Old Blacksburg town hall
(Photo credit: Cdwaters / Wikimedia)

The town of Blacksburg, Virginia, is working to cut 80% of its carbon pollution by 2050. And it’s making progress by promoting residential solar and transitioning to cleaner buses and government vehicles.

But staying on track can be tough. Like many other towns, local officials must juggle competing priorities and work with limited time and money.

“It sounds ridiculous to say potholes always win over climate, but potholes always win over climate, always,” says Blacksburg’s sustainability manager Carol Davis.

She says that making steady progress is especially hard when cities and towns feel like they’re on their own.

“We need leadership at the federal and state levels. We critically need it,” she says. “And so what I’m really working on at the state level is collaborating with my colleagues and identifying concrete legislative priorities.”

For example, she wants to see Virginia revise its energy policies to allow community-owned-and-operated solar projects.

She says these changes could make it easier for towns like Blacksburg to pursue climate goals while also managing the day-to-day upkeep of water mains, sidewalks, and those potholes.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.