For Immediate Release: July 1, 2014
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Rachel Thomas, 804-225-4262 Molly Ward, 804-786-0044

Governor McAuliffe Signs Executive Order Convening Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission


Governor McAuliffe visited First Landing State Park on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach to sign Executive Order 19, convening the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission.

The bipartisan Commission is made up of leaders from around the state including local elected officials, members of the General Assembly, business leaders, environmental advocates, faith leaders, and industry representatives. 

“We need to prepare Virginia’s coastal communities to deal with the growing threat of climate change, which is why I’ve re-convened the Climate Commission for the first time in four years,” stated Governor McAuliffe. “Virginia has the opportunity not only to be a leader in finding creative ways to mitigate climate change in the future but also to adapt to the effects of climate change that we have already begun to see here in the Commonwealth. I have asked Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran to co-chair the Commission, which will focus on protecting Virginia’s citizens, our environment, and our industries in every region of Virginia.” 

This Commission will evaluate the recommendations made by then-Governor Kaine’s Climate Commission, determine what actions were taken on those recommendations, and issue an updated final report.  The Executive Order gives the Commission one year to complete its work. 

Climate Change Commission Members 

Molly Ward, Secretary of Natural Resources
Brian Moran, Secretary of Public Safety
Aubrey Lane, Secretary of Transportation
Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade
Richard Stuart, Senate of Virginia (R)
Barbara Favola, Senate of Virginia (D)
Gordon Helsel, House of Delegates (R)
Eileen Filler-Corn, House of Delegates (D)
Michael Karmis, PhD, Virginia Tech
Ray Toll, Old Dominion University
Patrick Taylor, NASA
John Wells, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary
Michael Mann, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Brett Vassey, Virginia Manufactures Association
Katie Frazier, Virginia Agribusiness Council
Francis Hodsell, Virginia Advanced Energy
Ann Jennings, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Anne Gambardella, Virginia Automobile Dealers Association
Robert M. Blue, Dominion Virginia Power
Charles Patton, Appalachian Power
Bernice McIntyre, Washington Gas Light Company
Jerome Barber, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple
Nikki Rovner, The Nature Conservancy
Cale Jaffe, Southern Environmental Law Center
Walton Shepherd, Natural Resources Defense Council
Ivy Main, Sierra Club
Michael Town, League of Conservation Voters
Hap Connors, Commonwealth Transportation Board
Kenneth Wright, Mayor of Portsmouth
Daniel LaShof, Next Generation Climate Action
Neil Gray, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Richard Groover, Virginia Academy of Science
Mike Toalson, Home Builders Association of Virginia
Dr. JoAnn Haysbert, Hampton University
Jagadish Shukla, Institute of Global Environment and Society, George Mason University 

The full text of Executive Order 19 is below:



Importance of the Issue 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has identified some Virginia coastal areas as among the most vulnerable to sea level rise in the nation, and the U.S. Navy Task Force Climate Change has identified Naval Station Norfolk as one of its most endangered installations. The Chesapeake Bay is particularly susceptible to damage caused by climate change. While Virginia has taken certain steps to mitigate the effects of climate change, it is imperative that the Commonwealth redouble its efforts in the face of this looming problem. 

In 2008, Governor Kaine established the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change to address these concerns. The Commission’s final report outlined the impact that changing weather conditions have on Virginia’s built environment, natural systems, and the health of its citizens. Among the findings was the decline or disappearance of key species of the Chesapeake Bay, increased damage from more frequent and severe storms, and the spread of vector born diseases like West Nile virus. The report also made over 150 recommendations to help Virginia adapt to the consequences of climate change, as well as reduce Virginia’s contributions to the problem. 

Establishment of the Commission 

The Commonwealth requires an action–oriented plan with concrete measures to be addressed and executed. Accordingly, I hereby formally convene the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission (“Commission”) to review, update, and prioritize the recommendations of the 2008 Climate Change Action Plan. Moreover, the updated report will work to identify sources of revenue to fund the implementation of these recommendations. 

Composition of the Commission 

The Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission membership will be appointed by the Governor and chaired by the Secretaries of Natural Resources and Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Membership shall also include the following individuals or their designee:

Secretary of Transportation;
Secretary of Commerce and Trade;
Representative(s) of the General Assembly;
Representative(s) from the military;
Representative(s) from local governments;
Scientific experts; and,
Representative(s) from agriculture/forestry, environmental organizations, and affected industries. 

The Governor may appoint any other member(s) deemed necessary to carry out the assigned functions of the Commission and the members shall serve at his pleasure. 

Staff support for the Commission will be provided by the Offices of the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the Office of the Governor, and other agencies as may be designated by the Governor. The estimated direct cost of the Commission is $5,000. All executive branch agencies shall cooperate fully with the Commission and provide any assistance necessary, upon request of the Commission or its staff. 

Duties of the Commission 

The Commission is charged with conducting an assessment of the recommendations from the 2008 Climate Change Action Plan. Specifically, the Commission will: 

  • Determine which recommendations from the original report were implemented;
  • Update and prioritize the recommendations; and,
  • Identify sources of funding to support the implementation of the recommendations.

       The Commission shall submit a report with its updated recommendations by June 30, 2015. 

Effective Date of the Order 

This Executive Order shall be effective upon its signing and, pursuant to §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, shall remain in force and effect for a year or until superseded or rescinded.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, this 1st day of July, 2014.


                                           Terence R. McAuliffe, Governor


                                           Attest:   Levar M. Stoney, Secretary of the Commonwealth