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Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Jan 16, 2015 at 06:35:58 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, January 16.

*Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine 'planetary boundaries' (Extremely disturbing, this should be a 12-alarm fire for every government and individual on earth right now. Why isn't it?!?)
*New Poll: Likely 2016 Voters Want Shift to Solar, Wind; Away from Coal, Oil (Americans are right on this, of course. The problem is that most Republicans - and some Democrats - are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.)
*Pope Francis says climate change is mostly man-made. Will anyone care? (Actually, change "mostly" to "overwhemlingly" and you've got it right.)
*Belgium Raids Thwart Plan to Kill Cops in Streets, at Stations: Official
*MLK's prophetic call ("His views on economic justice apply today.")
*Obama to Senate Dems: 'I'm going to play offense' ("The president said he's prepared to veto hostile legislation, including an Iran sanctions package.")
*Joni Ernst makes the cut to rebut Obama's big speech (Republicans select a conspiracy theorist, climate science denier, and all-around wacko to deliver their SOTU response. That says it all about the Republican Party these days.)
*Republican Party Chairman Defends Comparison Of America's Founding Fathers To ISIS (Ditto to the last sentence of my previous comment.)
*Sens. Warner, Kaine join Republicans to call for biennial budgeting
*A bill advances in Virginia to derail a ruling granting in-state tuition for some students who came to the U.S. illegally (Yep, Republicans are the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino party.)
*Former delegate Janis announces run for Stosch's Senate seat
*Work to restore Virginia's reputation ("Richmond politicians have only themselves to blame for their sorry image across America: - A former governor (Bob McDonnell) on his way to prison for trading the prestige of his office to help sell nutritional supplements - His wife (Maureen McDonnell) awaiting sentencing.")
*Del. Joseph Morrissey is an embarrassment to Virginia's General Assembly (You know, Morrissey's a disgrace for sure, but there are a lot bigger disgraces in the General Assembly right now, such as the delegates and senators who do the bidding of Dominion, Altria, etc. Why don't THEY get this kind of scrutiny and ostracism?)
*Va. Gov. McAuliffe Takes Stock of First Year in Office, Looks to Bring Jobs to Commonwealth
*Va. House Democratic caucus split over Morrissey's fate
*McAuliffe would veto anti-Dream Act bill ("A spokesman for the governor called the legislation 'counterproductive and mean-spirited.'" Exactly.)
*Vice President Joe Biden visits Norfolk, talks cybersecurity
*Newport News Delegate BaCote likely to retire post-session
*Arlington may get okay for an external auditor
*VSU enrollment continues sharp decline
*Winds may gust above 20 mph today, while temperatures peak in the 40s

Discuss :: (9 Comments)

Let's Not Reverse Course by Approving Keystone XL

by: Senator Tim Kaine

Thu Jan 15, 2015 at 14:47:32 PM EST

(Thanks for this guest post from Senator Tim Kaine, and for his leadership against the Keystone XL Canadian tar sands export pipeline! - promoted by lowkell)

The Senate is considering legislation to mandate approval of Keystone XL, a proposed pipeline that would transport hundreds of thousands of gallons of Canadian tar sands oil per day across the United States. The House just passed similar legislation.

I believe this pipeline would take our energy future in the wrong direction and pose a significant risk to the gains we've made in clean energy development.

America is in the midst of a clean energy revolution. Over the past few years, we have embraced a set of conservation and efficiency investments that have saved energy use in the vehicle sector and also helped the American auto industry significantly rebound. We've dramatically lowered energy prices for consumers, enabling them to switch from dirtier energy sources to cleaner ones, such as wind, solar and natural gas. From 2005 to 2012, the U.S. was one of the few nations in the world to reduce its carbon emissions.

Why would we want to undo this progress? The mining, refining and production of tar sands oil produces approximately 15% to 20% more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy than conventional petroleum. The scientific consensus, I believe, is very clear that we have to do what we can to bring down our CO2 emissions, yet from an emissions standpoint, tar sands oil goes in exactly the wrong direction and threatens to reverse the gains we've made.

The mining of tar sands also poses drastic consequences for the land and people in the area of Alberta where it originates. The process of extracting tar sands has already decimated vast acreages of boreal forest and destroyed an area the size of Rhode Island, which now looks like a moonscape. For the people living near the mining sites, tar sands extraction has coincided with dramatic increases in respiratory problems and other illnesses related to air and water contamination.

Why would we embrace an energy source with such harmful effects when America is already driving down energy prices and carbon emissions without the devastating land and human costs associated with tar sands oil?

In the coming weeks, my colleagues and I will vote on final approval of the pipeline. We'll have the opportunity to choose whether the U.S. is going to continue leading the world toward a cleaner energy future or whether we will take a step backwards.

I'll be voting to make tomorrow cleaner than today - against legislation to mandate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R) Says It's Not "Necessary" to Address SCOTUS Gutting of Voting Rights Act

by: lowkell

Thu Jan 15, 2015 at 15:08:17 PM EST

So, is Rep. Bob Goodlatte BADlatte in the running for worst Congressman in Virginia or in the entire country? At the national level, there's a great deal of competition, but BADlatte's blocking of comprehensive immigration reform, his generally far-right-wing record, and now his idiocy on the Voting Rights Act, certainly puts him in the running! Personally, I'm just trying to figure out who's more of a disgrace to Virginia: a) BADlatte; b) climate science denier Morgan Griffith; c) Bob McDonnell; d) Joe Morrissey; or e) Ayn Rand-worshipping Dave Brat. Thoughts?

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

A win-win-win solution to protect our coast

by: drobinson

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 19:00:59 PM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

(A shortened version of this piece originally appeared in the January 13th edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch as an op-ed. Dawone Robinson - Virginia Policy Director with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

Have you ever put together a list of items you would purchase if you won the lottery-before you remembered that you haven't even purchased a ticket? Upon reflection, how premature was that list you so perfectly pieced together?

In Virginia, we face a similar dilemma when it comes to addressing the mounting crisis of flooding along our coast.

We've got plenty of laudable lists in the works. Last year, Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution establishing a joint subcommittee to study recurrent flooding issues and adopt recommendations. Legislators from both parties sent a unified message: flooding is a problem in Hampton Roads and we need to do something about it.

In 2008, former Governor Tim Kaine's Climate Change Commission laid out more than 100 recommendations to mitigate and adapt to climate change and sea level rise. So far the state has failed to adopt a plan to execute them. To his credit, Governor Terry McAuliffe recently launched a similar commission. This panel, the state's Secure Commonwealth Panel, and the General Assembly's aforementioned recurrent flooding subcommittee all have the same mandate: convene, discuss, deliberate, and draft a set of recommendations.

So what's the catch? While what needs to be done is relatively easy to identify, the cost is significant-if not staggering. Virginia needs to win the equivalent of a multi-hundred-million-dollar lottery every year to fund the adaptation measures required to protect coastal residents and infrastructure.

Hampton Roads is home to the world's largest naval base, more than $80 billion in economic activity, and 1.7 million residents who routinely feel the effects of sea level rise. Streets need to be raised, levees need to be built, and homes and businesses need to be protected. The U.S. branch of the Dutch engineering firm Fugro estimated that it would cost the city of Norfolk at least $1 billion to fully adapt to rising seas and frequent flooding-which equals Norfolk's entire annual government operating budget.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 489 words in story)

Dominion learned the meaning of community in Nelson County

by: pontoon

Thu Jan 15, 2015 at 03:54:31 AM EST

(Dominion: Making friends and influencing enemies? Not in Nelson County. - promoted by lowkell)

Nelson County Protests Pipeline photo Dominionopenhouseattendeessinging_zpsf74f228f.jpgThe day after Dominion sued an additional 39 landowners to include Nelson's Sheriff David Brooks, it hosted one of its dog and pony shows in Nelson County. Hundreds of landowners and citizens schooled Dominion on what it means to live in and be a part of a community.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, attendees broke out in song, singing the chorus from Robin and Linda Williams anti-pipeline song, "We Don't Want Your Pipeline." Later during the event, in support of an African American community which will be devastated if the ACP is ever built and whose ancestors were given land by their slaveholders after emancipation, citizens and landowners stood arm-in-arm belting out a revised version of the old hymn, "We Shall Overcome."

Dominion's tax projections given to the media and local governments were questioned. How Dominion would deal with the landslide propensity of Nelson's thin soils on steep slopes; water quality protection; fire protection; and many other concerns were shared. Because of a natural gas pipeline explosion in Mississippi early Wednesday morning, many residents were quick to question Dominion's safety record. The canned responses from Dominion were mostly unsatisfactory to landowners and community members alike.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 262 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Jan 15, 2015 at 06:45:07 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, January 15. Also, here's video of Gov. McAuliffe's entire State of the Commonwealth Address.

*U.S. Solar Jobs Climb 22% as Clean Power Aids Economic Recovery (And it could be doing that here in Virginia too, as could wind power, if only Dominion and the coal companies would get the hell out of the way.)
*Boko Haram Appears to Be Using Abducted Girls as Suicide Bombers: Experts (Absolute evil.)
*GOP Censures Member for Racist Posts and Calls for Resignation (Here in Virginia, they not only do NOT censure racists, raging homophobes and anti-Semites, they nominate them for Governor, Lt. Governor, chair of their party, etc. They also haven't censured Sen. Steve Martin for his latest, bigoted remarks about Muslim Americans.)
*Senator Says Most People On Disability Don't Deserve It (Rand Paul: not quite as extreme as his father, but nastier? just as extreme as his father AND nastier?)
*Secret Service to oust four senior officials
*The sky didn't fall ("The business lobby forgets its fear-mongering." They ALWAYS say the sky will fall if government does xyz and it never, ever does. In the future, ignore them.)
*Exacerbating inequality ("How government helps the 1 percent.")
*Romney Advisor: 'There Wouldn't Be An ISIS At All' If Mitt Was Prez (Just like in 2012, the Romney folks continue to be delusional, downright crazy, etc.)
*Virginia Democratic Sen. Linda 'Toddy' Puller to retire (Apparently Del. Scott Surovell is running to replace her. I've also heard rumors of Del. Luke Torian, Del. Mark Sickles, and PW County Board member Frank Principi. Should be interesting!)
*Virginian-Pilot journalists: Corporate management pressure is stifling coverage (Brutal, devastating article. After reading this, you will never look at the Virginian Pilot - or probably a lot of newspapers - the same way again. And not in a good way...)
*FBI probing theft of $600,000 from Saslaw's campaign accounts, senator says (Bizarre. How could Saslaw not have noticed this?)
*Jim Webb Is the Democrats' Rand Paul ("Somewhere on Earth-Two, the former Virginia senator is having his moment.")
*Morrissey sworn in, says 'I compartmentalize things'
*Amid drama over alleged sex scandal, jailed lawmaker returns to Va. Capitol
*McAuliffe pitches new economy, tied to progressive change
*Oceana report: Offshore wind would reap twice the energy, jobs as offshore drilling
*Martin vs. Chase: The Most Fascinating Race In Virginia  

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 171 words in story)

Video, Prepared Text: Gov. Terry McAuliffe's State of the Commonwealth Address

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 19:21:53 PM EST

State of the Commonwealth Address
Governor Terence R. McAuliffe
January 14, 2015 - 7:00 PM
Richmond
As Prepared for Delivery

Lieutenant Governor Northam, Speaker Howell, Chairman Stosch, men and women of the General Assembly, distinguished guests, people of Virginia - thank you for inviting me to be with you tonight.

And I want to especially thank the First Lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe, for her compassion, her energy and her commitment to making sure that not one single child in Virginia sits in a classroom too hungry to learn.

And finally, I want to thank my cabinet, and the thousands of Virginia state employees they represent, for their hard work and dedication to making this Commonwealth a world-class place to live, work and raise a family.

Just one year ago, I stood at this very desk and shared my vision for a stronger, more independent Virginia economy.

In that speech I expressed optimism that we in this chamber could find common ground, and advance the causes that Virginians care most about: job creation, economic development, education and health care.

One year later, I am proud to say that optimism was well-founded.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 5147 words in story)

New Study: Offshore Wind Would Create More Jobs than Offshore Oil Drilling in VA, Mid-Atlantic

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 16:37:32 PM EST

For anyone who thinks that dirty, dangerous, polluting offshore oil drilling is the answer to our energy and economic challenges, or just as wrongly that wind power is NOT the answer, check out this new report by Oceana and find out how misguided that belief is. A few key points from this report include:

*"...many of the arguments made about the benefits of offshore drilling do not stand up to scrutiny, and the benefits of offshore wind prove to be greater and available over a longer period of time."
*"The oil industry's estimates are often based on unrealistic assumptions about the job growth potential of developing oil and gas."
*"On the other hand, developing even a modest amount of available offshore wind resources would be a far better strategy to lead the U.S. toward energy independence, while generating hundreds of thousands of new jobs."
*"Unlike offshore drilling, offshore wind provides power directly to coastal communities without resulting in pollution, carbon dioxide emissions or spills."
*"The Atlantic has minimal fossil fuel resources compared to other regions used or being considered for domestic oil and gas production," so little that "oil consumption could actually only be met for 132 days and gas consumption for only 283 days." Pitiful.
*"A modest and gradual development of offshore wind on the East Coast could generate up to 143 gigawatts of power over the next 20 years, which is enough to power over 115 million households."
*"In the next 20 years on the U.S. East Coast, offshore wind could create about 91,000 more jobs than offshore drilling, which is about double the job creation potential."
*"In just 13 years of producing energy, offshore wind could generate more energy than could be provided by all of the economically recoverable offshore oil and gas resources."
*"Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation (and those would be put at serious risk by offshore oil drilling).
*Virginia has 11.3 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind power potential. To put that in perspective, Virginia as of 2012 had 5.2 GW of coal-fired generating capacity and 5.7 GW of natural-gas fired generating capacity -- slightly less, combined, than Virginia's offshore wind power potential.
*Offshore wind would create 15,456 jobs in Virginia, 1 1/2 times greater than the 10,295 jobs offshore oil drilling would create, but again without the risk of environmental damage.
*Also keep in mind that when the oil runs out, the jobs run out too. In stark contrast, wind power will never run out, which means that the jobs will also never run out. All "without the risk of a catastrophic oil spill." Is this a no brainer or what?

One more point: offshore wind power is booming in many places around the world, just not here in the United States, thanks to our wildly biased, pro-fossil-fuel energy policies. For instance, in Europe, as of the end of 2013 there were "2,080 turbines...installed and grid connected, making a cumulative total of 6,562 MW, in 69 wind farms in eleven European countries." During the first half of 2014, another 781 MW of offshore wind power came online in Europe, with 1,200 MW more awaiting grid connection. All told, in Europe, the "total capacity of all the wind farms under construction is over 4,900 MW when fully commissioned."

The results of this offshore wind power boom in Europe? See U.K. And Germany Smash Wind Power Records for an idea: "wind generated enough electricity to power just over 25 percent of U.K. homes in 2014;" "Scotland hopes to generate the equivalent of 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020." Also see Denmark Sets World Record For Wind Power Production and Germany & Denmark Join Britain In Smashing Wind Energy Records and UK Offshore Wind Installations Forecast to Soar and...getting the picture? In short, Europe is putting the United States to shame when it comes to offshore wind power. Of course, it doesn't have to be this way; the U.S. has enormous wind resources -- as the Oceana report points out, "enough to power over 115 million households" -- so this is mostly a political issue. Finally, note that offshore wind costs are plummeting, with Siemens recently projecting "a 40% drop in the price of offshore wind...within the next 10 years, or 30% at the least." Again, what are we waiting for exactly? Paging Dominion Virginia Power! Paging Dominion Virginia Power! LOL

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

New Analysis: Low-Income Taxpayers in Virginia Pay Higher Rate Than the Rich

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 12:42:23 PM EST

From the Commonwealth Institute, this is appalling albeit (sadly) unsurprising in a state that's basically owned and operated by corporate interests and the wealthy. Ugh.

RICHMOND, VA -- The lowest income Virginians pay 74 percent more in taxes as a percent of their income compared to the state's wealthiest residents, according to a new study released today by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).


The study, Who Pays?, analyzes tax systems in all 50 states and factors in all major state and local taxes, including personal and corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales and excise taxes, and federal deductions for high-income taxpayers who itemize. 

"This report contains important information about the challenges facing Virginia and should be required reading for lawmakers as the legislative session gets under way," says Michael Cassidy, President of The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a Richmond-based fiscal and economic policy organization.
 

click for this and other figures

Virginia's tax system is unfair, or regressive, because the lower a person's income, the higher their effective tax rate. This is in part because Virginia relies heavily on sales taxes to raise revenue, has a nearly flat personal income tax, and doesn't have a refundable earned income credit.

"With the recent increase in the state sales tax and changes to the gas tax, lower-income people are getting hit even harder," says Cassidy. "But there's a good solution," he adds. "Making Virginia's earned income credit refundable would help working people support their families and make our state's tax system more fair."

How Virginia taxes residents matters for myriad reasons. In recent years, anti-tax advocates have pushed for tax policies across the country that would reduce tax rates for the wealthy and businesses. Specifically in Virginia, there have been proposals to eliminate corporate income taxes and local business taxes. There are clear problems with this agenda. Foremost, many anti-tax proposals would make regressive tax structures even worse in part because they often rely on hiking taxes that fall more heavily on poor and middle-income families to pay for tax cuts at the top. Second, aggressive tax cuts that favor businesses and the wealthy can result in states having difficulty adequately funding basic public obligations such as education.

There's also a more practical reason for Virginia and all states to be concerned about regressive tax structures, according to ITEP. If the nation fails to address its growing income inequality problem, states will have difficulty raising the revenue they need over time. The more income that goes to the wealthy (and the lower a state's tax rate on the wealthy), the slower a state's revenue grows over time.

"In recent years, multiple studies have revealed the growing chasm between the wealthy and everyone else," said Matt Gardner, executive director of ITEP. "Upside down state tax systems didn't cause the growing income divide, but they certainly exacerbate the problem. State policymakers shouldn't wring their hands or ignore the problem. They should thoroughly explore and enact tax reform policies that will make their tax systems fairer."

The full report, Who Pays?, can be found online here. 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Video: Virginia House of Delegates is Baaaaaaack!

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 11:53:29 AM EST

With Joe Morrissey sworn in a little while ago by House of Delegates Clerk Paul Nardo, and with the Pledge of Allegiance having been recited, the Virginia House of Delegates is baaaaaaack in session. I'm sure they'll pass all kinds of fine, progressive, pro-environment legislation this session. Or more likely, it will be a right-wing s*** show. Anyway, as I said, they're baaaaack! LOL

P.S. Reporter  ‏@MichaelLeePope just tweeted, ".@SpeakerHowell says he forgot to inform Senate that House is ready to proceed; @RobertGMarshall jokes, 'Don't tell them!'" Also, @RTDSchapiro tweeted, "He's got cojones: @DelJoeMorrissey says bouncing him from #Va House after jailhouse win in special elex would 'taint and sully' legislature."

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Special Election for Joe Morrissey's House Seat: Live Blog

by: lowkell

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 18:01:01 PM EST

(How did Joe Morrissey win last night? I have a few thoughts here. - promoted by lowkell)

I'll provide whatever updates I see regarding today's special election in Virginia's 74th House of Delegates district (currently held by Joe Morrissey) in this diary. Feel free to add anything you're seeing/hearing in the comments section. Thanks.

UPDATE 8:24 pm: Final results are Morrissey 2,840 (42.26%) - Sullivan 2,243 (33.37%), Walton 1,622 (24.13%).
UPDATE 8:20 pm: @AmyEGardner tweets, "Morrissey wins Charles City County. It's over. Walton 282; Sullivan 343; Morrissey 474; write-in 10." My god. Tomorrow is going to be, uh, interesting in the Virginia House of Delegates!
UPDATE 8:04 pm: With 29/33 precincts reporting, it's Morrissey 2,366 (42%)-Sullivan 1,900 (34%)-Walton 1,340 (24%).
UPDATE 8:02 pm: Melissa J. Hipolit tweets, "It's past curfew and still no sign of #JoeMorrissey at the jail."
UPDATE 8:01 pm: @JoeStGeorge tweets, "Major reason this is so close? Voters I talked to said they never heard of the Democratic candidate Kevin Sullivan." Right, never heard of him before this.
UPDATE 7:53 pm: @JoeStGeorge tweets, "Morrissey has seven minutes to get back to Henrico jail.....@MelissaCBS6 is he back there yet?"
UPDATE 7:49 pm: @JoeStGeorge tweets, "Speaking with Morrissey supporters today....they simply don't believe the criticism...many say they have been wronged by the system too."
UPDATE 7:40 pm: With 28 of 33 precincts reporting, it's Morrissey 2,267 (42%)-Sullivan 1,846 (34%)-Walton 1,296 (24%).
UPDATE 7:40 pm: With 26 of 33 precincts reporting, it's Morrissey 2,095 (42%)-Sullivan 1,723 (34%)-Walton 1,227 (24%). Doesn't look like Sullivan can pull this off, sad to say. If not, is the next step expulsion? Then what?
UPDATE 7:35 pm: With 20 of 33 precincts reporting, it's Morrissey 1,641 (44.5%)-Sullivan 1,223 (33.2%)-Walton 819 (22.2%).
UPDATE 7:31 pm: With 14 of 33 precincts reporting, it's Morrissey 1,114 (49.2%)-Sullivan 855 (37.8%)-Walton 292 (12.9%). Ugh.

There's More... :: (17 Comments, 222 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 06:40:14 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, January 14. Oh, and every one of the Senators listed in that graphic are a disgrace to the Senate, to America, and to humanity. Not to mention to whoever tried to teach them science in school. Obviously, none of them should be holding high office in this country.

*Al-Qaeda group in Yemen claims responsibility for Charlie Hebdo attack
*Republican apologizes for Hitler tweet (Republicans comparing Obama to Hitler; why is this not surprising?)
*Senate to vote on whether climate change is happening (This vote will be HIGHLY edifying. Anyone who votes against climate science will reveal themselves as at best an ignoramus, at worst a tool of the fossil fuel industry.)
*A day after deadly Metro incident, few details on emergency response ("Officials have yet to explain clearly why firefighters waited at the L'Enfant station before entering the tunnel and walking to the train as it filled with smoke with scores of passengers trapped inside.")
*Cracks in the foundation ("The GOP's fractures are showing.")
*Romney And The GOP's Five-Ring Circus
*Obama Is Said to Be Planning New Rules on Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions (Finally - long overdue!)
*FBI says John Boehner's West Chester bartender planned to poison him (Ee gads.)
*Schapiro: The House-ification of the Va. Senate (Here we go again throwing around that favorite word of the corporate media, "moderates." Please someone explain to me how anti-LGBT, anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-worker Walter Stosch was a "moderate.")
*Proposal moves state to road funding that splits between state, local priorities (More importantly, we need to move transportation funding to a heavy focus on smart growth-friendly modalities like high-speed rail, light rail, bike paths, pedestrian-friendly design, etc.)
*Priorities for the next 46 days("The General Assembly will convene today for the start of its 2015 session, which will be punctuated by two important dates tied to former Gov. Bob McDonnell's criminal conviction. The scandal, which defined McDonnell's final months in office, cast a pall over the last legislative session that remains today.")
*Ethics issues loom over General Assembly's start
*Judge denies McDonnell bond; set to go to prison Feb. 9
*Va. Coal and Energy Alliance urges general assembly not to cap tax credit (Will the fossil fuel industry's puppets rebel or meekly comply? Stay tuned.)
*Joseph Morrissey wins election to Virginia House in midst of jail term ("His colleagues in the House of Delegates could try to oust him as early as Wednesday morning.")
*Jailed Del. Joseph D. Morrissey's election looms over start of Va. legislative session
*Krupicka introduces bill to hike cigarette tax to fund education (Excellent idea.)
*Fairfax board votes to hold hearing on raising its salaries ("Proposal would bump up supervisors' salaries by $20,000 and chairman's by $25,000.")
*Freezing rain could cause slippery commute in Hampton Roads Wednesday morning
*Snow is falling and may continue for most of the morning ("We could see anything from a light dusting of snow or more of an impact.")

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Dominion Sues Nelson County Sheriff

by: pontoon

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 12:00:51 PM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

Dominion filed lawsuits against 47 Augusta and Nelson County landowners in attempt to seek what it believes is its right to survey private property without landowner permission in December.  Dominion made those suits public on Christmas Eve, assumingly in an attempt to ruin folks holidays

Today, Dominion's second round of lawsuits came to light.  Included among the 39 additional suits filed in Nelson County is one for Nelson's Sheriff David Brooks and his wife, Sherri. The Brooks responded with this statement:

"It is disappointing that our government has sold our property rights to the highest bidder. We will continue to protect our land and we are not intimidated by Dominion's strong arm tactics."

Dominion's suit brought against the Brooks is especially devastating for the couple as Sherri Is fighting cancer with strength and determination.

Dominion seems equally determined to ignore the wishes of the people in the path of its proposed pipeline, displaying the depth of their disdain for the circumstances in which the Brooks and others face in their daily lives.  Greed, profit, and a business plan calling for the continued use of fossil fuels against all odds has seemingly become Dominion's mantra!

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Another Governor for Virginia to Follow on Energy, Climate Policy

by: lowkell

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 15:42:06 PM EST

The other day, I highlighted California Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address as a model for state-level energy and climate policy. In Gov. Brown's speech, he set ambitious goals: increasing "from one-third to 50 percent our electricity derived from renewable sources;" reducing "petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent;" doubling the efficiency of buildings in the state. He further laid out a vision for "more distributed power, expanded rooftop solar, micro-grids, an energy imbalance market, battery storage, the full integration of information technology and electrical distribution and millions of electric and low-carbon vehicles." As I noted, all of these things would be superb to see in Virginia, and I encouraged Gov. McAuliffe to be as bold, as "big ideas" as Gov. Brown, in his State of the Commonwealth speech tomorrow.

If Gov. McAuliffe needs more ideas, he should read The greenest governor in the country tells Grist about his big climate plan - an interview between David Roberts of Grist and Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee. Recently, Gov. Inslee "unveiled an ambitious policy agenda anchored by two interlocking pieces": 1) "a carbon cap-and-trade system, the revenue from which will be divided among transportation, education, and assistance for low-income Washingtonians and affected industries"; and 2) "a 10-year, $12 billion transportation plan...funded by a combination of carbon revenue and more traditional sources - the gas tax, license fees, etc."

Of course, our Republican/Dominion-controlled, fossil-fuel-bought-and-paid-for General Assembly wouldn't approve such a plan, but that's no reason not to tell the people of Virginia what needs to be done, what should be done, for our economic and environmental future. I'd also point out that Washington State has a Republican-controlled Senate and a narrowly-divided House, so it's not THAT much different in some ways there than it is here.

Another great idea comes from Virginia Delegate Ron Villaneuva (R-Virginia Beach), as outlined in this op-ed in this morning's RTD. In sum, here's what Villaneuva's bill, the "Virginia Coastal Protection Act," would do:

*"By joining the state into the highly successful and fully established Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, the bill would generate more than $200 million per year in new state funds to invest in coastal adaptation and other climate change solutions."

*"Under Villanueva's bill, half of Virginia's projected $200 million in annual auction revenues would fund coastal adaptation efforts, 35 percent would fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and 10 percent would fund workforce development, education and economic assistance in Southwest Virginia."

*"The Virginia Coastal Protection Act is a win-win-win solution. We can establish a consistent and significant source of revenue to tackle flooding in Hampton Roads and generate funds to invest in other statewide priorities, while putting policies in place to help Virginia meet carbon reduction goals in an efficient and practical manner."

Given that Virginia will have to meet EPA Clean Power Plan goals regardless, and given that switching to clean energy would constitute a huge boost for Virginia's economy, what Del. Villaneuva (R) is proposing should be a no-brainer for everyone to get on board with. As an added bonus, note that since 2008, "electricity prices have dropped by 8 percent in participating [RGGI] states, compared to a 6 percent rise throughout the rest of the nation." Lower electricity prices and carbon pollution combined with additional revenues for coastal adaptation, workforce development, education and economic assistance in SW Virginia? Why would anyone, other than the fossil fuel companies and the politicians they've bought and aid for, oppose that? Got me.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 06:34:07 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, January 13. As for Metro, this tragic accident needs to be thoroughly investigated, and that the root of the problem - whatever it is - needs to be addressed urgently and with whatever resources are required.

*1 dead, 83 hurt after train is stuck in smoke-filled tunnel (Yikes!)
*Romney moves to reclaim political machinery (John Ellis "Jeb" Bush vs. Willard "Mitt" Romney - the death match! LOL)
*Mitt Romney Is Probably Running for President. Here Are All the Times He Said He Wouldn't. (Romney lied and flip flopped? I'm shocked! shocked I say!)
*Europe's far right sees an opening after French tragedy (Europe needs to utterly reject the far right.)
*The GOP's hypocrisy on France ("Republicans launch inconsistent attacks on Obama's Paris response." Seems like just yesterday when the Republican/Fox Party line was all "freedom fries" and "France is 'Old Europe'" b.s. Now, it's Vive La France! The common thread? Right wingnuts have a severe, possibly fatal, case of Obama Derangement Syndrome.)
*Paul Ryan isn't running for president in 2016. Here's why. (We'll miss "Lyin' Ryan." Actually, come to think of it, no we won't! Heh.)
*Jews in France Weigh an Exit to Israel
*God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department ("He was fired on Jan. 6 by Atlanta's mayor, Kasim Reed, for homophobic language in the book, 'Who Told You That You Were Naked?' Among other things, he called homosexuality a 'perversion,' compared it to bestiality and pedophilia, and said homosexual acts are 'vile, vulgar and inappropriate.'")
*Connolly, Beyer call for "clear and thorough" probe of fatal Metro accident
*A win-win-win solution to protect our coast ("By joining the state into the highly successful and fully established Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, the bill would generate more than $200 million per year in new state funds to invest in coastal adaptation and other climate change solutions.")
*Gay marriage is legal in Va., but Richmond drama rages on (I remain amazed, and appalled, to this day that ANYONE ever voted for that bigoted, anti-gay-marriage amendment to our state's constitution.)
*Stosch, GOP state senator from Henrico, will retire at end of term ("Sen. Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico, will not seek re-election this year, announcing instead that he will retire at the end of his term after 33 years in the General Assembly." That's a solid "red" district, unfortunately.)
*Morrissey protests search of his office; special election is today
*Terrible gamble in Portsmouth ("State Sen. Louise Lucas is coming back to the table for another run with her proposal to legalize casino gambling in the commonwealth. With or without any luck, it should fail.")
*General Assembly preview | What to expect from local lawmakers
*Norment sees a gruesome year in Virginia politics (He can thank his own party for that!)
*On eve of special election, police search Joseph Morrissey's office ("According to Morrissey, a disputed child support agreement is at issue in his latest run-in with authorities." The guy is a train wreck.)
*Giles County residents quiz Mountain Valley Pipeline about water ("Giles County resident Virginia McWhorter sought hard-and-fast details Monday evening but ended up declaring exasperation.")
*VDOT backing scaled-down U.S. 460
*'Widespread' flu continues in Virginia
*Freezing temperatures could make for slick roads during morning commute

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