This weekend, activists from local environmental organizations will meet at the Governor’s Mansion, calling on Gov.
This weekend, activists from local environmental organizations will meet at the Governor’s Mansion, calling on Gov. Terry McAuliffe to keep his commitment to climate action by implementing a plan to reduce carbon emissions from Virginia power plants.
The Richmond Day of Action, which is being hosted by the Virginia Conservation Network, will be a two-part event beginning at the Governor’s Mansion follow by a march to Brown’s Island for a rally.
“We’re asking the governor to implement a clean power plan boldly and swiftly with a focus on dual energy and energy efficiency,” said Ben Weiner, Communications Fellow of the Virginia Sierra Club. “We will be doing a symbolic petition drop we have been collecting thousands of petitions, there are many, many groups throughout the Commonwealth involved.”
The Clean Power Plan Weiner is referring to is a federal plan the Environmental Protection Agency released last August under the Clean Air Act. The goal o the plan is to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.
It assigned each state a carbon reduction goal to help cut national carbon pollution from power plants and the EPA-suggested goal for Virginia is to take current carbon emissions from 1,477 pounds per Megawatt hour (lb/MWh) down to 934 lb/MWh by 2030.
Weiner’s organization, along with other environmental groups such as Virginia Organizing, Wild Virginia, and We Act for Environmental Justice, released a letter in January asking Gov. McAuliffe to reject all efforts by Dominion Virginia to alter the EPA’s plan.
“The clean power plan offers an unprecedented opportunity for us to reduce Virginia’s carbon footprint,” Weiner said.
Dominion received tremendous backlash from environmental organizations and the local community when it was granted approval by the Virginia State Water Control Board in January to begin draining water from coal ash ponds on sites in Fluvanna and Prince William counties into the James and Potomac rivers.
Eight activists were arrested in February after protesting on the Capitol steps against Dominion’s plans.
It also recently came to light that Virginia Department of Environemental Quality Director David Paylor received a golf trip and a dinner totaling over $2,000 which was paid for by Dominion. A group of protestors staged a mock golf tournament outside Dominion and the Virginia DEQ to get their message across.
According to Weiner, Dominion wants the Clean Power Plan implemented in a way that would only apply to existing plants in the state.
“Right now Virginia Utilities led by Dominion CEO Tom Farrell, they want a plan that would make this federal rule only apply to old existing power plants,” he said. “Essentially that would allow them to continue a massive expansion of gas-fired plants, which are still carbon pollution.”
But despite Dominion’s plans, Weiner said Gov. McAuliffe has been very supportive of the Clean Power Plan.
“We’ve applauded his support for implementing a plan, but as of right now he and his administration are considering various sources and the ways to create the plan,” he said.
If this strategy for Virginia does go into effect, the state could reap a number of benefits including reduced electricity bills and job creation, according to Weiner.
“If we focus on clean energy, renewable energy, it would have a positive impact,” he said. Virginia’s collective power bill bis projected by 2020 for both businesses and households if we implement a strong clean power plan would have a billion dollars is savings.”
According to a release on Carbon Pollution put on by the Natural Resources Defense Council in May 2014, customers in the state would save an average of $13.30 per month on their electricity bill with the new plan and it would save residents a total of $43 million every month, or $517 million on their electricity bills. Virginia business customers would save $531 million on their electricity bills.
Virginia’s Clean Power Plan would also create 5,600 jobs through investments in energy efficiency by 2020 according to the NRDC.
The plan could cut 7.8 million tons of carbon pollution, equal to the annual emissions of 1.6 million cars by 2020 if implemented in Virginia.
The “Do the Right Thing” effort hopes to be statewide, with citizens and organizations rallying for the cause all over Virginia. The Virginia People’s Climate Movement is gearing up for rallies and events across the state. You check out other locations here
For the flagship event in Richmond, Weiner said he’s hoping the rally will stress the impact the clean power plan could have on the community.
“At Brown’s Island they’ll be speakers, different rallying events there to help raise awareness and tell people who are coming why this is so important,” he said. “We want them to know we want renewable energy and energy efficiency reflected in Virginia’s Clean Power Plan.”
The gathering for Richmond’s Day of Action will take place at the Governor’s Mansion at the corner of Governor and Capitol streets at 11 am on Saturday on April 2, followed by a march to Brown’s Island with a rally at Brown’s Island Park at 12 pm.