Another day, yet another poll showing massive, overwhelming support in Virginia for clean energy and carbon pollution reductions. The question, as always, is whether our elected officials will represent the wishes of the vast majority of their constituents, or whether they will go with the big $$$ from wealthy, powerful corporations? So far, sad to say, Republicans in particular have mostly gone with the latter, not the former. Come November, everyone needs to turn out, vote, and change that situation!
P.S. If Gov. McAuliffe is hesitating or wavering in any way, he should check out the poll results (on the "flip" of this post) which indicate a big boost in his approval ratings if he leads on Virginia's clean energy transition!
January 13, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) –U.S. Representative Don Beyer, Northern Virginia Democrat and member of the House Committees on Natural Resources and Science, Space, and Technology, released the following statement today in response to the American Academy of Actuaries' (AAA) report that cited the increasingly devastating effects of climate change in the United States due to hurricanes, floods, droughts and other weather-related events.
“This sobering report is just the latest barometer of the long-term effects of global climate change in North America. Americans are already suffering the consequences of prolonged droughts, extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and unhealthy summer temperatures,”said Rep. Beyer.
The AAA's “Essential Elements” report detailed the cost to human life and property from climate change. The report noted that storms and other weather events cost businesses and consumers dearly: the world's five largest natural catastrophes of 2014, as ranked by insured losses, all occurred in the United States.
Beyer added, “Responsibly addressing global climate change is the challenge of our generation. We must do more to reverse it, including greater investments in clean energy."
The Academy cited 980 global natural loss events totaling over $110 billion in losses, including a series of severe storms over a five day period in May responsible for nearly $3 billion in damages. They have attributed over 7,000 fatalities to extreme weather last year.
Click hereto see the Academy’s Essential Elements report.
(UPDATE: I hear Commerce and Labor voted aye on this godawful Dominion bill (SB 1349 14-1. Yep, Dominion owns the place. - promoted by lowkell)
See the tweets below for the latest example of what Dominion Power's money will buy in the Virginia General Assembly. As a Democratic Senate source of mine emailed me a few minutes ago: "Dominion gives them money, and they told them if they didn't support it, they would pull the money... it only seems to take a few million dollars to buy off the legislature, and the entire state." So, next time you hear a Virginia politician waxing on about how wonderful our state is, how much "better" we are than other states, etc, you might want to remind them that Dominion owns them.
There have been five great extinctions in our planet's history. We are causing the sixth one.
I wanted to get some context before reading Elizabeth Kolbert's book The Sixth Extinction and turned to Peter D. Ward's Under a Green Sky for the historical context of previous extinction events. It was quite an interesting What-Did-It that covers what we know about the past extinction events and how scientists gathered evidence of their causes. It was written in 2006 and as such doesn't include many of the Greenland and Antarctic science that has scientists even more alarmed.
Much of the early science weighed toward asteroids slamming into the earth, which in turn obscured the sun, killed plants and then the dinosaurs. With thorough examination of the geological fossil record in places across the globe where the extinction boundary is accessible, the state of our known science has evolved.
It turns out only one of the great five extinction events involved a 6-mile wide asteroid impact; the K-T impact that cause the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction event 65 million years ago.
The rest were caused by massive volcanism events altering the composition of our atmosphere with massive influxes of carbon dioxide.
The extinction process starts with a sudden increase of carbon dioxide and methane. In the case of past extinction events this comes from the formation of vast volcanic provinces called flood basalts. Our current extinction era is driven by industrialization, fossil fuels, industrial farming practices and deforestation.
Another day, another study which demonstrates that Virginia has a loooooooooong way to go if it ever hopes to achieve its full potential. In this case, it's not energy or health care coverage, but education, namely a new "National Report Card" looking at school funding levels and fairness in the states. The reason for the state-level focus, the authors explain, is that the "50 states and the District of Columbia each operate separate education systems often characterized by a complex system of fractured and segregated districts." This system, the authors point out, has two "predominant characteristics": "decentralization and concentrated poverty."
The end result is that there is a wide disparity in "grades," from "A" to "F," in different states. Overall, thought, the authors conclude that the "majority of states have funding systems with 'flat' or 'regressive' distribution patterns that ignore the need for additional funding in high-poverty districts." Not good.
So how did Virginia stack up compared to the rest of the states in this study? Not particularly well.
*In terms of education funding levels, Virginia ranked #25, behind our neighbors Maryland (#9) and West Virginia (#20), although ahead of Tennessee (#44), North Carolina (#40) and Kentucky (#33).
*In terms of school funding distribution, Virginia got a near-failing "D" grade, behind Kentucky ("A"), Tennessee ("A"), and ahead of Maryland ("F") and North Carolina ("F").
*On the metric if "effort" ("the state's effort to fund its public schools based on the percentage of the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to education"), Virginia clocked in yet again with a near-failing "D" grade, behind West Virginia ("A"), Maryland ("A") and Kentucky ("C"), although ahead of North Carolina ("F") and Tennessee ("F").
*On the metric of "coverage" ("the extent to which school-aged children attend public schools and the degree to which there is economic disparity between those within and outside of the public education system"), Virginia ranked #26, ahead of Tennessee (#47), Maryland (#46), Kentucky (#40), but behind West Virginia (#7).
The bottom line is that Virginia has a long way to go when it comes to achieving excellence (or even a passing grade, for that matter) on this education "report card." As Prince William County teacher and Democratic State Senate candidate Atif Qarni points out: "This is an eye opening study. We are one of the most regressive states when it comes to funding our public schools." And that should be unacceptable to all of us, particularly when we throw huge amounts of money away on questionable "tax expenditures" like: Jim Gilmore's "No Car Tax" costs us nearly $1 billion a year; the repeal of the estate tax, which benefits a few super-wealthy families at the expense of everyone else, costs us $140 million a year; subsidies to the coal indutry cost us $45 million a year). It seems to me that spending money on providing a world-class education to Virginia's kids is a heck of a lot more important than any of the aforementioned. Is there any serious counter-argument to this no-brainer?
(Yeah, but, but, but...FREEDOM! And stuff. (deep sarcasm) - promoted by lowkell)
Lately I've seen a bunch of blog posts about the true cost of various things, such as the true cost of carbon, the true cost of commuting, the true cost of student loans, or the true cost of free parking in the city. Usually, the gist of such articles is that if you understand the true cost of something, you might decide you don't want to pay that cost, or that the people who engage in or profit from that activity should bear the costs. It is not infrequent that an entire industry will fight against exposure of the true cost of their product, precisely because they don't want to be forced to shoulder the cost of their product. Asbestos and cigarettes are good examples of those.
So lately, following the shooting murder of a prominent cardiac-thoracic surgeon, Dr. Michael Davidson, M.D., at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston, I've been wondering, what is the true cost of gun ownership?
Dr. Davidson, age 44, was gunned down in one of his own hospital's examining rooms. The shooter was a 54 year old accountant, who apparently was angry because Dr. Davidson operated on his mother, and his mother had complications after the surgery, supposedly due to some of the medications she was taking, and died. That happens sometimes after surgery; there is always the risk of a bad outcome, no matter what the doctors and nurses do.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, February 2. As for that cartoon, think about how much time, attention, energy, money, etc. the media spends on idiocy like "deflategate," and how relatively little on the health/future of our planet's environment.
From the Virginia Sierra Club (I'd just add that Dominion isn't just "trying to buy the VA General Assembly," it already has!):
The greed of Dominion Virginia Power knows no bounds. Will the General Assembly give Dominion what it wants in an election year with Dominion dangling up to a million dollars in campaign contributions to Republicans and Democrats alike?
Right now Dominion has a bill in the legislature (SB1349 - Senator Frank Wagner) to prohibit review of its overcharges by the State Corporation Commission and to allow the company to keep those overcharges that in the past have been refunded to customers.
Shamelessly, Dominion is using the EPA's climate action, the Clean Power Plan, as their excuse for this power grab. Dominion is telling legislators that the costs of the EPA's climate plan will be very high, but that Dominion is willing to absorb those costs if the legislators will just freeze their rates and block the State corporation Commission from reviewing them. The problem is that Dominion is on track to score $280 million in excess profits for this past year alone.
Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said doing nothing was not an option.
"I will vote to move it along, but I would just say this has a long way to go. I'm somewhat concerned about not having this biennial review," he said. And turning to Dominion officials in the hearing room, he said: "You might want to answer everything you heard here today from people who have a different perspective, on a point-by-point basis."
Yeah, take that -- happy to exempt the books of a monopoly chartered as a public utility from public scrutiny -- but you "might want to" actually respond to what other people say about you! I'll bet that hurt! (But keep those donations coming, please...)
Kudos to Attorney General Mark Herring, one of the few Democrats in the Commonwealth with the cojones to challenge Dominion's power play. Governor Terry McAuliffe, who has not taken a stand on the issue, needs to step up and follow Herring's lead if he wants to be considered leader of the state.
And it's time for Democrats to stop allowing Saslaw to embarrass us, and finally replace him with a Senate leader who proudly upholds progressive values, and puts the people before the power companies.
Many recent news reports have trumpeted the dismissal of a raft of gun violence prevention legislation as a "Victory for Gun Rights." Despite the fact that gun's don't actually have any rights, I would like to enumerate, for those not present at the General Assembly, a representative sample of exactly which "rights" were victorious as a result of these actions. Taking just the 12 bills that were dismissed last night, in House Militia, Police and Public Safety, as an example,
The following "rights" remain intact - with the demise of the bill attempting to repeal those "rights" listed, along with the Patron's name:
HB2085 (Murphy) - Addressed the "right" of convicted violent abusers to maintain access to the very firearms that they may have been using to terrorize or dominate their family members. This bill would have temporarily removed that right and subsequently allowed the abuser to restore their rights - even to remove the current lifetime prohibition imposed by Federal Law! (Another case of, Fire, Ready, Aim, by the gun lobby working against their own interests - however, that is their "right".) In a surprise move, the subcommittee failed to accept a proposed substitute bill from the patron, due to the lack of a second. This was the first time I had seen that delicate maneuver in 8 years of watching sausage made!
HB2232 (Surovell) - Attempted to restrict the "right" for people who are prohibited from purchasing firearms, due to serious mental illness (think Cho), to be able to purchase, transport and possess ammunition. Presumably for the firearms that they are prevented from purchasing, transporting or possessing. ("Bullets don't kill people, empty firearms kill people")
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, January 31. Also see the weekly address, in which President Obama talks about "the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics." Oh, and ditching the idiotic "sequestration."
This is a huge mistake and an enormous missed opportunity for Virginia. As always, thanks a lot Republicans!
Eight state and national environmental groups expressed their disappointment with the vote late this afternoon by the Virginia Senate Agriculture Committee to reject Senator Donald McEachin's Virginia Coastal Protection Act. Here's their statement:
"By rejecting the Virginia Coastal Protection Act (VCPA), the Committee failed to move our economy forward and begin the necessary work to work with Virginia's coastal communities to prepare for rising sea levels linked to climate change.
Senator McEachin, and those who voted for his bill, know that governing is about solutions, which is why Senator McEachin had developed this cost effective plan for addressing coastal flooding, lowering electric bills and meeting the goals of the Clean Power Plan. But the majority rejected this bi-partisan approach.
The House is still considering a companion version of the bill, which is being carried by Delegate Villanueva. Both versions would allow Virginia to compete with our mid-Atlantic neighbors who have created 290,000 renewable and energy efficiency jobs.
In the future, these Senators will again have to decide if they will continue to be deniers who rely on the oldest and dirtiest sources of power or if they want to look forward to the jobs created by investments in wind, solar and energy efficiency.
Virginia is already 80% of the way toward meeting its Clean Power Plan goal with steps the utilities were planning on taking anyway. The VCPA would have easily and efficiently helped us get the rest of the way there. It is a shame that they didn't do the right thing."
-Chesapeake Climate Action Network
-Virginia Conservation Network
-Virginia Sierra Club
-Southern Environmental Law Center
-Virginia League of Conservation Voters
-NextGen Climate America
Serious question: is the "convention wisdom" by the inside-the-Beltway, "elite" media and political pundits EVER right? Check out this screen shot and see for yourself how "everyone" was expecting Romney to run, and how he's...yep, NOT running. Nice going, political "analysts!" Of course, these are some of the same people who also said Jim Webb could never beat George Allen, that Hillary Clinton was a lock for the nomination in 2008, that Barack Obama was toast in 2012 due to the unemployment rate or whatever, that Romney was actually leading that election in October 2012, you name it. The question is, why does anyone listen to these people?
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