One last video from my series on Gov. McAuliffe’s error-filled, Dominion-friendly interview a couple weeks ago at “The Next Frontier of Climate Change” conference in Richmond. For previous posts, see 1) Video: Sierra Club’s Ivy Main is Right; Gov. McAuliffe is Dead Wrong on Natural Gas, 2) Video: Gov. McAuliffe Flat-Out Wrong About Fossil Fuel Divestment, 3) McAuliffe touts gas and nuclear, says it’s not his job to worry about risks, 4) Video: Gov McAuliffe Gets In a Heated Argument with Anti Fracking Activist. Who Wins? and 5) Video: Gov. McAuliffe Admits Getting His (Wildly Wrong) Energy Information From Dominion. #FAIL.
In this installment, we have Gov. McAuliffe complaining that although he “fully” supports the Clean Power Plan, Virginia supposedly “gets no credit” for “doing the right thing” – namely, our supposedly wonderful (actually super-expensive, heavily-subsidized behemoths), non-carbon-emitting nuclear plants. In fact, that’s totally, almost 180-degrees untrue, as Walton Shepherd’s of NRDC recently explained.
Virginia’s existing lower-carbon power fleet is rewarded by the Clean Power Plan:
Some have mistakenly claimed that the Clean Power Plan is somehow “unfair” to Virginia. PJM’s analysis confirms the exact opposite: Virginia has already balanced its high-carbon coal with lower-carbon gas and nuclear plants, so each addition of zero-carbon renewables and energy efficiency hits a smaller pool of carbon and is thus more effective at displacing more of the pollutant. Compare that to our neighboring state of West Virginia, which PJM concluded would have the highest carbon price of all the PJM states, due to a reliance on coal that is triple Virginia’s. As a result, in addition to making smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, the next-cheapest compliance option for West Virginia could be to purchase allowances from Virginia or other neighbors – generating additional revenue for the Commonwealth while the Mountain State achieves compliance more cheaply! Because Virginia’s cleaner fleet is rewarded in this way by the Clean Power Plan (as currently proposed), Governor McAuliffe should be gunning for aggressive clean energy gains in his state plan for the CPP: right out of the gate in 2020, Virginia could sell the carbon reductions across state lines.
And yes, I’d listen to an energy and environmental expert like Walton Shephard, “born and raised in the hills of West Virginia,” than to Terry McAuliffe, who clearly knows very little about this topic. On that latter point, note that McAuliffe can’t answer any of the questions posed to him about specifics – fuel mix, power prices, distributed power, you name it. He also gets a myriad of things wrong, from the cost of transmitting power from nuclear plants vs. renewable energy facilities to the economics and environmental impact of fracked natural gas to the economics of renewable energy to…you name it, pretty much. At one point, the interviewer exclaims in exasperation, “numbers are important in discussions like this” – to no avail. Instead, McAuliffe hems and haws, tries to change the subject, says there are “commissions” that determine this stuff, argues that “you’ve got to talk to Dominion” (ha!!!), that he’s not going to be “held to a number here today…that’s not my job.” Uhhhhh…alrighty then!
So, here’s what’s truly “unfair” about this situation: that the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries have powerful proponents in their bought-and-paid-for state legislature, while the governor who we, the people elected says he’s powerless to do much of anything, mostly just regurgitates Dominion et al’s anti-clean-energy talking points and whines about how “unfair” things are. For someone who claims he’s had a “passion” for renewable energy for years, something simply isn’t adding up here.