Home Energy and Environment Where’s the Beef, Terry?

Where’s the Beef, Terry?


For Virginians aware of the Commonwealth’s tremendous risks from climate change and (potentially even more) tremendous opportunities for prosperity through climate action, the past few days had some real buzz. Governor Terry McAuliffe was going to make a climate-related announcement at Alexandria ReNew (A).  That event has come and past.

We now have some really wonderful tweets from Governor McAuliffe (above, below, and here), a press release, and the issuance of Executive Directive 11.

Okay, I’ve read … and reread … and reread Executive Directive 11 and return to Wendy’s question: Where’s the beef?

A year ago, well into his third year, Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Order 57 which, well, kicked the can down the pike on climate change directing a year-long study to figure out what Viriginia should do to address climate change. The study count increases even as sea level rises.  Yes, worthwhile to have study but substantive action is urgently required. At the end of that year process, what did McAuliffe order: some more study and (potential) regulation development.  Here is the substantive directive material:

1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board’s consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities that:

a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program; and

b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits.

2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment in accordance with the Board’s authority pursuant to Virginia Code § 10.1-1308.

Okay, yes, it is worthwhile for Virginia government officials to develop draft regulations that would enable Virginia to participate in carbon trading that can be put forward for public comment.

Hmmm … read that previous sentence … are you asking “where’s the beef”, too?  This legitimately merited ‘buzz’ and a special signing announcement?

No, this isn’t Governor McAuliffe announcing

  • A deal with Dominion Virginia Power for constructing a 500 megawatt offshore wind farm along with the infrastructure in the Tidewater area to support the construction and operations of projects not just off Virginia but along the Atlantic coast — that would create economic activity, jobs, reduce electricity costs, improve energy resiliency, and, by the way, reduce (climate and other) pollution.
  • A green schools program that would boost Virginia educational achievement, improve the health of Virginians, create jobs, save money, and, by the way, reduce (climate and other) pollution.
  • The leveraging of the Volkswagen settlement money for sparking a transition to plug-hybrid electric and electric school and transportation buses throughout the Commonwealth that would dramatically reduce health-risks to students, improve educational performance, save money, and, by the way, reduce (climate and other) pollution.
  • Something … well … something tangible.

Again, to be clear, what Governor McAuliffe ordered is useful: directing the development of a proposed regulatory framework so that Virginia will be regulatory-ready when/if it can/does become involved in a carbon market.  However, this does not change Virginia’s climate reality an iota unless/until Virginia does become part of that market space and it is unclear whether it will have any impact on government/business planning and investment in the interim.

With all due respect, Governor McAuliffe, Virginia is far from “#1 on climate issues” and, although I hoped your announcement this morning would move the ball forward in a tangible manner toward #1, Executive Order 11 won’t do much to move it in that direction.


The press release and executive orders have some strong, truthful language related to climate change. Here are the first two paragraphs from EO11.

There is no denying the science and the real-world evidence that climate change threatens the Commonwealth of Virginia, from our homes and businesses to our critical military installations and ports. Rising storm surges and flooding could impact as many as 420,000 properties along Virginia’s coast that would require $92 billion of reconstruction costs. The challenges and costs of bolstering resilience and minimizing risk are too great for any locality to bear alone.

While the impacts are significant, there are technologies in the clean energy sector that could help mitigate these impacts while simultaneously creating jobs in twenty-first century industries. The number of solar jobs in Virginia has grown by 65 percent in the last year alone, and Virginia is now the ninth fastest growing solar jobs market in the country. Revenue for clean energy businesses in Virginia has increased from $300 million in 2014 to $1.5 billion in 2016. Through state leadership, Virginia can face the threats of climate change head on and do so in a way that makes clean energy a pillar of our future economic growth and a meaningful part of our energy portfolio.

Note, the only inaccurate language here is “there is no denying the science” when, it is quite clear, there are far too many ready to deny reality and actively refusing to honestly engage with and about climate science.

(A) Re Alexandria ReNew, this is probably the best website that I have seen from a water sewage authority/operator (writing that having had the chance to look at quite a few).  If this is a domain of any interest, their virtual tour provides an excellent basic tutorial on a sewage plant’s operations and, of course, their own operations.

  • Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Proposes Statewide Carbon Cap Through Executive Action

    Advocates Now Call On Governor To Drop Support For Offshore Drilling, Fracked-Gas Pipelines

    Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced an executive action paving the way for Virginia to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel power plants. The governor announced a directive which, by the end of this year, could create a legal framework for the state to create its own carbon cap program to annually lower power-plant pollution. That program would most likely be linked to the highly successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade system now in place from Maine to Maryland — or to California’s cap-and-trade system.

    To date, McAuliffe’s policies on climate and energy have earned him very poor grades from many environmental, faith, student, and justice groups. See this 2016 “report card” giving the governor a D-plus grade on climate and energy policies. And see this “open letter” to the governor last June.

    But today’s action will significantly improve the governor’s grade. The governor can further cement a positive legacy on climate change by finally dropping his support for offshore oil drilling in Virginia and – most importantly – drop his support for two massive proposed pipelines to transport fracked gas from West Virginia to Virginia. The global warming emissions from the two pipelines – the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline – would, if built, create a new pulse of greenhouse gas pollution that would completely undo any reductions stemming from the governor’s executive action today on power plants. It is possible – and hoped – that the executive action today could itself dampen the market for fracked-gas pipelines and new gas-powered plants in Virginia. It could do this by rewarding carbon-free generation like wind and solar over gas combustion and the attendant pipelines. But this is unclear at this point.

    Statement from Mike Tidwell, Executive Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

    “Though late in his administration, Governor Terry McAuliffe did the right thing today in announcing a pathway for Virginia to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The governor’s executive ‘directive’ unveiled today is precisely what environmental advocates have been asking the governor to do for over two years now. With President Trump dismantling climate policies nationally, it’s reassuring that Governor McAuliffe has at last responded in a powerful way. This move could soon allow Virginia to cap carbon pollution in a systematic way, likely linked to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative now in place from Maine to Maryland. Now, the governor should further cement his climate legacy by opposing offshore drilling for oil and opposing the massive fracked-gas pipelines that Dominion and other companies want to build across the state.”

  • The thing is, there is no reason T-Mac et al couldn’t have started down this road in January 2014, instead of spending 3+ years doing Dominion Power’s bidding. The question is, why now? My guess: politics. Think about it.

  • AG Mark Herring’s statement:

    “Governor McAuliffe has taken a huge step to capture the economic, health, and environmental benefits of cleaner air here in Virginia. Climate change and sea level rise aren’t fantasies, hoaxes, or far-off problems we can kick to the next generation. It’s a real and imminent threat to the well-being of Virginia’s economy and our people. I look forward to a substantive, science-driven process to develop regulations that will further our recent progress in reducing our state’s carbon footprint and developing a robust and growing clean energy economy.”

  • On the other hand, if climate-science-denying, Koch-sucking coal industry tool, Rep. Morgan Griffith doesn’t like it…gotta be some good stuff in here. LOL

    “The action outlined in the Executive Order is basically a cap and trade plan that will allow the government and radical environmentalists to punish coal mining and shut down coal-fired power plants.

    Those pushing for cap and trade ignore the facts that renewable energy cannot yet provide reliable and affordable energy for all American families and businesses.

    Previously, President Obama attempted to implement cap and trade, but American voters pushed back. Apparently, the Governor will now try.

    These cap and trade type efforts may drive electricity rates higher and can undermine the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid, negatively impacting families, businesses, hospitals, and schools in Virginia. Investing in technology to use coal cleaner, and make all energy more affordable, is a more realistic approach without the job killing regulations.”

  • Del. David Toscano’s statement; I strongly agree that states REALLY matter now, more than ever!

    Toscano Applauds Governor’s Initiative to Reduce Carbon Emissions

    When Washington Defaults, States Really Do Matter

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (May 16, 2017 5:00 pm) David J. Toscano, delegate from the 57th District (Charlottesville/Albemarle) and the Democratic Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates, today issued the following statement:

    “Our Governor clearly recognizes the threat to Virginia imposed by climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, and is attempting to do all that he can within his authority to protect the quality of life and economic wellbeing of Virginians in the face of this challenge,” said Toscano. “As President Trump undermines the EPA, protective action will increasingly occur in the states, and Virginia should be a leader.”

    Toscano recently sought and obtained an opinion by the Attorney General of Virginia, Mark R. Herring, that stated the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board has the ability, under state law, to regulate carbon pollution and to place a “statewide cap” on greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing fossil fuel electric generating units.

    “It is clear that Donald Trump will take us backward on climate protection, and the only chance we have to make our future better is through state initiatives. I applaud the Governor on his courage to take on a difficult issue and manage it for the public good.”

  • Video: Ed Gillespie is absolutely clueless, energy/enviro edition