This report comes out as NASA scientists announced, just this month, that this year's Arctic sea ice cap was the smallest it has ever been in recorded history and that the first two months of 2015 were the warmest such period ever. This new report, Dangerous Inheritance, examines climate changes at the local level, through the eyes of five different generations of Virginians.
Millennials in Virginia, like me, came of age in a climate 1.2 degrees hotter than did their Baby Boomer parents in the 1970's. That means for young adults living in the commonwealth, hotter temperatures more extreme weather events and rising seas have become more frequent and common. Researchers found similar increases in temperatures and extreme weather across the country. In every state, young adults today are experiencing warmer average temperatures than young adults in the Baby Boomer generation. The biggest rain and snowstorms produce 10 percent more rainfall in 2011 than they did in 1948.
These impacts are real and only getting worse. Joining Environment Virginia in releasing this report today, two Hampton Roads residence spoke to their personal experiencing. John Deuel, an independent contractor and long-time Norfolk resident spoke about the combination of rising seas and more precipitation leading to flooding in his neighborhood. And Alden Cleanthes, a Chesapeake resident with a 3-year old son and a "Supermom" with non-profit Moms Clean Air Force spoke about the need to protect public health.
Nobody wants to leave the next generation to inherit an even more dangerous climate, so we must take action. We can start by finalizing and implementing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which would cut carbon pollution at least 36 percent in Virginia and 30 percent nationwide by the end of the next decade.
To ensure that the Clean Power Plan is approved and put into place, we need to Senators Kaine and Warner to stand up for the plan in Washington, D.C. Thankfully, they did just that last week when they voted against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's attacks on the Clean Power Plan in the U.S. Senate. We applaud them for this action. And, here in Virginia, we need Governor Terry McAuliffe to stand behind the plan and maximize its potential to unleash clean energy jobs in the commonwealth.
Sarah Bucci is the campaign director with Environment Virginia, a state-wide, citizen-funded advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier Virginia. She can be contacted at email@example.com. For more information visit Environment Virginia.
Written by Free Nelson Organizer, Marilyn Shifflett
During a March 26 radio interview with Governor McAuliffe in Richmond, a caller asked a question regarding the proposed route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Governor did not answer the question, but did offer the following remark. "Nelson County - I think it's our smallest population county in Virginia." He went on to reaffirm his support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), citing (supposed) cheap energy and jobs.
Governor McAuliffe's remark was totally inaccurate. Depending on the source, Nelson is ranked as the 23rd or 24th smallest county by population in Virginia. Why did he make this remark? Does he view Nelson as tiny and insignificant regarding its number of voters? Is this why he has answered citizen concerns about the ACP with stacks of form letters? Or, is it that he views the nearly 14,000 lives that could be placed at risk by a high-pressure, 42" pipeline as an acceptable number? Was the population of counties like Highland, Nelson, & Buckingham the determining factor behind Dominion's path for the ACP?
And isn't this acknowledgment of something on Dominion's part? Are they acknowledging safety risks they've previously denied to the press? Structures per mile determine the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) classification of natural gas pipelines. The path chosen by Dominion for the ACP will make it a Class 1 location pipeline. This means little to no regulation by federal authorities (the US Department of Transportation in this case). It also means that they will not be required to install expensive, automatic shut-off valves, while the manual valves will be set miles and miles apart.
These are a few facts about Nelson County that Governor McAuliffe did not quote. The US Geological Survey (USGS) and the VA Department of Emergency Management designate Nelson County as "moderate incidence," "high risk" for flooding and debris flows (slides). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has called Nelson an orographic lift zone which traps storms within our mountains and tends to drop heavy rainfalls. The VA Deptartment of Emergency Management also specifically recommends against "energy pipelines" in these areas.
Our governor is well aware of these reports, but has yet to publicly acknowledge their existence. We believe there are nearly 14,000 good reasons to ask him why.
I probably agree 99% of the time with Peter Galuszka of Bacon's Rebellion, which is why I found his latest headline, A New, Improved Ken Cuccinelli?, so puzzling. At first I thought that Galuszka was going to write an Onion-style satire or just a "yeah right!" But no, this appears to be serious.
Is one-time conservative firebrand Ken Cuccinelli undergoing a makeover?...
...The hard line former Virginia attorney general who lost a bitter gubernatorial race to Terry McAuliffe in 2013 is now helping run an oyster farm and sounding warning alarms about a rising police state.
...Yet on March 31, Cuccinelli was the co-author with Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia of an opinion column in the Richmond Times Dispatch. Their piece pushes bipartisan bills passed by the General Assembly that would limit the use of drones and electronic devices to read and record car license plate numbers called license plate readers or LPRs.
A few thoughts on this. First, you might have noticed that I did NOT link to the aforementioned opinion column in this morning's news clips. That was intentional, as Ken Cuccinelli is an extremist, bigot, and paranoid nutjob who doesn't deserve one drop of ink (or pixels), except to mock him and to expose his extremism/bigotry. Why anyone would want to team up with or associate themselves in any way with this extremist is beyond me, but to each their own.
Bottom line: I'm not sure why Peter Galuszka, who I agree with 99% of the time, thinks that Ken Cuccinelli might be "undergoing a makeove," but it's simply not true. Unfortunately, he's the same right-wing "firebrand" that he ever was...
The U.S. Supreme Court sent Virginia's 3rd District gerrymander case back down the pipe on Monday, a move that brings Virginia another step closer to a redraw of its congressional map.
The nation's highest court vacated and remanded a three-judge panel's decision in the case, which alleges that state leaders focused on race when drew lines for the 3rd District. The district is represented by U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, and it meanders back and forth across the James River, taking in minority populations in Hampton Roads.
Given the plaintiff's initial victory, and last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of plaintiffs from a similar case out of Alabama, Monday's remand will likely lead federal judges here to re-affirm their initial order, according to Marc Elias, lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
"The Alabama decision supports our position," Elias said in an email. "We expect the three judge panel to reach the same result now that Alabama has been decided."
All in all, I'm told by someone (an attorney) with a lot more legal acumen than I've got that this is probably a good thing in the long term, "because the Eastern District Court of Virginia (EDVA) had a broad interpretation of the Voting Rights Act, and the SCOTUS case strengthens their case." In turn, that "definitely helps when [the case] gets to the 4th circuit again. I think there was a good chance the 4th circuit was going to reverse the EDVA opinion before the SCOTUS opinion came down." Also, this "establishes a much firmer legal foundation for Rep. Scott's case (I thought the previous EDVA opinion was weak). But it does push the timeline back because the EDVA has to hear the case again before it inevitably gets appealed to the 4th circuit."
Bottom line: "I think it will get through the 4th circuit by the middle of next year. Whether the GOP wants to waste more money and appeal it to the Supreme Court, who knows? I think it makes political sense for them to push it back as late as possible, but it will cost a ton of $ in legal bills and SCOTUS would almost certainly refuse to take the case since they just adjudicated a very similar case last week."
UPDATE: Del. Scott Surovell says, "Voting Rights Act redistricting cases are heard by three-judge DISTRICT COURT panels. Appeals go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Federal appeals courts such as the Fourth Circuit play no role in these cases."
UPDATE #2: My main source for commentary on this article emails, "I should have been more precise: parties can appeal directly to SCOTUS in these cases, but circuit courts can be involved when there is no constitutional claim."
This piece has run as an op/ed in newspapers in my very red congressional district.
Here's what I bet that historians will say was the No. 1 political battle in the America of our times.
Not the national debt, or abortion, or Obamacare, or immigration, or gun rights.
Instead, historians will say the most important fight was over whether the government of the United States would be the democracy our founders gave us, or whether Big Money would succeed in changing us into a different kind of society altogether.
Most of us are aware that our politics are awash in money like never before. The cost of our campaigns - from state legislatures to the presidency - has vastly increased. This avalanche of money - especially since the Citizens United decision - comes mostly not from ordinary citizens but from billionaires and giant corporations.
As a result, more and more of the decisions made - in Congress, in the White House, at the Supreme Court - favor the rich and powerful at the expense of average Americans.
Right before our eyes, our government - which is supposed to be by and for the people - is being stolen from us.
We need to look at this battle in strategic terms, asking: How is Big Money going about its effort to take over?
It is clear, for example, that it serves the interests of the plutocrats to divide the people against each other.
The following screed (see blockquote below), by Tea Partier Susan Stimpson (running against House Speaker and corporate/polluter shill Bill "ALEC" Howell for Virginia House of Delegates) is not just ugly and bigoted, it's also flat-out wrong on two major points, demagogic on another. First, Stimpson is flat-out wrong in her claim that Equality Virginia is a "liberal interest groups." In fact, there IS a Democratic LGBT equality group in Virginia, known as the LGBT Democrats of Virginia (formerly called the "Virginia Partisans"). At least when it comes to that group, Stimpson could have semi-plausibly claimed that they are a "liberal interest group," although how fighting for EQUAL rights is an "interest group" is a bit beyond me. As for Equality Virginia, that is a NON-partisan group, a " 501(c)(3) charitable organization" which "believes in a truly inclusive Commonwealth where all are equally welcomed and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity." I know, that's soooo radical -- equality for every Virginian and every American, per our Constitution. Yet Teahadist Susan Stimpson attacks this group for pushing an "extreme, liberal social agenda in our schools." WTF?
Oh, and what is that supposedly "extreme, liberal social agenda?" For more on that, see Video: Courageous Stafford County Parent Gives Impassioned Plea for Respect of Transgender Student. Oh, and by the way, Stimpson is being demagogic when she claims that Equality Virginia is pushing for "mixed-sex bathrooms." In fact, we're talking about one student, a fourth grader who is transgender and who identifies as a girl. That's it for the "mixed-sex bathrooms." Now, back to Stimpson's pathetic, disgraceful attempt to ratchet up the hysteria and do whatever she can to win an election.
P.S. Stimpson is also wrong/misleading that Equality Virginia is "allied" in any way to Bill Howell. True, they donated money to Howell's PAC, for what reason I'll never understand, but the last time they did that was back in 2012, and that certainly doesn't make them "allies." Whatever.
The group pushing mixed-gender bathrooms in our schools gave money to Bill Howell for 7 years in a row. Yes, it's true.
Liberal special interest group Equality Virginia is pushing for unisex bathrooms in Stafford County's public schools - so why did Bill Howell take their campaign contributions for seven years?
Instead of standing on principle and sending the money back, Howell was more than content to keep cashing the checks.
Earlier this month, parents in Stafford County were horrified to learn that left-coast style mixed-gender bathrooms might be coming to schools in Stafford County.
Predictably, a liberal special interest group, Equality Virginia, wasted no time in lobbying our School Board to accept its extreme, liberal social agenda in our schools.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, March 29. Also, check out that photo of the supposedly "moderate" Republican, Hal Parrish, who's running for Chuck Colgan's State Senate seat, posing happily with one of the craziest, most extreme politicians in Virginia...or anywhere in the country, really.
Last year, under pressure from tens of thousands of their users, Google decided to drop their support of the extreme right-wing organization ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). The reasoning was based on ALEC's denial that climate change exists - Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said: “Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they’re just, they’re just literally lying.” (1)
Of course, you and I know that ALEC has been "literally lying" about a lot more then climate change! In response to Google's decision, 234 right-wing Republican legislators signed a letter to Google attempting to shift blame to climate activists. If you read the letter, you'll notice that 7th on the list of 234 names is none other then our Speaker, Bill Howell. (2) And ALEC constantly uses the Virginia House of Delegates as testing ground for the next round of conservative initiatives. We must stop this.
Yes, believe it or not, Virginia - which we've heard politicians claims SHOULD be the "energy capital of the east coast" - is not only failing miserably in that goal, it's even falling behind politically "redder" states like North Carolina and Georgia. Read it and weep (or better yet, get vocal!)
National solar installers like SolarCity, SunPower, SunEdison and Vivint are likely to benefit from the legislation, which would allow residential customers to lease rooftop solar installations and sell the excess power they generate.
Signaling a major compromise, the state's largest utility, Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power, backed the legislation passed today...
...The "Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015," spearheaded by Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R), was a year and a half in the making, with a strong push from the conservative grassroots group Georgians for Solar Freedom.
Meanwhile, here in Virginia, it's very VERY difficult for rooftop solar power leasing companies like SolarCity, SunPower, SunEdison and Vivint to operate, as Dominion Power and its bought-and-paid-for political puppets throw obstacles in their path, while keeping the playing field heavily tilted in the direction of dirty energy (through taxpayer-funded corporate welfare of various types, failure to make the "polluter pay," refusal to adopt a serious Renewable Portfolio Standard for Virginia, etc.).
As a result, Virginia has fallen wayyyy behind many other states when it comes to distributed (or even utility-scale) solar power (see 2014 Top 10 Solar States and note that you won't find Virginia anywhere on there -- #FAIL). So when is this pathetic situation going to change? Simple: when we forbid state-regulated monopoly Dominion Power from buying our political system, and when we elect more pro-clean-energy legislators to our state legislature.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, March 28. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, in which he "highlighted the progress made protecting American consumers since he signed Wall Street reform into law five years ago, including an important new step taken by the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this week toward preventing abuses in payday lending."
Free Nelson has been reporting on errors, accidents and violations by Dominion and/or its partnerships over the last several months. We became interested in Dominion's safety record last May, when Nelsonians began receiving letters regarding a 554-mile long, 42" natural gas pipeline known then as the Southern Reliability Project. The pipeline has since been renamed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), and is now a partnership between Dominion, Duke, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources.
The proposed ACP would cut a 125' swath, wide enough for a 6-lane highway, through Nelson's steep, forested terrain, as well through our rolling farmland. The originally-proposed route for Nelson is approximately 30 miles, entering at the county's northeast corner near Humpback Rock on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It would travel in a southeasterly direction to the James River. This route, or any of the other four recently announced alternate routes through the county, would traverse the land of hundreds of private property owners.
We have heard all the platitudes. The most often heard is that "pipelines are the safest way to transport natural gas." Actually, it is the only way natural gas is transported. But that doesn't mean it is safe. As pipelines increase in size, it becomes more imperative that we know the risks to those in the path of these behemoths. In 2012, a 20" natural gas pipeline exploded in Sissonville, WV along Interstate 77, melting 800' of the interstate highway, destroying three homes and damaging countless others. Another pipeline, in Appomattox County, Virginia, exploded in 2008, destroying two homes, melting the siding on over 100 others as far as a mile away. Clearly, the radiational heat from these explosions is tremendous. Yet here in Nelson, Dominion (which has chosen the proposed path) puts existing lawndowners' homes within 330' of a much larger, 42" pipeline which operates at a much higher 1,440 psi than the two pipeline explosions we gave as examples.
We won't address Dominion's many lies, nor the crass, bullying behavior of Dominion toward landowners and our community in this article. But we will share with you the many errors, unreported violations, fines and accidents Dominion and its partnerships have been party to over the last few years.
Yet again, the difference between having right-wing extremist Mark Obenshain (shudddderrrr) as Virginia Attorney General, and having Mark Herring as our AG, is immense. In this case, Herring is fighting against a despicable practice - predatory lending. "...on matters large and on matters small, we are going to fight for the rights of Virginia consumers. But there's one place where we need to do more and we're going to do more. I read a few weeks ago that Virginia is now considered the predatory lending capital of the East Coast, and I cannot accept that. It hurts our reputation as a state, and more than that, it means that here are Virginians who are being hurt, and I cannot accept that." Full remarks on the "flip."
P.S. "Democrats" like Dick Saslaw who support predatory lending should be ashamed of themselves.
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