Home Climate change Three Numbers Show Why Governor Northam’s Climate Math Doesn’t Add Up

Three Numbers Show Why Governor Northam’s Climate Math Doesn’t Add Up

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by Glen Besa

Governor Northam’s efforts to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are laudable, but if Virginia is to honestly address climate change, we need to fully consider whether the totality of Northam’s actions are taking us forward or backward. These three numbers provide perspective.

10 Million Tons less per year

—Carbon Pollution cut by Gov. Northam’s carbon trading rule

30 Million Tons more per year

Carbon Pollution increase from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

40 Million Tons more per year

Carbon Pollution increase from the Mountain Valley Pipeline

NOTES:  Here is where these numbers come from:

10 million tons per year – Beginning with a 2020 base year of 28 million tons per year from fossil fuel power plants, Gov. Northam proposes to cut carbon 3%/year through 2030.  10 years x 3%/year=30%; and 30% of 28 million = 8.4 million tons per year in 2030, which I rounded up to an even 10 million tons per year to keep the math simple.

30 million tons per year – FERC’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Vol 1, page 4-621) states that this one pipeline “would result in approximately 29,957,375 million [tons per year] CO2e emitted from end users.” Note that this estimate of 30 million tons per year does not include the climate impacts of methane leaks from the pipeline or the fracking wells that produce the gas.

40 million tons per yearThis calculation reflects the work of Dr. Richard Ball, a retired scientist with the US Dept of Energy and the US EPA.  In his report for Sierra Club on greenhouse gas pollution from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline his numbers for ACP were similar to the FERC calculation. Since FERC failed to estimate carbon pollution for the MVP, I use Dr. Ball’s number (p7 of his report): 42.8 mty, associated only with burning the gas.  Inclusion of methane leakage boosts the GHG impact to minimum of 54.3 mty.