Today’s debate in the Virginia House of Delegates on whether Virginia should be prohibited from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) was HIGHLY revealing about the MASSIVE difference between the fact-and-reality-based Democratic Party and the anti-science Republican Party. See below for video of the debate, following my “highlights” (in air quotes because the Republican comments were most definitely LOWlights – intellectually, morally, you name it).
- The bill in question – HB2611, patroned by Del. Charles Poindexter (R) – “prohibits the Governor or any state agency from adopting any regulation establishing a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program or bringing about the participation by the Commonwealth in a regional market for the trading of carbon dioxide allowances.”
- Del. Poindexter is asked an important, fact-and-reality-based question by Del. Alfonso Lopez on the vast array of evidence and reports showing beyond a shadow of a doubt that humans are causing climate change and that it needs to be addressed -urgently. Poindexter’s bats***-crazy response was that “throughout history we’ve had deniers…[Del. Lopez] might go back and look at Copernicus, where the earth was the center of the universe; or look at Galileo, where the Catholic Church decried (?) Scripture and science settled; or to Einstein, where time and space were settled, but he said no it’s relative. They were all deniers…but it turns out they were right.” What. The. Actual. F***????
- Del. Lopez then cited the overwhelming evidence about the impacts and risks of climate change on coastal communities and ecosystems. Del. Poindexter’s bizarre response was that “the recent report from the federal government was presented, prepared and actually released through the regular process, and there were a lot of deep-state (?) and people from previous administrations that pushed those policies…and there’s a difference of opinion on that, you might want to look at the land sinking instead of the water rising.” Seriously, we have an actual elected official in the Virginia House of Delegates saying stuff that you’d expect to hear from a raving lunatic on a soapbox on the street corner…
- Finally, Del. Lopez noted that the National Climate Assessment was released by the Trump administration. Del. Poindexter’s response was basically to not respond.
- Del. Toscano attempted to get some answers from Del. Poindexter, to no avail. Del. Toscano pointed out that money raised from RGGI would go overwhelmingly (77%) towards coastal flooding and resiliency. Del. Poindexter basically didn’t have an answer to that, other than that the General Assembly – not the governor – should make the decision on this.
- Del. Toscano then ran through some history on the market-based cap-and-trade program, and its great success in reducing SOx and NOx pollution (which contribute to smog and acid rain), among other things. As Del. Toscano pointed out, RGGI is also a market-based solution that’s been highly effective in reducing pollution, in this case carbon dioxide pollution.
- Science-denying ignoramus Del. Poindexter had nothing to say to any of these facts, of course, but simply threw out MORE falsehoods about the supposedly adverse impacts of RGGI on states that are part of the program. In fact, as Del. Toscano pointed out, RGGI states have actually seen REDUCED electricity prices (down 6.4%) compared to non-RGGI states (up 6.2%!). Del. Poindexter, clearly clueless about the difference between the absolute level of something and the CHANGE in something, proceeded to cite the electricity prices in RGGI states, which of course has nothing to do with the point Del. Toscano was making. And then, just to make matters even worse, Del. Poindexter claimed – bizarrely as always – “there’s something about being in good company or bad company that can affect your electricity rates.” HUH???
- We then had House Majority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert (R) refer snarkily to the “lovely debate” on “two sides of the issues” (as if there actually are “two sides” here, which of course there are not – at least not two scientifically legitimate “sides”) and basically blathered about how the (Republican-and-Dominion-Energy-controlled) legislature – NOT the Democratic governor – should decide on this. How convenient, huh?
- Finally, and perhaps most disgracefully, Del. Chris Stolle (R), who actually represents Virginia Beach – one of the most vulnerable places in the ENTIRE COUNTRY to sea-level rise due to man-made climate change – basically waved his hands in the air and claimed that there’s nothing an individual state can do on this massive problem. Which, of course, is both a horrendous attitude (that we’re supposedly all helpless) and also a massive violation of the SUPPOSED Republican respect and even reverence for “states’ rights.” So much for those, apparently. Instead, according to Del. Stolle, Virginia must remain totally helpless – other than attempting to “mitigate” the enormous damage we’re going to suffer in coming years – unless/until the national government acts. Wonderful…
So yes, ladies and gentlemen, THIS is your Virginia GOP. In November, you know what to do. Actually, BEFORE November you know what to do – donate money to Democrats, phone bank for Democrats, door knock for Democrats, write social media posts and op-eds for Democrats, etc, etc. The point is, do everything you can possibly do to make sure that in November, Democrats take control of the legislature from these know-nothings, science deniers and fossil fuel industry tools.