In Final Week of Session, Climate Denial Continues

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    It may be the final week of the 2011 legislative session here in Richmond, but it’s not slowing down the freight train of climate denial that seems so rampant in the General Assembly.  As you all know we’ve seen bills to limit Virginia’s participation in greenhouse gas emission reduction programs, legislation that would have exempted Virginia from residential energy efficiency standards and attacks from Tea Party champion Bob Marshall on the concept of sustainable development.

    Fortunately, we’ve been able to kill all of those bills.  Some in the House, but mostly we’ve had to rely on the fragile Democratic majority in the Senate to protect the environment.  Now, Delegate Will Morefield has introduced HR 72 a resolution urging Congress to stop all greenhouse gas program implementation from the EPA.  

    As expected, some of our champions in the House of Delegates are prepared to fight this ludicrous assault on the Clean Air Act.  Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough of them.

    After the jump you can find 5 good reasons to Oppose HR72, and 3 questionable Democrats who helped it get out of committee.

    Five Good Reasons to Oppose HR 72

    1. When Congress passed the Clean Air Act in 1970, it gave EPA the responsibility to protect the American people when science shows that new air pollutants threaten our health or environment.  In 2007, the Supreme Court confirmed in its decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, that the Act requires EPA to protect public health and welfare from air pollutants that contribute to climate change.  The George W. Bush EPA then began the development of the endangerment finding which has been completed in December 2009 under the Obama EPA.  The process included rigorous analysis of scientific data and multiple opportunities for public engagement including a national public hearing in Virginia.

    2. According to a March 2010 analysis conducted by Environment America Research and Policy Center the National Clean Cars Program, which this resolution seeks to defund, would save Virginians more than 324 million gallons of oil beginning in 2016.  This reduction in gasoline consumption will save Virginians $890 million at the pump.

    3. When proponents of this legislation argue that this will make America less competitive with the rest of the world they are simply wrong.  Since 1990, when President George Bush, Sr. signed the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments into law with overwhelming bipartisan support, emissions of six common air pollutants have declined by 41 percent, while gross domestic product has grown by 64 percent, according to the EPA.

    4. Virginia of all places should realize the risks posed by a warming planet.  The Tidewater region of the Commonwealth is the second most at-risk region of the country to rising seas.  Historically, sea level has risen about one foot per century around Hampton Roads as a result of the region’s land mass sinking in to the sea.  But measurements conducted in 2007 by Norfolk-based Wetlands Watch indicate that as global sea level rises due to ocean warming, the rate of rise around the region could increase to 1.5 to 3 feet per century.

    5. When addressing new pollution sources, the Clean Air Act specifically states that EPA must require emission reductions that are achievable using technology that has been adequately demonstrated, and consider both the energy and economic impacts and costs that may result from compliance with new standards.  Additionally, the Act requires EPA to consider the remaining useful life of facilities when setting standards for specific sources, providing another assurance that new pollution limits will not have an adverse impact on our economy.

    Once again, we know we should suspect these types of actions by Republicans like Will Morefield, but we should be able to expect more from the Democratic minority.  Unfortunately, Johnny Joannou, Joseph Johnson, Jr and Kenny Alexander appear to oppose clean air too.

    • Virginia House of Delegates Support Gutting Clean Air Act

      Unfortunate Majority Sides with Big Polluters, Strips EPA of Power Protect Public Health

      (RICHMOND, VIRGINIA) – Today the Virginia House of Delegates approved a resolution urging Congress to strip the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect the public health of millions of Americans from big polluters.  The bill introduced by Delegate Will Morefield calls on Congress to prohibit the EPA from enforcing safeguards against dangerous carbon pollution, guts the Clean Air Act and threatens the physical well-being of American families.

      Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Assistant Director J.R. Tolbert released the following statement in response to today’s vote:

      “Today’s vote by the House of Delegates is an assault on clean air.  This shortsighted vote today is contrary to the interests of Virginians, and one more example of siding with big polluters who are jeopardizing our families’ well-being.

      “If Congress were to strip the EPA of important powers to protect us against toxic pollution, the House of Delegates will have undermined some of our nation’s most fundamental health and environmental laws to benefit big polluters and allow them to continue polluting without limits.  The message is clear: 64 members of the House of Delegates believe oil and coal companies’ profits are more important than clean air and water.

      “Rather than rewarding polluting industries, we need to hold them accountable for the damage they cause to our environment and public health and safety.  The Environmental Protection Agency plays a critical role in implementing and enforcing important safeguards against corporate polluters.  The EPA has a solid record of defending public health, cleaning up our air and water, and holding polluters accountable when no one else will.

      “The Sierra Club of Virginia is disappointed today that the House of Delegates did not stand up for the health of their constituents.  We need to hold these bad actors accountable for this vote in favor of big polluters.  Virginia’s elected officials should stop interfering and allow the EPA do its job of protecting public health.”