(With just one week left until the general election, now is the time to give everything you’ve got, to leave it all on the field. To help keep you motivated and focused, we’re running a quick series we’re calling “What’s At Stake Nov. 5th” highlighting a handful of reasons this election is so critically important to Virginians.)
We see the dire reports every day. Climate change is happening and fast. The results are already devastating—massive wildfires year after year, years so rainy that crops are destroyed driving up food prices, followed by drought years so dry that crops are destroyed, sea-level rise threatening our beautiful coastal towns and barrier reefs.
The time for action is yesterday. So here in Virginia we…can’t seem to pass any kind of mandatory renewables portfolio standard to force utilities to commit to some sort of goal for how much energy is from renewable sources like solar and wind. We can’t seem to pass an energy efficiency standard forcing utilities to meet goals for energy saving, the lowest cost way to tackle climate change. We can’t seem to pass a bill that loosens up regulatory obstacles to encourage greater use of rooftop solar, let alone a bill to incentivize rooftop solar. We can’t pass a bill to stop building more fossil fuel projects! The Governor has to veto year after year a bill stopping him from joining Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the carbon cap and trade program that 9 other states along the East Coast use to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and fund environmental projects.
Why can’t we pass such bills? Because the Virginia GOP thinks the apocalypse will come if we stop building more fossil fuel projects, including more fracked gas pipelines; if we force the for-profit monopoly to meet any kind of standards for lowering carbon emissions. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Republicans believe we’re already doing enough. Delegate Hugo (R-HD40) actually said in January that
“This body [the General Assembly] has been sympathetic to reasonable approaches…if you’re worried about renewables, there’s a lot of things we have done, a lot of things we can do.” Delegate Webert (R-18) worried that if we shut down the fracked gas power plant paying taxes to his Warren County in “10, 15, 20 or 30 years, who will make up the tax difference?” [THIRTY YEARS?]
And since it’s close to Halloween, how about this haunting tale from Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-15):
“My favorite part [of HB1635] is where this is called a jobs bill. If it’s a jobs bill for anyone, it’s a jobs bill for the candlemaker. Candle making will become an art that is renewed because we will need those candles at night when we don’t have reliable energy at the ready. A satellite map of Virginia will look more like a map of North Korea than of the Commonwealth, dark and devoid of reliable energy.”
Yes, the Virginia GOP would rather fear monger about huddling around in darkness than engage in any serious conversation about how to address climate change. If you recognize that the climate crisis is an existential threat to Earth, whose effects we are already seeing, and you think that saving the planet and leaving our children and grandchildren with a place to live is important, then we cannot wait for the next election to vote these people out.