From Environment Virginia, this is particularly timely given the press conference earlier this week by AG Mark Herring, other states’ AGs and former VP Al Gore about efforts to combat climate change, including investigation of fossil fuel companies for possible fraud. Now, let’s see how hard Gov. McAuliffe and other state officials are willing to fight to move Virginia from dirty to clean energy, and to protect all of us from disasters like this one.
RICHMOND— Conservation and health leaders representing over 5 million supporters nationwide today released a first-of-its-kind letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe asking him to cut global warming pollution.
The letter, released during a conference call with reporters today, is signed by the executive directors of Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, 350.org, Environment America, the Center for Biological Diversity, NextGen Climate America, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The letter presents evidence showing that Gov. McAuliffe has the full legal power and the extraordinary opportunity to influence America’s national response to climate change by developing a strong and economically beneficial plan to cut carbon pollution in Virginia under the federal “Clean Power Plan.” Virginia’s largest utility company, Dominion Virginia Power, has urged the governor to embrace an alternative strategy that would allow carbon emissions to rise significantly for decades to come in the state.
“The eyes of the nation and the eyes of all Virginians are clearly on Governor McAuliffe right now as he creates a historic plan to fight climate change,” said Glen Besa, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “When this many national leaders pen a letter to a governor, it’s clear that the state has a chance to show national leadership with national consequences.”
Gene Karpinski, national president of the League of Conservation Voters, said, “Our letter is simply a reminder to Governor McAuliffe that sometimes in history what a governor does can help change the world. By forming a state plan that reduces total pollution – current and future – from Virginia power plants, the governor can be that person that children read about for years to come.”
The health consequences of Gov. McAuliffe’s decision are critical. “Climate change is an enormous risk multiplier for everything from asthma to the Zika virus,” said Dr. Catherine Thomasson, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Doctors all over Virginia and the nation support reducing global warming pollution as soon as possible to save lives.”
Daniel Lashof, another signatory to the letter today to Gov. McAuliffe, is chief operating office for NextGen Climate America, Inc. “We’re optimistic that Governor McAuliffe will seize this tremendous opportunity to stand up for our children’s future by reducing carbon pollution and growing Virginia’s economy,” said Lashof.
Added Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, “The Clean Power Plan is the largest step the U.S. has ever taken to tackle global warming, and gives Virginia the chance to join with the states and local governments that have been leading the way on clean energy. Our Virginia members want the state to move ahead with a plan to cut dangerous pollution and spur the development of wind and solar to protect their health and the planet’s future.”
Also, here’s the text of the letter to Gov. McAuliffe (from Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club; Daniel A. Lashof, Chief Operating Officer, NextGen Climate America, Inc.; May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org; Margie Alt, Executive Director, Environment America; Kierán Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological Diversity; Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters; Catherine Thomasson, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility):
As directors of some of America’s largest environmental organizations, we want to thank you for your continued strong support of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). As you know, this federal administrative action is designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants nationwide by roughly 30 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2030. Like you, we believe this rule will triumph against eventual court challenges and outlive the current Supreme Court stay.
We are writing you now simply to ask that you play a strong role in the actual implementation of this federal rule. Specifically, Governor, we are asking that you commit now to a Virginia “State Implementation Plan” under the CPP that will result in a net, aggregate reduction in CO2 emissions from Virginia power plants, covering both new and existing facilities.
We understand that energy policy can be a complex matter in any state, and that the CPP itself can be viewed as a complex rule. But what we are asking for now is a simple and clear commitment: Make sure that whatever your state plan includes, the overall outcome is a real and total reduction in harmful CO2.
The good news is that — under this federal rule — you have the power to make this commitment. Final say over the structure of the Virginia implementation plan is yours alone. By committing to a net, aggregate reduction in CO2 pollution from new and existing plants, you will ensure that the Commonwealth will play a measurable role in the national effort to combat global warming. In the process, you’ll create thousands of new jobs and generate billions of dollars in new economic activity in Virginia thanks to resulting investments in energy efficiency and clean power. Thank you for your steadfast leadership, Governor.
Thank you for considering the moral appeal of Pope Francis who has asked all leaders worldwide to maximize their efforts to avoid the calamity of rapid climate change. And thank you for your specific role in implementing a strong state plan under the President’s Clean Power Plan.