See below for video, and following that my comments, on the Virginia House Republicans’ disgraceful dishonest, deception and disinformation that they demonstrated yesterday over Del. Sam Rasoul’s well-intentioned-but-politically-doomed HB1635 (“Fossil fuel projects moratorium; clean energy mandates”; defeated yesterday by a vote of 86-12). Add this one to the growing list of blatant Virginia Republican falsehoods and hysteria we’ve seen in recent day, as they flail around for something, anything that might save their endangered majorities in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates…
First off, note that Del. Rasoul’s bill was reported out of the REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED House Commerce & Labor Committee last week in a breathtaking display of Republican dishonesty and game-playing. As Ivy Main explained at the time:
“The Republicans who run Commerce & Labor are wholly indebted to the fossil fuel companies whose campaign contributions keep them in office. Most of them don’t even believe in human-caused climate change. They cannot conceive of an economy reshaped around clean energy. They didn’t allow this bill to pass out of committee because they support it, but because they want a bigger venue in which to kill it.”
One highly endangered Republican in particular was singled out, for good reason, by Ivy Main:
“Tim Hugo, who won reelectio n by only about 110 votes last year and will be in the crosshairs of grassroots progressives this fall, is the R designated to vote in favor. You will notice, however, that he does not speak in favor of the bill in committee, and as a conservative and close ally of Dominion Energy there is no way he actually supports it (though he will trumpet his vote when he needs to, come November).”
So yeah, Republicans made sure to PASS Del. Rasoul’s “Off Act” through their committee, because they wanted to posture on the House of Delegates floor – bash clean energy, praise fossil fuels, spread horror stories and hysteria about how SUPPOSEDLY if we move towards a clean energy economy disaster will ensue, etc.
Which is, as you can see in the video, exactly what they ended up doing yesterday, despite Del. Rasoul’s belated recognition that this is what Republicans were up to, and his introduction of a substitute bill that deleted the fossil fuel moratorium and watered down the clean energy provisions substantially. But Republicans were hell-bent on their strategy, and as you can see from the video, voted again and again along party lines to make DAMN SURE that the ORIGINAL bill was dragged to the floor – kicking and screaming – for a vote. And WHY did Republicans want to do that? Simple: in addition to giving them a chance to spew lies about clean energy and to bash Democrats as supposedly against the poor (that’s “rich” coming from Republicans, eh?), etc., Republicans were calculating – just as with the manufactured “outrage” over Del. Tran’s abortion bill – that they could harm Democrats politically by forcing them to publicly support something that can easily be “demagogued” by them. It’s politics at its absolute worst, in other words…so much for the nonsense about some sort of benign/positive “Virginia Way.”
With that, just a few comments about the Republican’s lies and super-stinky bullshit in the video.
- Great jobs by Del. Sam Rasoul and Del David Toscano in defending clean energy and in pointing out the wildly dishonest Republicans’ tactics.
- Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Dominion/Fossil Fuel Industry) was his usual insufferable, dishonest self, prattling on about how moving towards clean energy would “make us more aggressive than Hawaii, more aggressive than California, raise our electricity rates.”
- The insufferable Del. Tim Hugo (R-Dominion, Fossil Fuel Industry) claims (completely dishonestly) to be “sympathetic to…renewable/green energy.” Hugo asks a couple of loaded “questions” designed to try to trap Del. Rasoul (e.g., “under your bill, there would be no more natural gas plants or no more even I guess coal plants like the one in Virginia City that meets all the EPA standards”; “if we wanted to increase rail that would transport coal or increase the port facilities…to export coal…would your bill prohibit that also, so it’s not just energy, it’s jobs related to rail, jobs related to ports”). Del. Rasoul swatted Hugo’s b.s. away easily.
- Perhaps most dishonestly, Del. Hugo compares Virginia’s electricity rates to California’s, and strongly implies/argues that the reason California’s rates are higher is because of California’s clean energy mandates. In fact, as you can see in this graphic (also see below), California’s electricity rates have been relatively high for decades, during a period when almost ALL of California’s electricity was generated by a) natural gas; b) hydroelectricity; c) nuclear; and d) essentially zero wind or solar over most of that period. Thus, California residential electricity rates were 18 cents/kWh back in 1990 and 17 cents/kWh in 2015, when we’re finally starting to see significant increases in solar power. Note that prices actually FELL a penny – in nominal terms, not adjusted for inflation – during that time period. In other words, clean energy – wind and solar – had absolutely Z-E-R-O to do with California’s electricity rates being higher than Virginia’s. Let me repeat: Z-E-R-O. Which means, of course, that Del. Hugo is L-Y-I-N-G. And it’s even worse for the islands of Hawaii, which one absolutely should NOT compare to, as again these are ISLANDS, where for decades they’ve had to import most of their fuel, particularly oil, but are now – finally! – switching off of that expensive, dirty crud and onto the islands’ super-abundant solar and other clean energy resources.
- The insufferable Hugo doesn’t care about facts, of course, but instead doubles down on his lying and utter dishonesty, falsely conflating the fact that California’s power rates are higher – again, for reasons that have absolutely NOTHING to do with clean energy – “68 percent higher” than Virginia’s, and somehow that means that Virginia’s rates would go up 68 percent (not to mention “hurt families,” “eviscerate businesses” and “cost jobs in the Commonwealth of Virginia” – all 100% false assertions, by the way) if we switched off of fossil fuels. Again, note that California’s rates have been higher during a period when almost NONE of its power has been generated by solar or wind, and almost all by fossil fuels (mostly natural gas, which Hugo and his masters at Dominion energy looooove) and/or nuclear and hydropower.
- We then have to listen to Dominion Energy/fossil fuel industry puppet Terry Kilgore (R), who is if anything more dishonest than Hugo (I know, that appears to be impossible). Kilgore pontificates about how there has to be a grid where you can turn the lights on (duh!), implying that we won’t have that if we move towards clean energy, despite ZERO evidence of Kilgore’s horror stories actually occurring ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY OR THE WORLD. Kilgore, like Hugo, also dishonestly cites California and Hawaii, which again are 100% NOT comparable to Virginia.
- Finally, Del. Glenn Davis (R) blathers about how we supposedly need coal to produce clean energy – or something, hard to tell what he’s even blathering about.
- After Del. Lindsey (D) notes the bipartisan votes in committee on this bill, we then get to listen to the worst of the worst, House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R), who dishonestly bashes the “Democrat [sic] agenda” and claim – 100% falsely – that moving to clean energy will kill jobs and result in – cue up the hysteria and falsehood – “rolling blackouts and brownouts when we don’t have reliable energy at the ready…when we can’t afford to pay our electric bill and our electric service gets cut off” (Gilbert even suggests we’ll need candles at night! LOL). Gilbert ratches it up even future, falsely claims that the goal of switching to clean energy is a “dystopian future” that will be like “North Korea,” “dark and devoid of reliable energy.” Gilbert calls switching off of fossil fuels to clean energy – something that upwards of 80%, 90% of Americans want to do, and something that’s being done successfully around the country and the world (as clean energy technology improves by leaps and bounds and as clean energy costs plummet) a “radical agenda.”
In fact, the REAL “radical agenda” is the Republicans’ implicit policy of pumping out greenhouse gas pollution forever, fueling powerful storms, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, droughts, fires, species loss and destruction of life on the planet. There’s nothing more “radical” than destroying the one home – the “pale blue dot” – that we have, and there’s also nothing more “radical” than throwing the entire weight of government behind propping up wealthy, powerful, polluting, incumbent fossil fuel and utility interests while intentionally slowing/blocking Virginia from the multi-trillion-dollar clean energy economy of the 21st century. Yet ANOTHER great reason to vote Republicans out of office at every level of government.