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Virginia's amazing year in energy: gas rises, coal falls, and solar shines

by: ivymain

Tue Dec 30, 2014 at 08:04:28 AM EST

Nobody laughed a few years ago when former governor Bob McDonnell dubbed Virginia the "Energy Capital of the East Coast"; we were all too astounded. And today, even "Energy Suburb" still seems like a stretch. Yet, if you measure achievement by the sheer level of activity, Virginia is making a play for importance. The year's top energy stories show us fully engaged in the worldwide battle between fossil fuels and renewable energy. Of course, while the smart money says renewables will dominate by mid-century, Virginia seems determined to drown rather than give up its fossil fuel addiction.

Coal falls hard; observers disagree on whether it bounces or goes splat. Nationwide, 2014 was a bad year for the coal industry. Coal stocks fell precipitously; mining jobs continued to decline; and the one thing electric utilities and the public found to agree on is that no one likes coal. Even in Virginia, with its long history of mining, coal had to play defense for what may have been the first time ever. So when Governor McAuliffe released the state's latest energy plan in October, what was otherwise a paean to "All of the Above" omitted the stanza on coal. And this month, the governor proposed a rollback of the subsidies coal companies pocket by mining Virginia coal.

Of course, coal is not going quietly; Senator Charles Carrico (himself heavily subsidized by Alpha Natural Resources) has already responded with a bill to extend the subsidies to 2022.

EPA opens a door to a cleaner future, and Republicans try to brick it up. Speaking of hard times for coal, in June the EPA unveiled its proposal to lower carbon emissions from existing power plants 30% nationwide by 2030. Instead of targeting plants one-by-one, EPA proposed a systemic approach, offering a suite of options for states to reach their individualized targets.

The proposal drew widespread support from the public, but Virginia's 38% reduction target set off howls of protest from defenders of the status quo. The staff of the State Corporation Commission claimed the rule was illegal and would cost ratepayers $6 billion. Republicans convened a special meeting of the House and Senate Energy and Commerce Committees, where they tried out a number of arguments, not all of which proved ready for prime time. The rule, they said, threatens Virginia with a loss of business to more favored states like-and I am not making this up-West Virginia. Also, Virginia should have received more credit for lowering its carbon emissions by building nuclear plants back in the 1970s when no one was thinking about carbon emissions.    

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Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Dec 30, 2014 at 06:48:29 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, December 30. The image is from CenLamar.com, and specifically its story, "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise Was Reportedly an Honored Guest at 2002 International White Supremacist Convention."

*Bodies recovered in search for missing plane
*Rep. Scalise confirms he spoke to white nationalists ("A spokeswoman for the House majority whip says the Republican was unaware of the group's ideology in 2002.")
*Former KKK leader says his political adviser was 'friendly' with Rep. Scalise (Ah, Republicans...what a party!)
*Michael Grimm resigning from Congress (Ah, Republicans...what a party!)
*NY Times Editorial Board: Police Respect Squandered in Attacks on de Blasio ("With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department's credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments - a funeral of a fallen colleague - and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture."With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department's credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments - a funeral of a fallen colleague - and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture." Bingo.)
*Economic facts get in the way ("Uh-oh. Now that the economy is doing well, what are Republicans - especially those running for president - going to complain about? And what are Democrats willing to celebrate?")
*The Pope Thinks Climate Change Is a Major Threat. So Do American Catholics. ("Most Catholics say global warming is a 'crisis' or a 'major problem.'")
*The 10 Worst Civil Liberties Violations of 2014 (When "The great torture shrug" only clocks in at #7, you know it was a horrible year.)
*Thomas Piketty Won 2014 (Definitely one of the most interesting books I read in 2014, along with Francis Fukuyama's "Origins of Political Order/Political Order and Political Decay")
*Potential Hillary Challenger Paid Nearly $100,000 In Campaign Donations To His Family ("Jim Webb's family has made quite a bit of money from his political career." Yikes.)
*Virginia House Democrats hope to 'create dilemmas' for Republicans (Politics 101, what else is new? I'm sure Republicans are similarly strategizing, which is 100% to be expected.)
*Maureen McDonnell's daughter trashes her mother to help her father ("So, Maureen McDonnell wrestled the Rolex on him? Muscled him into Willams's private jet? Held him at wife-point until he drove the Ferrari and smiled for the camera? Frog-marched him into the fancy country clubs?")
*Gilmore raises national profile, won't rule out presidential bid (Hahahahahahahahahaha.)
*What's Driving Jim Webb's Potential Bid for President in 2016? ("Since his exploratory launch Nov. 19, Webb has appeared only once before the media in Richmond, Virginia, and hasn't traveled to an early primary state.‚Äč His private outreach to potential supporters is mostly being steered by himself and a couple of trusted aides from his Senate tenure. He has not been in personal touch with the state party head in any of the three early nominating states. A spokeswoman told U.S. News he was not available for an interview for this story.")

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Another Losing Season Notched in that "Tradition"

by: Dan Sullivan

Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 05:43:56 AM EST

Capitol Hill High School photo 141229CapitolHillHighSchool_zps09094c13.jpg Among the dumbest arguments against changing the Washington team's mascot has been that that would mean Oklahoma would have to change its name. Idiots. But a simple epiphany revealed on a Harrisonburg radio talk show captures the kind of lightbulb moments that will lead to the inevitable outcome.

One morning a fellow on WSVA 550 who had been on the fence about the controversy announced he had changed his opinion about the team name. The conversion came while watching a rerun of an old Daniel Boone television series episode. The story centered on a Native American child that was being enrolled in the frontier school. The telling scene was when the youth approached and was peppered by his classmates with clearly derogatorily intended pejoratives including the "R" word. In context and told by a series that originally aired in an era when we were much more embarrassed by our prejudices, the true message and meanness of the term rang out.

"...it has ties to a time when bounties were paid for the scalps of American Indians...it is a racial slur like any other racial slur that we wouldn't print in the pages of a family newspaper." - The Oklahoman Online

At about the same time, those "insensitive" Oklahomans in one school district were deciding to remove that nickname from the teams at Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City despite "tradition." You see Oklahomans, in a state named for the red people, can distinguish the difference.  

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How Does a Dem Get Only 9% in a 3-Way Race with Two "R"s in a District Where Mark Herring Got 45%?

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 12:46:48 PM EST

The following results (see below) from the recent Brentsville district (PW County) supervisor race just boggle my mind. Now, just to be clear, I'm not saying the Democratic candidate was favored to win this race or anything. On the other hand, I would note that there were two Republicans (Jeanine Lawson and Scott Jacobs) running, so theoretically they could have split the Republican vote and given the Democratic candidate (Eric Young) a chance to pull off an upset.

Keep in mind that this district, while certainly a "red" one, still saw Democrat Mark Herring getting 45% of the vote in 2013 (14,418 votes for Herring). That's not a win, but obviously it's a whole lot better (five times better to be exact) than 9%!  

Also in that same November 2013 general election, the Democratic House of Delegates candidates (Atif Qarni, Reed Heddleston, Richard Cabellos) with precincts in Brentsville received a combined 43% of the vote (14,414 total votes for the Democratic candidates). So, again, how does a Democrat only get 346 votes (9% of the vote) in a special election in those same precincts, 13 months later? I mean, I "get it" that Democrats have more trouble than Republicans do in getting out their voters for these types of non-presidential, non-gubernatorial, special elections, but still.

Any thoughts? Was it the Democratic candidate (who I'd never heard of prior to these results) or something else going on?  Keep in mind that the winner, Jeanine Lawson, is a Tea Partier extraordinaire, so it seems like we could have at least motivated our "base" to come out and vote against her. Or am I missing something here?

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 29, 2014 at 06:27:40 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, December 29.

*Missing jet likely at bottom of sea, officials say
*Pope Francis Expected To Instruct One Billion Catholics To Act On Climate Change (I'm liking this Pope more and more all the time!)
*Pakistan intensifies the crackdown on militants
*Poll finds Clinton up 57 points on Warren ("There is more good news for Clinton in the general election, where she leads all the possible Republican opponents that were polled. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush comes closest, down 54 percent to 41 percent to Clinton.")
*Obama warns GOP he plans to use veto pen in 2015
*Oops: Chuck Todd slips, admits he can't do tough interviews because 'no one will come on' my show (Uhhhhh...)
*Krugman: The Obama Recovery ("What's the important lesson from this late Obama bounce? Mainly, I'd suggest, that everything you've heard about President Obama's economic policies is wrong.")
*Numbers betray politicians' tight grasp ("Allowing legislators (delegates and senators) to pick their own districts, as Virginia does today, guarantees that lawmakers will always pick voters, rather than vice versa.")
*Today's Top Opinion: Fix it ("Gov. Terry McAuliffe asked his ethics reform panel to consider redistricting as well as the culture of gift-giving in Richmond. He was right to do so, because gerrymandering constitutes a corruption of the political system every bit as corrosive to democracy as influence-peddling.")
*Same-sex marriage defines Mark Herring's first year as attorney general (Yep, great stuff. And for 2015? Is there anything the AG can do to reverse the "capture" of our regulatory agencies and legislature by companies like Dominion Power?)
*Editorial: Gov. McAuliffe chooses to go against the political head winds ("Now, as the 2015 General Assembly nears, the Democratic governor apparently feels that he has the momentum to become politically aggressive in the face of fierce Republican opposition. The strategy may well prove foolhardy. But then what is he supposed to do, bury his convictions and wait for a more hospitable political climate? He's already a year into his four-year term.")
*Richmond won Stone Brewing -- and got a bit of drama, too
*Virginia toll lanes offer drivers convenience, but raise privacy concerns
*2015's finale will be on the cold side

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Virginia Politics 2015: A Dozen Things to Keep an Eye On

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 27, 2014 at 11:54:21 AM EST

Instead of making predictions for 2015 (still not pushing my luck from the mostly accurate predictions I made for 2012, I'm simply going to list a dozen things to keep an eye on next year in Virginia politics. Please feel free to add your own items in the comments section. Thanks.

1. Arlington County Board elections: Following the two victories in 2014 (in a special election last spring and in the November general election) by Republican/faux-"Independent" John Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze for Arlington County Board, who knows what 2015 will bring, with two sitting board members - Democrats Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes - up for reelection. That is, assuming Tejada and/or Hynes decide to run for reelection, which is the first thing to keep an eye on early in 2015. Then, we'll see if any Democrats Andrew Schneider? Cord Thomas? Peter Fallon? Christian Dorsey? others?) decide to primary one or both incumbents. Finally, we'll see how the general election goes: whether the Vihstadt/Garvey/Rousselot alliance can come up with another plausible/electable "independent" candidate; whether the issues that people were so passionate about in 2014 (particularly the streetcar, which Hynes and Jay Fisette decided to "deep six" after the Howze loss in November) will continue to drive Arlington voters. Through all this, how will the Arlington County Democratic Committee hold together (or not) in 2015? Stay tuned, things could be VERY interesting in Arlington County politics in 2015 (whatever happened to the many years when Arlington County Board races were a snoozefest?).

2. Fairfax County Board elections: I'm hearing from numerous politicos that Democrats are a bit concerned about the potential for losing seats on (or in a worst-case scenario, control of) the Fairfax County Board. Currently, there are three Republicans (John Cook - Braddock district, Pat Herrity - Springfield district , Michael Frey - Sully district) and seven Democrats (Chair Sharon Bulova - at large, John Foust - Dranesville, Catherine Hudgins - Hunter Mill, Jeff McKay - Lee, Penelope Gross - Mason, Gerald Hyland - Mt. Vernon, Linda Smyth - Providence) on the Board. Which means Republicans would have to pick up three seats to take control. Which might those be? I'm hearing the most vulnerable districts for Dems are Dranesville and Mt. Vernon if Gerry Hyland retires (which he supposedly is leaning towards doing; personally I think that should be a safe Dem district, but after what happened in Arlington in 2014...who knows?!?). On the other hand, perhaps John Cook might be vulnerable to a strong challenger, given that Democrat Janet Oleszek almost beat him four years ago?

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Will Nonpartisan Redistricting Ever Happen?

by: Dan Sullivan

Sun Dec 28, 2014 at 07:25:24 AM EST

One Virginia 2021 photo OneVirginia2021_zps9a508953.jpg About a year ago a small group convened to investigate the possibility of revitalizing the issue of redistricting. They believe that the in-state legislative districts belong to the citizens of the Commonwealth; not to any legislator, political party, or special interest. They are fighting for an independent commission on redistricting.

The core issue that underlies the dysfunction, gridlock, and disrespect in Richmond is the current redistricting process where the Party in power, Democratic or Republican, goes behind closed doors, chooses its own criteria, and draws maps where they actually choose their voters rather than allowing citizens to choose their elected officials. It is the deliberate manipulation of district lines for political power. As a result, we live the fifth most gerrymandered state in the Union.

"Look at the last General Election. The difference separating Ed Gillespie and Senator Warner was less than one percentage point. We arguably live in a purple state. But the closest Congressional District in the state was 16 points. There is no doubt to the outcomes. At the local level that means there is a disincentive for state legislators to debate ideas to find solutions and work together on the issues." - former Delegate Shannon Valentine

81 seats in the House of Delegates are completely safe; the remaining 19 are considered somewhat competitive but rarely feature an opposing major party candidate. There might be 10 races where there is a doubt about the outcome and maybe two seats change out each election.

59 localities in the House districts are divided. 46 of 40 in the state Senate are divided meaning they are divided more than once. Culpepper residents, for instance, are represented by three different Senators. In Lynchburg there are 72,000 households and there are four different ballots required.

Since the February 2014 launch of One Virginia 2021; Virginians for Fair Redistricting the group has built an organization with a foundation and a public policy council. They are committed to being multi-partisan. 40% of Virginians consider themselves independent. There is a member of the Tea Party Executive Committee on the policy council. All of them know what is at stake with redistricting. Shannon Valentine is one of many disciples crisscrossing the state encouraging redistricting reform.  

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Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun Dec 28, 2014 at 07:12:36 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, December 28.

*Search underway for AirAsia flight with 162 aboard ("The Malaysia-based airline's Airbus A320-200 left the Surabaya airport in Indonesia bound for Singapore and lost contact with air traffic controllers 42 minutes later while over the Java Sea." Ugh. Horrible.)
*De Blasio Gives Officer's Eulogy Before Unfriendly Faces ("As Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the funeral of Rafael Ramos, scores of mourning police officers turned their backs to him, a sign of the discontent he faces." Real classy, guys.)
*2014 Was the Year We Finally Started to Do Something About Climate Change ("A year of extreme weather, climate denial, and some hope." We need to do a lot more, and fast!)
*Tax credits merit look from Virginia lawmakers ("...some lawmakers are indignant that McAuliffe would dare touch the coal tax credits, given that the coal industry has thoroughly slumped and coal jobs are being lost in Southwest Virginia." Yep, it's Republicans for taxpayer-funded corporate welfare!)
*McDonnell daughter says former governor's downfall is mom's fault (Wait, these were the daughters who took $15,000 and $10,000 checks from Jonnie Williams? Their mother forced them to do that? What. Ever.)
*Letters from two of Robert F. McDonnell's daughters (If they really feel this way about their mother, why didn't they testify as such in court?)
*Shine the spotlight on district boundaries (Agree on redistricting reform, disagree strongly that money isn't a "real problem" in politics.)
*Virginia's Top Stories in 2014 (Peter Galuszka is always worth reading; this is an excellent list.)
*Anne Holton on SOL reform, other educational issues
*Truett: Virginia's war on the impoverished: A plea for a ceasefire (Sure, but it's not "Virginia" that's blocking Medicaid expansion, it's "Virginia Republicans," period.)
*Along Hampton Roads Transit bus routes, riders say patience is key
*Thousands plan march to support police in Va. Beach (It's not black and white, the issue is that we should support GOOD policing - and police officers - and demand changes in BAD police practices. Why is it so hard for some people to understand that these are not mutually exclusive in any way?)
*Still on the mild side, but clouds moving in, showers likely by midday

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 27, 2014 at 06:55:49 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, December 27. Also, check out the NewsHour story on Medicaid expansion, and "how a state's choice on Medicaid expansion affects hospitals." In short, there are HUGE advantages for states that have expanded Medicaid, while states like Virginia, where Republicans have relentlessly fought Medicaid expansion, hospitals and Virginians are suffering. Why? No good reason whatsoever, just right-wing Teapublican ideology and politics. Lovely, huh?

*North Korea berates Obama over The Interview release (North Korea's leaders all need to be in jail for crimes against humanity.)
*New Roadster Can Travel 400 Miles On A Single Charge, Tesla Announces (This is exactly the type of cleantech innovation our country - and planet - need.)
*The 6 Most Ridiculous Attacks on Clean Energy In 2014
*Kallio: Virginia workers need a way to save for retirement
*Nemeth: Sustainable energy economy: Denial lives ("So, The Roanoke Times is still giving major space to global change deniers like Tom Pyle...OK, it is a free press; I just don't agree that the American Energy Alliance should be given any serious scientific or economic credence." Bingo.)
*Swanson: There goes Virginia's climate (We should be going all-out for non-polluting energy sources -- solar, wind, efficiency -- and getting off of fossil fuels ASAP!)
*After a year of budget fireworks, Virginia sees smooth sailing ahead ("Despite a budget gap and a brush with a shutdown, the state's finances are largely safe from partisan battles.")
*Virginia inspectors take a measure of how goods are measured
*With retirements, Wolf, Moran leave big shoes to fill
*UVa alum effort to provide attorney to sex assault victims is making progress ("Over half of the money has been raised, and planning for 2015 has begun in earnest.")
*Virginia agriculture grants sowing job growth, development
*Del. Joseph Yost proposes rejoining split precincts in Montgomery County
*Teacher lawsuit against Fairfax principal moves forward ("But a judge dismissed several parts of a case alleging discrimination by the principal of Bailey's Elementary.")
*Balmy weather today, then Sunday's rain and chill snap us back to winter

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Top 25 Most-Read Blue Virginia Stories of 2014

by: lowkell

Fri Dec 26, 2014 at 08:29:18 AM EST

Courtesy of Google Analytics, here are the top 25 most-read Blue Virginia stories of 2014. The only thing I'm a bit skeptical about on these statistics is that "live blogging" of election results always results in very high traffic, yet those posts didn't make it into the top 25, according to Google Analytics. So, I'm not sure what to make of that, but c'est la vie I guess. By the way, all stories are by yours truly, unless otherwise indicated. Thanks to everyone who contributed diaries and/or comments (ok, no thanks to the trolls - lol) to Blue Virginia in 2014, and also thanks to all our readers. By the way, just a reminder that this blog takes time and money to keep up. If you'd like to support it (hint hint) you can do so by donating at this link. :) Thanks.

1. Our Corrupt Supreme Court - Andy Schmookler (4/14/14)
2. VA Republican Senator Who Called Women a Child's "Host" Now Pushing Denial of Evolution(3/5/14)
3. Meet the (Gay) Priest that Homophobic Hypocrite Bob McDonnell is Now Living With (8/24/14)
4. Governor-Elect McAuliffe Announces Administration Appointments (1/6/14)
5. Video: Progressive Democrats of America Debate for Virginia 8th CD Gets Fiery! (5/22/14)
6. Virginia Republicans Ram through Unconstitutional Redistricting Bill on Party-Line Vote (1/20/14)
7. Chatman for Congress Campaign Issues Statement on "Fraudulent Conveyance" Appeal She Lost in 2003 (3/18/14)
8. How Democrats Almost Blew a Crucial State Senate Race (1/10/14)
9. Exclusive BV Poll of the 8th CD Democratic Primary. Part 4: Patrick Hope's HoD District (5/2/14)
10. Virginia Senate Votes to Repeal Mandatory Ultrasounds (2/11/14)
11. Special Election Date for Virginia 48th, 90th HoD Vacancies Set for 8/19; Caucuses This Weekend (6/30/14)
12. "Huge loss for Eric Cantor...his top lieutenant Linwood Cobb is toppled" (5/10/14)
13. Video: This Interview of UVA Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo is Deeply Disturbing (11/24/14)
14. BREAKING: Virginia Gov. McAuliffe to Expand Health Care Coverage in Face of GOP Demagoguery (6/20/14)
15. Arlington County Board Candidate Cord Thomas on His Voting Record, Ron Paul, Views on the Streetcar (1/2/14)
16. Video: Creigh Deeds on "60 Minutes" (1/26/14)
17. Benedict Puckett - Kindler (6/8/14)
18. 9 Ways the Fisette/Hynes Decision to Ditch the Streetcar Seriously Harmed Arlington (11/28/14)
19. Appalling Even by Ken Cuccinelli "Standards" (9/11/14)
20. Del. Bob Brink Resigning, Will Join McAuliffe Administration (6/27/14)
21. Straw Poll at 7th CD GOP Convention Shows Cantor Losing Badly to Dave Brat (5/12/14)
22. Could Cantor's Tea Party Challenger be Good News for Democrats? - Eric Steigleider (1/8/14)
23. Grading the 48th House of Delegates Candidates' Blue Virginia Questionnaires (6/4/14)
24. Applying My 8 Criteria to the 8th CD Candidates: Don Beyer (2/5/14)
25. Bruce Shuttleworth's Final Poll Results of the 8th CD Democratic Primary Race (5/1-5/5) (5/28/14)

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Dec 26, 2014 at 06:41:19 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, December 26. Also, check out the new political cartoon of Dominion CEO and Top Virginia Hypocrite Tom Farrell, a master at gaming/milking the "crony capitalist" system for every taxpayer dollar he can get. Can we say "legalized corruption on a huge scale?"

*The Islamic State is failing at being a state (Shocker, huh?)
*Tsunami-hit nations mark anniversary ("Memorial services are being held in Indonesia and other nations for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami on the 10th anniversary of the disaster.")
*President Obama Made One Of History's Greatest Stock Market Calls In March 2009
*Krugman: Tidings of Comfort ("You'll never hear this on Fox News, but 2014 was a year in which the federal government, in particular, showed that it can do some important things very well if it wants to.")
*Jeb Bush eases out of some businesses, such as firm helped by Obamacare (Getting ready for the crazy debates, primaries, etc.)
*Murphy, Parisot face evenly divided electorate in Virginia House race (Key line: "Parisot, 41, declined to be interviewed by The Washington Post." Also note that Parisot refused to respond to the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce's questionnaire. What, he doesn't want the voters to know how right wing he is?)
*Virginians flock to see 'The Interview' on Christmas Day
*Today's Top Opinion: Virginia Democrats are election hypocrites (I mean, this is the "Republican Times-Disgrace" editorial board, but still...it was predictable -- and predicted, by yours truly among others -- that Republicans would use this line of attack following the 74th district Democratic nomination process being so strictly limited.)
*Day care providers need closer scrutiny
*Hampton Roads municipalities plan for what's next with SPSA ("The year 2018 might seem far away. But in the world of regional trash disposal, it's coming up mighty fast. That's when the contract that governs where our trash goes expires.")
*Groups offer to help Nelson County with pipeline research
*Weather sure to make you smile: Sunny, dry and highs in the 50s

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Sierra Club: Proposed Natural Gas Pipelines Across Virginia "Appalling"

by: lowkell

Thu Dec 25, 2014 at 17:44:31 PM EST

I just read this article by Virginia Sierra Club Pipeline Committee Chair Kirk Bowers, and thought it deserved as much attention as possible. Here are a few highlights, but definitely read the whole thing (and send it to Gov. Terry McAuliffe while you're at it, telling him what you think of this crazy course of action).

*"Three large-diameter, 42-inch Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) lines are proposed in Central and Southwest Virginia. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), 550 miles long, would originate in Harrison County, WV and run to southeastern North Carolina. The 330-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) would extend from Wetzel County, WV and travel south to compressor station 165 in  Pittsylvania County, VA. The Western Marcellus Pipeline (WMP) extends from the Rockies Express pipeline near Clarington, OH and Williams Oak Grove processing plant in Marshall County, WV to compressor Station 165 in Pittsylvania County, VA."
*"There is no precedent in Virginia for 42-inch pipeline construction across steep forested terrain like the Alleghenies, Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains...These are highly sensitive environmental areas at the headwaters of many of our rivers in Virginia. The pipelines will permanently fragment the truly special forests around Signal Corps Knob, Shenandoah Mountain and Laurel Fork, among others. This region contains some of the most intact, late-successional forest habitat and is an important reservoir of biodiversity for rare species."
*"The Shenandoah and Roanoke Valley are riddled by porous, unstable karst formations, which would be subject to contamination of groundwater by pipeline leakage and rupture of pipelines due to unstable soil structure."
*"Since 1986, there have been 7,940 incidents, 512 fatalities, 2,359 injuries and more than $6.8 billion in property damages due to pipeline explosions in the United States. The blast radius is 1,100 feet for a 42-inch diameter pipeline. "
*"Landowners will see a significant decrease in property values due to the restricted use of land on the easements as well as the visual impacts of a 125-foot wide clear-cut"
*"The proposal to build the pipelines through some of the most beautiful and preserved wilderness in the East is appalling. It poses a serious threat to the environment and to the broader communities along the route. The negative impacts of the Pipelines far outweigh any positive outcomes. Natural gas pipelines accelerate the impacts of climate change. The pipelines will impede the development and use of renewable energy, as well as energy conservation. It will encourage fracking and increase methane emissions more harmful than CO2."
*"If the pipeline is built, our forests and local communities will bear the full brunt of environmental costs, the harm to hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, and their economies, and the disruption of the rural character of western Virginia while not sharing in any of the purported benefits. "

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Scaling Green's Ten Top Cleantech Stories of 2014

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 24, 2014 at 13:54:44 PM EST

Cross posted from Scaling Green


The following are ten top cleantech stories we followed closely in 2014. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, as there's so much happening in the vast world of cleantech. Still, we think the following are fascinating, important stories well worth noting as 2014 comes to a close.

First, courtesy of Greentech Media's "The Energy Gang" podcast (with "energy futurist Jigar Shah, energy policy expert Katherine Hamilton and Greentech Media Editor Stephen Lacey"):

1. According to Katherine Hamilton, the EPA's Clean Power Plan - "the draft 111(d) greenhouse gas rule that came out last summer...is absolutely the biggest story of the year...I think it's going to have enormous ramifications for years and years to come." We agree, as the Clean Power Plan will stimulate innovation at the state level in energy efficiency, wind and solar power, energy policy, and more. It also will make it even less likely that new coal-fired power capacity will come online, although that was already the case due to competition from renewables, natural gas, and energy efficiency.

2. According to Jigar Shah, "dirt cheap solar" is the top story of 2014, complentary to the EPA Clean Power Plan story. In Shah's view, Austin Energy switching to solar power, because it cost less than 5 cents per kilowatthour, "sent shockwaves throughout the industry," with "a lot of utility executives, as well as Lazard and others" concluded that "solar is here, it is finally deserving of your respect and you must pay attention to it," and the Austin Energy story was a "bellwether." Shah further argues that the drop in solar prices - along with other good, cleantech news - will make 111(d) much easier to achieve and a "lot less costly than people think it's going to be to implement." Synergy, anyone?

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Virginia News Headlines: Thursday (Christmas Day 2014)

by: lowkell

Thu Dec 25, 2014 at 07:16:43 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, December 25. Happy Christmas, Chanukah, or whatever you're celebrating this year!

*Pope condemns religious violence in Christmas address
*Swift Fall of Oil Prices Raises Fortunes of U.S. Abroad ("A plunge in oil prices has sent tremors through the global political and economic order, helping the United States but pushing several big oil-exporting nations to the brink of financial crisis.")
*Everything Is Awesome! ("Well, not everything. But America's looking much better than you think.")
*Gun Used In NYPD Murders Was Sold At Pawn Shop Where Guns Regularly End Up In Criminals' Hands (Shocker.)
*How to win Christmas arguments: Salon's guide to defeating your crazy right-wing uncle
*Bill O'Reilly's spoiling my Christmas: Why his nonsense undermines the holiday I love ("With every predictable rant by the human outrage machines, the holiday loses a little magic for me. Here's why.")
*Dominion's Pipeline: The Battle Is Joined! (Terrible idea, we should be putting that money into energy efficiency, solar and wind, not more fossil fuels.)
*One year in, 'we're just getting started,' McAuliffe says ("Part of moving ahead will involve playing hardball to win back the state Senate for Democrats in the 2015 legislative elections. Democrats have targeted five districts held by Republicans, who now have a 21-19 edge in the chamber.")
*Kevin Sullivan defends firehouse primary for Morrissey's seat (I'm still not sure why it couldn't have been opened up to more people, like a normal "firehouse primary," preferably with Instant Runoff Voting.)
*Houses of worship in Hampton Roads provide place for homeless during holidays
*Two week outlook: Trending colder and stormy into the New Year, but lots of uncertainty

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Twas the Night Before Christmas, and All Through Virginia...

by: FreeDem

Wed Dec 24, 2014 at 07:28:28 AM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

Even though I swore off doing another series of diaries at Blue Virginia on past, present, and future trends in politics, I've been thinking a lot about where our Commonwealth stands. Governor McAuliffee is ready to keep up the fight on Medicaid expansion in Virginia, while also laying down the foundation for a fight with the General Assembly over redistricting. As we prepare to enter into 2015, here are some random, at times disjointed thoughts on Virginia's present and future.

1. On the expansion of Medicaid, the issue isn't just about what the Commonwealth will do for the least fortune among us. Thinking about a practical blank check from the federal government to do more today for struggling Virginians is a timely issue on the eve of Christmas. There is also an argument for asking why Virginia should be paying for the Affordable Care Act without receiving its full benefits.

But after the Supreme Court's ruling, Republican governors and legislatures in state after state rejected the expansion. Rejecting the Medicaid expansion, however, doesn't exempt a state from the taxes and spending cuts Obamacare uses to fund the Medicaid expansion. A September analysis from McClatchy estimated that "if the 23 states that have rejected expanding Medicaid under the 2010 health care law continue to do so for the next eight years, they'll pay $152 billion to extend the program in other states - while receiving nothing in return." That's a helluva gift from (mostly) red states to (mostly) blue ones.

In the next term, the Supreme Court will rule on the claim that the law does not allow for subsidies for health insurance plans purchased on the federal exchange. Depending on the ruling, the Republican Party's opposition to participating in the health care law will mean even fewer dollars going to Virginian families.

2.  I haven't seen a detailed analysis of the Medicaid eligible population by House or Senate district, but the numbers I've seen based on localities indicate that this is not just a moral issue in 2015, but a political winner in areas like Prince William County.

3. Medicaid expansion links well to redistricting reform. While usually such insider baseball is not the stuff of political campaigns, it bolsters the imagine of the Republican Party standing opposed to progress and reform.

But if that's where we are in 2015, where are we going? Virginia is changing rapidly, and I think the great Yogi Berra's observations ring true. "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

What's the vision for Virginia Democrats not just in 2015, but long term?

There's More... :: (17 Comments, 1366 words in story)
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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