Judge Sides with Community on Coal Company’s Attempt to Roll Back Clean Water Protections

Upper Marlboro, MD —  A Maryland Circuit Court ruled in favor of local community members, environmentalists, and state regulators on a power plant owner’s efforts to block safeguards protecting clean water at the Chalk Point power plant in Prince George’s County.

Clean Water Act permits issued to three Maryland coal plants in 2018 incorporated new federal limits on several toxic pollutants including:

  • Arsenic, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin;

  • Mercury, another potent neurotoxin;

  • Selenium, which is toxic to aquatic life; and

  • Nitrogen, which causes algae blooms and dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay.

The limits are set to take effect next year. GenOn Energy, the owner of the three facilities, challenged the permits for its Dickerson (Montgomery County), Morgantown (Charles County), and Chalk Point (Prince George’s County) coal-fired power plants. The permits are being defended in court by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the agency that wrote the permits, and by a coalition of clean water advocates represented by attorneys with the Environmental Integrity Project.

On May 23, 2019, a judge signed an order affirming MDE’s permit for the Chalk Point plant, finding that the clean water advocates were entitled to fully participate in the appeal as parties – a point that was challenged by GenOn – and denying all relief requested by GenOn.

Various organizations released their comments on the decision below:

“For nearly two years now, thousands of Marylanders have called for the elimination of toxic coal waste in their water,” Patrick Grenter Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Maryland. “Coal plant owners have resisted these common sense, affordable pollution controls and have instead opted to pursue fruitless appeals with teams of lawyers. GenOn needs to hear the call: Marylanders are done with coal’s dirty pollution.”

“The Maryland Department of the Environment complied with black letter law in issuing this permit, but GenOn wants more time to continue discharging toxic pollution into the Patuxent River,” said Leah Kelly, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project. “The company has known about these new limits since 2015 and waited three years to start planning the necessary technology upgrades. Luckily, the law does not support GenOn’s foot-dragging, and the court saw that right away.”

“There’s no debate that toxic metals in our state’s waterways are incredibly harmful,” said Anne Havemann, General Counsel, Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “GenOn wanted to keep discharging pollutants that can cause risk of cancer, lower IQ among children, and create deformities and reproductive harm in fish and wildlife. We applaud the Maryland Circuit Court for doing the right thing and protecting our communities from the harms of coal.”

Fred Tutman at Patuxent Riverkeeper said, “We are delighted that the Judge saw through GenOn’s arguments. The Chalk Point facility on record has inflicted mostly air and water pollution, including numerous violations, and poisoned groundwater for over 40 + years on Prince Georgians. Justice was served, and the Patuxent will be better off because of it.”

Patrick Grenter, patrick.grenter@sierraclub.org, (412) 889-8787
Alex Amend, alex.amend@sierraclub.org, (404) 457-8937
Tom Pelton, tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org, (202) 888-2703
Denise Robbins, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, (608) 620-8819
Frederick Tutman, fred@paxriverkeeper.org, (301) 276-7913 ext 6


Columbia Gas Takes Shocking and Unprecedented Attempt to Force “Potomac Pipeline” Through Maryland State Land

CCAN: “Such a Corporate Takeover of the Maryland’s Public Land has Never Been Attempted Before”

HANCOCK, MD — Yesterday, Columbia Gas filed a complaint in condemnation for the right-of-way to build a highly controversial fracked-gas pipeline underneath the Western Maryland Rail/Trail. Known as the “Potomac Pipeline,” this pipeline would drill under the Potomac River and put the drinking water of 6 million people at risk. In January, the Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously rejected this right-of-way easement for the project, which is proposed by a subsidiary of notorious energy company TransCanada.

The Board of Public Works, which includes Governor Larry Hogan, State Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, is responsible for protecting Maryland’s “public works,” including state-owned land. It rejected TransCanada’s proposal in January citing the fact that Maryland stood to bear no benefits of the pipeline and all of the harm. The company is now attempting to seize the land through eminent domain proceedings in federal court. To our knowledge, no pipeline company has ever tried to condemn state-owned land in Maryland.

Statement from Brooke Harper, Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

“We didn’t expect Columbia Gas to give up on building the unnecessary and harmful Potomac Pipeline, but we never expected for them to condemn Maryland’s own land through eminent domain proceedings in federal court. As far as we know, such a corporate takeover of Maryland’s public land has never been attempted before.

“This is an arrogant overreach by a company — owned by Canadian energy giant TransCanada — desperate to rake in shareholder profits while locking the region into decades of reliance on fossil fuels.”

Statement from Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper:

“We strongly oppose Columbia Gas’ unprecedented attack on Maryland’s inherent, sovereign authority to manage state parkland for the public’s benefit. It is outrageous that a Texas pipeline company wants to dictate to the State of Maryland where and when it will build a private gas pipeline that provides no benefit and will only endanger Maryland’s natural resources and communities. The risk to the Potomac River and downstream drinking water supplies is clear, and was echoed in the Board of Public Works’ unanimous vote to deny Columbia Gas access to state property for its ill fated pipeline. Maryland state lands are held in trust for the public to use and enjoy, not for private pipeline companies to despoil.”

Statement from Josh Tulkin, Director of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club:

“We’re not surprised that TransCanada is once again trying to put their profits over the safety of our communities, so I’m sure they won’t be surprised to see Marylanders fighting them again. We stopped this zombie pipeline once before and we’ll do it again.”




About the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.  For more information, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org

About the Sierra Club:

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About the Potomac Riverkeeper Network:

Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization with three regional Waterkeeper branches: Potomac Riverkeeper, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and Shenandoah Riverkeeper. Our mission is to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams. We stop pollution to promote safe drinking water, protect healthy habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment. For more information, visit http://www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org.


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act: A Great Bill With Unfinished Business on Waste Incineration

A memo from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network


The good:
The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 516) passed the state General Assembly on April 8th with a stunning veto-proof majority. The bill is the strongest clean-energy legislation ever passed in Maryland in the fight against climate change. It requires that 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 with a mandatory plan to get to 100% by 2040. It will create 20,000 new solar jobs in the state, turbo-charge the state’s offshore wind industry, invest in job training for minority communities, and reduce carbon pollution in Maryland and across the region equivalent to taking 1.7 million cars off the road.
For these reasons, the bill passed by landslide margins — 95-41 in the Maryland House of Delegate and 31- 15 in the Senate. The bill was supported by most of the state’s largest environmental and civil rights groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Interfaith Power and Light of MD/VA/DC, the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and many others. It was also supported by ten of Maryland’s leading climate scientists.
The bad:
Like most complex bills, this one has some significant shortcomings. Perhaps the most significant is an abhorrent loophole in state law that allows trash incineration to count as clean energy, thus gaining subsidies under the state’s clean electricity standard. This means that harmful, polluting incinerators will make up about three percent of the state’s renewable energy portfolio in 2020. (Wind, solar, and hydropower will make up 83 percent). Environmental and justice advocates, including CCAN, fought ferociously to close this loophole during the legislative session. We succeeded as part of a  Senate version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) and we fought for two stand-alone bills in the House and the Senate to close the loophole. But none of our efforts garnered enough votes to pass out of the House Economic Matters Committee. In the end, the version of CEJA that passed both chambers did not close the loophole. For reference, Maryland’s two waste-to-energy plants for trash are the BRESCO facility in Baltimore City and the Dickerson plant in Montgomery County.
Some legislators shared our deep disappointment over this setback. But every member of the House of Delegates from Baltimore City voted for the final version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. And every senator from Baltimore City did the same. In Montgomery County, every Senator and Delegate voted for the bill save one, who didn’t vote at all.
More details:
Why did these legislators vote for a bill that failed to close the trash loophole? Several reasons have been offered by lawmakers:

  1. As a whole, CEJA is a remarkable bill: The bill takes huge and historic steps to fight climate change and create jobs, as described above. And, without passage, 400 Maryland families were predicted to lose jobs in the solar industry in 2019. The industry lost 800 jobs when the bill didn’t pass in 2018.
  2. Meanwhile, during the 90-day legislative session, local leaders in Baltimore and Montgomery County pledged to shut down the trash incinerators back home: The session, which began on January 8th, saw local elected officials back in Baltimore and Montgomery County make bold pledges and take extraordinary steps to begin shutting down the existing trash incinerators entirely and permanently.  The Baltimore City Council voted 14-0 on February 11th to effectively shut down the polluting BRESCO plant by 2022. The newly elected County Executive in Montgomery County, Marc Elrich, announced on his first day in office on December 3rd that it is his goal to shut down the county’s Dickerson plant during his tenure. In the minds of some Annapolis legislators, this made action at the state level appear less urgent and environmental advocates began to lose their support for closing the loophole in state law.
  3. And throughout the Annapolis session, organized labor and some elected officials fought all efforts at incineration reform: Lobbyists from the incineration companies Wheelabrator and Covanta encouraged legislators to take “helpful” tours of the incineration plants and pressured labor leaders into declaring that lost non-union jobs at these plants could lead environmentalists to threaten unionized jobs elsewhere in the combustion industries. This resistance created a politically insurmountable force in the House of Delegates. Many lawmakers told environmental advocates that they were very aware of moves toward plant shutdowns at the local level and they were very concerned about the simultaneous resistance to anti-trash legislation in the CEJA bill from labor and other quarters. Outside of this swirling controversy, legislators said they wanted to make sure that the bill’s dramatic incentives for wind and solar power were not lost.

So Annapolis lawmakers decided to leave trash incineration reform to local leaders for now while voting for a very-good-but-not-perfect Clean Energy Jobs Act. The stunning numbers — 95 yeas in the House, 31 yeas in the Senate — speak to the popularity of wind and solar jobs as well as the support for good climate policy. But a very big number of lawmakers have no intention of giving up on trash incineration. They intend to come back in 2020 to try to close the loophole forever, working with advocates. With the failure to close the loophole this year, energy generated through trash incineration will comprise 4% of the statewide mix of renewable electricity in 2020. The goal is to get that number to zero as soon as possible.  Under the Clean Energy Jobs Act that just passed, 83% of the state’s portfolio for renewable electricity will be truly clean power like wind and solar by 2020. Specifically, by next year, it will be 57% wind energy, 21% solar power, and 5% small hydro power. Under this same bill, by the year 2030, 91% of the state’s portfolio will be wind and solar and small hydro.
Local next steps: Advocacy groups will work with local governments to create “Zero Waste” plans and to shut down the incineration plants back home: The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and a host of groups have pledged to work tirelessly with elected officials and others to shut down the trash-burning plants in Baltimore City and Montgomery County AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This will require working collaboratively with citizens, government agencies, and private industry to create and execute “Zero Waste” plans for these jurisdictions.
Annapolis next steps:
Advocacy groups will return to the Statehouse in 2020 to continue to build the political will needed to close the legal loophole for trash incineration in the state’s renewable portfolio standard for clean energy and to protect the health and well-being of our communities.
CONTACT: Mike Tidwell, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org; Brooke Harper, brooke@chesapeakeclimate.org

We raffled a Tesla to save the climate. Yes, really.

Did you know that cars, trucks, and other forms of transportation account for nearly 30 percent of America’s climate pollution?
With climate change barreling down on us, from devastating floods in the Midwest, to wildfires on the West Coast, it seems like the news brings new stories of climate disruption every day. Our Earth needs us to take action to save our communities from dirty air and water.
Now, imagine YOU could be part of the climate solution. With electric vehicles, you don’t have to give up driving a car to still be an environmental activist. You just need to get rid of your GAS car for something more environmentally-friendly. CCAN is giving you an opportunity to do just that!
Thanks to a generous CCAN donor, we’ve been gifted a 2019 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle – and we’ve launched a Climate Tesla raffle and one lucky winner will win the Tesla!
It’s a win-win. You win a Tesla, while helping CCAN fund more climate victories like the our most recent victories in DC, where we passed a 100% renewable electricity mandate by 2032, and most recently in Maryland, where lawmakers passed the ambitious Clean Energy Jobs Act that moves Maryland to a 50%  Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2030, and forces Maryland to study how to get to 100% clean power by 2040.
Now you can join in wherever you live and reduce your carbon footprint while donating to a good cause at the same time!

The Tesla Model 3 is fully electric, so you never need to visit a gas station again. If you charge overnight at home, you can wake up to a full battery every morning. And when you’re on the road, it’s easy to plug in along the way—at any public station or with the Tesla charging network. There are currently over 12,000 Superchargers worldwide, with six new locations opening every week. And Maryland has a plan to create 5,000 new charging stations across the state.
Having seen the interior, I can confirm this is a very cool car. Most of the car’s controls have been replaced by the central dashboard touch screen monitor. It really makes you feel like you’re living in the future.

What’s even more attractive, however, is knowing that you’re contributing to a zero emissions future by driving this car. And, moreover, each ticket purchase goes towards funding CCAN’s climate work. You can take pleasure in knowing that our organizers in the field are empowered by your donation, and we’ll continue to fight every day for healthy communities working for more public transit, walk-able & bike-able cities, and, of course, more electric vehicle infrastructure.
The raffle will close at 4:00pm on Friday, May 31, and the drawing will take place at 5:00pm that day. Enter today! http://climatetesla.org

CCAN Statement: U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Don Beyer Introduce Carbon Cap-and-Dividend Legislation

Bill Caps Carbon While Helping Middle Class

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Representative Don Beyer (D-VA)  introduced the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2019. This ‘cap-and-dividend’ policy is a simple, fair, and effective way to address the dangers of climate change. The bill would put more money in the pockets of hard-working Americans, thus increasing their spending power and growing our economy. Learn more here.
In response, Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated:

“For a decade, Senator Chris Van Hollen has been a uniquely urgent voice on climate change and a stubborn advocate for real solutions. Today, he reintroduced his elegant, equitable, and durable policy to cap carbon emissions nationwide while enhancing the lives of low- and moderate-income Americans. We also salute the climate leadership of Congressman Don Beyer, who has been a long-time supporter of the cap-and-dividend policy and a stalwart champion of clean energy.

“The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act is a policy first introduced years ago but whose time has come with the latest dire warnings from climate scientists. The policy is calibrated to match the latest science, creating a pathway for the US to help keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degree Celsius. It does this by putting in place transparent ‘upstream’ caps on coal, oil, and natural gas as they enter the US economy. It creates revenue that is then equally distributed to all US households in a progressive manner. Up to 80 percent of all households thus see net economic benefits from this policy while carbon is simultaneously and gradually squeezed out of our economy.

“This is the inevitable policy solution to climate change, in my view. We can no longer wait for the adoption of this responsible and effective approach to the climate crisis.”

The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act caps carbon pollution and reduces CO2 emissions gradually but steadily. It auctions carbon pollution permits to the first sellers of oil, coal, and natural gas into the U.S. market, and returns 100 percent of the auction proceeds electronically each quarter to every American in the form of a Healthy Climate Dividend. A University of Massachusetts Amherst study found a ‘cap-and-divided’ approach would mean more than 80 percent of families would see more money in their pockets, even before taking into account the economic benefits of preventing the costly impacts of climate change.
CONTACT:  Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region.



STATEMENT: Despite Water Board Decision, Herring Must Order Mountain Valley Pipeline to Stop Work Immediately

Water Board Withdrew Motion to Revoke MVP Permit Despite Hundreds of Water Violations and Criminal Investigation

RICHMOND, VA — Today, the Virginia State Water Control Board withdrew its motion to revoke a permit of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Statement from Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

“The State Water Control Board passed up a momentous opportunity to put an end to the environmental injustice of the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline. This project, now under criminal investigation, has been incredibly harmful to the livelihoods of scores of Virginians, but it seems that state regulators and lawyers pressured the Board into inaction.

“Even though the Board may have relinquished its opportunity to revoke the permits, the hundreds of violations, lawsuits, and pending criminal investigation of MVP warrant an immediate stop work order.

“We at CCAN call on Attorney General Mark Herring to file an emergency injunction to stop work on this project while these issues are investigated.

“We will also continue to work with our supporters and partners to highlight the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s blatant disregard for clean water along its path. We will work with our partners to monitor the pipeline and continue to address the pipeline’s shoddy permits through legal action. If justice is served, this monstrosity will never be operational.”

Thousands of Virginians have mobilized over the past five years to stand against the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. See fact sheet here. Since construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline began, the project has racked up over 300 violations and it is now under criminal investigation.
Harrison Wallace Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 804-305-1472, harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 240-630-1889, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Newly Uncovered Documents Show Pruitt Spent Nearly $900,000 on Personal Security for Travel

Environmental Groups Call for Accountability in the EPA

WASHINGTON, DC — Newly released EPA records confirm that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent a disproportionate amount for his personal security detail to travel with him – nearly 210% more than his predecessor, former Administrator Gina McCarthy.
These records, which were newly obtained by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, indicate that the travel expenditures for Mr. Pruitt’s personal security over the seven month period from September 2017 to March 2018 totaled $376,988. EPA had previously disclosed total travel expenditures for Mr. Pruitt’s security detail of $514,810 from February 2017 through August 2017. The newly disclosed expenses bring the total travel costs over the fourteen months to $891,798.
These new records confirm the conclusions of EPA’s Office of Inspector General, which released an audit of Mr. Pruitt’s personal security detail and travel expenses on September 4, 2018. As the Audit notes, these numbers represented a nearly 210% increase in personal security detail travel expenses to cover Mr. Pruitt, compared to expenses over a comparable 11-month timeframe for Ms. McCarthy. The records for 2018 obtained by CCAN and EIP, which have information not included in the Audit, indicate that EPA spent $173,004 on travel by personal security detail to accompany Mr. Pruitt in the first three months of 2018 alone – 74% of the total personal security detail travel costs incurred by Ms. McCarthy over 11 months.
The Audit also concluded that EPA had failed to justify why Mr. Pruitt needed such a large security detail, or why he incurred such substantial travel expenses. In fact, the Audit found EPA had never conducted a threat assessment for Mr. Pruitt, and concluded that EPA appeared to lack coherent policies for personal security staffing decisions or threat assessment at all. “These documents uncovered by CCAN and EIP are further proof of Pruitt’s wasteful and ethically challenged leadership of EPA,” said Anne Havemann, General Counsel for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Instead of spending taxpayer money to protect human health and the environment, Trump’s top pick for the agency was more interested in spending lavishly on an unjustified security detail to manage an unidentified threat. One more thing to add to the growing list of fake emergencies in the Trump era.”
It is unclear whether EPA has taken any additional actions on this matter since the September 4 Audit, or whether it intends to pursue the matter further. In its November 2018 Semi-Annual Report to Congress, EPA’s Office of Inspector General noted that several ethics investigations into Mr. Pruitt were unable to be completed and had to be closed as “inconclusive,” due to Mr. Pruitt’s resignation prior to being interviewed by the Office’s investigators. “Although Mr. Pruitt is no longer in office, we strongly believe that he should still be held responsible for his many misdeeds during his short tenure,” said Sylvia Lam, Attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project. “Accountability is essential to deterring similar abuses of power in the future.”
Some members of Congress appear to agree. On December 19, 2018, Representative Elijah E. Cummings, now Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, stated that he intended to continue these investigations upon resumption of the next Congress. In the same letter, Chairman Cummings requested that EPA fully comply with the Committee’s previously unanswered requests for documents regarding Mr. Pruitt, including documents related to his personal security detail and travel expenditures.
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Anne Havemann, General Counsel, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, anne@chesapeakeclimate.org, 202-997-2466


CCAN On Dominion Methane Reduction Announcement: "Nice Try"

CCAN Statement: Dominion Methane Announcement Is Laughable

RICHMOND, VA — Today, Dominion Energy announced its intention to reduce methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure by 50 percent over the next decade. Dominion Energy is the main company behind the push to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would bring fracked gas from West Virginia, through Virginia, and into North Carolina.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s Virginia Director Harrison Wallace issued the following statement in response:

“Nice try. The best way for Dominion to reduce methane emissions is to abandon its plans to build its controversial and unnecessary $7.5 billion pipeline. Dominion’s announcement will avoid 430,000 metric tons of methane from entering the atmosphere (36.98 million tons of C02e) over the ten-year period. The ACP will far more than offset that gain, emitting nearly 68 million metric tons of planet-warming gases (C02e) into the atmosphere on an annual basis.

“It’s refreshing that Dominion acknowledges that methane is harmful to our planet. But, if Dominion wants to make real and significant progress towards a stable climate, they should stop building the ACP and killing ambitious clean energy measures in the General Assembly.  We’ll know they’re serious about climate change if they start taking meaningful action to build a grid that is powered by 100% renewable energy.”

Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 608-620-8819, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director, 804-305-1472, harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.


Dominion, DEQ Receive Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s First-Ever “Climate Underachiever” Award at James River “Toe-Dip”

Chesapeake Climate Action Network Holds “Climate Underachiever” Polar Bear Plunge

RICHMOND, VA — On behalf of its 20,000 members from across Virginia, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network presented its first-ever “Climate Underachiever” awards to Dominion Energy and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on Saturday, February 9. Dozens of activists gathered for the first-ever “Climate Underachiever Polar Bear Plunge,” a fun event to raise awareness about climate change and raise funds to support the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s campaigns for clean energy solutions in Virginia.

The event took place two weeks after CCAN’s 14th annual “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge at National Harbor, just south of DC. The event celebrated climate progress in DC and Maryland,  where local leaders are moving forward as the federal government backtracks. For the first time, CCAN brought this exciting energy to Richmond to highlight Virginia’s underachievers on climate — by dipping a single toe into the James River.

Richard Watson, Virginia Beach small business owner, said, “I’m living with the aftermath of Virginia’s underachievers every day. In my coastal community, climate change is at our doorstep, bringing floods and storms and threatening our way of life. Many are considering packing up and moving away. I hope our leaders can recognize the damage that our underachievers have already brought us.”

Dominion Energy has already worked to kill multiple progressive energy bills that were considered in the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session. The utility monopoly threw its weight against the “Solar Freedom” bill, which would have removed many of the barriers in Virginia law that limit solar use on homes, local businesses, schools, and other government buildings.

“Once again, Dominion has done its dirty worth in the General Assembly, and every decent clean energy bill has been killed,” said Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This is par for the course for Virginia’s biggest climate underachiever. Today, we are recognizing Dominion’s legacy that will cause irreparable climate harm, and calling on the rest of Virginia to fight back and lead the way on climate.”

It also opposed bills to bring more renewable energy to the Commonwealth, to create an inventory on state greenhouse gas emissions, to mandate efficiency goals, and more.

And Dominion continues to double down on the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline for fracked-gas and its compressor station in Buckingham County, despite years of massive opposition and the fact that the pipeline would lead to the equivalent of 20 new coal-fired power plants in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was also recognized for allowing Dominion to push through its dangerous fossil fuel proposals and failing to fully protect Virginians from their impacts. DEQ officials testified strongly in favor of both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Buckingham County compressor station, even providing misleading statistics in favor of the compressor station.

“Dominion and the DEQ have been working hand in hand to force a dirty compressor station on our community,” said Chad Oba, President of Friends of Buckingham. “We are at a critical juncture and climate science clearly indicates that we must make a change now. We should be working towards clean energy solutions. Allowing new fossil fuel projects is going backwards. Virginia’s legacy of underachievement in this respect has come home to roost and is putting my community at great risk.”

Dominion is ranked the second-worst utility in the country on efficiency. And partly because of Dominion’s previous efforts to stop and undermine the state’s clean electricity standard, Virginia is ranked 38th in the country on solar potential.

To the north, CCAN activists have celebrated recent landmark victories, including the rejection of a fracked-gas pipeline underneath the Potomac River and the passage of the Clean Energy DC Act, which is the strongest legislative mandate on climate change in the country. Activists see potential for the same success in Virginia, but it means standing up to the state’s underachievers in the name of climate action.

Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819
Danniele Fulmer, Donor Engagement Coordinator, danniele@chesapeakeclimate.org, 724-599-7800

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.



CCAN STATEMENT: Governor Northam Must Resign

CCAN Denounces Governor Northam’s Racist Yearbook Photo, Demands Resignation

Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, released the following statement:
“Last night, on the first day of Black History Month, a disturbing photo of Governor Ralph Northam from his Eastern Virginia Medical School Yearbook resurfaced on the internet. The image brought Virginia’s dark history of racism back into the limelight and opened many unhealed wounds within Virginia’s most traumatized communities. No matter the era, or the messenger, blackface costumes and Ku Klux Klan regalia have represented terror and fear for communities of color since Reconstruction. There is no excuse for wearing them.
“From Buckingham to this bombshell, Governor Northam has offered inadequate apologies to communities of color and has refused to atone for the harm he has caused them. At this point, the only way for Virginia to begin to heal from this dark reminder of our turbulent racial history is for Governor Northam to resign.”
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 608-620-8819, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director, 804-305-1472, harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org