New Report Drives Home the Point: Virginia Should NOT Build New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

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    Per Scaling Green (where I post frequently, including the article I link to), a brand-new report by Oil Change International finds that, to put it bluntly, “To Avoid Climate Disaster, ‘No new fossil fuel extraction or transportation infrastructure should be built worldwide.'” Fortunately, as the report explains:

    Renewable power generation is growing exponentially: wind at around 20% per year globally, and solar at around 35% per year.68 Wind generation has more than doubled since 2010, while solar has doubled nearly three times in that period. Compounded over many years, these growth rates add up rapidly: if wind and solar sustained their current global growth rates, they would exceed current coal and gas power generation in 2029…. In most contexts, the costs of wind and solar power are now close to those of gas and coal; in some countries renewable costs are already lower.

    Which brings us back to Virginia, and specifically yesterday’s conference call about brand-new polling re: Gov. McAuliffe’s (flawed) policies towards new fracked natural gas pipelines and coal ash waste disposal in the Commonwealth. The bottom line is that the idea of building new fracked natural gas pipelines in Virginia is not just piss-poor public policy, it’s also wildly unpopular among Virginians (e.g., only 28% support the governor’s plan to build two new natural gas pipelines from WV through Virginia, while 55% oppose it).

    It’s piss-poor policy, because it’s significantly more expensive than other energy alternatives: particularly energy efficiency, by far the lowest-hanging fruit and utility-scale solar, which is reaching eye-popping new, low prices practically every day. There’s also distributed/rooftop solar power and offshore wind, with which Virginia could power hundreds of thousands of homes pollution-free. But why try those when you’ve got some nice, dirty, Dominion Power-approved fracked gas to pump across the state? Ugh.

    It’s also piss-poor policy because of all the reasons laid out in the new Oil Change International report I referenced above. Among the MANY other problems associated with new fossil fuel infrastructure, how about this one: “The economic costs could be enormous as well, including around $14 trillion in stranded assets for fossil fuel extraction and transportation projects.” In other words, we could spend billions of dollars on new fossil fuel infrastructure here in Virginia, only to find in a few years that it’s obsolete, undercut by super-cheap solar and wind, and essentially “stranded” (e.g., the money would have been wasted). And that doesn’t even get into the environmental downsides to new fossil fuel infrastructure, including fracked natural gas, which are huge.

    So…bottom line, somebody should print off this study and hand deliver it to Gov. McAuliffe’s office. And don’t leave until he’s read it, either…that is, f he can break himself away from the “Kegerator” for a few minutes to consider minor matters like the future of the planet. (snark)