As I scanned numerous articles relating to the announcement this week that Attorney General Mark Herring will be running for Governor in 2021, I did not see any mention of his position on the environment or climate change. Maybe he did but the media didn’t pick it up? Seriously, please let me know.
There was mention of his challenging the Trump Agenda, and, yes, as Attorney General, Mark Herring has joined in a number of suits that challenge Trump anti-environmental policies and a range of other policies that offend American ideals. But we should be looking for much more direction on climate protection and clean energy policy from our next Governor, whoever that may be.
Attorney General Mark Herring’s action on Friday filing suit challenging the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s numerous violations of state water protection laws is a good start, but securing stop work orders and revoking the permits for both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines is what is needed.
It is a tradition in Virginia electoral politics for candidates, Democrats and Republicans, to say nice things about protecting the Chesapeake Bay. That’s generally about as far as it goes, with the notable exception of Tom Perriello’s late bid for Governor in 2017.
But with the recent releases of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1.5 Degree report and the 4th National Climate Assessment, action on climate must be a key pillar of any candidate who has the best interests as our children, our state, our country and our planet at heart. As the IPCC report makes clear, we have just 12 years to reverse course, and current Governor Ralph Northam will be frittering away 3 of them in his remaining term of office. In fact, the decisions Northam has made to embrace the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, make it much harder for future governors to reduce our carbon pollution.
State actions addressing climate change do not need to be about the doom and gloom of rising seas and extreme weather events. Actually, putting forth a clear vision of a vibrant clean energy economy is what is needed of our next governor, defining policies and infrastructure investments that get us to 100% renewable energy and a zero carbon future well before 2050.
In order to do that the Virginia political establishment is going to have to stop advancing a fossil fuel dependent energy policy defined by Dominion Energy. Which candidates for governor have the grasp of the climate and clean energy policies needed and the political courage to stand up to Dominion Energy remains to be seen.
I, for one, look forward hearing much more from Mark Herring and other candidates for Governor on these critical issues in the coming months.