Get involved! If you are a French Broad EMC member and support the development of energy efficiency finance programs, sign this letter of support
If you would like to learn more about the campaign or want to get involved, contact Eliza Laubach at (847) 721-5147, or email Eliza@appvoices.org.
French Broad Electric Membership Cooperative provides electric service to 33,000 residents and 3,000 businesses across Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties in southwestern North Carolina. For the past two years, French Broad EMC has been offering low-interest on-bill financing for high-efficiency “mini-split” electric heat pumps to its members. Our goal is for French Broad to expand that program to include weatherization and other energy efficiency improvements.
The Energy Savings team is reaching out to community-based organizations, agencies and energy efficiency businesses to generate support for that effort. As economic data illustrates, an expanded on-bill finance program for French Broad EMC members could provide substantial financial and economic benefits for the four-county service area.
|Avg. poverty rate||18.5%|
|Median income||$17,000 – $20,000|
|Percent of homes more than 30 years old||51%|
If you are a Surry-Yadkin member and support the development of energy efficiency finance programs, sign a letter of support!
To learn more and get involved, contact AmeriCorps Associate Ridge Graham at (828) 262-1500, or ridge [at] appvoices.org.
Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Cooperative provides electric service to 26,600 residents and 250 businesses across Forsyth, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin counties. While Surry-Yadkin does offer a rebate and other resources to its members encouraging energy efficiency, the electric cooperative does not currently offer any type of financing for home energy improvements. Our goal is to promote and generate strong community support among Surry-Yadkin EMC members for the cooperative to develop an on-bill energy efficiency finance program.
The Energy Savings team is reaching out to community-based organizations, agencies and energy efficiency businesses to generate support for that effort. As economic data illustrates, an expanded on-bill finance program for Surry-Yadkin EMC members could provide substantial financial and economic benefits for the five-county service area.
|Avg. poverty rate||21%|
|Percent of homes more than 30 years old||54%|
On behalf of conservation groups in Virginia and West Virginia, Appalachian Mountain Advocates today filed a formal protest and motion to intervene in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s permitting process for the WB XPress, an $850 million natural gas infrastructure proposal from Columbia Gas Transmission.
The project consists of two new compressor stations, 26 miles of pipeline replacement, and 2.9 miles of new pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia. Construction would impact the Monongahela National Forest, as well as privately owned forest and agricultural lands.
“The WB XPress would fragment prime forest habitat, endanger family farms and homes, and amplify the threats to drinking water and air quality in communities plagued by fracking operations,” explained Ben Luckett, Staff Attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. The WB XPress is intended to boost Columbia’s capacity to pipe fracked natural gas from West Virginia’s Marcellus region. The fracked gas would be sold in markets farther south and perhaps abroad.
“We’re also highly concerned that this project will increase the pressure to build the Mountaineer XPress, which would have even more destructive impacts throughout our region,” explained Luckett. The Mountaineer XPress, proposed by a consortium owned in part by Columbia Gas, involves constructing three new compressor stations and approximately 165 miles of new pipeline in West Virginia.
This fall, these same groups filed similar challenges to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline. These groups hope to shed light on the rash of gas projects currently pending FERC review. “Appalachian communities have been hard-hit by the fracking boom, and now face the threat of a huge build-out of natural gas infrastructure,” explained Kate Rooth with Appalachian Voices. Collectively, the projects involve thousands of miles of pipeline construction and upgrades costing tens of billions of dollars to move fracked gas out of West Virginia.
The massive network of new gas infrastructure proposed for the region has prompted many to call on FERC to perform a comprehensive analysis of the entire planned pipeline scheme. “FERC should perform one comprehensive review of these massive fossil fuel projects so we can see the entirety of the environmental and climate impacts of this proposal — not a fragmented one that fails to recognize the devastating impacts these pipelines would have,” said Kirk Bowers, Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club.
“Taken together, these pipeline projects will lock the region into decades of reliance on a fossil fuel that is just as bad as coal for our climate,” said Anne Havemann, general counsel for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. A new report by the Sierra Club found that just two of the pipeline proposals would trigger nearly twice as much total climate-disrupting pollution as all the existing stationary sources in Virginia combined. Climate-disrupting emissions from the WB XPress project will only add to the problem.
“Every dollar invested in this dirty and dangerous fossil fuel is better spent on clean energy and energy efficiency,” said Havemann. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network has found that for the same cost as building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, for example, a utility could instead install solar panels to power over 400,000 homes.
Columbia Gas Transmission filed its application with FERC earlier this year. FERC is tasked with determining whether the project will serve the “public convenience and necessity” and coordinating an environmental review. Columbia has asked FERC for a certificate decision by Dec. 1, 2016.
Appalachian Mountain Advocates has intervened on behalf the following groups: Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and the West Virginia and Virginia chapters of the Sierra Club.
Laws on the books in Virginia still make clean energy artificially expensive for customers. Our state legislators have an opportunity to lift these barriers and help us catch up to neighboring states where more solar has been installed.
There is potential for meaningful progress. The General Assembly can enact simple fixes that will make all the difference for a resident who wants to go solar but can’t afford the upfront cost.
These changes include removing the punitive monthly fees called “standby charges” and clarifying that is legal in Virginia for a customer to contract with a renewable energy installer to provide power for their own use.
These bills are up for a vote in subcommittee on Tuesday, February 9. Take action now. Fill in the form below to generate an email to your delegate in support of these bills.
Late last month, we learned that the U.S. Forest Service rejected the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed route. This development significantly checks the lickety-split pace of the project.
If that renews your desire to take action, there are opportunities channel that feeling into these important legislative fights in the General Assembly.
Lobby days in Richmond displayed pipeline opposition — now, committees coming up
As the chorus of Virginians voicing opposition to fracked gas pipelines in our region grows and becomes more diverse, we took our movement to the General Assembly for a major day of action to educate legislators about our agenda to safeguard land and water. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, participants from across Virginia came to Richmond and held dozens of meetings with state delegates and senators. Addressing attendees the morning of the event, State Senator John Edwards made it clear that he stands with Virginians who are concerned about the risks of the dirty pipeline proposals.
Citizen lobbyists covered issues including the landowners’ right to deny pipeline companies permission to enter their land to conduct invasive surveys (SB 614 and HB 1118) and the importance of requiring rigorous site-specific sediment and erosion control plans to protect streams and ensuring unrestricted public access to such plans (SB 726). Now these bills have been scheduled for upcoming committee meetings, so here are directions on informing your legislators:
SB 726 in Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee on Feb. 4
SB 726 would fix a serious problem with how Virginia limits erosion and sediment pollution from utility company construction projects, including pipelines. The status quo system would allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline to avoid proper regulation through a loophole. Area legislators in the relevant committee include senators Emmett Hanger and Mark Obenshain.
Tell your senator the current system is wrong — and here are some reasons why: it allows utility companies to avoid proper government agency oversight; it exempts utility companies from requirements that apply to all other construction projects; it excludes the public and local governments from involvement; and it greatly increases the threat of damage to the environment and property due to the extensive and complicated nature of these projects.
Urge your legislator to restore proper government oversight of these developments and revoke the free pass that companies now have to pollute Virginia waterways. Use the blue tab at the top of the General Assembly’s website to look up who represents you and find contact information for his or her office.
If you can make it, we encourage you to attend the committee at the General Assembly in Senate Room B on Thursday afternoon starting at or around 2 p.m. to impress the importance of these decisions upon our legislators in person.
Help Win Repeal of the “Survey Without Permission” Statute — Bills Up Soon in Commerce Committee
On Feb. 8 and 9, respectively, committees will take up SB 614 and HB 1118 related to companies’ ability to survey without landowner permission. You can contact your legislation in support of these measures by going to the General Assembly’s website and clicking the blue bar up top to find out who represents you and how to email or call their offices.
As background, HB 1118 and SB 614 are House and Senate versions of a bill to repeal VA 56-49.01, which allows Dominion to force surveys on unwilling property owners. That means that under Virginia law there is really no legal way for property owners to unequivocally demonstrate opposition to a gas pipelines, no matter the size, going through their property.
Be sure to contact your legislators before committees deal with these bills so that your comments will be most effective: the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will discuss SB 614 Monday, Feb. 8, starting at approximately 2 p.m. The House Subcommittee on Energy will discuss HB 1118 on Tuesday, Feb. 9, starting at approximately 4 p.m. Again, feel free to attend, and contact hannah [at] appvoices [dot] org if you have questions about how to participate in these committees’ decisions.
What else does recent news tell us about these risky pipelines?
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) letter to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (that is, Dominion Resources) states that alternative routes cannot cut through “highly sensitive resources … of such irreplaceable character that minimization and compensation measures may not be adequate or appropriate and should be avoided.” The pipeline company has not, in the USFS’s view, demonstrated “why the project cannot reasonably be accommodated off National Forest Service (NFS) lands.”
If Dominion tries to stick with the original route, it will have to say why it thinks the pipeline has to be built on USFS lands. The company could propose a new route, impacting a different set of landowners and their properties, or it may have to go back to the drawing board with a new application. -We hope Dominion will turn in an entirely different direction, as this project, like the other pipelines proposed in Virginia, is unneeded, hazardous and misguided.
Communities in our region have been on the receiving end of the fracking boom. A major build-out of this kind of infrastructure will only worsen the impacts of fracking in those communities while locking us into decades of dependence on dirty energy. At the same time it defers our collective chance to harness the cleanest, most-sustainable energy sources — which happen to be a great deal for customers too.
Our work seems to be provoking a reaction. Dominion recently went into high-gear in its public relations. Spokesman Jim Norvelle said last week that gas-fired power plants are widely viewed as essential to meeting the goals of the Clean Power plan. To anyone who understands the economic opportunity presented by the EPA’s carbon pollution standards, or for those who have been reading recent reports describing the benefits of prioritizing renewable solar power, wind power and energy efficiency in Virginia, that probably sounds ludicrous. Whatever the polluters say or do next, and whenever there’s a chance to take action, we’ll be keeping you in the loop.
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Washington, D.C. — A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress today would allocate $1 billion for cleaning up abandoned mine lands and advancing economic development in communities across the country that have been hardest hit by the coal-mining industry’s decline. The Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More (RECLAIM) Act would expedite the release of existing money in the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, which comes from a per-ton fee on all coal mined in the United States.
The bill was introduced by Reps. Hal Rogers (Ky.), Matt Cartwright (Penn.), Morgan Griffith (Va.), Don Beyer (Va.), and Evan Jenkins (W.Va.). The bill will be referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
“The RECLAIM Act is an imperative effort to help reinvigorate our hard-hit communities through economic and community development,” said Rep. Morgan Griffith in a press statement today. “I will continue fighting along with Congressman Rogers and others to advance economic development strategies such as this which would help keep and grow jobs in Appalachia.”
“Many coal communities in Appalachia simply do not have the resources to reclaim the abandoned mine sites within their borders,” Rep. Hal Rogers said. “This bill allows these communities to be proactive in restoring these sites and utilize them to put our people back to work.”
The bill is designed to help coal-dependent communities diversify their economies while addressing pollution that remains from inactive coal mines. The money would be distributed to states with existing abandoned mine programs over a five-year period. The funding proportions going to individual states would mirror the formula currently used by the Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, which is based on historic coal production. State agencies would be encouraged to work with local governments and planning commissions to identify projects that meet the bill’s requirement of creating a lasting, positive economic impact.
Local support for such a program has been growing across the Appalachian coalfields for the past year. As of the end of January, 28 local government entities and organizations in the coal-bearing regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia have passed resolutions endorsing the plan. (See list below.)
The current Abandoned Mine Lands Fund, which is administered by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, prioritizes remediation of old mining sites that pose immediate health or environmental hazards. By expanding the funding criteria to focus on the economic potential of clean-up projects, the RECLAIM Act would encourage state and local governments to collaborate on laying the groundwork for creating permanent jobs.
In particular, the bill highlights the importance of engaging community stakeholders in the process. It would also have other positive economic impacts such as benefiting tourism, removing visual blight from public areas, and improving the livability of communities. Examples of such projects include manufacturing facilities, forestry or agriculture projects, alternative energy facilities, and public parks and other tourism venues.
“We applaud Congressmen Griffith, Rogers and their colleagues for introducing this forward-thinking legislation,” said Adam Wells, Economic Diversification Campaign Coordinator with Appalachian Voices’ Wise County, Va., office. “More than two dozen local governments have called for federal investment in their communities. Releasing this funding now would support efforts taking place all across Central Appalachia to secure the region’s economic future.”
Local governments and other local entities that have passed resolutions in support of expedited federal funding for cleaning up abandoned mine lands and diversifying Central Appalachia’s economy:
City of Norton
Cumberland Plateau Planning District
Town of Appalachia
Town Of Wise
Town of Dungannon
Town of Cleveland
City of Whitesburg
City of Benham
Benham Power Board
City of Evarts
City of Vicco
City of Morgantown
Campbell County Commission
Appalachian Renaissance Initiative Student Senate (Kentucky)
This is what Adam Malle of Big Stone Gap, Va., wrote to the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement last fall. He and dozens of others in Central Appalachia urged the agency to finalize the strongest possible Stream Protection Rule, expected sometime before the end of the Obama presidency.
Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard testimony on the rule. Predictably, the Republican members of the committee, chaired by the staunchly anti-regulation Sen. James Inhofe, ignored the vast body of scientific data and the perspectives of coalfield residents as presented in testimony by Appalachian Voices’ Director of Programs, Matt Wasson. They likewise dismissed OSMRE Director Joe Pizarchik’s explanation that, based on the science over the past 30 years, there is still surface water and groundwater that is being impacted by surface mining.
Instead, Inhofe and the other GOP senators mostly harped on the tired accusation of federal overreach, commonly lodged against any federal government entity engaged in the execution of its duties, in this case the OSMRE. In so doing, these senators reduced any possible discussion of mining’s impacts on our water, and the failings of current regulations, to a mere political side-show.
Aside from these proceedings, and a nakedly deceitful report by the National Mining Association, discourse on the Stream Protection Rule has dropped off steeply ever since a series of public hearings and the OSMRE’s formal public comment period on the matter concluded in November.
The rule is intended to protect streams and rivers from the adverse impacts of surface coal mining and certain underground mining operations. Regulations designed to mitigate such impacts have not been updated since 1983, failing to address significant advances in scientific monitoring as well as changes in mining techniques. While public dialogue on the Stream Protection Rule has largely faded, the impact of mining on our streams has not.
On January 15, residents of Martin County, Ky., reported a black water spill into Wolf Creek, which empties into the Tug River above the municipal water intake of Kermit, W.Va. A week earlier, I spotted new orange water seeping from a mine site into the Powell River just a few miles from my home in Wise County, Va. Orange water is common around Central Appalachia. It’s not easy to treat once it appears, and new seeps seem to appear all the time, even after mines have closed down. Upon analysis of this particular point source, we discovered high levels of dissolved solids, which is likely due at least in part to the iron that causes the orange color, but can also indicate unsafe levels of other more harmful pollutants associated with coal mining, such as selenium, arsenic or beryllium.
According to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy’s citizen complaints log, there have been 13 incidents of discolored and/or odorous water discharging from mining operations into Southwest Virginia’s waterways over the past year and a half. This may not sound like a huge number, but bear in mind that it reflects only incidents that are reported. It does not account for discharges of contaminants that may have gone unreported because they are essentially invisible, such as exceedances of heavy metals that are toxic to wildlife and humans. Nor does it reflect the concerns of community members who simply don’t bother to file complaints, as they believe the DMME to be either inept or outright complicit in the routine pollution violations of the coal industry.
During the same time period, the DMME also logged dozens of reports of hydrological disturbances such as increased flash flooding, mudslides, saturation of ground and sedimentation of streams adjacent to active, reclaimed and abandoned surface mines across Virginia’s coalfield region. Too often, disturbances of this nature go unmitigated under existing enforcement mechanisms, but they could and should be addressed by the Stream Protection Rule.
As the OSMRE crafts the final version of the rule, carefully considering the best available science and the concerns of community members, it would behoove us all — especially OSMRE staff — to remember that this is not a matter of abstract policy. Nor is it about politics. It is about the health and well-being of Appalachian communities and ecology. It is about our water and our future.
Toward that end, here are some of the comments submitted by impacted community members to the OSMRE, expressing the need for a strong, strict and enforceable Stream Protection Rule.
“I am proud to be a Coal Miner’s daughter. It’s true. Coal put the food on my table. It also put the poison in my water. You don’t understand just how important your water is until it is gone. In Martin County, the water is loaded with heavy metals and other toxins from coal sludge. After the sludge spill in 2000, we learned chemistry by testing the water, biology by watching the effects on living creatures, and political action while trying to make our voices heard. The biggest lesson we learned is that our government was there to protect dollars, not citizens. I support the strongest possible Stream Protection Rule. The Office of Surface Mining should regulate mining and the disposal of mining waste with a heavy hand. We have learned from decades of experience that our state agencies cannot be trusted to properly enforce the regulations.
— Jonita Horn, Inez, Ky.
Good healthy forests and watersheds are required for my livelihood as well as the livelihoods of some of the young people in my community who I have mentored as a root-digger and as a non-timber forest products worker. We are sustaining ourselves while living with our natural world, rather than destroying it for short-term gain. Water is where life begins. The Stream Protection Rule should be a way of helping waters be healthy for drinking, watering gardens, fishing, or simply having the ability to play in the water with family and friends.
Carol Judy, Clearfork, Tenn.
I have watched the creek that flows past my grandmother’s home in Floyd County, Ky., become ruined by the strip mining above it. I used to catch crawdads in that creek, but now it smells and looks noxious. There is no life in the water and the terrible odor permeates the entire hollow. Citizens of the coalfields deserve the best possible Stream Protection Rule that the OSM can provide. A strong SPR would greatly improve and protect the quality of life and bodily health of all humans living downstream.
— David Wasilko, Kingston, Tenn.
There’s already been far too much damage done to our streams by the coal mining industry, and without strictly enforced regulation, we can only anticipate more destruction. We need water. We may like coal, and some people are friends of coal, but we need water. These are some of our nation’s headwaters and their pollution goes all the way to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. This is truly a national issue and a national problem.
— Laura Miller, Wise Va.
Southwest Virginia is increasingly and now very rapidly realizing that it cannot depend on coal for its economic future. We’ve got to find a diverse number of economic alternatives. One of those alternatives is recreation. In order for our waterways to be this economic resource, they must be protected against the irreversible impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining, valley fills and other associated impacts of the mining industry. — David Rouse, Wise, Va.
My husband and I are lifelong residents of Mingo County, W.Va. Both of our fathers were coal miners, and my husband followed in their footsteps. In the 70’s, the coal company started strip mining above our home. It was very destructive to the community. The water was contaminated and finally went dry. The coal companies need to monitor their impacts to the water more closely. These companies that come out and do water sampling for the mines are not truthful. Please ensure with clear wording in the Stream Protection Rule that citizens are permitted to monitor mining impacts to streams, and that citizens are granted access to coal company and land company properties as needed to do this monitoring. — Donna Branham, Lenore, W.Va.
Appalachian Voices Director of Programs Matt Wasson, Ph.D., is testifying tomorrow morning before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at a hearing on the implications and environmental impacts of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s draft Stream Protection Rule. (NOTE: We will add a link here for live-streaming video when it becomes available from the committee.)
The rule, expected to be finalized before the end of the Obama administration, is intended to prevent or minimize the impacts of surface coal mining on surface water and groundwater. It has become a flashpoint for the coal industry and its political allies who charge it will harm the industry, but in his testimony, Wasson disputes that charge and highlights the clear need for a strong rule.
Drawing on a wealth of scientific data, and directly citing comments made by citizens in Central Appalachia who wrote to the agency or spoke at one of the public hearings on the rule in September 2015, Wasson highlights five areas of particular concern arising from an under-regulated and at times unlawful coal industry: threats to human health, damage to streams and wildlife, and the need for proper bonding requirements, citizen enforcement, and economic diversification throughout the region.
The Stream Protection Rule would update a 1983 rule, which has failed to protect the health of Central Appalachian streams, wildlife and communities, according to Wasson. More than 2,000 miles of streams have been obliterated, and virtually all stream “restoration” projects have failed to produce healthy aquatic habitat. Life expectancy in Appalachian counties with the most strip mining declined between 1997 and 2007, even as it rose in the U.S. as a whole. Central Appalachian counties where mountaintop removal occurs have among the highest poverty rates in the country.
In his testimony, Wasson debunks a recent study by the National Mining Association predicting the Stream Protection Rule would lead to job losses. The study is predicated on an unreliable methodology and unrealistic projections for coal production, and it fails to assess benefits resulting from the rule, such as safety and health improvements in communities.
Wasson concludes that while the draft Stream Protection Rule is far from perfect, it does represent an “honest effort to improve upon three decades of poor regulation that has allowed mountaintop removal coal mining to endanger Appalachian communities and devastate wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.”
>> Key excerpts from Wasson’s testimony, available here in its entirety, including direct quotes from Central Appalachian citizens.
Appalachian Voices believes the proposed rule represents, at best, two steps forward and one step back. But any discussion of the “Implications and environmental impacts of the Office of Surface Mining’s proposed Stream Protection Rule” needs to start with one basic fact: the permitting and enforcement regime that has been in effect since 1983 is not working, and indeed has never worked to protect the health of streams, communities and wildlife in Central Appalachia.
What is so notable about the science linking mountaintop removal to elevated death rates and poor health outcomes is not the strength of any individual study, but rather the enormous quantity of data from independent sources that all point toward dramatic increases in rates of disease and decreases in life expectancy and physical well-being. … Life expectancy for both men and women actually declined between 1997 and 2007 in Appalachian counties with the most strip mining, even as life expectancy in the U.S. as a whole increased by more than a year. In 2007, life expectancy in the five Appalachian counties with the most strip mining was comparable to that in developing countries like Iran, Syria, El Salvador and Vietnam.
Our concern is that this rule is overly reliant on mitigation measures like stream replacement that have been shown to almost always fail to restore stream function. For instance, researchers at the University of Maryland published a peer-reviewed study in 2014 that synthesized information from 434 stream mitigation projects from 117 permits for surface mining in Appalachia. The study evaluated the success of both stream restoration and stream creation projects and concluded that “the data show that mitigation efforts being implemented in southern Appalachia for coal mining are not meeting the objectives of the Clean Water Act to replace lost or degraded streams ecosystems and their functions.” Astoundingly, the study found that, “97% of the projects reported suboptimal or marginal habitat even after 5 years of monitoring.”
The Stream Protection Rule could help to address agency inaction, and improve the relationship between Central Appalachian residents and the agencies that are supposed to be serving those communities, but several additional improvements to the SPR are necessary. The SPR should clarify that coal mining operations must comply with water quality standards and that these standards are directly enforceable under SMCRA. Furthermore, the SPR should clarify that citizens can enforce this requirement. Citizen enforcement of the CWA has been crucial to protecting public water from coal mining pollution in Central Appalachia. That ability should be strengthened.
As many local citizens who testified in support of the SPR have said, protecting the communities and the natural assets of the region is an integral part of making a successful economic transition. … Protecting those natural assets begins with reining in (and ideally eliminating altogether) mountaintop removal coal mining, which is associated just as strongly with poor socioeconomic conditions in communities near where mines operate as it is with reduced life expectancy and poor health.
Here’s the latest news from Appalachian Voices’ Press Room:
Earlier this week, a wide array of Virginia civic, health, faith, and environmental leaders released a letter asking Governor Terry McAuliffe to reject all efforts by Dominion Virginia Power to push for implementation of historic federal clean power rules in a way that would increase carbon pollution in the Commonwealth.
Leaders representing 50 organizations, including Appalachian Voices, reminded McAuliffe that only he, as governor, is authorized to make the final decision on how to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” in Virginia. It is therefore his explicit responsibility to reduce carbon emissions while strengthening Virginia’s economy and helping improve public health. Anything less will support more pollution, which is “fundamentally contrary” to existing U.S. policy and the interests of Virginia residents, the groups write.
Tell Governor McAuliffe: Create a Bold Clean Power Plan for Virginia
“I cannot remember such a diverse range of groups weighing in on a pollution issue in Virginia before,” said Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of the group New Virginia Majority. “This letter calls for action on what we hope will be the governor’s greatest legacy. The governor can adopt a plan that will strengthen our economy while protecting people’s health now and for generations to come.”
The letter states that Virginia should reduce its total carbon pollution from power plants at least 30 percent by 2030, by applying the same standards to both existing and new power plants, and increasing our use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
But Virginia utilities, led by Dominion CEO Tom Farrell, want a plan that would apply the federal rule only to old, existing power plants – not new fossil fuel power plants. This would allow Dominion to increase carbon pollution for decades more.
Read our full press release here.
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