This looks good to me overall, at least on the surface (e.g, “Accelerating the development and use of renewable energy sources;” “Virginia can become a national leader in energy efficiency practices”; nothing about offshore oil drilling, thank goodness). Of course, how this all works out in the end will depend to a significant degree on who's appointed to the Council, and also how hard Gov. McAuliffe pushes to focus the group's efforts on a rapid transition towards clean energy.
P.S. Obviously, I'd ditch the part about expanding Virgniia coal exports. That's the exact opposite of what climate scientists tell us we need to be doing right now. And yes, I'll go with the scientists any day over the politicians and fossil fuel corporations. Go figure. 😉
Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order #16 today, which establishes the Virginia Energy Council. The Virginia Energy Council will assist in the development and implementation of a cohesive, comprehensive, and aggressive energy strategy for Virginia and deliver recommendations for the Virginia Energy Plan, which will be submitted to the General Assembly on Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones will chair the Council. .
Speaking about the executive order, Governor McAuliffe commented, “Virginia must develop an aggressive strategy to protect existing jobs in our energy industries while positioning the Commonwealth to be a leader in new energy technologies. An innovative energy strategy will enable us to attract the best businesses and entrepreneurs to Virginia, create more jobs in growing industries, and lead a 21stCentury Virginia economy. As we move forward with this process, the Virginia Energy Council will be an important partner as we work toward meeting our energy goals.”
Full Text of the Executive Order is Below:
EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER SIXTEEN (2014)
ESTABLISHING THE VIRGINIA ENERGY COUNCIL
Importance of the Issue
The Commonwealth of Virginia’s energy industry is a source of great pride, prosperity, and potential. Historically, Virginia has ensured reliable and affordable energy, helping businesses and consumers thrive. The Commonwealth boasts tens of thousands of energy-related jobs, including miners, gas well crews, manufacturing workers, engineers, mechanics, computer programmers, accountants, and managers. Virginians can and should be proud of the energy industry, but a changing market and energy environment requires decisive action to position the Commonwealth to be a national leader in innovative energy generation and utilization. Virginia must continue to leverage its business-friendly climate, high-quality research and educational institutions, and varied energy resources to attract businesses and create jobs. This requires Virginia to develop and implement a cohesive, comprehensive, and aggressive strategy for energy policy.
The Commonwealth will update the Virginia Energy Plan (“Plan”) to be submitted to the General Assembly by . The Plan will address the objectives of the Commonwealth Energy Policy set forth in the Code of Virginia.
These objectives include:
· Accelerating the development and use of renewable energy sources – Virginia can become a hub of innovative and alternative energy research and development by focusing on expanding the use of the Commonwealth’s underutilized renewable assets, such as solar and offshore wind.
· Increasing energy productivity through greater efficiency – Virginia can become a national leader in energy efficiency practices that will increase the productivity of the energy used by citizens and businesses throughout the Commonwealth, while not imposing a disproportionate adverse impact on economically disadvantaged or minority communities.
· Promoting a diverse energy mix – Virginia should continue to increase the diversity of sources used to generate energy in the Commonwealth to ensure that we are not overly-reliant on particular sources.
· Growing jobs in the energy sector – Virginia’s quality higher education institutions and world-class community college system are well-positioned to educate and prepare the next generation of energy workers. A trained and skilled energy workforce will attract new businesses and help expand existing businesses.
To achieve these objectives, it is critical that the Commonwealth engage the private sector, localities, and other interested stakeholders to develop significant and meaningful energy policies.
Establishment of the Council
The Governor shall create The Virginia Energy Council (“Council”), an advisory group comprised of members representing all areas of the Commonwealth’s energy industry. The Council shall work to formulate a comprehensive and innovative energy plan.
All members of the Council will be appointed by the Governor and shall serve at his pleasure.
Responsibilities and Duties of the Council
The 20-25 person Council is charged with working to update the Virginia Energy Plan. Duties of the Virginia Energy Council include:
· Receiving, reviewing, and evaluating input offered by Virginia’s residents and businesses related to the Plan;
· Developing strategies to make Virginia a national leader in energy efficiency and ensure that the cost of energy for Virginia consumers remains highly competitive;
· Developing strategies to increase the diversity of energy used to power Virginia, while ensuring a commitment to the most efficient use of existing energy sources;
· Developing strategies to increase Virginia’s renewable energy economy and grow the entire energy industry in Virginia by retaining, expanding, and attracting businesses in the energy sector;
· Developing strategies to increase the international export of Virginia’s coal;
· Identifying opportunities to expand Virginia’s needed energy infrastructure and to increase the reliability of the Commonwealth’s existing energy infrastructure;
· Reviewing an analysis of any regulations proposed or promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric generating units under § 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7411(d);
· Providing expertise and advice on other policy strategies deemed appropriate during the drafting of the Plan to grow the energy industry in the Commonwealth; and,
· Monitoring the implementation of the Plan, providing strategic guidance to ensure successful achievement of Plan goals, and reviewing the interim update of the Plan required to be presented by .
Council Staffing and Funding
Staff support for the Council shall be furnished by the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Secretary of Natural Resources, the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, and such other agencies and offices as designated by the Governor. Necessary funding to support the Council and its staff shall be $5000. All executive branch agencies shall cooperate fully with the Council and provide any assistance necessary, upon request of the Council or its staff.
The Council shall meet at the call of the Chairman.
Effective Date of the Executive Order
This Executive Order shall be effective upon signing and shall remain in force and effect from its signing unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.
Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, this 4th day of June, 2014.