CCAN: Governor McAuliffe Falls Far Short on Energy Executive Order; Needs to...

CCAN: Governor McAuliffe Falls Far Short on Energy Executive Order; Needs to “reverse his other highly harmful energy policies”


From the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN); also, see Gov. McAuliffe’s press release below.

Background and statement from Virginia Organizing, the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC), and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN):

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order on energy today is a small step that falls well short of what he should be doing in the fight against climate change. In April, Governor McAuliffe received a D-plus grade from Virginia clean energy advocates. Over 60 groups statewide are now planning to march to his house on July 23rd ( to demand bolder and better leadership for clean energy now.
Unfortunately, the Governor’s announced executive order today was not nearly enough to reverse his other highly harmful energy policies. The Governor today pledged that his administration would study ways to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
If the Governor is truly serious about combating climate change, he would use his existing authority to do much more. Specifically, he could:
1) Announce that we will end his all-out blanket support for massive fracked gas pipelines proposed for construction across nearly 1,000 miles of Virginia. These pipelines, if built, would trigger greenhouse gas emissions equal to nearly DOUBLING the total current global warming pollution from all of Virginia’s existing power plants. The Governor should instead announce that he will protect citizens from the harm of these pipelines by using his Clean Water Act authority to challenge permits for these pipeline projects that threaten local drinking water.
2) Announce that he will commit Virginia to a state implementation strategy under the federal Clean Power Plan that puts a leak-proof, mass-based cap on carbon emissions from existing and future power plants. Any other plan would lead to actual increases in harmful climate pollution. Such an increase, incredibly, is precisely what utility Dominion Power has proposed in response to the Clean Power Plan. The Governor has yet to reject Dominion’s preferred approach, despite his claim that he wants to address climate change in the state.
3) Announce his opposition to offshore drilling for oil and gas in Virginia. Such drilling could increase greenhouse gas emissions equal to adding 24 million cars to the road every year while exposing the Virginia coast to a BP-like oil spill disaster.
Concluding statement from VSEC, Virginia Organizing, and CCAN:
With his executive order today, Governor McAuliffe wants Virginians to believe he’s serious about climate change even though he supports massive new pipelines for fracked gas and offshore drilling for oil. Only when the Governor stops supporting major policies that make global warming much worse will he have any credibility on minor environmental policies like today’s executive order.

Governor McAuliffe Signs Executive Order to Reduce Carbon Emissions in Virginia 

~ Order creates workgroup to recommend executive actions to reduce carbon emissions from the electric sector ~

RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today issued Executive Order 57 directing Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward to convene a workgroup and recommend concrete steps to reduce carbon pollution from Virginia’s power plants. The group will evaluate options under Virginia’s existing authority to address carbon pollution.

The Commonwealth’s electric sector has already made significant strides towards a reduced environmental impact; between 2005 and 2014, carbon emissions from Virginia’s electrical generators fell by 21%. Currently the sector accounts for approximately 30% of the state’s overall carbon emission. The workgroup will focus on how to continue this trajectory in a way that makes clean energy a meaningful part of Virginia’s energy portfolio.

“Increasing Virginia’s emphasis on clean energy generation will help grow Virginia’s economy by reducing carbon emissions, ensuring our Commonwealth’s long-term energy security and creating the next generation of good jobs in this emerging sector,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Many of the largest employers on the globe have made it clear that the availability of clean energy is a key part of their decision making process when it comes to new jobs and investments. To continue attracting competitive and innovative businesses, we need to invest in a 21st century energy policy to ensure our grid is reliable, affordable, and clean.”

The newly convened workgroup will receive input from a diverse range of perspectives including scientists, energy experts, business leaders, and environmental advocates. The Secretary of Natural Resources will be charged with developing a regulatory strategy to reduce carbon pollution in Virginia’s energy sector while realizing opportunities to lead in the new clean energy economy.

“Global warming and sea level rise driven by carbon emissions pose a significant threat to Virginia’s environment, economy, and way of life,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “The energy choices we make today will be felt for generations to come, so it’s worth thoroughly reviewing all options under Virginia’s existing authority. This workgroup’s report will be a jumping-off point for future conversations about climate change and clean energy in the Commonwealth.”

The group’s recommendations will build upon the McAuliffe administrations existing efforts to improve energy efficiency and transition the Commonwealth to carbon-neutral energy sources. Executive Order 31 directed state agencies to implement energy efficient practices, protecting Virginia’s environment and bottom line. The governor established the Solar Energy Development Authority to catalyze growth in this rapidly-expanding market. Additionally, Governor McAuliffe set new procurement standards for state agencies, requiring eight percent of the energy they consume to be generated by renewables within the next three years.

The full text of Executive Order 57 is below:


Executive Order Number 57

Part I – Importance of the Initiative

Though our coastal communities may be the first to witness the effects of climate change, the risks presented by increasingly fierce storms, severe flooding, and other extreme weather events are not confined to a single geographic area. Neither are their causes. The economic implications are significant, and we must do all we can to protect our critical military infrastructure, our ports, our homes, and our businesses. It is only by acting together with common purpose that the Commonwealth can effectively adapt and stave off the most severe consequences of climate change.

One key step forward is to continue with a strategic goal of reducing carbon emissions. Virginia has already made meaningful strides – between 2005 and 2014, Virginia reduced its carbon emissions from power plants by 21 percent. However, the electric sector is still responsible for approximately 30 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution in the Commonwealth. Moreover, electric companies are including carbon regulation projections in their long-term plans. The electric sector is changing rapidly through increasing reliance on low and zero carbon resources. As such, it is vital that the Commonwealth continue to facilitate and engage in a dialogue on carbon reduction methods while simultaneously creating a pathway for clean energy initiatives that will grow jobs and help diversify Virginia’s economy.

Accordingly, by virtue of the authority vested in the Governor under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the laws of the Commonwealth, I hereby direct the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a Work Group, chaired by the Secretary, to study and recommend methods to reduce carbon emissions from  electric power generation facilities. The Secretary shall receive input from interested stakeholders.

Such methods shall align with the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s power to promulgate regulations abating, controlling and prohibiting air pollution throughout or in any part of the Commonwealth.

Part II – Scope and Guidance

In preparing their recommendations, the Secretary and the Work Group shall consider the following:

(1) the establishment of regulations for the reduction of carbon pollution from existing electric power generation facilities pursuant to existing authority under Virginia Code § 10.1-1300 et seq.;

(2) the carbon reduction requirements for existing electric power generation facilities established under § 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act, which are currently stayed pending final disposition;

(3) the interaction between electric utilities and regional markets, including PJM Interconnection;

(4) the impact any reduction requirements place on the reliability of the electric system;

(5) the impact any reduction of carbon pollution may have on electric rates and electric bills;

(6) the impact of reducing carbon pollution on low income and vulnerable communities;

(7) the cost effectiveness of pollution reduction technologies that may be deployed;

(8) the economic development opportunities associated with deployment of new carbon reduction technologies;

(9) the implementation and administration of carbon reduction regulations; and

(10) flexibility in achieving the goals of any carbon reduction regulation.

The Secretary of Natural Resources shall complete her work, including the development of recommendations as to viable carbon reduction methods for the electric power generation facilities by April 30, 2017. The Secretary of Natural Resources shall provide a report on the recommendations to the Governor byMay 31, 2017.

Effective Date of the Executive Order

This Executive Order shall be effective upon its signing and shall remain in full force and effect for one year after its signing unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 28th Day of June, 2016.


Terence R. McAuliffe, Governor



Kelly Thomasson, Secretary of the Commonwealth

To view the published release, please visit:

  • Dianna Richardson

    Please notice that the Governor put Molly Ward in charge convening a workgroup and recommending concrete steps to reduce carbon pollution from Virginia’s power plants. As stated above, Governor McAuliffe doesn’t say anything about even considering the dangers of huge natural gas pipelines or off-shore drilling. When Preserve Montgomery County VA (a local group concerned about the Mountain Valley Pipeline) met with Molly Ward (requested a meeting with the Governor, but he won’t meet with constituents on the pipeline issue), she was very obstructionist about even discussing pipelines. She said that she was a “disciple” of Terry McAuliffe, so not to expect her to differ with him. When told that many Democrats in our area worked for and voted for the Govefrnor and were disappointed with his failure to even listen to our concerns, she told us that venting had no place in her meeting with us. There is so more I could say about how we were disrespected as concerned, but very knowlegeable citizens about the issue of pipelines, but why bother. This new executive order and placing Molly Ward in charge is a complete sham. The Governor and the Secretary are both a big disappointment on this issue. Dominion owns Virginia – never forget it. Their money is so much more important to VA politicians than saving the environment so that everyone’s grandchildren have a future.

    • lowkell

      This comment deserves to be expanded upon in its own blog post!