intentional outdoor balloon releases in Virginia. All eight watersheds encompassed by the City of Virginia Beach are plagued by balloon litter in our waterways, trees, landscapes, and powerlines. In fact, balloon debris is among the top three forms of litter observed in surveys of our remote beaches. In addition to the nuisance of balloon debris and its persistent nature as a single use plastic, it kills and injures wildlife, both terrestrial and marine, as well as domestic livestock. Balloons are particularly harmful to sea turtles, marine mammals, and birds, all of whom see this debris as a potential food item. Now is the time to ban balloon releases and move on to more environmentally friendly ways to celebrate special occasions.

Last Name: Sheldon Organization: The Nature Conservancy Locality: Richmond

The Nature Conservancy supports HB 2159. Marine debris is a globally recognized issue and balloons are part of the problem. Released balloons kill wildlife and harm marine environments. The Nature Conservancy stewards 14 barrier islands on the Eastern Shore, which shelter more than 250 species of raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds which find food in the adjacent bays and salt marshes. Additionally, we have helped restore 9,000 acres of eelgrass meadows on the Shore, which serves as habitat for threatened and endangered sea turtles. Marine debris, including balloons which can mimic food sources, pose threats to these species. Banning the intentional release of balloons is a simple step that can have an immense positive impact on these species.

Last Name: Register Organization: Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University Locality: Prince Edward County

Dear Delegates, Based on 26 years of statewide data collected by volunteers during litter cleanups, I am writing in support of HB2159 and other efforts to stop the intentional releasing of helium-filled balloons into the environment. Alternative methods to celebrate and have memorial services are available, acceptable and affordable. DATA DRIVEN DECISION: Volunteers during the annual International Coastal Cleanup in Virginia (organized by Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University) not only remove trash from Virginia’s environment, but they also collect data. Data show that balloons (foil and latex) as well as plastic ribbons accumulate on Virginia beaches—In fact, balloon-related litter items are often the #1 most frequently found type of debris on our beaches! While balloons can be found littered anywhere, our research shows that they accumulate in coastal environments between the high tide line and the dune vegetation, which is critical habitat for nesting shorebirds, sea turtles, and diamondback terrapins. Balloons and plastic ribbons are among the deadliest types of ocean trash to all kinds of wildlife including sea turtles and birds. The amount of balloon litter that can be found on a small stretch of remote beach is quite alarming. In November 2020, a total of 212 pieces of balloon-related litter were documented—and removed—from just one-half mile of shoreline Clean Virginia Waterway recently released a report (Deadly Litter: Balloons and Plastic Ribbons on Virginia’s Coastal Beaches) that points out helium is an exhaustible natural resource that cannot be produced economically or efficiently, and the biggest consumer use of helium is in party balloons. It also points out that balloons contacting power lines are a major source of electrical power outages. Download (free) all of CVW’s reports on marine debris and litter in Virginia from: http://www.longwood.edu/cleanva/publications.html Every released balloon becomes litter and can be harmful. So passing this common-sense bill will prevent a deadly form of litter from Virginia’s waterways, coastal waters, and beaches. I can be reached at registerkm@longwood.edu or 434-395-2602 if your committee would like more details on the 26-years of data collected by Virginia’s volunteers about Virginia’s litter problems. Regards, Katie Register, Executive Director Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University registerkm@longwood.edu

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax supports Delegate Guy's HB 2159 to ban intentional balloon releases. When balloons are released they may be out of sight, but they are definitely do not disappear. Balloons are regularly found during clean ups and known to harm more than 30 animal species. Even the Balloon Council recommends against releasing balloons because they acknowledge the hazards of their product. The current Virginia law which allows the release of 49 balloons every hour needs to be fixed. We hope the committee takes advantage of this important opportunity. Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Monroe Locality: Virginia Beach

I live on Chic's Beach and while enjoying our shore, I am constantly finding plastic (to include balloons). I pick up what I can, and I often see other people with trash bags doing the same, but it's impossible to keep up with. Please pass this bill, so not only people who release balloons can be educated, but also reprimanded for doing so. Our shores hold vital and fragile ecosystems, and stopping balloon releases will be a small, but important step to protecting them.

Last Name: Hobgood Locality: Suffolk

Please be sure that this important bill is passed and becomes part of our reality. Littering is illegal and this is littering - it's truly as simple as that. Balloons (and all plastics) never breakdown. Once manufactured, they will persist in the environment forever. We are wreaking havoc on this beautiful planet. You cannot drive down a road in this country or walk through a parking lot without seeing litter: plastic bags strung from trees, bottles stuck along riverbanks, fast food packaging blowing in the wind - and in the age of COVID - masks and gloves littering the pavement for as far as the eye can see. We have done so many horrible things to this planet that gives us so much; we have been so incredibly selfish. Times change, minds change, we should learn and grow in all areas of our lives. We should learn, as a species, to be more accepting, more loving, more compassionate, and to be more green should be chief among those goals. We should not continue to harm our planet because it is meaningful to small group or because we didn't know better before, or even because we are still ignorant to the true harm we are causing. None of this is an excuse for inaction. Let's start here, with small changes like this, to make our plant a healthier, kinder, more beautiful place for all creatures great and small and for future generations.

Last Name: Rogard Ross Locality: Chesapeake

Please approve HB2159 to prohibit the outdoor release of balloons. What goes up, does come down. Releasing balloons is littering and puts harmful balloons and any attached strings into natural areas, waterways, and the ocean. At a minimum they are unsightly garbage. At worse they are hazards that can choke wildlife including dolphins, whales, and turtles. This one is easy. Approve HB2159. Thank you for your consideration. Rogard Ross Chesapeake, VA

Last Name: Moore Organization: Residents of Virginia Beach Oceanfront Residents Locality: Virginia Beach

I have lived in Virginia Beach since 2004 and have been an oceanfront resident since 2005. I received my education at CNU in 2002 and completed my Thesis in the Outer Banks specifically on the benefits of vegetation for wildlife on barrier islands. Since then I have worked primarily and exclusively in the environmental field at some capacity involving wildlife preservation of some sort. Since my time, as a professional, working within the coastal environment I have seen how destructive balloons are to the wildlife, especially marine life. Balloon releases should be made illegal as they are detrimental to the environment. "If the environment isn't your bottom line, you are either an Economist or an idiot" - Yvonne Chiounard

Last Name: Burbank Locality: Virginia beach

GET RID OF ANY/all polystyrene containers. No good for the environment on the production OR usage of said items. NEONICOTINOIDS are killing pollinators by the billions. STOP USAGE OF ALL NEONICOTINOIDS, period!! Senior citizens have been paying exorbitant fees/taxes in VB; the very least you can do is let us park for free. Nit only in parks, but all public parking facilities in Va. Beach!! BALLOONS KILL ANIMALS. Intentional balloon release is ridiculous, and should not be allowed. Proven to kill hundreds (if not thousands) of animals/sea life per year. Production of balloon is poison to our ecosystem; release of them is folly and unnecessary. They take WAYYYY TOO LONG TO DECOMPOSE. They pollute waterways and forests. Outlaw the release of ANY balloons.

Last Name: Klotz Locality: Virginia Beach

In no way should this bill have needed another submission. The damage loose balloons cause to the environment is crystal clear by now. Aside from a 5min moment of happiness at release, nothing good comes from it. Please, please, please use common sense & pass this ban overwhelmingly.

Last Name: Wheeler Locality: Virginia Beach

As a resident of Virginia Beach I see first hand what balloon release can do to the local marine wildlife, it's terrible seeing poor animals and birds tangled, struggling, injured, and killed by balloons. Its a simple process to deflate them and discard them properly to protect wildlife and keep their habitats safe. I support this bill!

Last Name: Armus Organization: The Humane Society of the United States Locality: Richmond

My name is Molly Armus and I am the Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. Representing our members and supporters across Virginia, the Humane Society of the United States strongly supports HB 2159. This legislation is aimed at ending environmentally unsound balloon releases in Virginia. While releasing a helium balloon into the atmosphere during a celebratory event or a solemn memorial may be visually pleasing, it is extremely detrimental to the environment and the pain and suffering experienced by animals as a result of these releases is staggering. Discarding a balloon into the atmosphere is simply littering. Once released, balloons can travel for hundreds of miles before they burst or deflate and become litter. Seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are injured or killed after ingesting or becoming entangled in balloons and their strings. Animals on land such as horses, cows, and other farm animals are also at risk. Balloons are commonly made of latex or mylar materials and present a danger to animals who perceive them as food, or they may get caught in the ribbons attached to them, hindering their ability to move around and feed. For example, when balloons burst, they resemble jellyfish, the natural prey of sea turtles, and subsequently block their digestive tract when ingested. Seabirds are at particular risk, as a recent study found that balloons are the leading marine debris risk of mortality for seabirds. Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warn against the practice. Even so-called ‘biodegradable’ balloons take years to break down in the environment. Therefore, wildlife and marine animals will continue to ingest them. A study found more than 18,000 balloons, strings, and other pieces were picked up along the Great Lakes shorelines in Detroit from 2016 to 2018. Virginia’s beaches, mountains, and fields are resources worthy of the greatest standards of protection. There are eco-friendly alternatives to balloon releases that are appropriate for celebratory or solemn events including lighting a candle, creating a charity fundraiser, planting a tree, or organizing a service day. As we become aware of the harmful implications of balloon releases, we need to change our behavior accordingly and ensure we are compassionate not only towards humans, but toward all living beings. Thank you for your consideration of this important legislation. We respectfully urge a favorable report on HB 2159.

Last Name: Smith Organization: Rudee Tours and Eco Maniac Company Locality: Virginia Beach

The release of any type of balloon is uncalled for and kills way to many wildlife we need a much bigger fine for those that intend to kill those wildlife with the balloons

Last Name: Culver Organization: Virginia Beach City Public Schools Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Marie T. Culver and I am a Gifted Resource Teacher at Seatack Elementary An Achievable Dream Academy and I am a strong supporter of sustainability and environmental education. I am asking for your support of Delegate Nancy Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. As a teacher, I teach our students and teachers in Virginia Beach City Public Schools about the importance of celebrating with other ways besides balloons and the importance of this bill on our oceans and wildlife. Our students have written letters in support and have shared many ways that they have planted trees and used bubbles etc to honor their loved ones and special days. They have participated in mock turtle stranding and even created trash talking turtles, octopus, and jellyfish with the importance of balloons and trash to teach others We have a Solution 2 Ocean Pollution Summit each year with our students leading the discussion and pledge to ban using balloons at these events . It is so essential for all of us to embrace this initiate. Thank you for all that you do to to support our oceans and wildlife in our communities like Virginia Beach and other coastal communities.

Last Name: Shirey Locality: Chesapeake, VA

My name is Lacy Shirey and I reside and work in the city of Chesapeake, VA. Please support Delegate Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. I participate in several community cleanups throughout the year and balloon litter is often a significant part of our collection. I work in animal welfare and some of my colleagues are wildlife rehabilitators. Over the past twelve years, I've seen first-hand the harm that balloons and balloon string can have on wildlife if consumed or entangled in balloon debris. Sadly, it can often be fatal. There are many great alternatives and ways to honor a loved one so we need to stop allowing litter in the form of balloon releases!

Last Name: Trapani Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Christina Trapani and I am a marine debris researcher as well as a small business owner in Virginia Beach. I am asking for your support of Delegate Nancy Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. Balloons that are released will come back to earth and turn into dangerous litter. Balloons and their ribbons have been documented to have harmed marine wildlife, terrestrial wildlife and livestock. These balloons can also land on farmland causing fouling issues with crops such as cotton and hay. As a researcher of plastic pollution in Virginia, I have witnessed balloons and their ribbons littering our remote beaches, often being recorded as one of the most common types of litter. We recently recorded and removed more than 200 balloons and ribbons in about a 1/2 mile portion of a protected beach on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Though sometimes marketed as “biodegradable”, latex balloons released into the environment act just like other plastic waste – they can persist for years, fouling habitats and threatening wildlife. There is no such as thing as a harmless biodegradable balloon. It is time to change this law and I hope that you all will support this bill going forward. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Rhodes Organization: Virginia Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation Locality: Virginia Beach

The Virginia Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation supports bill HB2159, which prohibits the intentional release of balloons. Many people do not realize that balloons are released purposely at special events like: weddings, funerals, graduations, and sports games. Releasing a balloon is no different than littering, as the balloon eventually comes back down, often times in the ocean. Once there, many types of sea life can be negatively affected by the balloon itself, or the ribbon. Additionally, mylar balloons in particular are commonly responsible for electricity outages. We request that any language referring to “biodegradable” balloons be stricken from the bill, as this will only cause confusion. Yes, latex balloons are technically biodegradable, but the amount of time it takes for a latex balloon to biodegrade in the environment makes this point moot, as animals can still swallow and choke on them in the meantime. It will also cause confusion for the consumer, implying to them that it is fine to release certain types of balloons. Thank you for taking our comments. Aimee Rhodes, Chair Virginia Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation

Last Name: DeHart Locality: Hampton

Virginia state is blessed with a variety of habitats. There are also many endangered animals in and around Virgina state. Balloons pose a great risk to terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. Even the latex versions take several years before they decompose. This leaves more than ample time for wildlife to ingest or become tangled in balloons that have been released and fallen. If I were to empty a bag of deflated balloons on the ground this would be littering. I don't see how releasing balloons into the air, that later fall to the Earth is not seen as the same. There are several grassroots movements that have tried to encourage people to stop releasing balloons. This has not been enough and it is time for lawmakers to step in and for there to be real consequences for those that continue to pollute our lands and waters .

Last Name: Swingle Organization: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Locality: Virginia Beach

I am Mark Swingle, Chief of Research & Conservation at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and am writing in support of Delegate Guy's bill HB-2159 to ban the outdoor release of balloons. We have extensive data documenting the prevalence of balloon litter on Virginia’s coastal beaches and in ocean, bay and inland waterways. There is substantial evidence of the dangers posed by balloon litter to wildlife, livestock, agricultural operations, and even power lines. During a four year, state-wide study of marine debris on coastal beaches of Virginia, balloons were in the top-five most common items recorded on three of the four beaches studied. Surveys on Virginia’s remote, uninhabited barrier islands documented more than 11,000 balloons and balloon related litter items. During some of these surveys, more than 150 balloons and balloon parts were recorded per mile of beach. In addition, balloons can travel great distances and impact even remote areas. We have documented balloons on coastal beaches from as far away as Northern Virginia and even other states. This is not a small problem. Balloon litter injures and kills wildlife and livestock. More than thirty animal species are known to be impacted by balloons. The Virginia Aquarium’s nationally recognized marine animal stranding response team has documented numerous balloons ingested by endangered sea turtles and marine mammals. The extent of the harm to wildlife including birds is widespread, well documented, and can be lethal. Though sometimes marketed as “biodegradable”, balloons released into the environment, even latex balloons, act just like other plastic waste – they can persist for years, fouling habitats and threatening wildlife. Even The Balloon Council trade association, through its Smart Balloon Practices program, advocates that balloons should not be intentionally released. Currently in Virginia it is legal to release up to 49 balloons of any type within a one hour period (Virginia State Code: 29.1-101.1). Delegate Guy’s bill does not ban balloons or the sale of balloons. It simply prevents the intentional outdoor release of balloons into the environment and imposes a reasonable civil penalty of $25 per balloon for violations. In summary, we believe that Virginia’s current law regarding balloon releases is outdated and needs to be changed to prevent further environmental impacts. Virginia was one of the first states to introduce legislation prohibiting mass balloon releases in 1991. We now have the documentation and knowledge to know that any balloon releases can pose significant harm to coastal habitats and dangers to wildlife. Virginia can once again be a leader on this important issue by passing HB-2159. Thank you for considering this important bill for Virginia's wildlife and habitats.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) supports Del. Webert’s HB1760 and Del. Guy’s HB2159. We hope that is the pleasure of the subcommittee to support these bills.

Last Name: Thereault Locality: Virginia Beach

I am so very alarmed by all the litter that is in our environment, including balloons. I pick of trash on a regular basis wherever I walk and happen to be near the ocean, bay, and various waterways quite a lot. It is truly unsustainable what we are doing by way of littering. As to balloons—Both today and yesterday, while going about my business, I watched as balloons floated out over the ocean and bay. I could do nothing but pray that they do know harm to unsuspecting/undeserving animal(s). Let’s just get something done in this regard. It’s the LEAST that can be done. We also need to do something about all the plastic bags blowing around and into waterways AND cigarette butts by the millions, if not billions, that are pure poison. Thank you for your time. I pray for a good outcome on this bill.

Last Name: Sherry Molina Organization: Trashy gals keep it clean Locality: Virginia Beach Virginia

We are a volunteer environmental awareness group that clean the beaches, Cape Henry trail and most of Hampton roads! And teach Environmental awareness. I have seen firsthand the devastation that these balloons cause. I would like to see the Stop there are better alternatives

Last Name: Copenhaver Organization: Wahine Surf Club Locality: Virginia Beach

We are 100 members strong & are asking intentional balloon release be banned. Our fragile environment needs our assistance. Unfortunately people are often ignorant to the effects of balloons & strings in our environment. There is absolutely NO NEED to release balloons intentionally. We have many alternatives to celebrate or memorialize our loved ones. PLEASE be the voice for our sea turtles, whales, dolphins & our ocean. We know unequivocally the effects of balloons on our environment & as our legislators you have the power & the moral obligation to protect our ocean, our bay, and our marine life. Thank you for banning the intentional release of balloons.

Last Name: Carter Locality: Newport News

I spend 300 days per year on the coastal, and tidal tributary waters of the state of Virginia. I have personally witnessed a drastic increase in the amount of Mylar, and latex balloons littering the surface of my area of operation. Over my career on the water I have personally witnessed multiple accounts of affected sea life from these balloons. I have witnessed balloon pieces in the stomach cavities of fish I was cleaning. I have witnessed sea turtles entangled in balloon ribbon, and have seen turtles fighting for their lives with balloons halfway swallowed. It is a sickening sight to see the affects of balloon pollution. To watch a turtle fighting for its dying breath. I have witnessed bottlenose dolphins with balloon ribbon entangled around their fins, preventing the full development and growth of their flippers. It is not uncommon after a holiday weekend to see hundreds of balloons floating in the lower chesapeake bay and coastal Virginia waters. Please take action on this bill. It is necessary for the continued protection of our valuable marine ecosystem. Regards, Capt. Jonathan C. Carter

Last Name: Feller Organization: Rudee Tours Locality: Virginia Beach

I manage a fleet of head boats out of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center over the past 40 years I have seen balloons floating anywhere from right here on the oceanfront to 70 or 80 miles offshore it’s always been a huge problem and they kill hundreds if not thousands of animals that live in the ocean every year! Releasing balloons needs to be stopped thank you Capt Skip Feller

Last Name: Cassady Locality: Lynchburg

I encourage the Commonwealth of Virginia to join others who have banned the release of non-biodegradable helium balloons into the environment The documented harm to animals and the environment is huge. The balloons drop into mountains streams and the ocean, onto roadsides and cities, heavily contributing to plastic litter (note that the "biodegradable" version - latex - has a six month to four year decomposition rate - a fact to consider as you address this bill). Animals ingest them and die, sea creatures including dolphins, seals and sea turtles become entrapped in the strings an drown. The helium used on balloons is a relatively rare element on earth, and it is needed for fiber optics, welding, MRI scanners, breathing ventilators for infants. cooling nuclear reactors, lasers, LCDs, cryogenics, and rare document preservation, not flying harmful balloons. There are many eco-friendly options to replace the balloons, so don't think that banning their release will take away color and joy from the world. It will simply help Virginia step forward in environmental protection.

HB2173 - Advanced recycling; not considered solid waste management, definitions.
Last Name: Marquez Locality: Mclean

I strongly oppose SB 1164 because it will enable dangerous, polluting fossil fuel facilities to proliferate across Virginia. This bill does not and will not remove plastic pollution from waterways and communities, it actually increases plastic production and creates more waste. It enables harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations with fewer restrictions and reporting requirements of a Landfill for similar. Thank you to Delegate Plum for striking HB 2173 from the docket and we hope it is the will of the committee to oppose this bill as well. Thank you. Danielle Marquez

Last Name: Swingle Organization: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Mark Swingle and I am Chief of Research & Conservation at Virginia’s Aquarium, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. I am reaching out today about one of the most important issues impacting Virginia and our planet, plastic pollution. I, our thousands of members and supporters, and our many partners in the Virginia Conservation Network are urging you to to oppose House Bill 2173. As an aquarium leader and scientist for nearly 40 years, I have seen the significant threat that plastic pollution poses for marine ecosystems and the communities dependent on healthy shorelines. Research conducted by the Virginia Aquarium has documented the impacts of plastic pollution on our coastal habitats and wildlife. That is why I am reaching out to you today to take action to stem the flood of plastic pollution. We are opposing HB-2173, which would exempt ill-conceived and dangerous plans to promote chemical conversion plants, misleadingly labelled as "advanced recycling", from critically important permit regulations intended to protect waterways. These plants are ineffective in addressing plastic waste production and pollution, and produce harmful wastes and greenhouse gas emissions. The most effective way to prevent plastic pollution from littering our beaches and harming sea turtles, birds, dolphins, and other marine life is to reduce plastic production and use, and we have many other key opportunities to do just that. Please help address this plastic crisis in appropriate ways and protect Virginia’s coast, waterways, and communities from plastic pollution by voting NO on HB-2173. Sincerely, Mark Swingle W. Mark Swingle Chief of Research & Conservation P: (757) 385-0326 C: (757) 615-6337 MSwingle@VirginiaAquarium.com Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center 717 General Booth Blvd. Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451

Last Name: Robert Melvin Organization: Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association Locality: Richmond

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I would like to share the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association's support for HB2173. Recyclable material is essential to manufacturing new products under environmental sustainability goals and regulations. Advanced Recycling technology reduces plastic waste and fulfills “plastics packaging circular economy industry standards” identified in VA Code § 2.2-2699.8 - Plastic Waste Prevention Advisory Council. This will help move Virginia towards having the ability to recycle all types of food service containers including polystyrene.

Last Name: Smith Organization: Science amd Environment Locality: Reston

I agree with the respected voices of leading environmental organizations and scientists who are opposed to this legislation. Their concerns are based on scientific and policy expertise - and its way past time for government to listen to science. One voice - Sierra Club Virginia says: “Polluters have created the phrase "chemical recycling" to mislead the public about the practice of burning plastic and other waste material in order to create oil used for energy. As you can imagine, the facilities that employ chemical recycling do demonstrable damage to our climate and the air of the surrounding communities. The General Assembly is currently considering two bills that could expand the chemical recycling industry in our commonwealth by relaxing environmental protections related to burning plastic. “ Please Vote NO

Last Name: Najarian Organization: VA Grassroots Coalition and VA Democracy Forward (VADF) Locality: McLean

I urge you to oppose this bill. 1) The solution coming from the plastics industry is of great concern.  What the industry is labeling ‘advanced recycling’ is largely incineration. Despite five decades of attempted effort, there are currently no operational plants of significant scale available to recycle plastic to new plastic (EU report). 2) If enacted, HB2173 would allow industry to treat plastic as non-solid waste and thus avoid significant environmental oversight and enjoy lower costs. Vulnerable Environmental Justice communities typically end up host to this industry. Please promote legislation to that bans on straws, bags, and polystyrene, in line with federal efforts such as the ‘Break Free from Plastic Act of 2020.

Last Name: Pien Organization: Earth Rise Indivisible, Loudoun Climate Project, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun Earth Justice Team Locality: Leesburg

Plastics is polluting our environment. Now that fossil fuels are being phased out as a source of energy, the fossil fuel industry is looking towards a new use, namely plastics. Plastics pollution, especially in our oceans, is a huge problem. The solution, however, is not the mis-named “Advanced Recycling” program is not the answer. It proposes incinerating plastics and creates new problems: • Burning one ton of plastics emits 3 tons of carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate change. https://materialeconomics.com/publications/the-circular-economy-a-powerful-force-for-climate-mitigation-1 • Toxins are emitted, including: cancer-causing, endocrine- and immune- disrupting dioxins & furans; heavy metals like mercury, cadmium & lead; particulate matter. https://www.no-burn.org/fact-sheet-incineration-and-health/ • Facilities are disproportionately sited in low-income & marginalized communities. https://www.no-burn.org/failingincineratorsreport/ My Ask: For these reasons, I urge you to oppose SB 1164. Please let me know if you have any questions. My affiliated organizations and I count on your support.

Last Name: Pien Organization: Earth Rise Indivisible, Loudoun Climate Project, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun Earth Justice Team Locality: Leesburg

Please oppose this bill. It is deceptive to call incinerating plastic. Harmful toxins will be emitted, frequently impacting marginalized communities. Plastic pollution is a problem that must be addressed, but not by this air polluting method. My faith calls me to recognize the interdependent web of life and to protect our air resources for all communities.

Last Name: Fox Organization: VA Grassroots Coalition, Clean Fairfax Locality: Alexandria

Please vote NO on HB2173. Far from offering "advanced" "solutions' if this bill's wording were accurate it would be called "backward" or even "chicanery" This proposal is the opposite of clean energy - it would actually bring more pollution. This is not what we want to see in our neighborhoods.

Last Name: Kraus Locality: Virginia Beach

As a person of faith and conscience I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Erwin Locality: Charlottesville

As you know, passing this bill will cause more toxic air pollution. Plastic pollution is a major problem around the world and needs to be addressed at its source. This bill is not a solution. It’s a new major problem.

Last Name: Callahan Organization: Year Locality: Triangle

Please consider the effect this will have on all humans.

Last Name: Kasprowicz Locality: Reston

Hi Ken, I want you to know that I think your bill HB 2173 is NOT the answer!! Please withdraw it! There is no clean way to "burn plastics". It releases toxic materials into the air harming all of us in the process. And it AVOIDS dealing with the source of the problem . It attempts to solve one problem but causes another. Styrofoam should be banned altogether. Period. Food establishments USED TO wrap our food in papers and other materials. Companies use to use other materials to keep their products safe in transport and in many cases are returning to compostable formed cardboard type products, compostable "packaging peanuts", etc. Styrofoam is a "forever product". Your bill HB 2173 is trying to do away with the bill making styrofoam illegal. Many companies are finding good ways to take plastics out of the waste stream. They are "spinning" shredded plastics into thread and making clothing, tablecloths and other products. Look at the success of Trex and similar products that use post consumer waste plastics to make their products! There is a huge movement underway to reduce and ultimately eliminate single use plastics. Burning Plastics IS NOT the answer!! It is a practice that will be welcomed by the plastic (oil) industry only. Please don't provide an easy and dirty way out for the plastic industry!!! Thank you, Joan Kasprowicz, Reston VA

Last Name: Schwartz Locality: Albemarle

I am adamantly to opposed to HB 2173. Our state should run as fast as possible away from this terrible idea which doesn't solve a problem, it creates one. Plastic should not be burned as a means of disposal, which will release toxins into the air which will impact health outcomes in neighboring communities. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution."

Last Name: Zehr Locality: Harrisonbug

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Rabie Locality: Harrisonburg

"I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution."

Last Name: Thompson Locality: Harrisonburg

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Burtner Locality: Richmond

“Recycling” chemicals would have a devastating impact on our environment and public health. Please vote no on HB 2173! Thank you, Your constituent, Caryl Burtner 3228 Patterson RVA 23221

Last Name: Sawyer Locality: Palmyra

am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Land Locality: Vienna

As your constituent,. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Ross Organization: Virginia Interfaith Center Locality: Springfield

As climate change wreaks havoc on our world, it is increasingly obvious that our own actions and lifestyles have highly impacted and worsened the natural phenomenon of climate shifting. As a citizen of Springfield, it is utterly imperative that we seek alternate sources of energy, continue recycling, and provide healthy climate actions for future generations of all economic, racial, and other marginalized communities. The churches of Virginia have joined to raise our prayers and our voices to see that we treat our planet with the respect it deserves, and ensure a healthy life for all those to come. Please vote YES on HB 2074 and other initiatives that work to preserve our community so that many may enjoy it for decades of our future. Dixie Ross 7704C Lexton Place Springfield, VA 22152

Last Name: Dyson-Cobb Locality: Lexington

I am a Virginian deeply concerned about the mess we're making of this planet, and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution. This is not "Advanced recycling" - it is advanced environmental and health degradation. Advanced recycling would be finding ways to send plastic containers back to their manufacturers to either re-use if safe, or to bring pressure on them to develop truly sustainable and non-polluting recyclable plastics OR move to other actually recyclable materials.

Last Name: Weber Locality: Richmond

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Petersen Locality: Virginia Beach

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Siegel Locality: Fairfax County

I write to encourage a vote against this Bill, which is scheduled for consideration in the House tomorrow. A vast array of substances is encompassed by the terms “post-use polymers and recovered feedstocks”, which are the core of the proposed definition. All of these “plastics” are removed from regulation as “solid waste” by this Bill, with no environmentally driven regulation put in its place. The move is too sweeping and, its environmental impact has not been the subject of the serious review it deserves. Since the array of substances is so vast, there obviously needs to be a mechanism to examine the effects plastic by plastic.

Last Name: Boehmer Organization: Environment Virginia Locality: Richmond

Support HB 2159- banning the intentional release of balloons. While it may not seem like balloons are a big issue when it comes to the plastic pollution crisis, evidence says otherwise. A study by the Virginia Aquarium found balloons to be one of the most harmful and frequently occurring form of debris on beaches across the Virginia coastline. According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy balloons are found to pose some of the greatest risks to wildlife including adverse effects from entanglement and ingestion. Wildlife affected in the study included seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There are many other ways to celebrate or remember that do not normalize and encourage plastic pollution and threaten our wildlife. Balloon releases are organized litter events and they should be treated as such. And it is important to remember that we already have existing laws on littering. Concerns that enforcement of this law would target children or teenagers is inconsistent with how litter laws are enforced right now and should be addressed when looking at our broader litter laws which have a higher penalty. Oppose HB 2173- “Advanced” Recycling definition. While we appreciate Del Plum's commitment to addressing our plastic pollution crisis, I am afraid this is not the solution. Despite claims to create like-new plastic products, the industry has almost exclusively employed technologies to convert or “downcycle” plastics into fossil fuels. Processes include pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis, and gasification. Of the dozens of facilities that have been proposed in the U.S., only 3 are currently operational and none have been proven to successfully recover plastic to make new plastics on a commercial scale. Recent investigative reports from Greenpeace and GAIA have further exposed these truths. Chemical “recycling” does not recycle. This bill would open Virginia up to industry that is not beneficial to the environment while other states are actively trying to eliminate new facilities. There are things Virginia needs to do to reduce waste and increase recycling of what is left. Bottle bills/deposit programs are a great example of just one solution. Chemical recycling is not.

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax strongly opposed HB2173 to define advanced recycling as a manufacturing process. The Oregon Agilyx facility is often highlighted as a successful advanced recycling facility. In 2018, only around one-tenth of the expanded polystyrene Agilyx processed was actually turned into styrene and a similar amount was burned in cement kilns which are usually used to burn hazardous waste. This tells us the fuel produced by Agilyx was too contaminated or too low quality to use as fuel. In 2019, Agilyx processed only 641 tons of polystyrene - a miniscule portion of the 560,000 tons of container and packaging waste generated in the US every year. This facility received $25 million in private investments and a half million dollars in tax credits- to create of a known carcinogen. These are not the polices we want to bring to Virginia. Advanced recycling, pyrolysis and gasification, in particular, release toxic substances such as bisphenol-A, cadmium, benzene, brominated compounds, phthalates, lead, tin, antimony, and volatile organic compounds. Advanced recycling can’t handle mixed plastic polymers or black plastic and is also unable to recycle expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers. Advanced recycling is being sold by polluting corporations as a means to ensure their harmful products remain a fixture in our communities and waterways. The answer to the plastic pollution crises is reducing waste at its source. The answer is not succumbing to powerful corporations and building harmful facilities around our most vulnerable communities. Human health and economic development are not mutually exclusive, we should not be putting communities in the impossible situation to choose their personal and environmental health over having a job. Clean Fairfax supports HB 2159 to ban the intentional release of balloons Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 2173, a bill to promote advanced plastics recycling. Advanced plastics recycling complements traditional recycling to reduce plastic waste and promotes environmental innovation in the Commonwealth. We thus encourage the committee to report this bill.

Last Name: Sweeney Organization: Virginia Recycling Association Locality: Floyd

It is the policy of the Virginia Recycling Association (VRA) to recognize that the plastic, metal, paper, glass, textiles, electronics and rubber materials generated through curbside and drop-off recycling are commodities that can be bought and sold in an active, and sometimes volatile, international marketplace, and are subject to the same laws of supply and demand that govern the value of any and all other tradable commodities. We support the definition of recycling and advanced recycling as manufacturing and not a waste facility. Manufacturers rely on this feedstock to produce their products. The recycling industry contributes over $1.7 billion to Virginia’s economy. The VRA supports the manufacturing industry by understanding the value of recyclables as a valuable feedstock and commodity. Recycling facilities throughout the state strive to produce quality materials for those manufacturers using their products.

Last Name: MacDonald Locality: Leesburg

Be careful with this one . . . advanced recycling or chemical recycling as it is sometimes called is a term used by the petrochemical industry that promotes the idea of plastic-to-plastic and plastic-to-fuel technologies as a form of recycling. I think it is a good idea not to include advanced recycling as a part of solid waste management, but we want to be careful about legitimizing this industry which is being promoted as a solution for hard-to-recycle plastics. According to a recent report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives who looked at 37 plastic advanced recycling' facilities proposed since the early 2000’s. Of these 37, only three are currently operational and none are successfully recovering plastic to produce new plastic.

Last Name: Medford Organization: Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Locality: Tysons

I am writing to you on behalf of the 700 members of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce to express our support for HB2173. The private sector is ready to offer an innovative solution to specific kinds of waste and we ask that you support this bill. Thank you, Clayton Medford cmedford@novachamber.org

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

End of Comments