In case you missed it, there was big news on the Virginia energy/environmental front, as Attorney General Mark Herring came through yet again — this time with an official opinion that the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board “is legally authorized to regulate [Greenhouse Gas – GHG] emissions, including establishing a statewide cap on GHG emissions for all new and existing fossil fuel electric generating plants.” Bad news for dirty Dominion “Global Warming Starts Here” Power, good news for everybody else in Virginia!
Following up on AG Herring’s opinion, I emailed the communications directors for both Democratic gubernatorial candidates, asking, “Since AG Mark Herring says that Virginia CAN regulate CO2, would your gov candidate support doing so?” I quickly received the following responses back.
Ralph Northam campaign: “Yes.”
Tom Perriello campaign: “Yes, Tom would support it. He has already indicated he would explore executive actions as governor to cap carbon emissions and looks forward to seeing Gov. McAuliffe’s announcement this coming week. Here’s what Tom said already on this from his Earth Day medium post: In Congress, I voted in favor of cap-and-trade climate legislation that would reduce carbon pollution and increase support for locally produced wind and solar energy. I believe a similar effort at the state or regional level could allow us to reduce our contribution to climate change, help impacted communities adapt, and support new clean energy jobs in growth industries for affected workers like coal miners. As the Trump Administration rolls back environmental protections, I will explore executive actions to cap carbon emissions, including supporting a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard in Virginia.”
Great to hear from both Democratic candidates. I would note, of course, that if the goal is to slash CO2 emissions in Virginia, there’s almost certainly no room for any new fossil fuel infrastructure, let alone large-scale projects like new fossil-fuel-fired power plants, new natural gas pipelines (which Dominion Power is pushing), etc. Instead, what we need is a big push for the cheapest/cleanest form of energy there is – energy efficiency – plus solar power and offshore wind (see here for how Maryland is kicking Virginia’s ass on this front — thanks as always, Dominion!).
P.S. For its part, the Virginia GOP is the party of pollution, flooding in Hampton Roads, poverty in “coal country,” restricting Virginians from switching to clean/distributed power, denying the overwhelming scientific consensus on man-made global climate chaos, etc.
UPDATE 9:56 pm: I emailed all three Lt. Governor campaigns earlier today with the same question I asked the Governor campaigns. Here are the two responses I’ve received so far.
Gene Rossi: “I agree 100% with this opinion. No question.”
Susan Platt: “I applaud Attorney General Herring for this important opinion, which provides Virginia with an opportunity to be at the forefront nationally in the efforts to combat climate change. There are numerous ways in which Virginia can be a leader on this front. First, we should reject the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, which threaten not just our land and farms but also our planet. Second, we must invest in clean energy jobs of the future to strengthen our long-term economy and reduce carbon emissions. Third, we should work with our energy companies so they will change the way they do business and become more socially responsible. I do not believe that Dominion and Appalachian Power are acting responsibly right now, which is why I immediately signed Activate Virginia’s pledge to reject campaign contributions from them. With regard to CO2 regulations, my approach would be to convene the Air Pollution Control Board, local and state officials, researchers from our universities, climate activists, and business leaders to determine what level of reduction is achievable and come up with a plan to get it done. It is a moral imperative that we work to reduce the Commonwealth’s contribution to climate change, especially with the disproportionate threat facing Hampton Roads. I would push for interstate compacts, similar to what the Paris Agreement did on the global level, to work with like-minded states to combat this serious threat. Donald Trump, who thinks climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, is not going to lead. It’s clear that if the United States is going to take climate change seriously, efforts must be initiated by the states. That’s exactly what I want to see Virginia do.”