How backward is the Dominion-dominated Commonwealth of Virginia when it comes to transitioning from antiquated, planet-killing fossil fuels to increasingly cheap, clean renewable energy? A new article in Grist highlights just how much harm the insidious influence of Dominion and its allies has done to Virginia, as compared to other states. Check this out (bolding added by me for emphasis), and get both excited (for what’s going on across the country) and angry (for what is *not* going on here in Virginia!):
On Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state (and presidential contender) signed legislation that aims to make the state’s electricity carbon neutral by 2030. It’s the most recent in a series of similar moves. A couple of weeks ago, on Earth Day, Nevada’s governor signed into law a measure banning fossil-fuel generated electricity by 2050. In March, New Mexico committed to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. California, Hawaii, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, passed similar laws a bit further back.
“One in five U.S. residents now live in places committed to 100-percent clean electricity,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, on a conference call with reporters before Inslee signed the legislation.
There are similar bills pending in Illinois, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts. And don’t forget the 100-odd cities — Orlando, Florida and Pueblo, Colorado, among them — that have vowed to kick their fossil-fuel addiction.
“Voters and state legislatures are being pretty darn clear that there’s widespread support for getting the electricity sector to 100 percent clean,” said Josh Freed, who runs the energy program at the Third Way think tank in Washington, D.C. “In our wildest expectations, we couldn’t have anticipated this much action this quickly.”
But again, none of this is happening here in Dominion-dominated/”captured” Virginia. Instead, here we have Republicans and even some Democrats – “Dominion Dick” Saslaw being the most obvious case – spewing outrageously and demonstrably false fossil-fuel industry talking points, about how if we move to 100% clean energy, basically we are DOOMED! Seriously, check out the disgraceful dishonestly, deception and disinformation by Virginia Republicans this past session, in response to Del. Sam Rasoul’s well-intentioned-but-politically-doomed HB1635 (“Fossil fuel projects moratorium; clean energy mandates”). I’m not even going to dignify the comments by Delegates Tim Hugo, Terry Kilgore, etc. with any more attention, other than to say that I don’t know how any of these people are able to live with themselves.
Anyway, back to the real world, where clean energy costs have been plummeting, to the point that they are now out-competing not just *new* fossil fuel facilities but *existing* coal-fired power plants and even *existing* natural-gas-fired power plants. In short, there is essentially zero reason anymore to build any new fossil fuel electric generation plants, and almost no reason to keep existing ones going much longer. And, of course, there’s certainly no rational economic (let alone environmental!) reason to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and/or Mountain Valley Pipeline. That’s just insane.
Instead, listen to what Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) Director Mike Tidwell had to say on a conference call yesterday (audio, below) about “the national trend of state -based commitment to 100% clean electricity and the momentum this is creating for inevitable national legislation toward 100% clean power.” Tidwell continued:
“In total, today five states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 121 cities are committed to moving to 100% clean electricity, with several states also considering legislation to do the same very soon. So all together, one in five US residents now live in places committed to 100% clean electricity — that’s 70 million people total in this country. There’s no doubt about it: 100 percent clean electricity and clean energy generally is becoming the new normal on state policy.”
Amazing stuff. But again, it’s not happening here in Virginia. And again, that’s largely because of the corrupting influence of Dominion Energy on our political system and on our state’s energy policy choices. Fortunately, there are people fighting back, including the good folks at Clean Virginia, who are attempting to rein in the rogue, out-of-control, irresponsible state-protected monopoly utility, Dominion Energy. Whether they succeed or not, of course, depends in part on their efforts, but also heavily on pressure from the public – that’s us, folks! – to move in the right direction economically and environmentally. (note: for the record, I disagree that allying with the Koch brothers, Ken Cuccinelli, and other bad actors is, on balance, a good idea)
Now personally, I’d like to see Virginia adopt an aggressive, MANDATORY clean energy standard, like all these other states have been doing, and simply tell Dominion that they have to comply – period. In addition, I’d like to see Virginia opened up to real energy competition, in part to put pressure on Dominion, in part to provide Virginians with a lot more choice, and in part to break the logjam we find ourselves in now.
But whatever it takes, we’ve got to do it, for absolutely urgent, pressing economic and environmental reasons. The good news is that we now have the tools to get this done – cheaper and cheaper clean energy every year; massive technological and cost improvements in energy storage; the enormous potential for energy efficiency in Virginia; the also-enormous potential for offshore wind and both utility-scale and distributed solar power in Virginia; etc. So what on earth are we waiting for? Basically, nothing, other than for Dominion Energy and its bought-and-paid-for servants in our government to get the hell out of the way. It’s long past time we, the people, force them to do just that.