From the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:
As the Governor announces updates to his pro-fossil fuel energy plan today, polling results show voters want big clean-energy commitments
RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe announced updates to his pro-fossil fuel energy plan today, drawing criticism from climate advocates. The plan continues to promote major new investments in fossil fuels that threaten to outstrip steps forward on solar power and efficiency. Concurrently, poll results released today show voters want the governor to take more transformative steps to promote clean energy and combat flooding from climate change.
Today’s polling results show that, by a nearly 2-1 margin, Virginians want the Governor to defy Dominion Power’s plans to significantly increase future greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Gov. McAuliffe has yet to confirm if he will hold Dominion accountable to total, net reductions in climate pollution from power plants under federal and state clean power rules.
By a strong margin, voters also want the Governor to finally support the proposed Virginia Coastal Protection Act. This bipartisan state bill would cap climate emissions statewide while funding strong flood-protection measures for coastal military bases and communities in Hampton Roads and across the state.
“The Governor continues to cut ribbons for small solar projects at schools while simultaneously supporting Dominion Power in massively increasing global warming pollution,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.“This poll today show voters want solutions to the scale of the problem. They want the Governor to break with Dominion and actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions under federal rules. And, with Hurricane Matthew still affecting coastal Virginia, voters want McAuliffe to support legislation that would finally and sustainably fund protections against sea-level rise and flooding.”
In the poll results, 55 percent of voters say the Governor should require Dominion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while only 29 percent think the Governor is right to support Dominion’s planned pollution increase. Meanwhile, nearly half of Virginians think the Governor should support the Virginia Coastal Protection Act while just 33 percent oppose and 18 percent have no opinion.
The Governor’s strong prior support for fossil fuels over clean energy is cataloged in his own revised energy plan released today. The Governor touts that 400 Megawatts of solar are projected to be built in Virginia under his four-year term. That is the pollution-reduction equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road. But the Governor’s support of two massive pipelines for fracked gas would effectively trigger greenhouse gas pollution increases equal to nearly doubling the total pollution emitted by the state’s existing power plants. Apart from the plan, the Governor has previously supported offshore drilling for oil, which could have increased climate pollution equal to adding 24 million cars to Virginia’s roads.
Today’s polling data come as growing numbers of Virginians have expressed their disapproval with the Governor on a wide range of dirty energy issues. Polling results released in September showed that voters – by a nearly 2-1 margin – oppose the Governor’s support for massive fracked-gas pipelines in the state. They also showed that 71 percent of voters oppose his support for Dominion’s plan to bury millions of tons of coal ash next to major Virginia rivers. In early October, scores of activists picketed outside the Governor’s Richmond office over three days and 23 citizens were peacefully arrested outside his house protesting the pipelines, coal ash, and climate inaction.
The Cromer Group poll, commissioned by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, surveyed 732 randomly-selected Virginia registered voters in an automated phone survey on September 7, 2016. The survey carries a margin of error of + 4.0 percent at 95 percent level of confidence.
The poll results are available online at: http://chesapeakeclimate.org/