Check out photos from the event on Flickr.
President Obama committed in a major speech this week to reject the Keystone XL pipeline if it will increase the carbon emissions causing climate change, which the nation’s leading climate scientists conclude it will. President Obama’s speech arrived on the heels of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine’s announcement that he’s opposed to the pipeline, published in a Washington Post op-ed on June 21. As Senator Kaine's car drove into the event tonight, he gave a friendly wave to the activists.
Read the full press release on the Chesapeake Climate Action Network site.
Today I attended my third Dominion Resources annual shareholder meeting, the company’s 104th. And woah! What a day! The company announced that a resolution addressing the financial risks of climate change, which I worked with a shareholder to introduce, received an unprecedented 22% of the shareholder vote. While that may not sound like much, in the shareholder activism world, anything over 10% is remarkable. Resolutions are typically introduced not with passage as the goal but with the intention to educate board members and shareholders.
Outside of the meeting, which was held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, about 20 activists volunteering with CCAN, Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices held their own “exhibit” of altered artwork to represent the unrecognizable future of rising seas, extreme weather disasters and destroyed mountains that Dominion is leading Virginia toward. The "masterpieces" included a Starry Night marred by mountaintop removal mining, The Birth of Venus submerged by rising seas -- a reality all too close to home for residents of Hampton Roads -- and Napoleon, with CEO Tom Farrell moonlighting as the emperor of climate pollution.
Dominion is Virginia’s biggest climate polluter and a major purchaser of coal from mountaintop removal mining. On the other hand, the company has yet to bring a single kilowatt of utility-scale wind or solar power online for Virginia customers.
SPOILER ALERT: The attorney general states in the book that he intends to spend taxpayer dollars to take his crusade for polluter freedom all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, though "Weird Science" contains quite a bit of ridiculous rhetoric, I think the most preposterous and also the most significant is the way he justifies his plan to return to court- based on huge misreprestenations of quotes from the ruling against his case.
But before we get to that, let's check out how we got here, starting with some background info from the book:
Just to give you a little history, in the 2007 Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, twelve states brought suit against the EPA to force the agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants. The court ruled 5–4 in favor of the states, saying that the EPA was obligated under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases if it ultimately determined they were pollutants that endangered public health.So in December 2009, shortly after Cuccinelli won the office of attorney general, EPA issued its finding that greenhouse gases do endanger public health by causing climate change, based on the consensus of 97% of climate scientists across the globe. But Cuccinelli, who points out that he has "a great respect for science" as a former engineer, disagreed with the consensus. The only direct argument he offers in the book against the science of climate change is...well...just read it for yourself:
Last night, the House of Delegates voted on a version of Governor McDonnell's transportation plan that excludes his proposed $100 annual tax on hybrid and electric vehicles. I was surprised to see the amendment attributed to a Republican, Delegate Chris Jones. The Senate is expected to vote on its bill reflecting the governor's transportation plan today- SB1355.
My organization, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, opposes the hybrid tax because we believe we should be rewarding solutions to climate change, not punishing them. But the proposal simply doesn't make sense, especially when you examine the math. Check out our infographic below for details.
Cross-posted from ChesapeakeClimate.org
Every minute of every day, as Virginians turn on lights and computers and air conditioners, the new power plant in Wise County will send on average 10 tons of greenhouse gases into the already overheated atmosphere. That’s 605 tons an hour, a fearsome 5.3 million tons a year. That’s because last month, Dominion Virginia Power turned on its massive new facility that burns coal but includes zero technology for controlling the carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to heating the planet. Estimates are that this 585-megawatt facility will increase Virginia's output of carbon dioxide to more than that of New Jersey, which has 1 million more people than Virginia. The commonwealth will also have the odious distinction of having one of the last coal plants to come online in this country — odious because its emissions far exceed inevitable federal regulations designed to capture power plant pollutants that are baking the planet and wrecking the climate.
Dominion’s timing in firing up this plant couldn’t be more poignant or distressing for Virginians. Less than two weeks before the plant went online, more than a million homes and businesses in the commonwealth lost power for days after a sudden and deadly “derecho” that was fueled along its 600-mile course by energy from an intense heat wave that stretched from Illinois to Washington. No one storm or heat wave can be directly linked to climate change, but scientists say that burning coal and other fossil fuels traps heat in the atmosphere, which in turn can trigger record-breaking temperatures, droughts, forest fires and extreme storms like this summer’s deadly onslaught. In May, for example, the contiguous United States experienced the “warmest spring, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since recordkeeping began in 1895,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported.
So, Dominion better hire more linemen and a bigger PR team, because more extreme weather and resulting outages are forecast in the years ahead.
Where the company really lags behind is offshore wind power, which could power hundreds of thousands of Virginia homes without releasing any type of pollution.
While the IRP acknowledges Virginia’s outstanding offshore wind energy resource, the advantages of offshore wind power and the governor and General Assembly’s support for offshore wind, ultimately it states:
This morning, I was one of about a dozen environmental advocates to attend Dominion Resources Inc.'s annual shareholder meeting in Charlottesville, while about 30 others rallied outside. Between shareholder proposals, comments and questions by shareholders and their proxies and the company's own presentations, reducing the company's impact on the environment was discussed almost as much as its financial performance. And the meeting left me hopeful that environmental advocates can work with Dominion to increase its investment in renewables, especially offshore wind power.
Just this Tuesday, we publicly launched a joint campaign between the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, Green Jobs Alliance and Virginia Interfaith Power & Light asking Dominion to work with us to invest in offshore wind power. So today I spoke at the shareholder meeting in support of a proposal for the company to set and pursue a goal of 20% renewable energy generation by 2024. Specifically, I spoke about the fact that while offshore wind power does require a greater investment up front, it carries fewer long-term financial risks than investing in fossil fuel power plants. The risks of building new fossil fuel generation include:
Rising temperatures. Extreme weather. Oil still wreaking havoc in the Gulf a full year after the BP disaster. And Congress is stuck in neutral on energy policy!
What can a concerned Virginian like you do about all this?
Here's what: Get out your calendar and put a big, bright circle around Saturday, June 4th. That's the day Virginia will experience its first ever, super inspiring, history-making "citizens’ summit" on offshore wind power. You really don't want to miss this. RSVP today.
It turns out offshore wind power is one of our state's best ways of fighting global warming and creating good, local jobs. We could get a huge share of our energy from ocean breezes in just a few short years. But we've got to work to make it happen.
As prominent business leader Terry McAuliffe says: “Virginia has got to get into the game…Whatever the folks in Richmond think about renewable energy, it’s about jobs. It’s not partisan, jobs are jobs.”
And we want those jobs to go to Virginians.
At Energize Virginia: A Citizens’ Summit on Offshore Wind Power in Richmond on June 4th, you'll meet energized activists from across the state. You'll hear wind power visionaries like Terry McAuliffe who will rock your world. You'll have fun. And most importantly, we’ll map out how we can work together to bring ocean-based wind turbines to Virginia in a way that will transform the commonwealth and maybe the world.
Join us in Richmond on June 4th. Be part of history. RSVP today.
This Sunday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in Old Town Alexandria, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club will host Artists for the Climate, a dynamic program of poetry, music and speakers, including, among others:
- Bill McKibben, celebrated author of Eaarth, The End of Nature and other books
- Tim DeChristopher, a climate activist who recently gained international fame after an act of civil disobedience in Utah
- E. Ethelbert Miller, a poet and literary activist
- emma's revolution, an award-winning musical duo
- SongRise, a local all women social justice a cappella group
After the main program, attendees will be invited to walk together to GenOn's Potomac River Coal Plant, a 61-year-old dirty power plant just three blocks away. There we will hold a candlelight demonstration in support of the call to turn GenOn off.