Home Energy and Environment Reflections on Groundhog Day in the Age of Climate Change

Reflections on Groundhog Day in the Age of Climate Change


( – promoted by lowkell)

and on three Virginia politicians who are obstacles to protecting our climate

One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray, in the role an arrogant jerk he plays so well, is doomed to repeat his day over and over until he learns to grow up and reform his surly, self-centered behavior.  

It’s a lot like too many of our public officials’ attitude toward climate change. Compelling science, one devastating storm after another, repeated droughts, floods, and wildfires, and still too many politicians refuse to appreciate that our dependence on fossil fuels is disrupting of our climate.  

Consider three current examples from Virginia.

Most notorious is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a climate science denier who has abused his office and taxpayers’ money to sue the US EPA challenging established climate science. Just as outrageous was his lawsuit against the University of Virginia alleging that respected climate scientist Michael Mann defrauded the public by using state research resources to study climate change. Because Cuccinelli is an engineer as well as an attorney he believes he has special insight into the science of climate change even though he doesn’t understand the difference between weather and climate. Consider his email to his supporters on Feb 8, 2010 right after he was sworn in as Virginia’s Attorney General that starts out: “Dear Fellow Virginians, As I look out the window at 30+ inches of global snowing…”

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, announced Republican candidate to replace Cuccinelli as our Attorney General, is another climate denier. Apparently, he actually believes the Tea Party claptrap that the United Nations is secretly conspiring to deny the property rights of American citizens by advancing Agenda 21 and using climate change as an excuse to crush Americans’ liberty. What is Agenda 21, you may ask? I suggest you Google it as you would not believe me if told you what the Tea Party has to say about it. You should definitely read Delegate Lingamfelter’s HJR 654 as well.  

The Tea Party has such a hold on the Republican House of Delegates that 8 of them as well as two Democrats (Joannou and Johnson) actually voted to report HJR 654 out of the House Rules committee and the resolution goes to floor this week.  To his credit Republican House Speaker Bill Howell voted “Nay” but 10 of his colleagues on House Rules either believe this craziness or are too intimidated by the Tea Party to tell them their Agenda 21 conspiracy is loony.

As embarrassing as it may be to have Attorney General Cuccinelli and Delegate Lingamfelter representing our state, at least they actually seem to believe the claptrap they spew.

In some ways more shameful is Senate Democratic Leader Richard Saslaw, who consistently votes with the fossil fuel industry, including Dominion Virginia Power, which in return showers financial tribute on his Political Action Committee. Senator Saslaw, as the lead Democrat on the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, uses his position to kill legislation to advance wind, solar and energy efficiency in Virginia. Not only does Senator Saslaw insure that Dominion is not required to invest in clean power, he regularly kills legislation on behalf of Dominion to stifle competition from businesses that are willing and able to provide clean energy and clean energy jobs to Virginians.  

Because the Sierra Club has stood up to this first class bully and suggested that Fairfax County voters deserve better, he has issued to his Senate colleagues a political fatwa that no one should work with the Sierra Club. He has attempted to enforce his fatwa with stated and implied threats that colleagues working with the Sierra Club will see their bills die or that they may be denied campaign funds from Senator Saslaw’s PAC war chest filled with booty from Virginia’s biggest polluters, uranium mining interests and the usurious pay day lending money changers at the Temple of the Virginia Statehouse.

Fortunately, most Virginians and most Americans understand that climate change is a real threat to our future wellbeing and to the wellbeing of our children. We want our leaders to take action now to rein in carbon pollution. By acting sooner rather than later we can address this environmental challenge in a manner that strengthens our economy and our security even if the quarterly profits and shareholder dividends of fossil fuel dinosaurs like Dominion Virginia Power may suffer.  

So on this Groundhog Day, if we renew our pledge to combat climate change and to hold politicians like Cuccinelli, Saslaw and Lingamfelter accountable, we can look forward to future Feb 2nds, when Punxsutawney Phil and his furry compatriots can credibly predict six more weeks of winter when they see their shadows.  Let’s get started!

Glen Besa is Virginia Director of the Sierra Club.  The Sierra Club, working with a broad coalition of groups to organize the largest rally for action on climate in US history on February 17 in Washington, DC.  For details, click here.  


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