Home Energy and Environment Climate/Energy Language Gov. McAuliffe Should Include in His State of the Commonwealth...

Climate/Energy Language Gov. McAuliffe Should Include in His State of the Commonwealth Address


California Gov. Jerry Brown just delivered his State of the State address, and it was a good one. Below, I’ve excerpted a key section on climate and energy policy which I’d love to see our own Governor, Terry McAuliffe, incorporate into his upcoming State of the Commonwealth address on January 14. Yes, I’m well aware that a Republican-controlled legislature that is essentially a puppet of fossil fuel interests would not approve any of this. Still, given the crucial importance of these issues, I’d argue that Gov. McAuliffe should set ambitious goals for Virginia and challenge Republicans to articulate why they won’t act. Given that Republcians have absolutely no good reason for not acting, it should be interesting to watch…

…The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, backed up by the vast majority of the world’s scientists, has set an ambitious goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2050 through drastic reductions of greenhouse gases. If we have any chance at all of achieving that, California, as it does in many areas, must show the way. We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being. So far, we have been able to do that.

In fact, we are well on our way to meeting our AB 32 goal of reducing carbon pollution and limiting the emissions of heat-trapping gases to 431 million tons by 2020. But now, it is time to establish our next set of objectives for 2030 and beyond.

Toward that end, I propose three ambitious goals to be accomplished within the next 15 years:

Increase from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources;

Reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent;

Double the efficiency of existing buildings and make heating fuels cleaner.

We must also reduce the relentless release of methane, black carbon and other potent pollutants across industries. And we must manage farm and rangelands, forests and wetlands so they can store carbon. All of this is a very tall order. It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities.

I envision a wide range of initiatives: more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles. How we achieve these goals and at what pace will take great thought and imagination mixed with pragmatic caution. It will require enormous innovation, research and investment. And we will need active collaboration at every stage with our scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, businesses and officials at all levels.

Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels. This is exciting, it is bold and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system.

California, since the beginning, has undertaken big tasks and entertained big ideas. Befitting a state of dreamers, builders and immigrants, we have not hesitated to attempt what our detractors have called impossible or foolish…

Again, why isn’t Virginia doing any of this? What ever happened to becoming the “energy capital of the east coast?” So far, we certainly aren’t seeing it, and that’s a huge #FAIL for our state.

  • CADeminVA

    One of the first things I did was vote for Jerry Brown. Voted for him many times, for Governor, for President in primaries, for Senator, for Mayor of Oakland. Yeah, “Moonbeam”, I heard it all. I would vote for him right now if I could. And you’re right, TMac should take note and take a page.

  • Wisper

    Again, why isn’t Virginia doing any of this?

    Answer: The lobbying power of Dominion Power.  Period.  Full stop.

  • kindler

    I love Jerry Brown.  Way back when he ran for president in 1976, he was talking about things like high speed rail and renewable energy.  America didn’t listen, and now — almost 40 years later — we’re way behind both Europe and Asia at a time when these technologies represent increasingly greater economic competitiveness in the world.  

    I think he is one of the reasons that California is more like an advanced European country today than a Tea Party banana republic like so many other of our states.  Like another California governor — Ronald Reagan — he just stays committed to his vision until he moves enough people to embrace it.  That’s true leadership rather than just trying to meekly manuever your way around an unacceptable status quo.  

    There’s a clear lesson here for Terry.  People love leaders who stand up for their ideals.  If you just become another poll-obsessed Democrat determined to hew to some meaningless “radical center”, you will be forgotten long before you leave office.  And don’t complain when uninspired Democrats don’t bother to come to the polls to elect you for anything else. It’s your job to inspire us.

  • swvagrl

    Gov. McAuliffe will probably discuss ethics reform in his State of the Commonwealth Address, but if he really wants clean government from top to bottom, he will do something about almost every Virginia representative being beholding to “Big Energy” companies. If these companies want to meet with the Governor or our US Senators or any of our state or federal representatives, they have an open door. Regular citizens who have differing facts and/or opinions about what the proposed natural gas pipeline companies carrying fracked gas could potentially do to our land and environment, cannot be heard at all. Members of Preserve Montgomery County Virginia asked to have a meeting with the Governor, but were foisted off onto one of his Secretaries who rudely told the group that she was a “disciple of the Governor,” and he approved of the pipelines so it was a closed topic. When the group tried to ask whether he had heard from citizen groups or environmental groups or anyone besides the pipeline companies, she stated that this was not a time for “venting” our feelings. She also said that the reason she was meeting with the group was that other Secretaries would not meet with citizen groups and she was the only one who would do it. She said much more that I will not disclose at this time, but the point I am making is that I’m tired of citizens being portrayed as the enemy because we want to have a say about our lives and our property and the welfare of our beautiful state and its environment. This was not the kind of government I thought I was getting when I worked hard for and voted for Governor McAuliffe. I am frankly surprised, saddened and stung that I misjudged him on this issue. I thought that he was going to be open-minded, and now I find out that he has bought the tales of gas companies hook, line, and sinker without finding out independently how much, if any, their pipelines would help Virginia’s economic development–for sure, it is not going to help the state environmentally.

    According to Ursula Halferty’s letter in the Roanoke Times printed on January 5, 2015:

    In the report under the Government and Non-Government Stakeholder Communications table on Nov. 17, representatives from the EQT cohort had an in-person meeting with Sen. Tim Kaine. On Nov. 18, they met with Sen. Mark Warner and twice that day with Rep. Morgan Griffith. EQT representatives also met with legislative assistants for Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Robert Hurt and with Mark Brunner, a Warner adviser.

    According to FollowtheMoney.org, Nextera Energy Resources was a contributor to Griffith’s recent campaign also has contributed to Warner, to name two.

    In a private conversation with at least one progressive legislator, the individual stated that he could not stand up hard against energy companies because of the monies and assistance he had been given by the companies. Is this the great Virginia Way? It sounds like Virginia is bought and paid for by Big Energy no matter whether the actions of the companies are really good for Virginians in the present and in the future. As a matter of fact, because of decisions that are being made at present, the future may be much harder and more expensive for Virginians when we are forced to deal with the potential effects of climate change. However, the modus operandi seems to be, “take the spoils from Big Energy now; to hell with the future.”