In our continuing series on Gov. McAuliffe's flawed, false, flat-out-wrong comments at the recent "The Next Frontier of Climate Change" conference," we now present an anti-fracking activist getting into a heated argument with Gov. McAuliffe - and ultimately getting escorted out of the room for not knowing when to stop talking and let the governor dig his own hole deeper. In brief, here's what happened and why I say McAuliffe dug himself into a deep hole.
*The activist asked McAuliffe about Dominion Power's gigantic, proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline, and how McAuliffe's support for this monstrosity squares with what she asserted was McAuliffe "campaign[ing] against fracking." Actually, as far as I can determine, McAuliffe only stated outright opposition to fracking in the GW National Forest, not in general. Still, the anti-fracking activist is correct that the natural gas for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP will come mostly from "fracked" natural gas in West Virginia. In addition, it IS worth pointing out that the U.S. Forest Service just approved "a permit to survey part of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia for a proposed natural gas pipeline," and that the ACP also would run "through the George Washington National Forest - as well as the Allegheny Mountains, Blue Ridge mountains and the Shenandoah Valley."
*McAuliffe's response was basically a bunch of nonsensical and/or distorted arguments. Argument #1: Virginia has a bunch of pipelines already, ergo there's no reason to be concerned about this gigantic new pipeline. That's like saying, since there already is bad stuff happening in the world, we shouldn't be concerned about far worse stuff happening in the world. It's just a ridiculous, non-argument "argument." The fact is, this pipeline is seriously flawed in its underlying conception, economics, environmental impact, etc. Gov. McAuliffe should respond, on point, specifically on the merits - or in this case, lack thereof - of the ACP, not throw out red herrings and non sequiturs in an attempt to avoid doing so.
McAuliffe touts gas and nuclear, says it's not his job to worry about risks
A forum on climate change held last Wednesday in Richmond was supposed to be about moving to clean energy, but it sometimes seemed to be more of a platform for Governor Terry McAuliffe to tout plans for more natural gas and nuclear energy in the Commonwealth. It wasn't that he neglected energy efficiency, wind and solar-he had plenty of good things to say about these, and even a few initiatives to boast of. It was just that they paled against the backdrop of massive new natural gas and nuclear projects, to which he seems even more firmly committed.
The event was a conference called "The Next Frontier of Climate Change," organized by The New Republic magazine and the College of William and Mary. Moderator Jeffrey Ball of Stanford University shaped the conference as a series of interviews, beginning with Governor McAuliffe.
Ball started out asking about the politics of climate change, which gave McAuliffe a chance to reiterate his convictions that climate change is real, that we can see it happening today in Hampton Roads, and that part of meeting the challenge involves supporting the kind of 21st century technologies that will also make Virginia an exciting and attractive place to live. That includes offshore wind and solar.
But McAuliffe also made it clear he sees everything through the lens of economic growth, and his top priority is attracting new business to fill the gap left by shrinking federal spending in the state. "When I ran for governor," he explained, "I tried to put everything in an economic issue: what is good for the Commonwealth, how do you grow and diversify. I preside over a commonwealth that, we are the number one recipient of Department of Defense dollars, number one. Now, that's great when they're spending, but when they're cutting like they're cutting today, it has a dramatic impact."
He is also persuaded that renewable energy, even with all its job benefits, won't get him as much economic growth as cheaper fossil energy can, and his friends at Dominion Resources and its subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power, have convinced him that means backing their plans for natural gas and nuclear.
Yesterday, I wrote about Ivy Main's excellent post on Gov. Terry McAuliffe's interview at "The Next Frontier of Climate Change" conference. The main conclusions of that post: 1) McAuliffe clearly doesn't know a great deal about energy issues, from what distributed power is (e.g., rooftop solar); to how much it costs to transmit electricity from a nuclear plant vs. a renewable energy facility; to the Virginia power mix, both today and in coming years; to the "levelized cost of energy" for different sources of power (perhaps someone can stick this report on his desk and make sure he's read it?); etc. and 2) what McAuliffe DOES know appears to come disproprortionally from a wildly biased, pro-fossil-fuel, pro-nuclear, anti-energy-efficiency, anti-distributed power source -- Dominion Power -- with which he spends an inordinate amount of time (question: could a small business, or an ordinary citizen, get the level of access Dominion Power - $13 million in donations and counting! - has to the governor's office?), and which he alternately claims he has no control over/can tell what to do.
Anyway, there were so many misstatements, flat-our errors, etc. in Gov. McAuliffe's 38-minutes-but-felt-like-an-eternity interview at the "The Next Frontier of Climate Change" conference, this is going to require a multi-part series to tackle them. We'll start with McAuliffe's comments on fossil fuel divestment, which were flat-out wrong on several points.
First, the question was specifically about whether "the state of Virginia and its retirement fund and other relevant funds should divest from fossil fuel companies. McAuliffe's answer?
(UPDATE: See results (Tea Partier John Guevara won; Brian Schoeneman finished third behind yet another Tea Partier) and press release from the Kathy Smith (D) campaign in the comments section. - promoted by lowkell)
This is amusing on multiple levels, starting with the very concept that Ben Tribbett, a consultant to Fairfax County Board/Sully District Democratic candidate Kathy Smith, would be "with Brian Schoeneman," one of three Republicans vying to run against, and hopefully lose to, Smith this fall. Of course, Schoeneman is the least right wingnut of the three candidates in this race, with the cardinal sin (in Teapublican eyes) of working for a union, but given how far right the Republican Party is these days, that's not saying much. Still, on those grounds alone, one could argue that Schoeneman might be the toughest candidate against Smith in November. Or, one could argue that since this year will be a super-low-turnout, nearly-100% "base" election, that the key for Republicans will be to fire up their right-wing/Tea Party activists, and that Schoeneman would be the LEAST likely to do that. So...would Schoeneman be the strongest Republican candidate, the weakest, or something in between? Got me, but Ben's having fun with it, and who can blame him? :)
Even more fun is watching right-wing bloggers fight over What It All Means. For instance, at leading right-wing Virginia blog "The Bull Elephant", the top post right now asserts that since Ben Tribbett posted an "I'm with Brian" graphic on his Facebook page, Schoeneman must be the Republican candidate Kathy Smith and Sully Dems most want to face. "The Bull Elelphant" blogger Jeanine Martin even writes: "This is part of the group, 'Democrats for Brian Schoeneman'. I hear their numbers are growing because so many of them identify with Brian...Ben's telling them to vote for Brian because he considers Brian to be the easiest to beat." Hahahaha.
Then there's the comment thread on Ben's Facebook post, which hilariously has Schoeneman implausibly claiming, "I haven't talked to a single Democrat this primary. Not even Ben." In response, Democratic nominee Kathy Smith writes, "Brian, it was nice to talk with you at my town hall in March." Zing! And Ben adds, "Well, there goes 'I haven't talked to a single Democrat this primary.'" Former Fairfax Dems' chair Rex Simmons then chimes in, "Why am I not surprised that [Schoeneman] lies?" Schoeneman then says he didn't mean it "literally," while Ben notes: "There are pictures of Brian talking to me at the Sully debate. Not sure why he says things that are so obviously untrue." On and on it goes, when it stops...well, maybe tomorrow at 4 pm, when Schoeneman will either win (I'm personally hoping he does, just so this fun can continue another few months! LOL) or loses (in which case Ben can take up a new hobby? haha). Stay tuned, but meanwhile sit back and enjoy watching Ben masterfully mess with Republican minds. :)
Can someone please explain how much, if not most, of this stuff has to do with Christianity? Photo ID? Proof of citizenship to vote? "Illegal aliens?" Eliminating the state income tax? Guns? Offshore oil drilling? Tort reform? Dominion Power? WTF? Of course, this group is a bunch of extremist nuts, but frighteningly, a sizeable number of Virginians agree with them...shuddderrrrr.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, April 25. Also, see this week's White House address, in which President Obama makes the case for "why new, high-standards trade agreements are important for our economy, our businesses, our workers, and our values." I'm skeptical, but open to being shown exactly how the TPP protects workers, human rights, the environment, etc.
If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to check out this Think Progress story, on the far-right-wing, theocratic Virginia Christian Alliance's latest crusade.
Last month, Stafford County, VA, made national headlines when its school board unanimously voted to ignore guidance from both school district officials and the Department of Education that “sex” protections under Title IX protect transgender students’ use of facilities that match their identified gender. After some local parents complained, the school board ordered that a fourth grade student no longer be permitted to use the bathroom of the student’s identified gender. The school system in Gloucester, VA, is currently facing a federal civil rights complaint after it restricted a transgender sophomore boy to using only a single-stall restrooms or designated female restrooms.
In light of these stories, the conservative Virginia Christian Alliance (VCA) has launched a statewide campaign to demand school systems deal with "transgenderism activity" and "gender identity confusion" as "a serious medical mental disorder." In a letter sent to school boards across the Commonwealth of Virginia, the group’s chairman and president Donald N. Blake demanded to be “advised of any pending cases involving transgenderism that are presently before your school system” and the policies each system has in place to deal with transgender students. "Accommodation is not the answer," he wrote, "nor is accommodation in the best interest of the child." Though the American Psychological Association stopped classifying being transgender as a mental disorder in 2012, the letter cites a 2014 article by anti-LGBT Johns Hopkins professor Paul McHugh that argued that “the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken” and that transgender people should be treated like those with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. McHugh’s widely debunked claims about trans identities run counter to consensus of the medical profession.
Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time the Virginia Christian Alliance has shown its bigotry. Back in December 2014, for instance, they teamed up with fellow bigoted extremist E.W. Jackson to attack Virginia Department of Health Interim Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine, who is transgender, as having "a "serious mental illness" and "serious issues." Charming. Also see here for more about what this group believes, including "refuting Darwinian Evolution, Theistic Evolution, Gap and Age-Day Theories, and Progressive Creationism;" "refuting sexual promiscuity: adultery, fornication, heterosexual oral sex, pornography, incest and bestiality, pedophilia, and homosexuality;" and "refuting foreign cultures, legal precedents, languages and religions in opposition to Christianity." So yeah, these are the same people on a rampage about "transgenerism activity" here in Virginia, as opposed to say, fighting to "feed the hungry," "clothe the naked," working for social justice, and other priorities their religion actually calls for.
P.S. Can someone please point out to me in the New Testament, which presumably members of the Virginia **Christian** Alliance believe in, it urges people to be nasty, intolerant, bigoted, ignorant jerks? Right, it doesn't.
Over at her blog, Power for the People VA, Ivy Main of the Sierra Club writes about a conference held last Wednesday in Richmond, "The Next Frontier of Climate Change," organized by The New Republic and the College of William and Mary, and featuring an interview with Gov. Terry McAuliffe on energy and environmental issues. According Ivy Main, the forum:
...was supposed to be about moving to clean energy, but it sometimes seemed to be more of a platform for Governor Terry McAuliffe to tout plans for more natural gas and nuclear energy in the Commonwealth. It wasn't that he neglected energy efficiency, wind and solar-he had plenty of good things to say about these, and even a few initiatives to boast of. It was just that they paled against the backdrop of massive new natural gas and nuclear projects, to which he seems even more firmly committed.
Main also notes that McAuliffe seems to be "persuaded that renewable energy, even with all its job benefits, won't get him as much economic growth as cheaper fossil energy can, and his friends at Dominion Resources and its subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power, have convinced him that means backing their plans for natural gas and nuclear." Main also debunks McAuliffe's frequently-repeated, but still absolutely false, whiny assertion that the "draft [Clean Power Plan]'s treatment of existing nuclear plants makes it 'unfair' to Virginia." Can somebody please call a waaaaambulance for McAuliffe on this one? My god.
I'll have more on all of this in coming days, along with video clips from the conference. For now, let's just say that Gov. McAuliffe has a lot to learn about energy issues, doesn't seem to "know what he doesn't know," and is spending far too muchy time with his pals from Dominion Power, who are about as far from an unbiased source one could possibly imagine on energy and environmental issues here in Virginia.
Finally, with regard to video I've posted above, watch as Ivy Main asks McAuliffe whether he's "worried at all about the gamble we're taking here" with the massive overrliance on natural gas (and relatively paltry, pathetic investments in energy efficiency and solar - including rooftop/distributed solar, about which McAuliffe doesn't seem to have the slightest clue -- see future posts for more on that one), especially given studies suggesting that the "shale gas boom is going to turn into a bust starting in 2020."
In response, McAuliffe disingenusly pleaded powerlessness in the face of Dominion ("as you know, Dominion's authority doesn't go through me...so all I can do is...cajole them to what I think is in the best interest of the Commonwealth...I don't get to determine how Dominion invests their resources or what type of power generation, that's done by a separate authority"). McAuliffe claimed he wants Virginia to be a "global leader on renewables," also that we've (supposedly) "made tremendous project in the last year" on renewable energy. Note, by the way, that McAuliffe is being highly disingenous about his role vis-a-vis Dominion, here claiming powerlessness, but in another part of the forum, he bragged that he basically sat Dominion down in his office and got them to agree to a list of demands, including getting them to invest $700 million in solar, plus low-income housing energy assistance. Bottom line, according to the supposedly powerless (vis-a-vis Dominion, at least) Gov. McAuliffe: "I did ask for four or five things, and they agreed with us." In other words, McAuliffe simultaneously is claiming that he has NO power over Dominion and LOTS of power with Dominion. Pick one?
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, April 24. The photo, by the way, is in "honor" of Domininion continuing to fuel climate change, this time by proving that they were never serious about offshore wind power, but would rather move ahead with a super-expensive nuclear power boondoggle and super-expensive natural gas pipelines to nowhere. Brilliant.
From Sen. Tim Kaine's office; congratulations and good luck to new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch! As for the absurd delays in confirming this highly qualified nominee by the right-wing Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, the only remedy is clear: Democrats need to take back the Senate in 2016!
In confirming Loretta Lynch as our next Attorney General, the Senate has chosen a distinguished legal mind and experienced public servant to lead the Department of Justice. Throughout her career, Lynch has developed a reputation for her integrity and trusted leadership, which will serve the nation well as she addresses recent tensions between law enforcement and communities across the country. While it is unacceptable that is has taken the Senate 166 days to act on such a well-qualified and highly-regarded nominee, I am proud that we have finally confirmed Loretta Lynch, and I am confident that she will work hard to ensure justice for all Americans.
Note: the following email from Fairfax County Board candidate Dan Storck comes in response to my April 10 article on Storck's company, "National Integrated Health Associates," which he manages and co-founded. Among many other strange claims on its website, and/or linked to on its website, include stuff like this: "Autism, ADHD, allergies and asthma (4 A's) and all the other brain disorders are due to neuro-immune dys-function due to too much neurotoxins and the inability of the child to adequately detox or remove these harmful toxins." In addition, the website explicitly blames, completely falsely, the "rapid rise in the vaccination schedules for infants in the last 30 years" for everything from autism to allergies to "leaky gut" to "Lyme, Candida, Herpes virus, Strep, staph, tetanus botulinum, mycotoxins from mold and others."
Anyway, I was at the office opening for Scott Surovell and Paul Krizek the other day, and Dan Storck approached me, clearly not pleased about how his company had been portrayed (even though, as I told him, everything in there was stuff ON HIS COMPANY'S WEBSITE or LINKED TO by his company's website). Basically, Storck's counterargument was a combination of: a) claiming the stuff on his website wasn't really on his website; b) claiming it was mostly links to other sources, not implying any endorsement of those sources; c) repeating his belief that what his company does is good for people's health; and d) claiming I must be working for or supporting one of his opponents, which is 100% not true (I'm overwhelmingly inclined not to endorse in this race). Clearly, a dead end there. So, I tried to refocus the discussion on public policy, since Storck is a member of the Fairfax County School Board and a candidate for County Board. The question I asked was whether his personal beliefs and/or work at "National Integrated Health Associates" in any way impacted his public policy decisions on the School Board, or possibly on the County Board if he's elected. Here's his written response, which I received this morning. I've added bolding for emphasis of what I think are key points.
Check out the following press release from Gov. McAuliffe's office. Also, as Del. Rip Sullivan (pictured at right) notes on his FB page: "Making progress on net metering in Virginia today. Governor McAuliffe signed HB 1950, which I co-patroned with my friend Delegate Jen McLellan, along with other clean energy bills at the Capital One data center in Chester, Virginia." "
~ Bi-partisan initiatives will expand solar generation, energy efficiency and green jobs in Virginia ~
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today performed a ceremonial signing of several bills that will significantly expand the growth of clean energy jobs in Virginia. Governor McAuliffe was joined by a broad, bipartisan coalition of legislators, environmental leaders and industry representatives who were instrumental in securing passage of these pro-jobs, pro-clean energy initiatives during the 2015 General Assembly Session.
Speaking about today’s announcement on Earth Day in Chesterfield County, Governor McAuliffe said, “Building a new Virginia economy is my top priority as Governor, and the emerging clean energy jobs sector provides a tremendous opportunity for economic growth and diversification. The legislative initiatives signed today are key components of my Virginia Energy Plan and will significantly expand solar generation, energy efficiency programs and green jobs in the Commonwealth. I sincerely thank all of the bill patrons and stakeholders for their tireless efforts to find consensus on these bills. Through bipartisan leadership and a broad coalition of industry, utility and environmental stakeholders working together, we have taken important next steps for diversifying our economy and making Virginia a leader in clean energy jobs.”
“Energy is a strategic growth sector both in Virginia and the entire United States providing good jobs and good wages,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “Because of the Commonwealth’s significant assets, we have tremendous opportunities in this important arena. This legislative package provides us with the tools we need to capitalize on these opportunities.”
The Clean Energy Jobs legislation signed by Governor McAuliffe includes:
Earth Day is here and so is the Chesapeake Climate Action Network's eagerly anticipated new website: domtruth.org. After months of hard work, we're excited to release this interactive website as an educational platform to expose the dirty truth about Virginia's largest utility company and most powerful corporation: Dominion Power.
Every year around Earth Day, Dominion funds slick ads, community projects like tree-plantings, outdoor festivals and more to paint itself as a "green" and "sustainable" company. Domtruth.org is our way of setting the record straight.
As you scroll through the site, you'll see that Dominion is the state's #1 emitter of the heat-trapping pollution wrecking our climate. Dominion is also the #1 corporate donor to state politicians. For far too long, Dominion has used its power to rig the system against local, clean energy solutions and for costly fossil fuel projects, and Virginians are paying a high price as a result.
We call Dominion's deliberate misleading of the public "greenwashing." This year in particular, we expect Dominion to churn out more greenwashing than ever before - because the company is facing more public scrutiny and protests over its dirty energy projects than we've seen before.
You know there's a serious image problem when sixth graders and senior citizens alike are standing up at county meetings to decry Dominion's 550-mile pipeline for fracked gas; when riverkeepers are joining with history buffs to challenge Dominion's massive proposed transmission lines over Jamestown; and when editorial writers across the state are hammering the company's anti-consumer "power politics."
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