by Glen Besa
Last evening I had the good fortune to attend an outstanding kickoff event for metro Richmond Democrats featuring Senator Jennifer McClellan, US Senator Mark Warner, Representative Abigail Spanberger and numerous candidates running as Democrats for the state legislature and various county offices. “Gold Star Father” Khizr Khan was the keynote speaker and the theme of the event was about bringing together our diverse minority communities that make up America.
The headliner public officials spoke for a few minutes followed by one minute introductions by every candidate present, and it is an impressive field of candidates. As the officials and candidates gave their pitches and spoke of many important issues that confront our country and state in the Age of Trump, one issue was never mentioned: the environment and climate change. Immigration, health care, education, LGBTQ, criminal justice reform, women’s issues were all clicked off but not the environment.
This was a partisan audience that would have welcomed mention of climate change or even clean air and water as a Democratic Party concern, but not a single word was spoken regarding environmental issues.
When climate scientists are telling us we’ve got just 12 years to start moving aggressively away from fossil fuels and bringing down our greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate chaos; when Dominion Energy and Republicans are sabotaging the Governor’s modest initiative to cut carbon pollution from fossil fuel, it is disappointing that not one candidate would even mention climate change or clean air and water as an issue that needs addressing.
Virginia’s Democratic officials in attendance will rightly point out that this kick off event was focused on minorities. Fair enough, but when every other issue is mentioned and the minority communities of Union Hill and others along the routes of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines are being disproportionately impacted by destructive and unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure, you would think that the environment, that climate change would get a mention.
If you care about the environment and climate change, make sure you tell the candidates when you see them on the campaign trail. Make sure you ask a question about clean air and water, about pipelines when they take questions. Our outspokenness may be the only cure for the climate amnesia that seems to afflict most candidates for public office in Virginia.