Offshore Drilling: Virginia's General Assembly still doesn't get it

Yesterday was (supposed) to be a big day for energy bills in the Senate but many of the bills were “passed by” for the day, which means they have been postponed until next week’s committee hearing. However, one of CCAN’s priority bills, SB 814, which would have stopped the potential for offshore drilling in its tracts, died a valiant death. This was no surprise to us; the purpose of the bill this year was to educate our legislators on the threat of offshore drilling. While not immediate, this threat is still very real. Suffice it to say, we accomplished our goal big time. There was a tremendous, healthy debate centered around our bill that lasted more than 20 minutes whereas most of the other bills in committee were quickly discussed and voted upon. I was able to point out to the committee members that drilling can and will most likely begin after 2017 when the federal government revisits opening our coast to offshore drilling. We must continue to keep the pressure on our state and federal legislators about this threat.

Today though, we are reversing gears a little bit by working hard to promote our renewable energy bill that is on today’s committee docket. This bill would establish a voluntary solar fund for Virginia homeowners to apply for. By all early indications, this bill has a good shot today. Stay tuned for details!

Solar bill a 'no brainer' at lobby day

Monday was an important day of reflection for our country and, for over 200 Virginians, it was a chance to come together to speak out at Virginia Conservation Lobby Day. The day was jam packed with trainings, speakers presenting on pieces of legislation and, most important of all, lobby visits that covered a wide range of conservation issues for Virginia.

There was a wide ranger of participants, including high school students and students from the University of Mary Washington. For many of them, it was their first time lobbying and they were excited at the impact their visit had.

Abbie Rogers's Photos - twentyeleven.

Students from the UMW met with their delegate, Republican Speaker of the House William Howell, to discuss HB 2191 (SB 975) the Voluntary Solar Resources Development Fund. Speaker Howell called it a ‘no brainer’ and he’s right, which is why this bill is receiving bipartisan support.

This bill is a Win-Win-Win for Virginia. It’s a Win for Virginia because it creates a source of funding for residential solar installations at no cost to taxpayers, instead is funded by opt-in donations of $1 or more by utility consumers. It’s a Win for Business because it will grow the Virginia solar industry locally instead of being forced to travel to neighboring states that already have similar solar incentives. And it’s a Win for Utilities because, according to Dominion Virginia Power, distributed solar power reduced the need for the more expensive types of power generation, which are old natural gas peaking facilities.

Abbie Rogers's Photos - twentyeleven.

Frustrated Virginians Give the Gift of Wind Power to Governor McDonnell

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    
December 15, 2010
Lauren Glickman


Energy will Power Governor’s Mansion for One Year 

RICHMOND – Environmentalists gathered in Richmond today with an early holiday present for Governor Bob McDonnell— $400 in renewable energy credits to power the Governor’s Mansion through 2011. Weeks ago, representatives from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) asked the governor to make a personal investment in renewable energy by choosing to power his home with renewable energy credits, but he refused to commit. In response, CCAN supporters in Virginia chipped in $10 or more to purchase the energy credits and demonstrate their support for clean energy sources like offshore wind. Maureen Riley Matsen, the governor’s Senior Advisor on Energy was on hand to accept an oversized certificate in honor of the purchase.

“It’s time for Governor McDonnell to take concrete action to bring offshore wind to Virginia,” said CCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell. “Governor McDonnell claims to support an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan, but he seems more interested in complaining about the federal government’s drilling ban than taking positive steps towards harnessing the clean, offshore power that is available—wind.”

The “gift” arrived with an urgent ask for Governor McDonnell: taking the unequivocal action of supporting a mandatory renewable portfolio standard to show that he is serious about bringing offshore wind to the Commonwealth. A few weeks ago, the Department of the Interior announced that it intends to compile a short list of states that are most prepared to move forward on offshore wind. If Governor McDonnell does not act quickly, Virginia will be left behind.

State Senator Donald McEachin said, “”I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Governor for accepting this gift. I very much appreciate this acknowledgment that we need to do all we can to provide alternative energy and not just fossil fuels. I would hope this is the beginning of a sincere and long-term investment by his administration to bring alternative fuels to the Commonwealth. We can start this new direction by exploring the use of wind power off the coast. Rather than wasting time and energy on offshore drilling, which would be detrimental to the Chesapeake Bay and its ecosystems, let’s work together to ensure that Virginia is one of the recipients of upcoming government initiatives in wind energy.”

CCAN called on the Governor to take steps towards repowering Virginia with clean energy by committing to powering the mansion with renewable electricity for the rest of his term and supporting a renewable portfolio standard. Across the Commonwealth, Virginians are calling for clean energy. More than 4,500 Virginians signed CCAN’s pledge in support of offshore wind rather than offshore oil drilling.

Tidwell said: “The longer we delay, the more jobs Virginia is sending to its neighboring states, who are more poised to welcome the growing American wind industry. Virginians are tired of waiting for the clean, homegrown energy sitting off their coast.”  

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is the first grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to amass undeniable grassroots power in this unique region surrounding our nation’s capital to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability.

Check out a video of the delivery at


Giving the gift of wind

Today we gathered in front of the Governor’s Mansion to bring Governor McDonnell an early Christmas present- $400 in renewable energy credits (RECs) to power the mansion through 2011.
Outside of the governor's mansion

Back in October, I met with the governor’s energy advisor, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources, Maureen Matsen, to discuss what the McDonnell administration had been doing to promote offshore wind. During that conversation, I asked her if the Governor would make a symbolic gesture of his commitment to renewables by purchasing the RECs himself. Ultimately, he refused to make this commitment, so our members made it for him. CCAN supporters in Virginia chipped in $10 or more to purchase the RECs to demonstrate their support for clean energy sources like offshore wind.

As CCAN Executive Director Mike Tidwell, stated during his speech at the Governor’s mansion, “It’s time for Governor McDonell to take concrete action to bring offshore wind to Virginia.” The Governor should take unequivocal action of supporting a mandatory renewable portfolio standard (RPS). If he does not act quickly, Virginia could be left behind as other states prepare to move ahead with offshore wind.

Maureen Matsen was on hand for the delivery and you can see her back and forth with Mike here.

Where's Bob on Wind?

Hey, Governor McDonnell, are you serious about renewable energy sources like wind and solar, or are you just pulling our leg? I mean, you won’t even commit just $400 to power the Governor’s Mansion with renewable energy in 2011. What’s the deal??

Yes, you read that right. We asked the Governor to buy renewable energy credits as a symbolic gesture that he was leading the Commonwealth towards a future that includes an increased emphasis on clean energy, but he won’t do it. Continue reading