Editor: The Roanoke Times reported that Gov. Terry McAuliffe earned a D+ report card from environmental groups due to his support of offshore drilling and new natural gas pipelines that will crisscross Virginia. It’s not too late for McAuliffe to “pull his grade up” and re-gain respect from the environmental community that helped elect him to office. To his credit, McAuliffe has not joined forces with more than two dozen states that challenged the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP) to reduce greenhouse gas, GHG, carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Despite the unusual Supreme Court stay issued for the CPP, McAuliffe pledged to develop a CPP for Virginia.
Though McAuliffe is going through the motions, this past April 2, a rally called “McAuliffe: Do the right thing. CUT CARBON NOW!” was held across the Commonwealth in 11 locations. 350 Loudoun and Sustainable Loudon hosted one in Leesburg that was attended by Loudoun environmentalists, local business owner, as well as Leesburg politicians Vice Mayor Kelly Burk and Ron Campbell, chairman of the Environmental Advisory Committee. The rally urged McAuliffe to adopt a strong Clean Power Plan that will actually reduce, not increase, greenhouse gas emissions.
Dominion Power, the largest electrical energy producer in Virginia, proposes in its 2015 Integrated Resource Plan to increase greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent. Dominion’s plan runs entirely counter to the spirit of the Clean Power Plan goals. Dominion will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions, at a time when we know greenhouse gas emissions must be dramatically cut to stave off the worst effects of climate change.
Dominion will be increasing GHG emission because the closed coal fired power plants are being replaced by new fracked, natural gas-fired power plants. Dominion has obtained approval to build huge, new, fracked gas power plants in Greensville and Brunswick that will pollute for decades to come. Property rights, livelihoods, clean water, human health, and Climate Change are among the reasons why natural gas projects like this and across the nation are facing Keystone-like resistance.
Another reason why Dominion’s plan actually increases GHG emissions is the rate-based approach it plans to use that allows GHG emissions to increase with increases in electricity generated. A mass-based approach is the only way to achieve reductions because total GHG emissions will be limited to a fixed amount of pollution. Dominion’s plan is good for profits, (which will remain undisclosed due to a bill passed in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly that did away with annual fiscal audits), but not good for the people of Virginia.
It is time to abandon fossil fuels and turn toward clean, renewables. We have the technology for a clean energy based economy that by 2050 for Virginia alone will: create nearly 200,000 clean energy jobs with 40 consecutive years employment; avoid 1,350 air pollution deaths; and save $6,898/person annually for energy, health, and climate costs, thesolutionsproject.org/#tsp-section-map. Clean renewables, called for by Virginia environmentalists, makes economic and health sense, while continued reliance on fossil fuels limits Virginia’s job growth, threatens the health of young and older citizens, and introduces unacceptable safety concerns.
It is time for Gov. McAuliffe to be a strong, responsible leader who puts people above corporate power and profit. It is time for him to make good for Virginians, by rejecting Dominion’s plan and adopting a strong clean power plan that reduces global warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Natalie Pien, Leesburg