Good stuff from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, with the EPA “set to finalize limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants in the coming weeks.” It should go without saying that Virginia should be leading on this, not following, and certainly not dragging its feet or even obstructing.
60 elected officials urge Governor to protect against threats of climate change
Richmond, Va. – Today, 60 public officials from across the commonwealth sent a letter to Governor Terry McAuliffe voicing their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which will place limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation.
The EPA is set to finalize limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants in the coming weeks.
The state and local government leaders expressed their support of action to mitigate and adapt to climate disruption, citing that this challenge “threatens the stability and health of our communities and the ecosystems on which we depend.”
Officials outlined several primary concerns in the letter: “air quality, coastal flooding and related consequences for housing, infrastructure and population mobility, impacts on agriculture and forestry, food prices, and vector-borne diseases. They also noted that “impacts to human health and welfare, especially for children, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations, are of special concern.”
Delegate Alfonso Lopez, a leader of this effort representing Arlington and Fairfax Counties, is urging Gov. McAuliffe to keep moving forward.
“The Commonwealth needs a strong implementation plan to keep making progress in the fight to preserve our environment for future generations,” said Lopez, founder and chair of the Virginia Environment and Renewable Energy Caucus in the General Assembly. “We have a clear opportunity to limit the impacts of climate change, grow new industries, reduce pollution, and save consumers money here in Virginia.”
The Clean Power Plan also promises to improve public health. Virginia is home to nearly 700,000 asthmatics, and has been named the Asthma Capitol of the U.S. by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for several years running. The highest concentrations of asthma sufferers are in Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.
“Climate change impacts everyone but, unfortunately the impacts can be greater in low-income communities where folks can’t afford to make changes,” said 16th District Senator Rosalyn Dance. “By addressing these issues promptly and thoroughly we can mitigate the impacts and ensure that all Virginians and their children and grandchildren can grow up in a safe and healthy environment.”
Delegate Betsy Carr, who represents Richmond’s 69th District, pointed to another benefit of the Clean Power Plan: economic growth.
“Investment in renewable energy is not only an important gain for the environment but it also grows the economy and creates jobs,” she said.
Hampton Roads has possibly the most to gain from swift action, as it is also at the greatest risk for sea level rise along the east coast – 1.5-foot increases are expected within the next 20-50 years.
“Every time it rains in Norfolk, our citizens and military installations are at risk,” said Norfolk City Councilwoman Theresa Whibley. “A strong Clean Power Plan will help curb sea level rise in the long-term by reducing the harmful greenhouse gases that threaten this coastal community.”
“Virginia Beach understands the close connection between climate change and clean energy. As a coastal community we are committed to pursuing a comprehensive approach to initiatives that will help us address climate change,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms. “Seeking development of clean energy resources in and adjoining our community – such as wind, solar and geothermal options – coupled with our strong emphasis on energy conservation, is important to both our climate change and economic diversification goals.”