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,, 608-620-8819
Danniele Fulmer, Donor Engagement Coordinator,, 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.



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