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Energy and Environment

Virginia Helps Successfully Defend Chesapeake Bay Restoration

by: lowkell

Mon Jul 06, 2015 at 12:45:00 PM EDT

The following press release is from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring's office.  Which reminds me; have I mentioned recently how happy I am that Mark Herring is our Attorney General - and NOT right wingnut Mark Obenshain (or Obenshain's model Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli)? :) 

 

~ Virginia was the first Bay state to defend its Bay restoration plan and its ability to work cooperatively with other Bay states and federal partners ~

 

RICHMOND(July 6, 2015)-Today, a three judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the right of Virginia and other Chesapeake Bay states to work together to protect and restore the Bay. In April 2014, Attorney General Mark R. Herring filed an amicus brief in American Farm Bureau v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect Virginia's efforts, making the Commonwealth the first state to defend the Bay plan on appeal. The brief laid out the economic, environmental and historic reasons Virginia was compelled to weigh in on the side of the Bay and the reasons that the long history of cooperation between Bay states should be honored.

 

The brief also refuted arguments made in an amicus brief from 21 attorneys general, all but one of whom were from outside the Bay watershed, that opposed the ability of Bay states and the EPA to work cooperatively to address the health of the Bay, which is North America's largest estuary and a major economic force for the region, annually contributing an estimated $2 billion and 41,000 jobs from commercial fishing, $1.6 billion and 13,000 jobs in saltwater angling, $70 million in crabs, and $680 million in tourism.

 

"Because of today's ruling, Virginia and our fellow Bay states will be able to continue the important and urgent work of restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay," said Attorney General Herring. "The most promising plan for Bay restoration was under attack from out of state special interests and I couldn't let that go unanswered. The economic, recreational, environmental, health, and intrinsic value of clean water and a strong, healthy Bay compelled us to come to its defense. We've still got a long way to go to get the Bay back to where we want it, but today's ruling lets us stay on this promising trajectory."

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Northern Virginia Tea Party to Host Speaker from American Petroleum Institute Front Group

by: lowkell

Sat Jul 04, 2015 at 06:56:49 AM EDT

At least theoretically, a populist political movement is supposed to be skeptical, or even hostile, to things like out-of-control corporate power, taxpayer-funded corporate welfare, and the undue influence on our politics of the super-wealthy and well-connected. Yet the "Tea Party," which I've seen referred to in the corporate media many times as some flavor of "populist," has consistently been anything but populist, anything but anti-corporate, anything but working for "the people" over "the powerful" or whatever real populist movements do. To the stark contrary, as the invaluable SourceWatch explains:
While promoted as a spontaneous "grassroots" movement, many of the activities of Tea Party groups were organized by corporate lobbying groups like Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity...

In an article in the August 30, 2010 issue of The New Yorker magazine, author Jane Mayer links the billionaire brothers David Koch and Charles Koch, owners of Koch Industries to tea party movement funding...

Reports indicate that the Tea Party Movement benefits from millions of dollars from conservative foundations that are derived from wealthy U.S. families and their business interests. It appears that money to organize and implement the Movement flows primarily through two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks...

Media Matters also lists the Sarah Scaife Foundation as having given a total of $2.96 million in funding to FreedomWorks. The Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation is financed by the Mellon industrial, oil, and banking fortune. The Claude R. Lambe Foundation, also controlled by the Koch family, has donated more than $3 million to Americans for Prosperity...

The Tea Party has also gotten substantial support in the form of promotion from Fox News Channel and its talk show hosts, including Glenn Beck.  

In sum, Tea Party members might falsely believe that they're fighting "the man," but in reality they're just tools in a high-stakes game for the benefit of millionaires, billionaires, oil companies, etc. I believe the phrase (ironically) that applies here -- "useful idiots" - is one that used to be attached to "fellow travellers and other revolutionary communist sympathizers during the Cold War." Today, with the Cold War over, I'd argue that the more appropriate use for that phrase is towards the Tea Party and other right-wing, faux-"populist" groups that serve as nothing more than unwitting/witless "propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause."

Case in point: the Northern Virginia Tea Party's invitation to a speaker from "Virginia Energy Citizens," the job of which is to bash wind and solar power while pimping for the continued trashing of our planet by dirty, dangerous, expensive coal and oil. Check out the "Energy Citizens" fossil fuel propaganda site, and the key to the entire charade can be found in the lower left-hand corner, where you'll find hidden away, in small print and almost unreadable (as if they're ashamed or something), the words "Supported by American Petroleum Institute." Also check out SourceWatch's page on "Energy Citizens", and you'll learn the facts:  

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Report: Virginia leadership critical foundation for an international agreement on climate

by: sbucci

Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 23:00:32 PM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

Arlington, VA - Virginia is gearing up to play a major role in U.S. progress to address climate change, a new report said today. In the next decade, the state will cut as much global warming pollution as 22 billion tons of coal burned annually.

The Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center report comes as pressure mounts on the U.S. to play a leading role in negotiations for an international climate agreement in Paris.

"The best way to lead is by example," said Nicole Guilfoyle, Global Warming Solutions Organizer with Environment Virginia. "With Virginia's help, that's exactly what the US is poised to do."

The analysis, Path to the Paris Climate Conference, documents expected carbon pollution reductions from existing state-level and federal policies by 2025, including renewable energy standards, fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and regional and state-based carbon caps. Solar can power Virginia 18 times over, and that resource will be expanded under the Governor's state energy plan.

The report shows that state and federal policies underway across the country can reduce carbon pollution 27 percent below 2005 levels.

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Audio: David Roberts of Vox Demolishes the Post-Partisan Fallacy

by: lowkell

Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 07:41:59 AM EDT

Great stuff from David Roberts of Grist on the "post-partisan fallacy" and the hard-core nature of the right wing in this country. First, though, some positive thoughts from Roberts about clean energy.

*"It's going to be the growth of cleantech that ultimately forces the climate policy question, and I sort of think we're seeing the early stages of that happening...clean energy getting so cheap that it's starting to shift the politics, mainly at the state level."

Roberts then talks about political polarization in the U.S., which he says "a lot of people still  have not really, fully come to grips with."

*In Roberts' view, political polarization is not just a "Washington DC phenomenon" or just about "too much money in politics" and that there's "still this mass of sort-of moderate, centrist people out in the country who aren't having their needs met, and I just think that's wrong...the polarization in the capital reflects polarization in the country."
*"At this point, the U.S. conservative movement has become an identity movement, and part of that identity is opposing anything that Democrats support that might indicate the need for more government programs..more taxing or spending or regulating."
*The "endless quest for the bipartisan or trans-partisan or post-partisan climate message that's going to unite everyone behind sensible policy is, I think, fruitless, has been fruitless, and was always fruitless..."
*What's the alternative strategy other than coming together and joining hands?" "The other stratey is to beat the other side; if you can't win them over, you beat them. You know, this is something you don't have to explain to any Republican, but for some reason on the left, Democrats, the whole idea of winning as opposed to sort-of transcending partisan battles is still a little...alien to them."

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Senators Kaine, Warner Sign Letter on America's Energy Future to 50 Governors

by: lowkell

Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 15:27:34 PM EDT

This is good stuff overall, although vague enough that even coal industry shill Sen. Joe Manchin could sign it. Also, sorry, but this "all-of-the-above" approach is simply not going to cut it; with the climate already past the danger point, we need to get off fossil fuels ASAP. I'd further point out that the reference to "low-carbon fossil energy" is pretty much a farce. They're referring, of course, to natural gas, which certainly is lower in carbon content than coal or oil. The problems with natural gas are multifold, however: 1) its production releases the potent greenhouse gas methane; 2) it still contains climate-heating carbon; 3) in the U.S., the main way to produce it is via the dangerous, dirty, water-wasting, earthquake-causing technique called "fracking;" 4) to the extent we subsidize (implicitly and explicitly) natural gas production, we're both pulling money out of true clean energy (efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, etc.) and also undercutting true clean energy in terms of the economics; and 5) in sum, natural gas is a "bridge" in only one sense - a bridge to nowhere.

Last but not least, I'd point out that many of these Senators - including both Warner and Kaine - support things that are fundamentally incompatible with the goals laid out here: for starters, there's no way to make offshore oil drilling or mountaintop removal coal mining clean, let alone to "[keep] our air and water clean for generations to come". I haven't heard the Obama administration or anyone who supports the so-called "all-of-the-above" strategy explain how that gets us to where the science tells us we need to be. And I know I never will, because the short answer is that continued reliance on fossil fuels is fundamentally incompatible with the future of a habitable planet for humans and other species.

P.S. Also notice the dearth of Republicans on this letter? That's truly pathetic, but sadly not unexpected from these fossil fuel industry tools.

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Rep. Don Beyer Statement on SCOTUS EPA Ruling

by: lowkell

Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 14:33:11 PM EDT

Personally, I'd characterize this decision as far worse than "disappointing." Perhaps it's the diplomat in Don Beyer speaking there, because I suspect he must be highly displeased, just as anyone who cares about protecting our environment should be.
June 29, 2015 (Washington, DC) - Congressman Don Beyer expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court's decision today in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency that rolled back Obama Administration environmental regulations for power plants:

"Today's Supreme Court's decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency is disappointing.  This ruling undermines President Obama's work to strengthen public health and the environment by limiting the discharge of hazardous pollutants from power plants," said Rep. Beyer.  "Our environment is the lasting legacy we will leave to the generations who follow.  I look forward to working with my colleagues and EPA Administrator McCarthy to craft a rule in line with today's decision that protects the air we breathe."

UPDATE: David Roberts of Vox says "The Supreme Court's mercury decision is pointless." Let's hope he's right!
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Dominion makes a play for utility-scale solar, but Amazon steals the show

by: ivymain

Thu Jun 25, 2015 at 19:54:35 PM EDT

This winter Dominion Virginia Power promised Governor Terry McAuliffe it would build 400-500 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar power in Virginia by 2020, part of the deal it cut to gain the governor's support for a bill shielding it from rate reviews through the end of the decade. The company also took a welcome first step by announcing a proposed 20-MW solar farm near Remington, Virginia.

The applause had hardly died down, though, when Amazon Web Services announced it would be building a solar project in Accomack County, Virginia, that will be four times the size of Dominion's, at a per-megawatt cost that's 25% less.

Why such a big difference in cost? The way Dominion chose to structure the Remington project, building and owning it directly, makes it cost more than it would if a third party developed the project, as will be he case for the Accomack project. That means Dominion is leaving money on the table-ratepayers' money.

There is nothing wrong with the Remington project otherwise. The site seems to be good, local leaders are happy, and solar as a technology has now reached the point where it makes sense both economically and as a complement to Dominion's other generation. But by insisting on building the project itself, and incurring unnecessary costs, Dominion risks having the State Corporation Commission (SCC) reject what would otherwise be a great first step into solar.

And that's a crying shame, because solar really is a great deal for consumers these days. Utilities now regularly sign contracts to buy solar for between 4.5 and 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Compare that to the 9.3 cents/kWh cost of electricity produced by Dominion's newest coal plant in Virginia City, and it's no wonder that solar is the fastest growing energy source in the country.

Utilities get those rates by buying solar energy from solar developers, not by playing developer themselves. From the ratepayer's point of view, developers have three advantages over utilities: they are experts at what they're doing, they work on slimmer profit margins, and they get better tax treatment. Dominion loses all three advantages if it builds the Remington solar farm itself.  

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Corporate Media Takes Fossil Fuel Industry "Poll" on Fracking, Gas Pipeline Seriously. #FAIL

by: lowkell

Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 13:58:08 PM EDT

Yet another #FAIL by the corporate media when it comes to "reporting" (using that word VERY loosely) on energy and environmental issues here in Virginia. One of the most egregious, frankly disgraceful examples of this occurred last fall, when the Virginia media gullibly/cluelessly reported as fact the fossil fuel propaganda/garbage put out by the thoroughly "captured" State Corporation Commission on the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The lack of any critical analysis or digging on that one was simply astounding, calling into question why we even have "reporters," if all they're going to do is print whatever drivel they receive in their inboxes.

Now, we see yet another example of the News Corpse at work, with their "reporting" on a new "poll" that ostensibly shows support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, as well as for "expanded off-shore energy  production, constructing the Keystone XL pipeline, and coal power plants." These are "interesting" results on a couple levels: 1) the poll was conducted for the "Consumer Energy Alliance" (CEA) fossil fuel front group, which has worked " to thwart government efforts to favor relatively cleaner conventional fuels over the dirtiest forms of extreme unconventional energy like the Alberta tar sands;"  and 2) the CEA fossil fuel front troup "poll" contradicts other polling which finds overwhelming majorities in Virginia and other states who support moving off of dirty energy and towards cleaner sources like solar and wind. As Peter Galuszka writes in the comments secion of Dominion Power-sponsored blog Bacon's Rebellion:

The "Consumer" Energy Alliance? Funny but I don't see one "consumer" advocate on the board, rather the pr spokeswoman for steel maker Nucor, a rural electrical coop, another other manufacturing types. Nary an environmentalist there. Nor a consumer.

Of course, they're going to have a poll showing that "Virginians" just love Dominion's controversial pipeline project.

Jim, if this is a sample of what the new Dominion sponsorship means then maybe we should quit before we are ahead.

Also worth noting is a comment by the Sierra Club's Glen Besa, who points out that "the poll at best is indicative of the success of a major advertising campaign by the natural gas industry promoting it as a clean fuel...s an industry poll, and it reflects the industry's perspective." And yes, in fairness, the corporate media DID note that the CEA is "industry-backed," and that it "includes Dominion and Piedmont Natural Gas among its members." Of course, that raises the question of why the media even went with this "story" at all. As a commenter at the Roanoke Times puts it: "A poll that was bought and paid for by the industry. Back in the days of journalism this was called a 'press release'." Bingo.
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Video: "Pope Francis: The Encyclical"

by: lowkell

Mon Jun 15, 2015 at 12:35:58 PM EDT

Great stuff, and so true. I particularly like the villainous fossil fuel dude with the eye patch talking about how "coal, oil and gas" are "god's given gifts and they are ours for the taking!!!" A bit over the top, you say? Except that the fossil fuel industry and its minions in Congress, like Sen. James Inhofe, actually believe this bull****, and spend huge sums of money to propagate it. Now, it's time for all of us to fight back, as this is the greatest environmental, economic and moral challenge of our time (or any time?). If we win this, sustainable prosperity awaits. If we lose...don't even ask.

P.S. This fight includes you, yes YOU, Gov. McAuliffe. Need ideas for what Virginia should be doing? Check out Gov. Brown, Gov. Cuomo, etc., and tell Dominion to take it up with a "higher authority," so to speak, if they have any complaints. :)

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Massachusetts Moves Towards Fossil Fuel Divestment; How About Virginia?

by: lowkell

Thu Jun 11, 2015 at 16:38:29 PM EDT

Paging Gov. McAuliffe, paging Gov. McAuliffe, check this out! ;)

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Koch Brothers/Fossil Fuel-Funded Big Liars Strike Again, This Time on Nuclear Power

by: lowkell

Thu Jun 11, 2015 at 11:19:12 AM EDT

We've written numerous times about the Orwellian "Thomas Jefferson Institute." For more For more on that far-right-wing, fossil-fuel-funded, climate-science-denying (hence: completely bonkers) organization, see here:
The Thomas Jefferson Institute is a libertarian/right-wing think tank committed to "free markets, limited government and individual responsibility."  It is funded heavily by the Roe Foundation, a South Carolina-based which provides "financial support to free-market policy groups across the country" and which gives out its annual Roe Award to the likes of Grover Norquist and to others from right-wing groups like the Independence Institute (proud global warming deniers), the Reason Foundation (for years, global warming deniers who received funding from ExxonMobil), and the big-time global warming deniers at the Heartland Institute. Sensing a pattern here?
These tools are also funded by the State Policy Network, the Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State
Politics and Government
"with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders." Anyway, the bottom line is that these folks have absolutely ZERO credibility, nor does any "analysis" they put out on any subject, certainly not on energy or environmental matters, given their broad and deep ties to far-right-wing and fossil fuel interests.

All of which brings us to their latest hack job, a "study" called Virginia Can Lead the Nation's Nuclear Renaissance that is wrong on just about every level. As Peter Galuszka explains at Bacon's Rebellion:

...I note that the authors of this industry-happy report are members of an "authority" made up only of nuclear industry proponents and was created by disgraced former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who had a penchant for creating one-sided commissions.

A few points:

(1) "No radiation has ever leaked in the U.S. Yes, it did at Three Mile Island, apparently in a small amount, but the monitors did not report emissions accurately.

(2) Radiation sure as hell leaked at Chernobyl. The plume traveled all the way to Sweden. At Fukushima, radiation was enough to kill someone in a few hours...

(3) Talk about minimizing North Anna! Vepco, Dominion's predecessor, was fined for lying about putting he power plant on a fault line. The 2011 earthquake shook the reactor far past its design specs. It shut down for three months and the NRC studied it for national Repairs. Jim Bacon and the report he quotes minimize the incident. It was very serious.

(4) True nukes don't emit the CO2 that fossil fuel plants do. But how about the cost of a third nuke at North Anna? Is $15 billion too low? Dominion won't discuss. Don't get started about subsidies.

As usual, Galuszka nails it. The guy is sharp, no doubt about it.
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Amazon Web Services Announces New Renewable Energy Project in Virginia

by: lowkell

Wed Jun 10, 2015 at 15:57:41 PM EDT

Great news on the clean energy front here in Virginia, of COURSE not from the fossil fools at Dominion or from our bought-and-paid-for General Aseembly, but from Amazon.com.
Amazon Web Services Announces New Renewable Energy Project in Virginia
Amazon Solar Farm US East Will Be Virginia's Largest Solar Farm, Expected to Produce Approximately 170,000 MWh of Energy Annually

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 10, 2015-- Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ:AMZN), today announced that it has teamed with Community Energy, Inc. to support the construction and operation of an 80 megawatt (MW) solar farm in Accomack County, Virginia, called Amazon Solar Farm US East. This new solar farm is expected to start generating approximately 170,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of solar power annually as early as October 2016 - or the equivalent of that used by approximately 15,000 US homes1 in a year. Amazon Solar Farm US East will be the largest solar farm in the state of Virginia, with all energy generated delivered into the electrical grids that supply both current and future AWS Cloud datacenters. For more information, go to http://aws.amazon.com/about-aw...
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Arlington Parks Coalition County Board Candidates Questionnaire Democratic Responses

by: lowkell

Fri May 22, 2015 at 13:37:02 PM EDT

Source.
Arlington Parks Coalition County Board Candidates Questionnaire
Democratic Responses

May 22, 2015

Arlington Parks Coalition Letter to Democratic Candidates

Dear Democratic Primary Candidate for County Board:

The Arlington Parks Coalition is a non-partisan group formed in 2014 to advocate for "...the preservation, enhancement and expansion of our current and intended County-owned parkland and community centers solely for public park, recreation
and community center purposes..." You can learn more about our organization at www.arlingtonparkscoalition.org.

Many Arlington voters are concerned about the future of our parkland and community centers, especially in light of our growing population and the increasing, and increasingly conflicting, demands on these resources. These issues are important to our organization's members, the larger parks community and County residents as a whole, and will inform their voting decision in the upcoming
Democratic primary and November general election.

We would appreciate your answering each question below as fully as possible and returning your responses by Sunday, May 3rd. While our organization does not
make endorsements, each full set of responses received will be posted, unedited, along with the questions on our website, sent to our membership and also distributed as widely as possible within the parks community.

We would further welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss your responses and to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.

Thank you,

Rick Epstein, Chairperson
Arlington Parks Coalition
+++++++++++++++++
Arlington Parks Coalition Questions:

Question 1: Although the County Board is no longer pursuing last year's "Public Land for Public Good" initiative, it is anticipated that the Community Facilities Study Committee will develop a public facilities siting process which could potentially result in the use of our parkland and community center sites for other purposes.

a. Do you support the potential use of County parkland or community center sites for housing? for schools? for other purposes?

b. If elected to the Board, would you support the issuance of an overriding Board policy that our County parkland and community center sites should not be used for housing? for school sites? for other purposes?

Question 2: Given our County's continuing dramatic population growth and already
crowded parks and recreation resources, do you support increasing our parkland and recreation resources sufficient to meet not only current but also future demands on these resources?, If so, what specific steps would you advocate as a Board member to accomplish this increase, including any new and innovative
funding mechanisms or other programs or tools?

Question 3: In the decade prior to the 2009 recession, the County Board approved multiple parkland acquisition bonds in amounts of at least $8 million each, which were used to acquire key parks and open space including Fort C.F. Smith Park, Long Bridge Park and Powhatan Springs Skatepark. Given the dramatic increase in the cost of land in Arlington, as a Board member would you support a 2016 Park Bond measure, and subsequent park bond measures, of at least $8 million each?

Question 4: Do you oppose siting a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson site (bounded by S. Old Glebe Rd., S. 2nd St., S. Irving St., and Arlington Blvd./Route 50)? Do you support Arlington County developing a long-term plan for the Thomas Jefferson site that maintains the current acreage of Thomas Jefferson Park and improves the park's active and passive recreational space?

Question 5: The County Board initiated the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) process to plan the future development of the Wilson School site and the adjacent County fire station and Rosslyn Highlands Park. Notwithstanding a strong expression by the WRAPS committee and surrounding community that Rosslyn Highlands Park be preserved, County staff has proposed a plan giving County land to a private developer with the potential loss of two-thirds of the park. Do you support preservation of all of Rosslyn Highlands Park in its current location? If not, why not?
++++++++++++++++++
Candidates' Responses:
KATIE CRISTOL'S RESPONSES:
Thank you for this opportunity to respond - as the Arlington Parks Coalition is feeling acutely, land use and facilities planning is one of the County's most significant and immediate issues. And I appreciate the service the Arlington Parks Coalition is providing to our community discussions about land use, by concentrating and giving clear voice to the imperative to protect our parks.

I believe the role of a County Board member is to do his or her best to balance all
interests and needs in the community. Our County Board's responsibility is to stand in for the thousands of Arlington parents who feel as passionately about their neighborhood park as they do that their child shouldn't have to learn in a  relocatable classroom. In order to do so, County Board members have to be able to thoughtfully evaluate data and projections and community input from all sides.

Making categorical commitments to particular uses for particular sites makes it difficult to effectively take these steps and think holistically and innovatively while
on the Board.

Please know that I would have the exact same answer for a developer, for an APS interest group, or any other stakeholder group regarding land use in Arlington.

This said, the Arlington Parks Coalition is absolutely entitled to insight into candidates' priorities on this issue. Here are mine:

• All green space has value, and there is no "free land" in Arlington. In balancing competing interests for a given site, I will always consider the loss
of green, park or open space as a cost to the community - and make decisions accordingly.

• Any process to determine site use must be open to - and transparent to - the community. I find unacceptable the lack of transparency in the WRAPS process; in particular, what Katie Elmore has described to me as a preexisting County LOI with Penzance that was not disclosed to the community
work group. Similarly, the lack of full accounting about why the Thomas Jefferson site represents the most strategic, long-term solution for South Arlington elementary overcrowding has fed the sense that the community asset of TJ Park is being devalued. The County has to do better on
communications and honest dealing with the community in our process.

• We must creatively expand green space in Arlington. Looking only at the 2.2 square miles of current County- and APS-owned land is too narrow a frame - and inherently pits schools against parks against affordability. For me, being a champion for parks and green space on the County Board means expanding the pie instead of fighting over slices:

◦ Continuing (and seeking to increase) our strategic acquisition of land to expand neighborhood parks;
◦ Looking for creative, recreational uses of otherwise unusable sites;
◦ Cooperating with current land-holders willing to convert their underutilized space for open space and recreational purposes; and
◦ Upgrading parks so they can be used more frequently than they currently are.

I believe Park Bonds are an appropriate and strategic way to finance these sorts of acquisitions and capital upgrades.
+++++++++++++++++
CHRISTIAN DORSEY'S RESPONSES:
Question 1: Although the County Board is no longer pursuing last year's "Public Land for Public Good" initiative, it is anticipated that the Community Facilities Study Committee will develop a public facilities siting process which could potentially result in the use of our parkland and community center sites for other purposes.

a. Do you support the potential use of County parkland or community center sites for housing? for schools? for other purposes? Parkland and community centers are already public goods, and should be considered
public necessities. I do not support, on any level, repurposing parkland, or community centers within their useful lives for other purposes if it does not, at minimum maintain their existing uses. As our county becomes denser, the impact is not limited to housing
and schools; the need for parks, recreation and open space grows accordingly.

b. If elected to the Board, would you support the issuance of an overriding Board policy that our County parkland and community center sites should not be used for housing? for school sites? for other purposes?

I do not believe that is the best approach. In order to meet the multiple needs we have within our limited footprint, some creativity and flexibility are required. As was the case with Arlington Mill Community Center, housing and an expanded community center with outdoor recreation space were added to public land. This "win-win" scenario would not have been pursued under the type of overriding policy assumed in this question.

To be clear, however, it should be an overriding Board practice that only "win-wins,
that are shaped through a transparent and inclusive process of community input and feedback should lead to repurposing  park and community center sites. See also response to Question 2 below.

Question 2: Given our County's continuing dramatic population growth and already crowded parks and recreation resources, do you support increasing our parkland and recreation resources sufficient to meet not only current but also future demands on these resources?, If so, what specific steps would you advocate as a Board member to accomplish this increase, including any new and innovative
funding mechanisms or other programs or tools?

Yes, I support enhancing and expanding our park and recreation resources and increasing funding to satisfy that commitment.

I do not support funding increases for parks and recreation through dedicated sales taxes (regressive), or increased user fees beyond those necessary to cover programming's true costs. That leaves a number of other options that taken together hold promise for meeting our current demand and future needs:

• Developer contributions dedicated to parks and recreation resources
• Fully utilizing approved bonds, understood to be for park acquisition, for their intended purposes
• Exploring new forms like vertical gardens, and new places, like sub and above surface locations to expand both green space and recreation opportunities
• Using our external value capture instruments like tax increment financing and business improvement districts to generate steady funding streams beyond general funds
• Exploring how conservancies and philanthropies can become more integrated with our plans for land cquisition, and/or ongoing operations.

Question 3: In the decade prior to the 2009 recession, the County Board approved multiple parkland acquisition bonds in amounts of at least $8 million each, which were used to acquire key parks and open space including Fort C.F. Smith Park, Long Bridge Park and Powhatan Springs Skatepark. Given the dramatic increase in the cost of land in Arlington, as a Board member would you support a 2016 Park Bond
measure, and subsequent park bond measures, of at least $8 million each?

That is a reasonable bond figure for 2016 and the foreseeable future. As a general  principle, I want to analyze our fiscal conditions and acquisition opportunities on a
contemporaneous basis, so I am not prepared now to make specific dollar commitments in the "out" years. To be clear, acquisition is a priority, not just when resources are abundant.

Question 4: Do you oppose siting a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson site (bounded by S. Old Glebe Rd., S. 2nd St., S. Irving St., and Arlington Blvd./Route 50)? Do you support Arlington County developing a long-term plan for the Thomas Jefferson site that maintains the current acreage of Thomas Jefferson Park and improves the park's active and passive recreational space?

I do not oppose it in absolute terms. As I noted in question one, if there is a way to at
least preserve, and ideally enhance park, recreation and open space resources at the
site while locating a new building there-provided that externalities like traffic and
environmental impact are addressed appropriately-that can constitute a "win-win" scenario.

I do support planning to improve TJ park's current uses and to improve access. While
a useful metric, maintaining square footage is not the only barometer I use to gauge enhancement to public spaces. Design, configuration and calculations of usable and
useful open space are very important in determining a space's value.

Question 5: The County Board initiated the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) process to plan the future development of the Wilson School site and the adjacent County fire station and Rosslyn Highlands Park. Notwithstanding a strong
expression by the WRAPS committee and surrounding community that Rosslyn Highlands Park be preserved, County staff has proposed a plan giving County land to
a private developer with the potential loss of two-thirds of the park. Do you
support preservation of all of Rosslyn Highlands Park in its current location? If not,
why not?

I do, because the green spaces in Rosslyn are woefully inadequate for current, let alone
future demand. I do not believe there are enough efficiencies that can be gained by
park design that could offset the harm caused by the proposed reduced square footage
in RHP. That reduced square footage will result in a catastrophic loss of green space in
the community.

+++++++++++++++++
PETER FALLON'S RESPONSES:

Question 1: I strongly believe that, in a community with limited land, our natural
open spaces make us a better place to live. I routinely find deer, foxes and rabbits in
my yard, a mere two blocks from Lee Highway and several high rises. We don't need
to pave over our parks to meet the growing demand for public resources throughout Arlington. It's time we got creative in meeting our needs andserving as responsible environmental stewards.

As a member of the County Board, I will champion the joint use of sites like our
schools to fulfill community needs while preserving valuable open space. That means acquiring new sites through friendly purchases and developer easements, and communicating clearly with the neighborhoods about their current and future community needs. Most importantly we must be transparent about every step of the process, from acquisition to development of park amenities.

Our success as a community comes from our vision of long-term needs: both our planning flexibility and our relationships with community stakeholders. I will strongly oppose a net loss of park space during my tenure on the County
Board, and will take every effort to preserve space. As a Planning Commissioner, I have supported developing brownfields into premier recreational spaces - areas like
Long Bridge Park, Arlington Mill Community Center and Four Mile Run. I'm proud of
my involvement in making our community green.

The solution is not a blanket ban on development - the solution is efficient use of
land and balancing competing priorities. We also need improved County Board transparency. We have to engage with the community and come to mutual agreements on how we're developing Arlington.

Question 2: Not only have we grown in total population, but the changing population has brought about changing needs for our community open space. A growing number of young families creates a stronger need for parks with infant- and
young-child-friendly play space. The growing number of family pets in apartment buildings creates an acute need for dog runs and more accessible dog parks. I'm
ready to propose creative solutions to meet our changing needs:

1. Incentivize developers to build multi-use community spaces on their sites, with the goal of providing a community benefit. These developments can be dog
runs, community gardens, green rooftops or even projects like playground "pocket
parks."

2. Use the site plan process and sector plans to turn patchworks of small parks into contiguous, larger community green spaces. This can be done by engaging with communities and developers, and creating incentives that encourage the coordination of park construction during the building process. This happened with
Penrose Square on Columbia Pike, which will double in size when the adjacent CVS
site redevelops.

3. Create a county-managed "Parks Fund" similar to our current Shared
Parking Fund on Columbia Pike and in Clarendon. This would allow developers to pay into a central fund that would offset the cost of parks and green space
construction in communities, removing some of the burden from Arlington's coffers
and better involving our developers in the vibrant life of our community. Using this plan, we not only attract residents to high rises, we also lower our commercial vacancies by providing in-demand amenities near work spaces (like Long Bridge Park and the additional
Washington & Lee pool lanes).

We currently practice some of these ideas as one-off approaches with developers. I intend to turn these ideas into a comprehensive, long-term County Board plan that integrates green and recreation space consideration at every step of the process. We can conduct this plan in a transparent and inclusive way, fostering dialogues and constructive feedback during the process.

All of these solutions depend on an open and collaborative relationship with community leaders. They know better than anyone the needs of their communities, and I am confident my approach can bring together developers, the County Board and these local stakeholders to build a more sustainable, more transparent process for all Arlingtonians.

Question 3: Yes - I would support both ongoing Open Space Acquisition Bonds to acquire new parkland, and a Parks Bond to develop those sites and their amenities
in locations throughout the county. As President of the Donaldson Run Civic Association, I worked with county staff to add park space on the North 26th Street
mulch pile. I have publicly supported Parks Bonds throughout my civic career in Arlington, and believe we need to be ready to make strategic acquisitions as land comes onto the open market.
But sustaining our community open space is about much more than just supporting a Parks Bond. As we look at sites for the construction of new schools, it must be a major priority of the County Board to emphasize co-locating public resources within
these new schools. That may mean building upward instead of outward, or considering the needs of local senior citizens as well as high school seniors. Sharing
space with multiple public uses allows us a great opportunity to be both engaged advocates of a vibrant community life and responsible stewards of our open space.

Question 4: We have a critical need for a new school in South Arlington, as students face the reality of spending multiple educational years learning in modular trailers.
APS made its site preference known, and I support their initial decision. The original Thomas Jefferson Elementary site is a parking lot with no plans for a transition to parkland. The lack of clarity in the County Board's decision damaged relations with the community and deprived South Arlington of a much-needed opportunity to relive our growing enrollment crunch.

I firmly agree that the greenspace/recreation portion of Thomas Jefferson Park should be preserved and improved - but that doesn't mean choosing between the
survival of a parking lot or the construction of a school. In fact, with my plan for colocated
services, we could host both a new school in South Arlington and a newlyvibrant Thomas Jefferson Park side-by-side. That would include adding recreation spaces like basketball and tennis courts to the roof of a new elementary school. I will never sacrifice our parks space, but I am willing to draw a distinction between a true
park for people and a parking lot cars.

Question 5: Rosslyn is made better with open space, and Rosslyn Highlands Park is a vital part of that improvement. At the same time, we have to recognize that Rosslyn is growing. We need H.B. Woodlawn to alleviate middle school overcrowding and a new fire station to serve the corridor. There are ways we can do this without undermining the sense of community created by Rosslyn Highlands Park.

I support preserving our parks space in Rosslyn by constructing a fire station financed through the Capital Improvement Program. Preliminary plans for the new H.B. Woodlawn facility include indoor recreation, rooftop recreation and a surface
field. These spaces will dramatically increase recreation opportunities in Rosslyn, and must be available to the at-large community. The block needs to accommodate APS, the fire station and Rosslyn Highlands Park so that each component best serves its purpose and the larger community.

By engaging with the community in ways the County Board often hasn't in the past, I am a firm believer in our ability to both preserve our green spaces and provide a world-class education to our students. I am committed to better alignment of the APS and county facilities planning processes to create more opportunities for shared recreational use while preserving our valued green spaces.

+++++++++++++++
JAMES LANDER'S RESPONSES:
Question 1: Although the County Board is no longer pursuing last year's "Public Land for Public Good" initiative, it is anticipated that the Community Facilities Study Committee will develop a public facilities siting process which could potentially result in the use of our parkland and community center sites for other purposes.

a. Do you support the potential use of County parkland or community center sites for housing? for schools? for other purposes?
No. I do not support the use or consideration of parkland for construction of housing and/or schools. Green and open spaces are an asset to our community.

Community center sites, depending on location, size, and amount of usage should be considered for multi-use facilities; specifically for the consideration of potentially co-locating Pre-K or Elementary school programs in sites that are under utilized like
Drew Community center, Carver Community Center, and Madison Community
Center. I also strongly support a community engagement process, which would be
inclusive, informative, and respectful of differing points of view prior to any decisions being confirmed.

a. If elected to the Board, would you support the issuance of an overriding Board
policy that our County parkland and community center sites should not be
used for housing? for school sites? for other purposes?

As your county board member, I will lead on maintaining and expanding our parks and open space by developing policies to reaffirm that principle. Our community is
growing at an unprecedented pace. Schools alone have experienced an average of 1000 students each year for the past seven years; that's a middle school worth of
new students every year. Because of my experience as an elected official, I understand we cannot afford to build enough new facilities nor can we build fast
enough to address our enrollment crisis. As a steward of your tax dollars, I will support the rapid growth within our county by providing access to and maximizing
use of existing facilities.

Question 2: Given our County's continuing dramatic population growth and already crowded parks and recreation resources, do you support increasing our parkland
and recreation resources sufficient to meet not only current but also future demands on these resources? If so, what specific steps would you advocate as a
Board member to accomplish this increase, including any new and innovative funding mechanisms or other programs or tools?

Our county's unprecedented growth is an issue on which I've worked, in
partnership, with my county and school board colleagues including working directly with the county manager and superintendent. Under my leadership as chairman of the school board, I'm building new schools and renovating existing facilities without compromising green and open space. As your county board member, I will lead by continuing to work collaboratively with my county and school board colleagues to
ensure that any new construction results does not result in a net loss of green space.

To increase the potential for additional green and open spaces I will support policies that require architects to design facilities that include open/green space requirements.

Question 3: In the decade prior to the 2009 recession, the County Board approved
multiple parkland acquisition bonds in amounts of at least $8 million each, which were used to acquire key parks and open space including Fort C.F. Smith Park, Long Bridge Park and Powhatan Springs Skatepark. Given the dramatic increase in the cost of land in Arlington, as a Board member would you support a 2016 Park Bond measure, and subsequent park bond measures, of at least $8 million each?

Yes. I would support a 2016 Park Bond measure. As a community, we value open and green space and I will continually support putting these bonds before the voters.

Question 4: Do you oppose siting a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson site (bounded by S. Old Glebe Rd., S. 2nd St., S. Irving St., and Arlington Blvd./Route 50)? Do you support Arlington County developing a long-term plan for the Thomas
Jefferson site that maintains the current acreage of Thomas Jefferson Park and improves the park's active and passive recreational space?

Yes. As a school board member I voted against making Jefferson the preferred site for a new elementary school. As chair of the school board, I successfully advocated
for preserving TJ Park, resulting in 4 of the 5 county board members voting to delay
construction at the Jefferson site. I also worked collaboratively with the Save TJ Park
organization and was recognized by that group for my leadership. As a county board member I will continue to lead on protecting TJ Park to ensure that we maintain adequate recreation space for our community.

Question 5: The County Board initiated the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) process to plan the future development of the Wilson School site and the adjacent County fire station and Rosslyn Highlands Park. Notwithstanding a strong
expression by the WRAPS committee and surrounding community that Rosslyn Highlands Park be preserved, County staff has proposed a plan giving County land to
a private developer with the potential loss of two-thirds of the park. Do you support preservation of all of Rosslyn Highlands Park in its current location? If not, why not?

Yes. I support preservation of all of Rosslyn Highlands Park. Under my leadership as school board chair, I advocated for the siting of the new school in Rosslyn to be
located on Wilson Blvd. This location of the facility would provide the opportunity for continuous green space on school and county property along 18th Street. As a county board member I will be committed to following through on what I initiated as chairman of the school board. As a county board member, I will not support using
private developer funds for public services, including our fire stations.
++++++++++++++++++
ANDREW SCHNEIDER'S RESPONSES:
Question 1: Although the County Board is no longer pursuing last year's "Public Land for Public Good" initiative, it is anticipated that the Community Facilities Study Committee will develop a public facilities siting process which could potentially result in the use of our parkland and community center sites for other purposes.

a. Do you support the potential use of County parkland or community center sites for housing? for schools? for other purposes?

No. I believe that the County must continue to use thoughtful acquisitions and creative use of space to address  our housing, school and parkland needs. I don't support using existing resources to placate other problems.

b. If elected to the Board, would you support the issuance of an overriding Board policy that our County parkland and community center sites should not be used for housing? for school sites? for other purposes?

My job as a County Board member is to handle the challenges currently facing the County and to provide a vision that can be implemented. I support a vision that protects and preserves our parks and community resources.

Question 2: Given our County's continuing dramatic population growth and already crowded parks and recreation resources, do you support increasing our parkland and recreation resources sufficient to meet not only current but also future demands on these resources?, If so, what specific steps would you advocate as a Board member to accomplish this increase, including any new and innovative
funding mechanisms or other programs or tools?

Yes. I would support restoring the land acquisition funding that has been cut in recent years. I am also a strong advocate of the Rosslyn boathouse and other partnerships with regional and federal partners to take advantage of our riverfront location and the natural assets that are not fully being utilized in the County.

Question 3: In the decade prior to the 2009 recession, the County Board approved multiple parkland acquisition bonds in amounts of at least $8 million each, which
were used to acquire key parks and open space including Fort C.F. Smith Park, Long Bridge Park and Powhatan Springs Skatepark. Given the dramatic increase in the
cost of land in Arlington, as a Board member would you support a 2016 Park Bond measure, and subsequent park bond measures, of at least $8 million each?

Yes.

Question 4: Do you oppose siting a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson site (bounded by S. Old Glebe Rd., S. 2nd St., S. Irving St., and Arlington Blvd./Route 50)? Do you support Arlington County developing a long-term plan for the Thomas Jefferson site that maintains the current acreage of Thomas Jefferson Park and improves the park's active and passive recreational space?

I did not oppose a new school at TJ. I do support a long term plan for the TJ space that incorporates enhanced park space and meets the needs of the schools.

Question 5: The County Board initiated the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) process to plan the future development of the Wilson School site and the adjacent County fire station and Rosslyn Highlands Park. Notwithstanding a strong expression by the WRAPS committee and surrounding community that Rosslyn
Highlands Park be preserved, County staff has proposed a plan giving County land to a private developer with the potential loss of two-thirds of the park. Do you support preservation of all of Rosslyn Highlands Park in its current location? If not, why not?

I support a park in Rosslyn that is useable and attractive and meets the needs of the community. I am open to creative solutions that meet the needs of the schools and local business owners. I was not supportive of the County's handling of the entire process and call for greater transparency and direction from the County and for the
County's study/commission work.
+++++++++++++++++++
BRUCE WILJANEN'S RESPONSES:
Question 1: I am categorically opposed to using our irreplaceable parklands and greenspaces for housing, schools, fire stations, or any other municipal facilities.
These county owned open spaces are held in trust for the people of Arlington, are an essential part of our urban environment, and are not to be considered a land bank for every other facilities need that arises.

Community centers are coming online individually for renovation and
reconstruction, and so usage requirements will evolve with the needs of our changing community. Some early years and senior educational uses may be appropriate, but most certainly not housing or K-12 school buildings.

Questions 2 and 3: While our population grows and our need for recreational space grows, our land area remains stubbornly fixed! There is precious little open green space left to acquire, at any price. One possibility we must pursue is the building of
sport fields over sections of Route 66. We are going to have to be very imaginative in
order to create new land where none currently exists. An $8 million park bond is not an exorbitant amount to invest in our parklands and greenspaces.

Question 4: The siting of a new elementary school at the Thomas Jefferson location was clearly not fully vetted by the School Board. A better location will be found more centrally located to the student population it was intended to serve. I fully support the development of a long term recreational usage plan for the entire Thomas Jefferson parcel.

Question 5: I support the preservation of all of Rosslyn Highlands Park in predominantly its current location. If minor adjustments need to be made to fully utilize the site for the benefit of all the stakeholders, the square footage of the recreational space should not be reduced. We cannot continue to trade our irreplaceable parkland for private development without endangering the fabric of our entire community.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Time for Virginia Dems to Follow California Dem Party's Lead, Call for Fossil Fuel Divestment ASAP

by: lowkell

Thu May 21, 2015 at 08:12:58 AM EDT

A few weeks ago, Terry McAuliffe was actually arguing that he has no leadership role to play on whether "the state of Virginia and its retirement fund and other relevant funds should divest from fossil fuel companies." McAuliffe's pathetically weak answer:
No! I think they have to make the decision what is in the best interest of whatever they're making their investments; they have a fiduciary duty to make those investments. And clearly as governor I am not going to sit here and tell the people who manage these funds what to do -- not my role. And I clearly understand my role...Jeff, it is not my job to come in and tell our businesses what to do. I am a fiscally conservative, pro-business Democrat; I am socially very progressive...
As I said at the time, that was wrong on almost any level you consider it, not to mention a pathetic abdication of leadership. Now, the largest (by far) state Democratic Party has shown what its state's governor has shown -- real leadership on the most important issue facing humanity, that being climate change. Check this out.
At the California Democratic Party convention this weekend, state party officials voted to adopt an official resolution endorsing fossil fuel divestment. Citing the growing threat posed by climate change, the resolution urges the state's public universities and pension funds to divest their financial holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies as part of a comprehensive solution to the climate crisis. The resolution marks the first endorsement for fossil fuel divestment from a state political party, and adds major momentum to the legislative push for S.B. 185, a coal divestment bill. The news also builds pressure on statewide institutions like the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the University of California endowment, who have long faced calls for divestment.

The adopted resolution reads, in part: "[t]he California Democratic Party calls upon the University of California and California State University endowments, the University of California Retirement Plan, and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) institutional pension funds, to immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies, to take steps, without risking any financial loss to its members, to divest all holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies as determined by the Carbon Underground list within five years, and to release periodic updates to the public, detailing progress made toward full divestment."

Exactly, the California Democratic Party nails it, as did Gov. Jerry Brown in his powerful "State of the State" address back in January. Now, what about the Democratic Party of Virginia? Gov. McAuliffe? Lt. Governor Northam? Attorney General Herring? Other leaders in our state? When are they going to call for divestment by state pension funds, colleges and universities, etc. from planet-killing fossil fuels? The crisis is urgent, action is required immediately, so what on earth (other than fear of the fossil fuel companies, fossil-fuel-allied utilities, etc.) is stopping them?

P.S. No reason for local parties to wait for DPVA; I also call on Dem committees in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford, Henrico, Loudoun, Virginia Beach, Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Charlottesville, etc, etc. to pass divestment resolutions.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Rep. Connolly to EPA: Treating bioenergy as carbon neutral may undermine the Clean Power Plan

by: lowkell

Tue May 19, 2015 at 12:06:25 PM EDT

Rep. Gerry Connolly nails it. The bottom line: we need to be massively REforesting, not burning forest for fuel!
May 19, 2015

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator McCarthy,

Thank you for your leadership and continued efforts to finalize the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. As a strong supporter of this plan, I believe you have laid forth a forward-thinking, flexible, and attainable approach to reducing our nation's carbon footprint. I appreciate your willingness throughout this process to consider public feedback on the draft plan and trust the final plan you develop will establish our country as a global leader on climate change.

I write to share my concern with the EPA's draft proposal to treat waste-derived feedstocks and non-waste biogenic feedstocks derived from sustainable forest or agricultural practices as having zero emissions. As you know, following EPA Assistant Administrator McCabe's November 2014 memorandum, there has been considerable debate regarding this decision, including questions surrounding the science behind it, and the perception that this decision will result in the unsustainable promotion of forest harvesting for energy production.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 347 words in story)

Next Time Someone Claims There's a "Free Market" for Energy

by: lowkell

Tue May 19, 2015 at 10:38:39 AM EDT

...or that renewable energy "can't make it without subsidies," or that "government shouldn't pick 'winners and losers," or that fossil fuels are the "choice of the market," or that the Clean Power Plan is "too expensive," or some other utterly false nonsense, simply show them this article and laugh. By the way, those $5.3 trillion in subsidies for fossil fuels don't count "negative externalities," such as the enormous health (cancer, asthma, etc.) and environmental (acid rain, global warming, oil spills, fracking damage, etc.) costs associated with fossil fuels, but which fossil fuels don't incorporate into their price thanks to extremely lax government policies. The $5.3 trillion in subsidies for fossil fuels also don't count indirect subsidies, such as massive government subsidization/encouragement of automobile-oriented development, military expenditures needed to defend oil supply lines/sources, etc, etc. Add all that up, and it comes to many, many times more than $5.3 trillion, to the point where fossil fuels would be utterly noncompetitive (think $10-$20/gallon or more gasoline if all these costs were incorporated) with clean energy.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Video: No Atlantic Coast Pipeline Critical Mass Bike Ride

by: lowkell

Sat May 16, 2015 at 10:07:48 AM EDT

Great stuff, we need a LOT more of this, along with many other types of action, to stop the destruction of our planet through fossil fuel companies' greed, irresponsibility and capture of our political system.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Time for Virginia's Political "Leaders" to Push Dominion Hard Towards Offshore Wind Development

by: lowkell

Thu May 14, 2015 at 11:33:12 AM EDT

Thanks to strong progressive, environmentalist and 10th State Senate District candidate Emily Francis for highlighting this op-ed in today's RTD by Stephanie McClellan, Ph.D., "director of Special Initiatives on Offshore Wind at the University of Delaware" and "former director of strategic initiatives and outreach for the Atlantic Wind Connection." Here's an excerpt:
On Earth Day last month, Gov. Terry McAuliffe praised offshore wind energy for its job-creation potential for Virginia. The governor likely had not been told by Dominion Power that 24 hours later the utility would decide to "take a step back" from the much-touted offshore wind demonstration project based on a single bid for the project's construction.

McAuliffe should feel validated, not discouraged, as the facts are on his side. Dominion's decision should be seen as the regulated monopoly utility's need for outside expertise from those with experience in competitive offshore wind markets, rather than an ominous bellwether of offshore wind's future here.

[...]

...Virginia has a federally designated zone to develop this new industry. Its estimated potential is two gigawatts of power, enough to power 500,000 homes and create thousands of jobs in the process. Yet, there is no clear development plan or timeline available to the public, a fact that hinders market participation from the field of companies that want to drive the industry forward.

Our research shows costs can be cut by 10 percent to 20 percent just by creating competition. In addition, there was only one complete bid for this demonstration project - a situation that is almost guaranteed to result in an uncompetitive price.

There's a viable path to seize the opportunity in front of us, and the governor is right to see it and push for it. The sooner Dominion can draw on experienced experts to chart a clear path forward, the sooner Virginians can reap the significant economic benefits that offshore wind energy offers.

The problem, as usual, is out-of-control, state-protected monopoly, Dominion Virginia Power, and its utter disrespect for both the environment and the people of Virginia. The question is, when will Virginia's legislators get the courage to tell Dominion where to shove its dirty money, and to pass legislation that forces this dirty energy dinosaur to get with the 21st century? And no, given that our entire govenrment is "captured" (aka, "corrupted") by companies like Dominion, I'm not holding my breath...

P.S. Emily Francis is absoulety right: "Virginia has a huge opportunity to create jobs in the renewable energy market. Let's not wait any longer...let's put people to work."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Cartoon: "Dominion Leaves the Guv Twisting in the Wind"

by: lowkell

Wed May 13, 2015 at 14:12:39 PM EDT

Below, check out the latest in our series of cartoons, which previously have illustrated how Dominion Power feeds at the taxpayer-funded corporate welfare trough and controls our political system, among other problems with this out-of-control behemoth. The latest cartoon refers to Dominion's April 23 announcement that it was "putting the brakes on a plan to erect two test wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach because the project, as it stands now, is too expensive, according to the company." Note that Dominion's announcement came, ironically (?), just a day after Gov. McAuliffe's Earth Day signing of several clean energy jobs bills. At that signing ceremony, McAuliffe spoke of "the emerging clean energy jobs sector provid[ing] a tremendous opportunity for economic growth and diversification" in Virginia. A great vision, but not one, sadly, that will be achieved if Dominion Power gets its way...

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Virginia Is for Dirty Energy Lovers

by: ESGreco

Wed May 13, 2015 at 12:57:04 PM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

If you live in Virginia and would like to shrink your carbon footprint, here's what passes for good news: We're now officially free to ban fracking. For two years, Old Dominion communities weren't at liberty to prevent that kind of oil and gas drilling.

After the cities of Staunton, Lynchburg, and several other local governments expressed reservations over fracking or tried to prevent it, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said they lacked the authority to block Big Fossil. In early May, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring overrode his predecessor's position and asserted that these local policies adhere to state law.

Either way, Richmond-based Dominion Resources, which wields near-monopoly power over Virginia's electric grid, wants to boost demand for this environmentally hazardous drilling. It's partnering with other companies on a $5 billion pipeline that will funnel gas fracked in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania over a 550-mile route to Virginia and North Carolina.

Dominion's dirty-energy ambitions for its home state don't stop there. The company also intends to drop $10 billion on a third nuclear reactor at a site within 50 miles of Richmond, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg.

The firm Clean Edge ranks big utilities according to how much power they draw from solar, wind, and other renewable options and their energy efficiency efforts. Dominion made the bottom of the list.

While it recently minted a plan to invest $700 million in solar projects in Virginia, that would barely chip away at the state's reliance on power derived from coal, natural gas, and nuclear. And the company just shelved an offshore wind pilot just as the first project of that kind is getting underway off the Rhode Island coast.

Why is Dominion getting away with paying lip service to green energy?

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 325 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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