by A Siegel
Teed up by Chuck Todd’s abysmal climate change question (about flood insurance prices) in the Virginia gubernatorial debate, Glenn Youngkin lived up to what one would expect from the Virginian Republican (Grand Oil Party) nominee for Governor: predatory delay truthiness.
In summary, Youngkin in the debate the other night:
- Avoided saying the words “climate change” (or “global warming” or any other synonym) or directly acknowledging basic reality which would risk alienating his climate-science denying base.
- Propagandistically – and falsely – described methane as “clean burning natural gas”.
- Completely misrepresented the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA).
- Failed to acknowledge the health, economic benefits, and other from moving to a clean-energy economy.
- Played Trumpian “I’ve been told by someone” games to claim falsely that the VCEA’s achievable clean power targets are unrealistic.
- Falsely asserted that moving to a clean-power system will lower Virginia’s energy resiliency; fear mongered about supposed power outages if we move towards clean energy.
All of this, and more, in just 60 seconds!
Here are Youngkin’s exact words (beginning 46th minute),
“We’ll admit it to you first the first thing first thing we need to recognize is that we do have a challenge. We have a challenge. I’m from … I’m from Hampton Roads and the challenges that Hampton Roads are facing right now with rising sea levels and and storm water drain issues are serious.”
Good that Youngkin’s eyes are open enough to see how there is flooding today that didn’t exist a few decades ago and that “rising sea levels” are making this worse. Noteworthy (as per above) that Youngkin isn’t linking these flooding issues with climate change.
“…and so we have to go to work now in order to address those we have to go to work in order to make sure that there’s funding available so that they can prepare for rising seas.”
Sorry, but “make sure there’s funding available so that they can prepare for rising seas” isn’t a plan. So what is your plan, Glenn? Sea walls? Floating houses? Raised streets? Managed retreat? Do you agree with Governor Ralph Northam’s administration’s work to boost resiliency or, well, what?
“The challenge that we’ve got however is that the plan that’s been put forth with the Virginia Clean Economy Act is unworkable.”
While VCEA certainly could be much stronger, has many complications and giveaways to corporate and polluter interests, and will require adjusting in the years to come, to call the VCEA “unworkable” is simply peddling falsehoods.
“I’ve spoken to the heads of the utilities they don’t even know how to do it dismantling all of our clean burning natural gas.”
Yuck, “clean-burning natural gas” is simply greenwashing spin. That methane is, when burned, not as polluting as coal (or oil) doesn’t make it clean. In fact, if you include leakage of this powerful greenhouse gas during “fracking” operations, natural gas may be as bad from an climate perspective as coal. As to the “heads of the utilities”, of course Youngkin doesn’t want to discuss the reality that “the utilities” (read Dominion Power, primarily) want to build as many methane power plants as possible since they will have a guaranteed profit on what will become stranded assets contributing little (to nothing) to Virginia’s energy resiliency in the coming years and decades.
“We’re going to turn Virginia into California. And, get ready, brownouts and blackouts are coming.”
Huh? Continuing misleading false talking points. For one thing, California’s “brownouts and blackouts” are being driven by worsening climate impacts: droughts and reduced snowfall hampering hydropower production; wildfires threatening power lines and leading utilities to cut power to regions; and, ash from climate crisis worsened wildfires reducing solar production. Also, consider California’s economy: with work force protections (unlike “Right to Worker” anti-worker Virginia) and serious efforts to transition into a clean energy economy, California is booming.
And, by the way, as a Dominion customer who far too regularly has power outages (more than 24 hours a year – year in, year out), Virginians’ existing problems don’t have anything to do clean power. And, a smart clean power (with distributed power on rooftops and otherwise) system will not just be cleaner, create more jobs, and cost less money to own and operate, it will foster greater energy resiliency in the face of the worsening climate crisis in no small part through distributed power generation and storage that will keep lights on in the face of (for example) storms damaging power lines.
“…and the reason why Ford doesn’t want to come here is one of them is they don’t trust our power supply.”
Seriously, Glenn, you want us to believe that Ford wants polluting electricity supplies for factories building “zero emission” vehicles? To make it clear, building factories in states where they would be powered by fossil-foolish utilities doesn’t align with Ford’s plans and announcements.
We’re bringing zero-emission electric vehicles at scale to Americans with two new massive, environmentally- advanced campuses in TN and KY that will produce the next generation of electric F-series trucks and batteries to power future electric #Ford and #Lincoln vehicles. pic.twitter.com/SrHpPkfKRV
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) September 27, 2021
Like so many other major firms (including many with significant Virginia presence), Ford wants to have clean power for its facilities. Ford wants to sell massive numbers of electric vehicles and to see them powered by clean power and not electrons generated by fossil-foolish utilities. From a so-called businessman, such disinformation about business is an indication of either ignorance or deceitfulness. Look at what is happening with major firms around the world and increasing statements of “net zero” plans with commitments for 100% clean/renewable energy usage. Simple truth: accelerated moves to a clean power system will attract businesses to the Commonwealth.
“We in fact need to have a different plan. We need to embrace all aspects of power generation: wind, solar, nuclear, and our clean-burning natural gas.”
In fact, the VCEA already “embraces” all clean power options (including wind, solar, and nuclear) and provides a glide slope to wean Virginians off polluting power — including methane (gas). Simply put, while fossil gas might have been a “bridge” to today, further investments in methane (and other fossil foolish) infrastructure at this point are (worse than) a “bridge to nowhere” and counter to effective climate policy. Again, no matter how many times you confidently assert “clean-burning natural gas” it doesn’t change the simple reality that extracting, transporting, and burning fossil gas pollutes.
“…my opponent wants to accelerate this transition by 10 years.”
Thank you, Glenn, for making clear a critical reason to vote FOR Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia!
“And, it will absolutely destabilize Virginia and will cost Virginia taxpayers even more than $800 as expected now.”
No, Glenn, not “absolutely”. Despite your use of such definitive language, false assertions don’t change reality. And, as to “cost”, like Chuck Todd, Youngkin only wants to talk misleading about “cost” without talking about benefits. Moves to a clean power system come with huge benefits: more stable (and, writ large, lower) power prices, job creation, reduced pollution, improved health, greater economic and energy system resiliency, and reduced climate risks. These benefits massively outweigh Youngkin’s exaggerated costs. Climate action is an investment with a high rate of return in the short, mid, and long terms. Regrettably, for all his grandiose claims of business acumen, Youngkin seems incapable of even the simplest ROI calculation.
Glenn Youngkin’s plan to combat climate change:
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) August 29, 2021
(Note: In that August tweet, Terry McAuliffe was too generous to Youngkin’s “plan”. Glenn’s intent, in fact, is to turn back the clock and worsen the situation rather than “do nothing” or address the climate crisis in any meaningful manner.)
In contrast, Terry McAuliffe
Gov. McAuliffe provided an inspiring response about why climate action matters and how it will payoff for Virginia and Virginians. Some of Terry’s key points:
- “When I think of clean energy, I think of jobs.” Lots of good-paying, quality jobs!
- “I will be the clean-energy governor” – and when it comes to clean power, McAuliffe plans to align Virginia with the Build Back Better plan and 100% clean power by 2035 (an appropriate and fully achievable acceleration of the VCEA target).
- When it comes to the explosive growth of offshore wind, McAuliffe targets Virginia as a key manufacturing and services hub to make Virginia “the green energy manufacturing hub for the United States”.
With his one minute on this subject, Glenn Youngkin convinced me that he is a fossil fool who would derail Virginia’s clean energy path forward and harm Virginia’s/Virginians’ future prospects.
In stark contrast, with his one minute on the same topic, Governor Terry McAuliffe provided more reasons for Virginians to put him back in the Governor’s mansion, with a forceful statement of targeting a new and economically valuable role for Virginians in the offshore wind industry. Now, our job as voters is to make sure that happens on November 2nd!
This alone should automatically disqualify Youngkin, given the urgency of the climate crisis AND the enormous opportunities of moving to a 100% clean energy economy. Youngkin completely doesn't get it on this existential issue! https://t.co/Sof8677Bri #VAGovDebate #VAGov pic.twitter.com/Lv89VO09q3
— Blue Virginia (@bluevirginia) September 29, 2021