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Energy and Environment

Three Graphics from Lazard Study Show How Competitive Clean Energy's Gotten

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 17:07:16 PM EDT

Cross posted from Scaling Green. For Blue Virginia, I'd just add that it's long past time for Virginia to stop wasting its time looking backwards towards energy sources of the 19th and 20th centuries (e.g., coal, oil), and instead to look forward to the energy sources of the 21st century (mostly wind, solar, hydro and other renewables).

The following three graphics (click on the images to enlarge) are from a recent "Levelized Cost of Energy" (LCOE) study by Lazard - one of the world's leading financial advisory and asset management firms.  I'm posting the graphics here because they demonstrate how competitive clean energy's become (even with massive implicit and explicit subsidies to fossil fuels), and also how much cheaper renewable power is going to get over the next few years.  No wonder why the International Energy Agency just explained how solar "could be the world's largest source of electricity by 2050," with coal just about extinct (see the slide "Solar's share varies significantly by region"). Great stuff; now let's get on with the transition from dirty, dangerous, fossil-fuel-based energy to clean, renewable power.

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Video: "We Don't Want Your Pipeline" By Robin and Linda Williams

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 12:55:07 PM EDT

Great stuff, love it! And no, Dominion, we do NOT want your destructive, dangerous pipeline. Thanks to Robin and Linda Williams for this song, which I'll now be hummning the rest of the day. :)

P.S. Extra credit reading material for Gov. McAuliffe: Nation rushes to embrace natural gas and fracking despite risks to environment

"We Don't Want Your Pipeline" By Robin and Linda Williams from Richard Adams on Vimeo.

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Why Did the McAuliffe Administration Hire Dr. Michael Karmis?

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 12:14:08 PM EDT

Cross posted with permission from the Checks and Balances Project

Why Did the McAuliffe Administration Hire Michael E. Karmis?Earlier this year, the Virginia legislature passed a bill that requires the McAuliffe Administration to evaluate the costs and benefits to the state of complying with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. That plan would require Virginia to reduce carbon emissions by 37.5% by 2030 from 2012 levels. Carbon pollution from such sources as coal-burning power plants are fueling climate change and resulting sea level rise in areas such as southeastern Virginia.

The Administration tasked its Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) to produce the analysis. DMME hired Michael E. Karmis, PhD.

Professor Karmis is a curious choice. He is considered the state's leading academic expert in coal, with an international reputation. He is the director of Virginia Tech's Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, and founder of the Appalachian Research Initiative for the Environment Sciences, whose partners include leading lights of the coal industry: Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Cliffs Natural Resources, MEPCO, Natural Resource Partners, Patriot Coal Corporation, and TECO. Karmis is also a director of The Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mine Safety and Health, Inc. based in Bristol, Virginia. He is an active consultant to the mining industry. Karmis is the go-to man if you want to know just about anything related to coal in the Commonwealth.  

But is Michael Karmis the man to conduct an impartial analysis of the costs and benefits of complying with the EPA plan? Especially considering that the EPA plan calls for sharply reducing carbon pollution from existing coal-fired plants that generate electricity? Were other less invested in the fossil fuel industry even considered?

Does Karmis have a conflict of interest?

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Environmental and Community Leaders Denounce Federal Ruling on Cove Point LNG Export Facility

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 08:09:19 AM EDT

From the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

Feds approve massive $3.8 billion source of pollution without a full Environmental Impact Statement

Groups weigh motion for rehearing to prevent safety, climate and economic harm

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Environmental and community groups are bitterly denouncing tonight's decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve permits for the controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility proposed at Cove Point in southern Maryland. They said FERC’s decision defies the facts that the massive facility, proposed by Dominion Resources, will incentivize environmental damage from fracking across the mid-Atlantic region and, according to federal data, would likely contribute more to global warming over the next two decades than if Asian countries burned their own coal.

Groups that have intervened in the FERC case emphasized that they are assessing issues on which to file a motion for rehearing—a necessary step before appeal. They vowed to continue the fight to protect communities across Maryland and the region from the potentially unprecedented pollution and safety risks Dominion's Cove Point project would trigger.

They also called the Cove Point decision a simultaneous stain on the records of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, who failed to substantively challenge FERC’s reckless process—including the agency’s refusal to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement—despite pleas from voters and newspapers like the Baltimore Sun.

“FERC's decision to allow LNG exports from Cove Point is fundamentally flawed because the agency failed to consider the simple fact that exporting LNG will mean more drilling and fracking, and that means more climate pollution, more risk of contaminated groundwater, and more threats to the health of people who live near gas wells,” said Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Natural Gas campaign. “FERC should be standing up for the public good, not the interests of dirty polluters.”

“FERC’s decision to approve Cove Point is the result of a biased review process rigged in favor of approving gas industry projects no matter how great the environmental and safety concerns,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “FERC refused to even require an environmental impact statement for this $3.8 billion facility right on the Bay. We intend to challenge this ruling all the way to court if necessary. For the safety of Marylanders and for people across our region facing new fracking wells and pipelines, we will continue to fight this project until it is stopped.”

“FERC's failure to demonstrate compliance with the most current safety standards in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 59A 2013 is a fatal flaw in the Environmental Assessment that could cost residents and first responders their lives,” said Tracey Eno, a member of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community. “Members of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community (CCHC) believe that these new standards were a direct response to the horrific explosions that occurred at a Skikda, Algeria LNG export facility in 2004, resulting in serious casualties and extensive property damage. We have endured the betrayal of our own elected officials—most notably, our five Calvert County Commissioners, our federal representatives and Governor Martin O'Malley—who have all inexplicably refused to insist on the latest fire safety standards for the Dominion Cove Point LNG export expansion. We now call on the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Transportation to step in and insist on full compliance with NFPA 59A 2013 before Lusby becomes home to the first large-scale liquefaction train ever to be installed in a such a densely populated residential neighborhood in the history of the industry.”

“Potomac Riverkeeper is extremely concerned about the impact of this new LNG export facility on the entire Potomac and Shenandoah Watershed,” said Sarah Rispin, General Counsel for Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc. “We believe that FERC failed to take into account the cumulative impact that having a major export facility on the Chesapeake Bay will have on the watershed, by driving increased fracking activity in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations, and the construction of new pipelines serving the facility that will crisscross the region.”

“We are carefully reviewing FERC’s decision to approve the Cove Point export facility with our clients and planning our next steps,” saidJocelyn D’Ambrosio, associate attorney at Earthjustice. “If FERC has refused to revisit its inadequate environmental review, will have no choice but to petition FERC to reconsider its decision, and ultimately we may have to take the case to court.”

"FERC's decision today ignores the many diverse impacts that an LNG export facility will have on local communities both near and far away,” said Michael Helfrich, director of Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “LNG export threatens local communities' health and safety and waterways, and is simply not in the public interest."
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Earthjustice, the nonprofit law organization that has been representing the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Patuxent Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper, Shenandoah Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club in the FERC proceeding, are poised to petition FERC and potentially to sue the agency to challenge an inadequate environmental review.

The Dominion Cove Point project would take gas from fracking wells across Appalachia and liquefy it along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay for export to Asia. The project would be the first LNG export facility ever built so close to so many homes, the first built in close proximity to Marcellus Shale fracking operations, and a potential trigger of more global warming pollution than all seven of Maryland’s existing coal-fired power plants combined. Yet, in its final order, FERC affirmed its highly limited Environmental Assessment, which omitted credible analysis of the project’s lifecycle global warming pollution, potentially catastrophic threat to hundreds of nearby residents, pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and risk to the critically endangered right whale, along with all the pollution associated with driving demand for upstream fracking and fracked gas infrastructure.

Dominion's project has faced and will continue to face significant and widespread grassroots opposition. A coalition of state, national and community groups opposing the project submitted more than 150,000 comments to FERC by the June public comment deadline. In mid-July, more than 1,000 people marched on FERC’s Washington, D.C. headquarters calling on the agency to halt approvals of all LNG export projects, including the Dominion Cove Point facility, followed the next day by a peaceful sit-in that led to 25 arrests.
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New Poll: Majority of Virginia Small Business Owners Support CO2 Pollution Limits

by: wharwood

Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 11:30:31 AM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

Business owners give state leaders, Gov. McAuliffe low ratings for making Va. competitive in growing clean energy economy, protecting environment

WASHINGTON-September 25, 2014-As world leaders meet this week to address climate change and 400,000 people march in the streets in New York City, a new survey shows that Virginia's small business owners support state action to cut carbon pollution and believe that doing so will help Virginia's economy.

At the same time, Virginia's small business community is not entirely pleased with the job Gov. Terry McAuliffe has done protecting the state's water, air, and overall environment.

According to a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP) for the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2):

• 63 percent of small business owners in Virginia think state leaders should do more to compete with other states to attract and develop more clean, renewable energy companies and jobs to Virginia. A similarly high number - 65 percent - voiced support for advancing energy efficiency.

• 52 percent of small business owners in Virginia think Gov. McAuliffe and the state legislature should support the federal standards to reduce carbon pollution produced by power plants.

• 60 percent of Virginia's small business owners give Gov. McAuliffe a fair or poor rating or are not sure about the job he has done protecting the state's water, air, and overall environment. Meanwhile, 84 percent of small business owners in Virginia believe protecting Virginia's good environment and quality of life is important to their state's economic growth.

The survey is available here.

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Video: President Obama Speaks at the Climate Summit 2014

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 23, 2014 at 13:02:31 PM EDT

Phrases we really don't need to hear during this speech, or any speech by President Obama or any other Democrat: "all-of-the-above strategy," "offshore drilling," "fracking," "natural gas as a bridge fuel," etc. Just stick to the science, which has told us over and over again what the situation is and what we need to do, and then do it!

UPDATE 1:16 pm: The speech, which I thought was very strong, just ended. Unfortunately, given that the Republican Party has gone completely insane (and sold out to the big carbon polluters), it looks like those of us who actually respect science will have to do it ourselves. Unless, of course, a miracle happens and Republicans move back towards the strong environmental legacy that's certainly part of their party's historical DNA.

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Terry McAuliffe on Energy Issues 2009; Terry McAuliffe on Energy Issues Today

by: lowkell

Sun Sep 21, 2014 at 20:46:30 PM EDT

I'm reposting this from the old Blue Virginia (March 11, 2009). Note that the "Business Plan" is no longer available, even on the "internet archive." Hmmmm. Anyway, I wanted to compare and contrast where Terry McAuliffe was when he actually NEEDED liberals and environmentalists for something (e.g., the 2009 Democratic primary contest with Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran), compared to when he has absolutely ZERO need for liberals and environmentalists (that would be now). I'll put the "now" in italics after the "then." Enjoy.  

Click here (PDF file) to read Chapter 1 of Terry McAuliffe's "Business Plan for Virginia." The plan kicks off with "Virginia's Energy Future."  The major elements are:

1. "Make Virginia a destination for clean energy and clean tech businesses and jobs."
Includes a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard ("Requiring power companies to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025") and net metering ("Encouraging cleaner, locally produced electricity by allowing consumers who produce renewable energy to earn actual retail credit to offset their consumption."). Both are excellent ideas (although I'm with Al Gore, let's shoot for 100% renewables within a decade!).
Yep, they're still excellent ideas. Unfortunately, I haven't heard a word about either of them from T-Mac in a long time.

2. "Invest in clean, renewable sources of energy supply."
Includes development of Virginia's wind, solar, and biomass resources. I'm a huge fan of wind and solar, not so much of biomass (unless we're talking about biomass possibilities like algae that deliver many times the amount of energy OUT of the system as it takes INTO the system).
Frankly, I've heard more about natural gas, oil and coal than I have about wind and solar since McAuliffe became governor. Which, of course, is completely backwards, given that wind and solar prices have fallen sharply since 2009, while the urgency to deal with global warming has only increased.

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Video: People's Climate March Livestream

by: lowkell

Sun Sep 21, 2014 at 06:53:59 AM EDT

By far the most pressing threat facing humanity. What are YOU doing about it?

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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Invited to Join People's Climate March on Sunday

by: lowkell

Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 10:10:30 AM EDT

UPDATE 1 pm Friday from Gov. McAuliffe's Facebook page - "Governor McAuliffe commits to #WalktheWalk to combat climate change in VA and build a New Virginia Economy. He joins others from across the world in the #WalktheWalk campaign aimed at amplifying the message of the march and the importance of combating climate change."
The following letter has been sent to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe from numerous Virginia-based progressive and environmental groups (see signatories below), inviting him to join with tens of thousands of others in New York City this Sunday for the People's Climate March. I certainly hope he accepts the invitation!

P.S. Click here if you want to join in encouraging Gov. McAuliffe to join the march!

September 18, 2014

The Honorable Terry McAuliffe
Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

Dear Governor McAuliffe:

As you are well aware, climate change is a crisis that requires urgent and effective action. Earlier this year, the authoritative National Climate Assessment (NCA) found "unambiguous" evidence that human activities - particularly the burning of coal, oil and natural gas - are causing climate change. And, although it might feel cool and pleasant in Virginia right now, according to data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, last month was the hottest ever recorded worldwide.  Clearly, with the threat of surging seas on the Virginia coast, stronger storms, more intense heat waves, and many other problems, this is an issue we no longer have the luxury of ignoring.

Fortunately, we are starting to see action. In June, as you know, the Environmental Protection Agency issued much-needed draft rules on carbon pollution, rules that will require Virginia and other states to develop compliance plans in coming months. This represents a tremendous economic opportunity for states like Virginia, with its abundant offshore wind resources, and tremendous opportunities for energy efficiency, distributed solar power and cleantech innovation generally. We presume that we are preaching to the converted on this, as your own 2009 gubernatorial campaign's energy plan laid out a vision for requiring Virginia power companies to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. The fact is, from a business and economic perspective, this is a win-win-win proposition for Virginia and for the country as a whole. As your friend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, recently argued, "If we come together to make the hard choices, the smart investment in infrastructure, technology and environmental protection, America can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st century." We couldn't agree more.

In addition to action by government agencies and politicians, we are also excited to see a powerful grassroots movement pushing for immediate action to combat global warming. A superb example of this will take place on Sunday, September 21 in New York City, with the largest climate march in history -- tens of thousands of people participating in the People's Climate March. This historic event will include representatives from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, the Virginia Tech University Environmental Coalition, the Sierra Club,, and many others.

Given that you will be in New York this weekend, we invite you to join us at the march. You can show true leadership and add your voice as we demand immediate, strong action to combat climate change. As Hillary Clinton explained earlier this month, global warming constitutes "the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face."  She's absolutely right, of course. Now it's time for action.

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Why We Can't Just Shut Up and Eat Chocolate Chip Cookies

by: ivymain

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 18:03:19 PM EDT

I grew up with brothers, so I knew from an early age that the easiest way to make friends with guys was to feed them chocolate chip cookies. I took this strategy with me to college, commandeering the tiny kitchen in our coed dorm. The aroma wafting down the hallways reliably drew a crowd.

One fan was so enthusiastic that he wanted to learn to make cookies himself. So the next time, he showed up at the start of the process. He watched me combine sugar and butter, eggs and white flour.

Instead of being enthusiastic, he was appalled. It had never occurred to him that anything as terrific as a cookie could be made of stuff so unhealthy. It's not that he thought they were created from sunshine and elf magic; he just hadn't thought about it at all. He left before the cookies even came out of the oven.

I felt so bad about it, I ate the whole batch.

But I can empathize with that guy when I'm told that as an environmentalist, I should love natural gas. Natural gas is the chocolate chip cookie of fossil fuels. At the point of consumption, everybody loves it. It's cheap, there's gobs of it, and it burns cleaner than coal, with only half the carbon dioxide emissions. Disillusionment sets in only when you look at the recipe. ("First, frack one well. . .")

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Dominion's ties to ALEC, McDonnell's conviction, all part of one corrupt package

by: ivymain

Thu Sep 11, 2014 at 09:43:59 AM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

A crowd of protesters gathered at the Arlington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on September 4 to demand that Dominion Resources, the parent of public utility monopoly Dominion Virginia Power, drop its membership in the right wing "bill mill."

On the very same day, a jury convicted ex-Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife on federal corruption charges, setting off a new round of debate about Virginia's lax ethics laws.

The two news items sound like different topics, but in fact they are both about the corruption undermining our democratic system. The McDonnell trial, with its focus on swank vacations, golf clubs, designer clothes and other neat stuff, actually missed the bigger breach of public trust that goes on every day. This takes the form of unlimited corporate campaign contributions and gifts to members of both parties, and the influence over legislation purchased by this largesse.  

Dominion Power has spent decades and many millions of dollars building its influence in Richmond this way, to the point where most legislators don't bother pursuing a bill if the utility signals its opposition. That's why Virginia has not followed so many other states in requiring its utilities to invest in energy efficiency, wind and solar. Economic arguments, jobs, electricity rates-all these are talked about in committee, and all are irrelevant to the fate of a bill. The only relevant question for legislators is, "What does Dominion think?"

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League of Conservation Voters Action Fund Endorses John Foust for Congress

by: lowkell

Wed Sep 10, 2014 at 16:20:31 PM EDT

Good news for John Foust, although not surprising given Barbara Comstock's pathetic record on the environment (e.g., does she even "believe" in climate science?).

WASHINGTON, DC-The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund, which works to elect candidates who will implement sound environmental policies, announced today its endorsement of John Foust for Congress (VA-10). If elected to Congress, Foust will work to protect our air, water and tackle climate change.

"John Foust will be an environmental ally in Congress as he works to tackle dangerous climate disruption and preserve our public lands for future generations to enjoy," said LCV Action Fund President Gene Karpinski. "He will protect public health by supporting commonsense solutions that ensure our air and water are clean."

"John Foust has been a strong advocate for Virginia as he has worked to protect our environment, and will continue this leadership in Congress," said Michael Town, Executive Director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. "He will support bipartisan policies that conserve our precious lands and natural resources."

"I am honored to receive the support of the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund," said Foust. "I will work hard to address the environmental issues of our day. In the past, we have been able to work together in Congress to help solve environmental problems, and I am optimistic that we will be able to work together in a commonsense, bipartisan way again if we start electing representatives who will bring that approach to Washington. The challenges we face are ones we can fix, and I intend to work hard across the aisle to address these problems in Congress."

A resident of McLean, John Foust served on the Fairfax Board of Supervisors since 2007 and has also served on the citizen council that advised the Fairfax County government on local environmental matters. If elected, he will continue to fight for northern Virginians and to protect our planet for future generations by working to combat climate change. He is committed to safeguarding the air we breathe and the water we drink, and will advocate for the conservation of Virginia and the nation's iconic landscapes.

John Foust is featured on LCV Action Fund's GiveGreen website, the only bundling website devoted exclusively to raising money for environmental champions and candidates.

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No Thanks Dominion: Virginia Slips 3 Spots in 2Q14 U.S. Solar Ranking

by: lowkell

Sun Sep 07, 2014 at 12:53:33 PM EDT

Just one word for this: pathetic. Not only is Virginia lagging way behind other states, including ones to the north (MD, PA) and south (NC, GA) of us, we also fell further behind in the state rankings in the first half of 2014, according to the lastest Solar Energy Industries Association report, released late last week. Heckuva job by Dominion Power and its bought-and-paid-for, wholly-owned subsidiary, aka the "Virginia General Assembly." #FAIL

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Video: At ALEC HQ, Demonstrators Demand Dominion Power Quit ALEC Now!

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 15:56:05 PM EDT

There's a lot of other news right now, but I was at this rally earlier today and shot some video.  Plus, this is another great example of corruption in Virginia, just that in this case it's appallingly legal! Anyway, the point of the rally was to demand that Dominion Power get out of ALEC (located in the building behind the rally in Crystal City/Arlington). Speaker after speaker (videos in the comments section) explained why. One surprise (or maybe it wasn't a surprise, on second thought, given that Dominion owns our state legislature, and that people like Dick Saslaw are 100% in their pocket): other than Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, there were ZERO other elected officials there today, despite many of them having been invited to attend. Hmmmm.

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People Arguing for the Fracked Gas Pipeline Are Just Factually Wrong

by: lowkell

Thu Sep 04, 2014 at 10:30:45 AM EDT

According to an editorial in this morning's Daily Press, the proposed new natural gas pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina is "the type of project Virginia should embrace." In contrast, the Daily Press falsely disparages opponents of the pipeline as "the NIMBY crowd" (utterly absurd, as I'm confident that most environmentalists would be happy to see solar panels in their "backyards" - on their roofs, etc.). Yet, oddly and illogically, in the same editorial the Daily Press acknowledges that environmentalists are "understandably worried about the potential impact of a natural gas pipeline running across Virginia," and that their "concern for the environment is well placed." The Daily Press further acknowledges that private property owners will "worry will be about fair market value for their land and protecting themselves from unwanted or unfair encroachment." Gee, ya think?!? Yet, somehow, despite all that, the Daily Press still concludes that we should "embrace" this project? Uh...WTF?

Meanwhile, in its own internally illogical editorial, the Virginian Pilot acknowledges that this pipeline will NOT be the "game changer" Gov. McAuliffe claims it will be (remember, McAuliffe's the same guy who introduces everyone as "the greatest [fill in the blank] in the history of [fill in the blank]," so take ALL his claims with a huge grain of salt). The Virginia Pilot also admits that "fracking fouls groundwater and pollutes the air," but claims that it's not "worse than for coal or oil," so...yippee(?).

So much illogic, red herrings, and ignorance, so little time to address it all. Let's just list a few facts (yes, they are empirically verifiable, just do some research) here:

1. There is no doubt whatsoever that hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), which is how the natural gas for this pipeline will be produces, tears up the environment - water pollution, air pollution, habitat destruction, earthquakes, etc. - in the process of getting it out of the ground.

2. There is no doubt whatsoever that fracking uses ungodly amounts of (increasingly scarce) water in its process.

3. There is no doubt whatsoever that the fracking process emits methane - a greenhouse gas much more potent thatn CO2 - at rates which "Negate Industry Claims of Fracked Gas' Benefits".

4. There is no doubt whatsoever that fracking (the development of which was heavily subsidized by your tax dollars, by the way) artificially lowers the price of natural gas, since "externalities" are not incorporated (e.g., frackers get to pollute with impunity), thus foolishly delaying the inevitable domination of renewable energy.

5. There is no doubt whatsoever that energy efficiency is a far better option than increased fossil fuel production, in terms of "bang for the buck," "low-hanging fruit," "Econ 101," whatever you want to say.

6. There is no doubt whatsoever that (non-polluting, clean, abundant, cheap) solar and wind power costs have plummeted in recent years, are already competitive with natural gas in many areas of the country, and will be competitive in Virginia as soon as next year (BEFORE this new gas pipeline cranks up, making it a $5 billion white elephant?).

Finally, it's important to understand why this pipeline has gotten as far as it has. It's very simple, really: just go to VPAP and check out where the $9 million (!!!) Dominion Power has donated to Virginia politicians over the years has gone. Basically, Dominion controls Virginia's government when it comes to energy policy, and it's used that control to lock its current business model into place, whereby all their incentives are AGAINST conservation and energy efficiency, and FOR producing more fossil-fuel-generated power. Oh, and those incentives are all FOR continuing the dying, top-down, command-and-control, centralized model and AGAINST the distributed energy revolution that's sweeping increasing parts of America and the world.

In short, Dominion is a negative, reactionary force that has worked for years to block any progress on Virginia energy policy and to entrench themselves in their position as an incumbent industry, theoretically-but-not-really-regulated monopoly, and major polluter. The question is, why would anyone who cares about Virginia's economic future -- in a 21st century where clean energy, not fossil fuels, will be a key to success -- support this pipeline to nowhere? I hate to be cynical, but the short answer is simple: just follow the money, keeping in mind that the "Virginia Way" is basically a system of legalized corruption, lobbyists and corporations making a mockery of democracy, and other fine features like that. Great stuff, huh?

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CCAN Denounces McAuliffe Support for Dominion's Massive 'Atlantic Coast' Fracked Gas Pipeline

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 12:02:51 PM EDT

Utterly appalling by Terry McAuliffe, who this morning was doing his best Ken Cuccinelli impression. Gack. By the way, I hope/expect to hear every other environmental group in Virginia weighing in against this crap.

Mega-project, which already faces stiff resistance from Va. landowners, counteracts the governor’s commitment to tackling climate change

RICHMOND—Today, Governor Terry McAuliffe stood next to Dominion Resources CEO Thomas Farrell to announce his support for a major expansion of Dominion’s proposal to build a pipeline to carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia, across central Virginia, to North Carolina. Once called the “Reliability Project,” the new 550-mile, $5 billion proposal is now the joint-venture “Atlantic Coast” pipeline.

Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, had the following statement in response:

“Today Governor McAuliffe has made a huge mistake that harms the environment. Barely two months after re-launching the state’s climate change commission, the governor has regretfully embraced a Dominion gas pipeline project that threatens to contribute significantly to the climate crisis. Tom Farrell’s 550-mile, $5 billion pipeline system would incentivize more fracking across the region and contribute to emissions of methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas which, according to growing scientific data, could disrupt the climate on par with coal. 

“In supporting this project, Governor McAuliffe is now complicit with Tom Farrell in locking Virginia into a multi-billion-dollar investment in more fossil fuels at a moment when scientists say we must be investing in truly carbon-free wind, solar, and energy efficiency technologies. We’ve come to expect this type of move from Dominion, the state’s top climate polluter and a company that has continually held Virginia back from serious commitments to clean energy. But we’re downright disappointed to see this from Governor McAuliffe.

“In making his announcement, Governor McAuliffe failed to mention the scientific data showing that methane, which leaks from fracking wells and pipelines, is as much as 87 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in heating the atmosphere over a 20-year period. The governor is lining up on the wrong side of farmers and landowners who live along Dominion’s proposed pipeline route and who see this project as a direct threat to their safety and livelihoods. The groundswell of grassroots resistance that Dominion is already facing will surely only grow in response to today’s news. 

“Given the urgency of tackling climate change, this is the wrong project at the wrong time. Instead of touting a massive investment in more communities destroyed by fracking wells, divided by pipelines, and wrecked by runaway climate change, Tom Farrell and Governor McAuliffe should be announcing a full-scale investment in Virginia's vast and barely tapped clean energy resources.”


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to build and mobilize a powerful grassroots movement to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability. Learn more
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Dominion Resources Should Quit ALEC

by: SethHeald

Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 17:11:36 PM EDT

(See comments for related story on natural gas pipeline; huge Gov. McAuliffe #FAIL - promoted by lowkell)

Recent William & Mary grad Priscilla Lin, wrote this piece. Priscilla is concerned about climate change and in particular ocean issues. She volunteers with Oceana, which is a co-sponsor of the Sept. 4 Dominion-Dump-ALEC rally in Arlington County.

It's time for Virginians to call on Dominion Resources, Inc. to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Join me for a Dominion-Dump-ALEC rally at ALEC Headquarters in the Crystal City area of Arlington County on September 4 at noon.

As a native Virginian and 2014 college graduate interested in protecting the  environment, it comes as no surprise to me that Dominion Virginia Power, Virginia's largest electric utility, is dirty. Dirty fossil fuel energy, which contributes to climate change and ocean acidification, is not the way towards a better, cleaner future. I learned recently that Dominion belongs to ALEC, an organization with a pro-polluter agenda. Dominion publicly touts its supposed environmental awareness, but it doesn't explain what it does behind closed doors with the shady anti-climate and anti-democracy group ALEC.

You won't find any mention on Dominion's website or in its public pronouncements of its work to undermine environmental protections through its participation in ALEC, which has been described as "a corporate bill mill." It brings together corporations and state legislators and comes up with "model legislation" for the legislators to introduce back home.

ALEC has consistently pushed anti-climate and anti-environment legislation. Dominion's association with the group directly conflicts with its claims to support clean energy. You can learn more about ALEC at

There's More... :: (14 Comments, 310 words in story)

Seven Reasons to Walk Away From Keystone XL

by: lowkell

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 11:40:59 AM EDT

I thought this excellent article by Tigercomm President Mike Casey was reposting here from Scaling Green, just in case any U.S. Senators, Representatives, or Congressional candidates from Virginia think Keystone's a good idea for some strange reason. Here are seven strong reasons why it should be rejected.

There is less than a month before the justices of the Nebraska Supreme court hear arguments in a case that will have a big impact on TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The court will hear the argument that ranchers and farmers in the pipeline's path must have their lifestyles ruined first before standing up to the bullying and lies by TransCanada. I'm not making that up - it's the actual argument that TransCanada's apologists are saying. Good luck with that.

A loss in court for TransCanada would be significant for the premier pusher of tar sands, the dirtiest form of oil on the planet. The result would be hitting the "restart" button, with new pressure to reroute the pipeline and its highly toxic, spill-prone contents away from the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of drinking water for three million Americans and countless, drought-stricken farms and ranches.

However, the company's Keystone problems are far more extensive than just this court case. Markets and the truth are walking away from this project. This is despite the desperate, high-dollar propaganda and influence-peddling campaign by the tar sands industry. Keystone's rejection is not just the smart thing to do. It's increasingly inevitable.

Impending loss now defines this project.

Since the President's June 2013 speech on the importance of solving the climate crisis, at least eight events have happened that indicate the pipeline will not and should not be built:

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Erick Erickson: Screw Our Children, I Want Cheap Coal Now

by: TheGreenMiles

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 10:00:00 AM EDT

Flooding Danube"Let the seas rise. Let the wind blow." That's top Republican commentator Erick Erickson's position on climate change. I would say he's a "conservative" commentator, but there's absolutely nothing conservative about wanting to gas up your SUV cheaply now and while leaving the pollution bill for future generations to pay. It's pure selfishness - "I've got mine so screw you" presented as profound political philosophy.

Erickson may just be one blogger, but here he gets to the core motivations of today's Congressional Republican leadership - America isn't worth investing in. Energy? Just give me what's cheapest today - if we need alternatives tomorrow, someone else can spend the money on it. Education? If my family needs that, I can pay to send my children to private school, but I won't volunteer a dime in additional taxes to improve our community. The environment? I can buy home air filters and bottled water - if you can't, too bad for you & yours.

"We are all going to die," Erickson cynically concludes. "Just not today." And by then, it'll be up to our children and grandchildren to build massive hurricane barriers outside every East Coast city to keep out the rising seas and monster storms as the bill comes due for all that cheap coal, oil and fracked gas.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

MIT Study Finds Health Benefits of CO2 Reductions Can Save 10x the Cost of Policy Implementation

by: lowkell

Mon Aug 25, 2014 at 14:16:29 PM EDT

Cross posted from Scaling Green. For Blue Virginia readers, I'd just add that Gov. McAuliffe's office should read this study as they consider how to move Virginia forward in terms of energy efficiency, renewable power, and of course meeting the EPA's new rules for cutting CO2 emissions.

Clearly, we believe it makes sense to slash the air and water pollution that is inextricably linked to fossil fuel extraction, processing, and consumption.  We also strongly believe that moving from a dirty to a clean energy economy makes sense on a whole host of levels -- economic, environmental, national security, health, etc. Yet opponents of a clean energy transition invariably raise claims that it will cost too much to do so, even though research has shown that fossil fuels are actually FAR more expensive than they appear to be, in large part because they are allowed to pollute without having to pay for doing so. Thus, the full "lifecycle cost" of coal to the U.S. public is actually upwards of $500 billion a year, but you won't find that $500 billion a year incorporated into the price of coal, making it artificially cheap, and strongly skewing U.S. energy markets in favor of fossil fuels. Incorporate all the health and environmental "externalities" associated with fossil fuels, while taking away the enormous subsidies they receive from taxpayers, and it's a totally different story -- one in which clean energy would win by a wide margin.

Just in case you wanted even more evidence along these lines, a new study is out from researchers at MIT which finds that policies aimed at cutting fossil-fuel pollution can more than pay for themselves.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 304 words in story)
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