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Energy and Environment

Dominion's Errors, Accidents Reduce Confidence in Ability to Build Natural Gas Pipeline Safely

by: pontoon

Fri Mar 27, 2015 at 14:54:24 PM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

Free Nelson has been reporting on errors, accidents and violations by Dominion and/or its partnerships over the last several months. We became interested in Dominion's safety record last May, when Nelsonians began receiving letters regarding a 554-mile long, 42" natural gas pipeline known then as the Southern Reliability Project.  The pipeline has since been renamed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), and is now a partnership between Dominion, Duke, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources.

The proposed ACP would cut a 125' swath, wide enough for a 6-lane highway, through Nelson's steep, forested terrain, as well through our rolling farmland.  The originally-proposed route for Nelson is approximately 30 miles, entering at the county's northeast corner near Humpback Rock on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It would travel in a southeasterly direction to the James River. This route, or any of the other four recently announced alternate routes through the county, would traverse the land of hundreds of private property owners.

We have heard all the platitudes. The most often heard is that "pipelines are the safest way to transport natural gas." Actually, it is the only way natural gas is transported. But that doesn't mean it is safe. As pipelines increase in size, it becomes more imperative that we know the risks to those in the path of these behemoths. In 2012, a 20" natural gas pipeline exploded in Sissonville, WV along Interstate 77, melting 800' of the interstate highway, destroying three homes and damaging countless others.  Another pipeline, in Appomattox County, Virginia, exploded in 2008, destroying two homes, melting the siding on over 100 others as far as a mile away. Clearly, the radiational heat from these explosions is tremendous.  Yet here in Nelson, Dominion (which has chosen the proposed path) puts existing lawndowners' homes within 330' of a much larger, 42" pipeline which operates at a much higher 1,440 psi than the two pipeline explosions we gave as examples.

We won't address Dominion's many lies, nor the crass, bullying behavior of Dominion toward landowners and our community in this article. But we will share with you the many errors, unreported violations, fines and accidents Dominion and its partnerships have been party to over the last few years.

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Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Go Hand In Hand

by: zhjarjou

Thu Mar 26, 2015 at 16:20:02 PM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

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I used to think I was working to “stop climate change”. I can’t tell you how many times I used those words while working as a volunteer and student activist back in my home state of Mississippi. The renewable energy campaigns, organizing skills workshops, and multitudes of events that we hosted all focused on building people power to stop the climate crisis. It was good work, it was fun work, it was difficult work, and in retrospect it was a bit naïve. That last statement needs to qualified; the concept of “stopping climate change” was naïve in the sense that it portrays the issue as one with a simple solution. It probably also contributed to the difficulty of the work because it didn’t convey the true urgency of climate change.  

Fast forward five years and a lot has changed. We are no longer talking about climate change as just something we will experience in the future. A myriad of reports, studies, and articles have been written and released over the past several years that discuss the impacts of climate change that we are seeing now. Hampton Roads has consistently been getting national media attention because we’re one of the places that climate change impacts (specifically sea level rise) are most visible.

This brings me to the title of the article, Adaptation and Mitigation Goes Hand In Hand. First it is helpful to define these two terms. Adaptation is to “become adjusted to new conditions” and in terms of climate change and sea level rise in Hampton Roads includes things like raising roads and houses and changing building standards to account for rising seas and resulting flooding.  Mitigation is “the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something” and in terms of climate change basically boils down to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions which includes things like transitioning from fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas to clean, renewable energy like wind, solar, geothermal, reducing wasted energy through energy efficiency, as well as addressing emissions generated by our system of food production.

As I mentioned earlier, portraying an issue as something far off in the future downplays the urgency and doesn’t help when trying to get people involved in a social movement. But on the other end of the spectrum, specifically with regards to climate change, the urgency of the issue can also push the conversation to focus more heavily on the adaptation side of the solutions, things that people will see and feel in the immediate future (for example someone’s house being elevated to adapt to flooding). It is critical for the future of Hampton Roads for us to keep the focus on both mitigation and adaptation. No matter how much we adapt to climate change if we ignore the need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions the problem will only persist and get worse, and all the effort and money put towards adaptation efforts will eventually be all for nothing.

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Dominion Plan for New Gas-Fired Power Plant Would Worsen the Climate Crisis

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 26, 2015 at 12:14:19 PM EDT

Statement from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network on Dominion's latest bull****:
RICHMOND-Dominion Resources, already the top emitter of planet-heating greenhouse gas pollution in Virginia, announced a proposal this morning to build a new 1,600-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Southside Virginia. If approved, the plant would be the largest gas-fired power plant in the state.

Kirsten Collings, deputy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, had the following statement in response:

"You can't solve the climate crisis by investing in more fossil fuels. A growing body of evidence shows that fracked gas could be worse for the climate than coal over the next 20 years because of leaks of heat-trapping methane. Governor McAuliffe has his facts wrong in endorsing this project as 'clean,' just as he did when endorsing Dominion's massive Atlantic Coast pipeline for fracked gas.

"The reality is that Virginia simply doesn't need and can't afford new investments in fossil fuels. Dominion could more than offset the need to build a new gas-burning power plant by investing in modest energy-saving technologies that would reduce demand along with Virginians' utility bills. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Virginians pay the 7th highest average electric bills in the nation, and our state ranks near the bottom on energy efficiency. Dominion should invest in the commonwealth's vast clean energy resources, which would create jobs, lower bills and reduce emissions of climate-disrupting pollution."

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Video: Rep. Don Beyer Speaks Out on the Dangers of Ocean Acidification

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 19, 2015 at 12:03:44 PM EDT

A crucially important issue: in short, if the oceans die (or are seriously damaged), we die (or are seriously damaged), in addition to it being a horrendous disaster in and of itself. Thanks to Rep. Don Beyer for speaking out on this issue, and more broadly for his advocacy regarding the need to slash anthropogenic carbon emissions (e.g., from the burning of fossil fuels).

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Video, Statement: 30+ Virginia Ministers Call on Gov. McAuliffe to Act on Climate

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 18, 2015 at 15:31:07 PM EDT

The speakers in the video, from earlier today in Richmond are, from left to right: Rev. David Bailey, Worship Pastor, Making a Melody and East End Fellowship; Alexei Laushkin, Vice President of the Evangelical Environmental Network; and local Virginia minister Shawn Eubank of Creation Care.

Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney was also in attendance to receive the signed bible and letter from the ministers. It's great to see religious leaders increasingly stepping up to the challenge of environmental protection at a time when it's desperately needed, due to mankind's almost complete failure to be "good stewards" over "creation." For more, see the Creation Care blog by Alexei Laushkin, Vice President of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

More Than 30 Virginia Pastors Call on Gov. McAuliffe to Protect Health, Grow Economy by Acting on Climate Change

Faith Leaders Call Action on Climate a "Moral Responsibility" - Urge Governor to Implement New Commonsense Limits on Harmful Carbon Pollution

Richmond, VA. - Over 30 Evangelical ministers today called on Governor Terry McAuliffe's administration to develop a strong plan to protect Virginia's health and economy by limiting the harmful carbon pollution that causes climate change.

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DBL Investors: For States, More Renewable Energy Means Lower Power Prices

by: lowkell

Tue Mar 17, 2015 at 10:48:07 AM EDT


Another day, yet another strong piece of evidence that sticking with a fossil-fuel-heavy power generation portfolio isn't just bad for the environment and for people's health, it's also bad for the bottom line. This time, it's a study by DBL Investors, entitled "Renewables Are Driving Up Electricity Prices? WAIT, WHAT?" The key takeaway is as follows:
... states with the greatest share of electricity generation from renewable sources have often experienced average retail electricity prices that are cheaper than both the national average and also states with the smallest share of electricity generation from renewable sources.
In 2013, U.S. states generated electricity from renewable sources at a variety of different levels. And yet, as the graph below demonstrates, greater generation from renewables did not mean skyrocketing electricity prices. In fact, states generating more electricity from renewables often experienced average retail electricity prices well below states producing less electricity from  renewables.
Or, as this article puts it, "states boasting robust green energy programs have the nation's cheapest electricity," and "trend lines suggest it's only going to get better for their consumers." Actually, switching to renewable energy at this point is basically a no-brainer, that is if you want an inexhaustible, clean, and increasingly cheap form of power for your state. Keep in mind that:

*The cost of wind power has decreased 58% over the past 5 years, and there's no reason to think that improvements in wind technology and cost will end anytime in the foreseeable future.

*The cost of solar power has been plummeting, down 78% between 2009 and 2014, and that trend is highly likely to continue indefinitely, utlimately leading to the "singularity", in which "solar power will be close to free in the coming decades."

*As for natural gas, which some people foolishly want to lock us into for decades to come, it's cheap right now, but that is highly unlikely to continue. Also, as this article notes, the price of natural gas is highly volatile, to the extent that it "can increase by a factor of six over the course of five years, then decrease by the same amount in four years."

*Finally, of course, energy efficiency continues to be the cheapest form of energy that exists -- far, far less expensive than a new coal-fired power plant, for instance, and without any of the environmental damage that comes with coal.

As always, the lesson here is that you shouldn't believe anything the entrenched, "incumbent" fossil fuel companies try to tell you about renewable energy, as they've got it exactly backwards. Of course, as Upton Sinclair said,  "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." That certainly helps explain the disinformation coming out of the fossil fuel industry folks and their political allies. As for the rest of us, our futures depend on understanding that clean and cheap energy, not dirty and expensive fossil fuels, represent the future for our states, our country and the planet.

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New Report by PJM Confirms VA State Corporation Commission Was Wildly Wrong in Its "Analysis"

by: lowkell

Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 12:18:43 PM EDT

You might recall a bunch of headlines in the corporate media, mindlessly and uncritically parroting a bunch of nonsensical fossil fuel industry propaganda put out by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) regarding the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan. As the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote at the time, the SCC took a "seriously flawed," "extremely pessimistic and inaccurate view of the state's ability to join a 21st century clean energy economy, claiming it could only do so at a high cost to electricity consumers." In fact, the EXACT OPPOSITE is the case: according to the Union of Concerned Scientists: "the Commonwealth is well on track to meet its goals under the Clean Power Plan (CPP), affordably and reliably. A majority of its electricity already comes from lower-carbon energy sources like nuclear, natural gas, and renewable energy."

How the SCC, which theoretically is supposed to regulate Dominion Power and other corporations in Virignia, could have brazenly spewed out such a Big Lie, and how the media could have blasted the headline all over its pages, is beyond infuriating. And now, the Virginia media is compounding their utter lack of journalistic integrity and intelligence by FAILING to publicize the exact opposite finding, one which happens to be correct, by a definitive source: PJM, the "regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia." PJM's new analysis is summarized here, and can read in full here (PDF). The key takeaways are as follows.

1. "Virginia can generate net revenue from the CPP as early as 2020 through a market-based allowance trading program among PJM states. In such a regional plan, Virginia efficiently reduces its carbon pollution and then sells pollution 'allowances' to neighboring states that have more pollution to reduce, generating revenue for the Commonwealth in the process."

2. Far from the CPP being "unfair" to Virginia, as some have whined, the fact is the exact opposite: "if Governor McAuliffe writes his state plan utilizing a regional PJM market-based approach, Virginia has the second-easiest target to reach among the 11 PJM states analyzed." Thus, " Because Virginia's cleaner fleet is rewarded in this way by the Clean Power Plan (as currently proposed), Governor McAuliffe should be gunning for aggressive clean energy gains in his state plan for the CPP: right out of the gate in 2020, Virginia could sell the carbon reductions across state lines."

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Video, Transcript: Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks on Climate Change at the Atlantic Council

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 13, 2015 at 07:28:07 AM EDT

I've bolded a few parts that jumped out at me, but definitely read and/or skim this entire speech -it's powerful, timely, "spot on," etc. Thank you Secretary Kerry!
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, everybody. Fred, thank you very, very much for a very generous introduction. I'm delighted to be here with everybody. Distinguished ambassadors who are here this morning, thank you for taking time to represent your countries and come here and share your concern about this critical issue...

It's clear that from Venezuela to Iraq to Ukraine, there is no shortage of energy challenges in the world today. And we've had many conversations recently. I was in Brussels. We had an U.S.-EU energy summit, where we laid out an agenda for how we can liberate some of these countries from their one-country dependency in the case of Russia and others. It has huge strategic importance. But I have to tell you, at the top of the list of energy challenges is climate change. And that is why the Road to Paris series, the very first hosted by the center, is so very important, and I am really delighted to be here and be a part of it.

As Fred mentioned, climate change is an issue that is personal to me, and it has been since the 1980s, when we were organizing the very first climate hearings in the Senate. In fact, it really predates that, going back to Earth Day when I'd come back from Vietnam. It was the first political thing I began to organize in Massachusetts, when citizens started to make a solid statement in this country. And I might add that's before we even had an Environmental Protection Agency or a Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act or a Marine Mammal Protection Act or a Coastal Zone Management Act. It all came out of that kind of citizen movement. And that's what we have to be involved in now. And the reason for that is simple: For decades now, the science has been screaming at us, warning us, trying to compel us to act.

And I just want to underscore that for a moment. It may seem obvious to you, but it isn't to some. Science is and has long been crystal clear when it comes to climate change. Al Gore, Tim Wirth, and a group of us organized the first hearings in the Senate on this, 1988. We heard Jim Hansen stand in - sit in front of us and tell us it's happening now, 1988. So we're not talking about news reports or blog posts or even speeches that some cabinet secretary might give at a think tank. We're talking about a fact-based, evidence-supported, peer-reviewed science. And yet, if you listen to some people in Washington or elsewhere, you'd think there's a question about whether climate change really is a problem or whether we really need to respond to it.

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Must-Read Articles for Dominion, the SCC, Gov. McAuliffe, Virginia General Assembly

by: lowkell

Sun Mar 08, 2015 at 12:16:46 PM EDT

Over the past few days, I've run across several articles which really should be must-read for anyone involved in formulating and/or implementing energy policy in Virginia. That includes, of course, Dominion Power, which basically gets whatever it has bought and paid for. It also includes the similarly bought-and-paid for (by fossil fuel interests) State Corporation Commission (SCC), Virginia General Assembly and Gov. McAuliffe (who in recent months has been wildly wrong on at least two important energy/environmental issues facing Virginia).

First, I strongly recommend that all of the above read New York Just Showed Every Other State How to Do Solar Right. The gist of this article is that New York is getting serious about promoting clean energy and changing the existing, dysfunctional model for utilities in the Empire State. Check out the following excerpts, and keep in mind that there's absolutely no good reason why any of this couldn't, or shouldn't, be done in Virginia.

Under a new order from [New York's] Public Service Commission, utility companies will soon be barred from owning "distributed" power systems-that means rooftop solar, small wind turbines, and basically anything else that isn't a big power plant...The move is part of a larger package of energy reforms in the state, aimed at setting up the kind of futuristic power system that experts think will be needed to combat global warming. The first step came in 2007, when the state adopted "decoupling," a market design in which a utility's revenue is based not on how much power it sells, but on how many customers it serves...Now, under New York's most recent reform, a utility's revenue will instead be based on how efficiently and effectively it distributes power, so-called "performance-based rates." This, finally, provides the incentive utilities need to make decisions that jibe with the state's climate goals, because it will be to their advantage to make use of distributed energy systems...So far, the response from utilities has been receptive...The change in New York could become a model for other states..."Everyone is watching to see what's happening here...It's really a model of what a utility could be in the future."
Just think about why Virginia hasn't adopted serious "decoupling," "net metering," Renewable Portfolio Standards, and other crucial policy measures. The short answer is simple: large amounts of money utterly corrupting our politiical system, "capturing" the very legislative and regulatory bodies that are supposed to be in charge, but which de facto have ceded that authority to powerful corporate interests such as Dominion Power. This SHOULD Be an utterly unacceptable situation to every single Virginian, with people literally protesting in the streets to change it. Of course, the folks at Dominion, etc. are counting on Virginians NOT doing just that, and so far their bet's been paying off -- for them, not for us.
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Video: President Obama Talks About Tar Sands, Keystone XL, Climate Change

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 06, 2015 at 17:31:24 PM EST

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Thanks to Sen. Kaine for Voting to Uphold Pres. Obama's Keystone Veto. As for Mark Warner...

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 04, 2015 at 17:38:40 PM EST

The Senate voted earlier this afternoon and failed to override President Obama's veto of the "ram-filthy-Canadian-tar-sands-down-our-throats" bill. Thank you to Tim Kaine, and to the 36 others, who voted against overriding. As for Democrats who voted to override the veto, including Virginia's own Mark Warner, to put it mildly I'm not pleased. What is it about the science of global warming, and the dire/urgent need to get off of fossil fuels ASAP, don't they understand? Also, what don't they understand about the fact that Keystone XL would only produce at most a few dozen permanent jobs, while encouraging production of some of the dirtiest, nastiest fossil fuels on earth? Are these people 100% bought-and-paid-for or what?

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Fairfax Falsely Claims "Energy Dashboard" Would Cost "astonishing" $14.8m; Actual Cost $125k

by: lowkell

Sun Mar 01, 2015 at 18:49:33 PM EST

From the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions; so much for Fairfax County's "Cool Counties" commitment?!?

When I was a boy, my mother told me not to speak when I was angry. That advice stuck with me. That’s why I’ve taken almost a month to write to you about what happened in early February at the meeting of the Fairfax County Environmental Committee.

A work commitment prevented me from attending that day. But several FACS members who did attend told me what happened.

The conference room at the County Government Center was filled to capacity as Jose Comayagua Jr. of the facilities management department led Chairman Sharon Bulova and the other Supervisors through a PowerPoint presentation. The conclusion: an energy dashboard – which Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions has been promoting for months with Supervisors and staff as tool to increase energy efficiency and save taxpayer money – would cost an astonishing $14.8 million to set up and $3.5 million annually to operate!

“It’s really not that useful,” declared County Executive Ed Long, who was sitting nearby. 

Every expert I have talked to since then has shaken their head and chuckled at the County’s cost estimate. 

Energy Efficiency Isn’t Sexy

It’s not like building Tysons Corner or extending the Silver Line. It’s not like maintaining the quality of our schools or building more affordable housing. Energy efficiency is asking that we do more with less. Increasing energy efficiency is recognized as the most effective way to quickly reduce the CO2 emissions that are causing the heat trapping blanket around the earth that is disrupting our climate and endangering our grandchildren.

Did you know Virginia is ranked 35th of all states in energy efficiency? Despite what Fairfax County say, the County is far behind behind Arlington County, the District of Columbia, and Montgomery County, Maryland in commitment and measurable progress. 

Accountability

County officials say they are already doing so much. But do you know what they are doing to address climate disruption? We’ve been studying it for months, and we don’t either.

That’s what an energy dashboard is all about. It’s a baseline of measurement; a means to determine what buildings are efficient and which ones are not. It’s a window into County operations that will provide accountability. But it appears Fairfax County is not interested in accountability to voters.

When Supervisor LindaQ.Smyth of Providence District asked if, rather than adding the cost to the County’s tight budget, alternate means of financing have been examined, Mr. Comayagua replied, “We’ll look into it.”After the meeting, FACS member Scott Peterson asked Mr. Long why alternate financing had not been examined, when FACS had provided three alternative financing mechanisms? Long said we should send another memo. 

It’s About Commitment

Instead, I contacted two energy management software companies that have successfully mounted publicly-facing energy consumption websites for Washington DC, Los Angeles, Boston,and New Orleans, as well Fortune 500 companies. Within a few short years, investments in dashboards paid off and significant savings piled up.

How Much for Fairfax County?

For all 450 County and Fairfax county public school buildings, the higher of the two cost estimates was $125,000 plus $55,000 annually for maintenance.

You read that correctly. In my next post, I’ll provide more details. 

My mother was right. It’s a bad idea to speak when you are angry. But my mother was also a very determined woman who seldom took no for an answer. That’s something I learned from her, too. 

Eric Goplerud

Executive Director, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions

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VA Sierra Club: "No. 1 threat to our democracy and to our environment in Virginia is Dominion"

by: lowkell

Sun Mar 01, 2015 at 09:06:09 AM EST

Dear Lowell,

It's time to take back our democracy and protect our environment in Virginia from the corporate cronyism that dominates politics in our state. We needn't look any further than to our convicted and disgraced last Governor to know that politics in Virginia are broken. 

Join Sierra Club's Dominion Accountability Efforts TODAY!

The No. 1 threat to our democracy and to our environment in Virginia is Dominion Resources (and its subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power), which is the state's biggest polluter and the largest campaign contributor to both Democrats and Republicans in our General Assembly.

We must limit Dominion's power and influence over Virginia politics.

 

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Video: Falls Church, Virginia Second Grader Far, Far Smarter than Scott Walker

by: lowkell

Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 13:00:00 PM EST

Right-wingnut Gov. Scott Walker is not the brightest bulb on a wide range of issues, including of course energy and the environment. Here, he's asked by Haycock Elementary School (Falls Church, Virginia) second grader Aaron Stark what he'd do about climate change. Walker starts out ok, with the Boy Scout/campfire metaphor, but then Aaron follows up, much more skillfully than the Chuck Todds of the world ever do, by asking Walker point blank, "Do you CARE about climate change?" That's when Walker goes off the rails, as he starts talking to a second grader in Republican talking points about "ultimately" having "all the natural resources...as possible to move forward" blah blah blah. I mean, this really isn't complicated: if you're asked this question, certainly by a second grader, the answer is going to be pretty simple, that I care a lot, that this is a huge threat, and that we have to do something about it now! Of course, Walker couldn't do that because: a) he probably doesn't believe it; b) he's bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests; and c) he's busy pandering for support from the crazy, science-denying, environment-trashing Republican base. Anyway, great job by Aaron, who I'd recommend as a replacement for any number of Sunday talk show hosts. :)

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Jim Webb Continues to Be Wrong, Horrible on the Environment

by: lowkell

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 20:13:08 PM EST

This is wrong on almost every level. "Creation of 40,000 jobs?" That's wildly untrue, been debunked over and over again (e.g., see here). In fact, according to a report by Cornell University researchers, ""The construction of KXL will create far fewer jobs in the US than its proponents have claimed and may actually destroy more jobs than it generates." As for having "no serious impact on the environment," to the extent Keystone XL encourages tar sands development (which is kind of the entire point, you know?), it will be very bad environmentally. Want to see what it looks like? Click here and check out what's been called "the most destructive project on earth." And don't forget the health impacts, which are nasty as well. For more, see Bird deaths reported on Alberta oil sands tailing ponds and Federal study says oil sands toxins are leaching into groundwater, Athabasca River. Also see Keystone XL pipeline may threaten aquifer that irrigates much of the central U.S.. We could go on all day, but the bottom line is that Jim Webb is wildly wrong about this, just as he's wildly wrong in ignoring/minimizing the #1 threat to humanity (and to many other species) - anthropogenic global warming. That alone should eliminate him from consideration by anyone who cares about the environment, or really any progressive.

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Rep. Connolly Receives Top Rating from League of Conservation Voters

by: lowkell

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 16:37:43 PM EST

Nice job by Rep. Gerry Connolly, as well as by Rep. Bobby Scott. As for the Republican members of Virginia's House of Representatives' delegation -- not so much (e.g., ZERO for Dave Brat, 8% for Bob BADlatte, 8% for climate-science-denying freakazoid Morgan Griffith, 11% for supposed "moderate" Scott Rigell, 6% for the abysmal Randy Forbes, 6% for Robert "Biggest Downgrade from Previous Representative Ever?" Hurt, and 17% for supposed environmentalist - hahahahaha - Rob Wittman).

 

Gets Highest Environmental Score of Virginia’s Congressional Delegation

 

WASHINGTON – Congressman Gerry Connolly received the highest scores among Virginia’s congressional delegation from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) in its 2014 and lifetime scorecards for environmental votes cast in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

 

In its National Environmental Scorecard released Thursday, LCV gave Connolly and Congressman Bobby Scott scores of 94 percent for their environmental votes in 2014, the highest among the Virginia delegation.  Connolly also received a 96 percent rating, the top score among Virginians, for his lifetime rating of votes in the House. 

 

The average score in the House for 2014 votes was 43 percent.

 

“I am proud of my strong record in support of the environment dating back to my tenure as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,” Connolly said.  “I appreciate this recognition from the League of Conservation Voters for my votes on critical issues before Congress affecting the environment, energy, and public health.”

 

LCV has issued its scorecard for more than 40 years and it is viewed as the nationally-accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health, and energy issues.

 

The 2014 Scorecard covers votes cast during the second session of the 113th Congress. It includes 35 House votes, which ties the record for the most votes scored in the House.  LCV officials said House Republicans have waged a relentless assault on issues ranging from clean air and clean energy to endangered species to public lands.

                                                                                # # #

 

Here is the link to the LCV Scorecard - http://scorecard.lcv.org . 

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Sens. Markey, Boxer, Whitehouse Query Dominion, Alpha on Climate Science Denial Funding

by: lowkell

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 17:59:01 PM EST

According to a press release I received earlier today, "Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today sent letters to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and other organizations to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators." Among those companies were two based in Virginia: Richmond-based Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here!" Resources and Bristol-based coal company/polluter Alpha Natural Resources. My attitude is that it couldn't have happened to two nicer companies. :) In all seriousness, though, their answers to these questions should be fascinating. Great work by Senators Markey, Boxer and Whitehouse on this!

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Checks and Balances Project Launches Captured Regulators Initiative

by: sthepeterson

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 09:15:20 AM EST

(This is highly relevant to Virignia, where the State Corporation Commission has been "captured" by Dominion Power and fossil fuel interests, and is essentially regulated by the corporations, not the other way around. - promoted by lowkell)

Checks and Balances Project Launches Captured Regulators InitiativeInfluence pedaling in America is a $9 billion a year industry. It's as big as Major League Baseball or NASA's Mars spacecraft program, changing from direct meetings with lawmakers to a vertically integrated set of businesses that work every stage of government decision making - including the shaping of public opinion.

Checks and Balances Project Launches Captured Regulators InitiativeMany have charted the size, scope, and growth of the influence peddling industry. There's the definitive, 25-part Washington Post series on the emergence of modern mega-lobbying firms. Ross and Amter's definitive history of the chemical lobby The Polluters. Merchants of Doubt, by Oreskes and Conway, that laid bare the growth of the lobbyist-funded think tank industry. There are also definitive books by then-reporter Jeff Birnbaum's, including The Money Men: The Real Story of Fund-raising’s Influence on Political Power in America - though Birnbaum later joined the influence business himself.

The point is that as a growth industry, influence peddling needs to find new ways to grow to accommodate the ever-expanding ranks for former staff and public officials who want to make big money after their public "service."

So it was only a matter of time before previously sleepy public offices, such state assembly offices, state public utility commissions, and writers of obscure cost-benefit analyses became part of the influence peddling playbook. That's particularly true now that the big shifts in the energy industry are under way. Rooftop solar on people's homes has been declared a "mortal threat" by the lobbying arm of the utility industry, which has launched a very concerted effort to penalize their customers for buying less of their product.

Regulatory Capture in State Agencies
In many states, commissioners have been lured to ally themselves with the industries they are charged with regulating. There is a term for this, created by Nobel Prize winner Economist George J. Stigler over 50 years ago: "Regulatory capture."

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 485 words in story)

President Obama to Veto Keystone Bill; Activism Beats Conventional Wisdom

by: lowkell

Tue Feb 24, 2015 at 09:00:58 AM EST

As President Obama prepares to veto a bill trying to force through approval of the filthy, dangerous, environment-trashing, very-few-jobs-creating Canadian tar sands export pipeline, I agree with what Miles Grant has to say: this is a great example of how activism can beat conventional wisdom.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Video: Protesting Dominion Resources at Their HQ in Richmond This Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Feb 23, 2015 at 13:30:08 PM EST

The Virginia Sierra Club reports: "Historic Event Today in Dominion Resources Accountability. Several protesters were arrested after blocking access to Dominon's Corp HQ and energy futures trading floor. While Sierra Club did not participate in the civil disobedience, [Richmond Conservation Program Coordinator] Kendyl Crawford spoke at the demonstration." Here's some of what the speakers had to say.

"Today, this is about civil disobedience opposition to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline...this is not the way to a sustainable future...Dominion basically has a monopoly in Virginia, and it actually recently pushed through legislation to make themselves have even more of a monopoly; they're the largest non-party contributor to the Democratic and the Republican Party. Right now, pipelines are very much the front lines of climate justice. We're out here saying that we don't more entrenched fossil fuel infrastracture, we want renewable energy...this pipeline is the wrong way to go...we're trying to encourage our legislators and our leaders to make the right decision and to not build this pipeline, [but instead] to invest in renewable energy for a sustainable future. The future is not about...all of the many risks associated with natural gas -- pipeline explosions, toxic fracking, which is a huge threat to both air quality and water quality..."

"We have a moral obligation to act...Climate impacts are already being felt here in the Richmond area...The National Climate Assessment released last year announced that children, the elderly, the sick, the poor and some communities of color are the most at risk of the negative health impacts of climate change...the impacts of climate change are here today and they will intensify existing threats to health...We can not afford to let climate change amplify our health risks...African Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma-related causes than Caucasians...Approximately 78% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Although coal is often hailed as being one of the most cost-effective energy solutions, this does not take into account all of the burdens that weigh down on the communities closest to the plants.  Unfortunately, African Americans...end up suffering from increased rates of asthma, lost school and work days, not to mention lead exposure...Surely these expenses should be calculated as the true cost of our energy production. Which is why I am thrilled that just last year, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the Clean Power Plan...the first-ever national limit on carbon pollution from our power plants...cutting carbon pollution will not only protect our public health, but our public safety as well."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)
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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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