Chesapeake Climate Action Network * Virginia Organizing * Virginia Student Environmental Coalition
Background and statement from Virginia Organizing, the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC), and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN):
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s executive order on energy today is a small step that falls well short of what he should be doing in the fight against climate change. In April, Governor McAuliffe received a D-plus grade from Virginia clean energy advocates. Over 60 groups statewide are now planning to march to his house on July 23rd (www.marchonthemansion.org) to demand bolder and better leadership for clean energy now.
Unfortunately, the Governor’s announced executive order today was not nearly enough to reverse his other highly harmful energy policies. The Governor today pledged that his administration would study ways to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
If the Governor is truly serious about combating climate change, he would use his existing authority to do much more. Specifically, he could:
1) Announce that we will end his all-out blanket support for massive fracked gas pipelines proposed for construction across nearly 1,000 miles of Virginia. These pipelines, if built, would trigger greenhouse gas emissions equal to nearly DOUBLING the total current global warming pollution from all of Virginia’s existing power plants. The Governor should instead announce that he will protect citizens from the harm of these pipelines by using his Clean Water Act authority to challenge permits for these pipeline projects that threaten local drinking water.
2) Announce that he will commit Virginia to a state implementation strategy under the federal Clean Power Plan that puts a leak-proof, mass-based cap on carbon emissions from existing and future power plants. Any other plan would lead to actual increases in harmful climate pollution. Such an increase, incredibly, is precisely what utility Dominion Power has proposed in response to the Clean Power Plan. The Governor has yet to reject Dominion’s preferred approach, despite his claim that he wants to address climate change in the state.
3) Announce his opposition to offshore drilling for oil and gas in Virginia. Such drilling could increase greenhouse gas emissions equal to adding 24 million cars to the road every year while exposing the Virginia coast to a BP-like oil spill disaster.
Concluding statement from VSEC, Virginia Organizing, and CCAN:
With his executive order today, Governor McAuliffe wants Virginians to believe he’s serious about climate change even though he supports massive new pipelines for fracked gas and offshore drilling for oil. Only when the Governor stops supporting major policies that make global warming much worse will he have any credibility on minor environmental policies like today’s executive order.
Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-396-2022 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Pohl, Virginia Organizing, 804-337-1912, email@example.com
Drew Shannon, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, (561) 512-8843
Ian Ware, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, (937) 344-5582