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Video: Del. Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) Leads Rally to Fight for...

Good stuff by Del. Mike Mullin (D-HD93, Hampton Roads area) as Donald Trump and his merry band of anti-environment vandals launch their attacks on...

Burned Once, Chesapeake Shouldn’t Trust Dominion Virginia Power

Kingston Fossil Plant retention overflow photo 140714CUAandSMagazine_zpsbe6e7335.jpgChesapeake is concerned. The City Manager indicates that this issue rises from the Dan River spill last February and the city's action to protect the Elizabeth River is not directed at Dominion. But there's history there and Dominion has provided no reason to trust its motives.

This isn't just Chesapeake's concern. The Elizabeth is really only a tidal estuary that runs to the mouth of the James River on the way to the Chesapeake Bay through Portsmouth and Norfolk. It is about six miles long. The Dan River spill created a 70 mile coating of toxic sludge. So this should have the attention of Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore too. But Chesapeake is center stage because it already knows how difficult it is to force Dominion Power to take responsibility for its mess.

Battlefield Golf Club was built using fly ash. Something the coal power industry has been advertising as a "good thing" in an attempt to rid itself of this pesky poisonous residue of energy production. Maybe if they can just spread all of it thin enough over hill and dale, insert it into concrete, and sweep it into wastewater systems no one will notice the damage. The proper cost of disposal has never been calculated into the cost of energy produced from coal. War on coal? How about coal's war on the planet?

Now almost five years into litigation over the damage caused during the Battlefield Golf Club construction, only one thing is clear: once any area is contaminated, you have to wait for a proper class to fall victim to the damage before anything can be recovered. That is essentially what is going on with the lawsuits over the golf course. For now the damage has been "limited" to the ground water under the golf course. And since the local residents have been connected to city water on Dominion's dime, the judge has basically said that they have not been damaged. The Environmental Protection Agency's findings of that limited damage have actually helped the defendants' case(s). Residents will have to wait for cancer, birth defects, or however this eventually manifests to demonstrate they have been harmed.  

The Chesapeake Bay’s Toxic Present Could Be Our Country’s Toxic Future

Every nation has and needs a natural symbol or symbols to represent its vibrancy, its past, its present, and its future, and its ties to the land upon which it has built its civilization. On the Atlantic Coast of the United States, the Chesapeake Bay is undoubtedly one of those symbols. Once a point of social and communal life for a number of Native American tribes, the Chesapeake Bay became a point of arrival and commerce for the newly arriving and established colonists. In other words, the Chesapeake Bay is a natural land mark that tells a story of our country's past. But it also tells a story of our country's future.

And if the health of the Chesapeake Bay is any indication of where the United States is headed, our future won't be a very clean one and, consequently, one worth striving for. A new technical report by the Environmental Protection Agency goes beyond the TMDL discussions and research and explores the toxic contaminants that are present in the Bay, and the results aren't savory.  

Some of the contaminants that are "widespread in the Chesapeake Bay" include the following: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); mercury; and pesticides. Other toxics that were found in some areas and not others include the following: dioxins; petroleum hydrocarbons; chlorinated insecticides; aluminum; and lead.

Chesapeake Bay cleanup in Virginia well on track but pitfalls still...

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced on Friday that "significant reductions" of phosphorous and nitrogen stemming from wastewater treatment plants has put Virginia in line to reach pollution reduction goals towards cleaning the Chesapeake Bay.  

According to Virginia's secretary of natural resources, Doug Domenech, progress towards cleaning the Chesapeake Bay "clearly shows that a restored bay is possible."  How Domenech defines a "restored" Chesapeake Bay remained unclear. Restored to what?

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, one the leading nongovernmental groups pressuring Virginia's government to clean the bay, praised McDonnell's "recognition of the importance of a healthy and productive Chesapeake Bay."

Despite the progress that has been made so far, though, the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science gave the bay a D+ on a yearly report card issued in 2011. Thus, the Chesapeake Bay is clearly a ways away from the level of clean that I have in mind.

It should also be remembered that the McDonnell administration seemed reluctant to commit to the Chesapeake Bay clean up goals set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), goals which McDonnell is now boasting about having met.  

Few specifics added to revised Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan submitted Friday

Virginia took its next step to clean up the Chesapeake Bay on Friday when it submitted its revised cleanup plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The revised plan seeks to decrease runoff pollution from land during rainfall that runs out of sewage plants or washes off farm fields, just to name two point sources of pollution.

According to Ann Jennings, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), the plan needs more specifics that are supported at the state level.

The lack of specifics isn't surprising given the McDonnell administration's antagonistic relationship to the EPA regarding the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan in particular.

In a more general sense, the lack of concrete goals and clear state-level support for environmental projects is a mainstay of Virginia's current Republican body of politicians.

Nevertheless, understanding the importance of environmental conservation and the political benefits that accompany it, Republican political figures in Virginia have paid lip service to the idea of conservation while avoiding any substantive moves to promote environmental conservation in a sustainable way.

That is, Republican politicians in Virginia like Gov. McDonnell have attempted to score political points for promoting green policies that are less than certain in their goals and long-term financial support.

It is supremely unfortunate that such a clear cut issue like the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay has been bogged down by the politics of our day (and many days before!).

Virginians must therefore keep pushing to set a precedent in Virginia: conservation of our historic sites and places will not be sacrificed to parochial political considerations either now or in the future. It's time for Virginia's leaders to finally do the right thing and restore the bay.  

Conservation Lobby Day aims to give VA’s future back to Virginians

With so much on the line for human and environmental health during this year's session of the VA General Assembly, Conservation Lobby Day comes as a much needed momentum booster to implement an agenda based upon reason and environmental health.

Conservation Lobby Day kicks off tomorrow at 9AM at Richmond Center Stage (600 E. Grace St.) and at 10AM at the Virginia General Assembly Building on 910 Capitol Square. The purpose of Conservation Lobby Day is to show your elected representatives as well as Virginia's lobbyists that you support environmental protection.

Even though Gov. McDonnell has signaled a call to continue the ban on uranium mining in Virginia in 2012, it seems clear that this is a political tactic drawn out by the McDonnell administration and Virginia Uranium Inc. to mollify the opposition and take away from the powerful arguments of those opposed to the unacceptably risky practice of uranium mining and milling.

The Chesapeake Bay requires appropriate funding to successfully complete Virginia's latest plans to clean the bay and its tributaries. One of the highest priorities will be sustaining the share of state surplus deposited into the Water Quality Improvement Fund.

Whatever issue you choose to come out and show your support for, make sure you come out! Our health and the future of our environment in VA depend on your active participation!  

EPA as Job Creation Engine

The Republican intellectual midgets now vying for a chance to run against President Obama have made railing against the Environmental Protection Agency part of their campaign speeches. Romney calls it "a tool to crush private enterprise." Rick Perry terms it "a cemetery for jobs." Both men are lying through their teeth. Right now in Virginia and neighboring states, there is proof emerging that EPA regulations can be huge job and business creators.

For people in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the EPA may be the engine for massive job growth.  A report by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation highlights the number of jobs that will flow from achieving new pollution goals set by the EPA for the Bay. Those rules require pollution flowing into the Bay to drop by 25% by 2025 and have already resulted in state and federal investment in stormwater mitigation projects, sewage treatment facility upgrades, power plant smokestack scrubbers, and better management of agricultural runoff and livestock waste.

Construction of stormwater control projects already contracted for in Montgomery County MD will create 3,300 construction and engineering jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, similar stormwater projects across the Bay watershed could create 178,000 full-time jobs, 52,000 of them in Virginia.

Republicans can't admit that 21st century projects in clean energy and pollution mitigation are one of the best sources for future employment and business opportunities because of their ties to entrenched corporate interests that want to maximize their profits by maintaining the status quo.  

BBC: “The Disappearing Island in the Chesapeake Bay”

Virginia's Tangier Island was first settled 325 years ago. But as the BBC reports, thanks to a combination of a Chesapeake Bay polluted by unchecked runoff, rising sea levels fueled by global warming, an eroding shoreline fueled by natural subsidence, Tangier Island is slowly disappearing into the Bay:

Learn in the National Wildlife Federation's 2008 report on the Chesapeake Bay & sea level rise.

Senator Northam’s Enigmatic Opponent

Myth plays a central role explaining the discontinuities of our experience. Ayn Rand's fundamental warning to check assumptions is often the first tenet ignored by her tea party disciples. Life by anecdote is so much more pleasant. The sky in Ben Loyola's world must be a pleasant azure.

One senses in Ben Loyola's quiet and gentle demeanor that his world view is very settled. The refined Virginia Beach Republican is an accomplished naval aviator and businessman. He's an immigrant success story. A regular at almost every Republican event in his now former district, he is most comfortable with those sharing his "conservative social values," calling himself a "Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Pro-2nd Amendment, Fiscal Conservative." It feels good to belong.

Senator Northam's opponent for the Virginia 6th isn't really running for the Virginia Senate; he is continuing his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. He doesn't really want to represent the 6th District; he has no substantial ties there but it was the only one handy. The filtered lens is everywhere in the candidate's life vitae and the focus isn't on the district's issues or Virginia's. There is no concern for the Chesapeake Bay, blue crabs, manufacturing and transportation on the Eastern Shore, or anything remotely essential to the constituency beyond his uncontested support of national defense. If he can find Mobjack without a GPS or even knows where it is would be a surprise. He strums the heartstrings of the tea party (and that tune plays in some parts) but at some point Loyola is going to turn and say, "Brian, we're not in Virginia Beach anymore."

Bay Oysters Held Hostage: Virginia Demands Everything For Nothing

artificial reefIt's not something you'd expect to hear from a government run by people who claim to be fiscal conservatives: Virginia is threatening to pull out of oyster restoration work because federal officials won't give free handouts to Virginia businesses.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is objecting to federal rules that say oyster reefs restored with federal money can't be commercially harvested. It's also balking at the $500,000 contribution to receive $2 million in federal oyster reef restoration money.

But those federal rules exist to protect taxpayers. After all, why should public tax dollars be used to subsidize an oyster reef, only to have those oysters turned over to private watermen as a political favor? If Virginia officials want to enrich private businesses with public dollars, why not just save the time & effort and hand tax dollars directly to the watermen? Oh, right - because that would make Gov. Bob McDonnell look like a tax-and-spend socialist. Much better to demand the feds do it for him!

Of course, there are plenty of benefits of healthy oysters besides their commercial value. They'll make new oysters, provide food for other tasty things like crabs, and filter Chesapeake Bay water that's in desperate need of cleaning. So why not chip in the 25% co-pay to get the federal windfall?