I Am One Of The Alarmed

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA); March 3, 2015
Open Forum
Leslie Grady, Jr.

fuelalarmAmericans can be divided into six groups, depending on their concern about climate change, ranging from the Alarmed to the Dismissive. I belong to The Alarmed.

I am an engineer. For more than 40 years I taught, conducted research, and published in engineering and science journals. I also was a consultant to major chemical companies and was employed by a large environmental engineering consulting firm. So how can I be among the Alarmed?

The birth of our granddaughter in 2005 focused my attention on global warming because I realized that if the scientists were right, she would experience significant human-caused climate change during her lifetime. To educate myself I first read two books, both written by scientists, that summarized the state of climate science. Then I began to read papers from the scientific literature, as well as additional books and documents prepared by expert groups convened by the National Academy of Sciences and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

I have a sound layman’s understanding of climate science. That understanding convinces me that humanity faces dire problems if we do not move rapidly and efficiently to limit atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. Since we are currently doing little, yes, I am alarmed.

An important finding in the latest IPCC report is that Earth’s warming is directly proportional to the total amount of fossil fuel-derived CO2 put into the atmosphere. This sets an upper limit on the CO2 we can emit while staying within a given degree of warming, i.e., it sets a CO2 budget. Governments worldwide have agreed to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees. At the current rate of CO2 emissions, the budget associated with that limit will be reached in around 25 years, a very short time within which to make major changes in our energy economy. This is another cause for my alarm.

If we immediately start significantly reducing our emission rate we extend the time before the limit is reached. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that if we cut our emissions per unit of GDP by 6.2 percent a year we can achieve zero emissions by 2100 while staying within the 3.6-degree limit. Although this is a steep cut, it still gives me hope.

I love modern society and all the benefits that readily available and “inexpensive” fossil fuels have brought us. However, fossil fuels have only been inexpensive because their users don’t pay their full costs. Rather, they are borne indirectly by society through the impacts of climate change. The artificially low price of fossil fuels makes it difficult for alternative energy sources, such as renewable and nuclear energy, to compete in the market place. Consequently, innovation is stifled and it becomes more difficult to move ideas from the laboratory into practice.

In spite of that, many innovative things are being done that can revolutionize our energy systems if given a level playing field to compete on. These include more efficient solar cells, better energy storage devices, wireless battery charging technology, and even carbon nanotubes capable of absorbing the sun’s radiation and storing it in chemical form. Technical advances like these give me hope.

People worldwide aspire to a standard of living like ours and have every right to pursue it. However, if they do so with fossil fuels, we face disaster. Thus, we must put fossil fuels aside. This will be an enormous task, but we can accomplish it if we begin now. We must put a price on carbon. If done through a revenue-neutral fee and dividend approach, warming can be kept within 3.6 degrees and our economy can be strengthened. This also gives me hope.

Although I am willing to be called alarmed, it is time to quit the finger pointing and name-calling. It does no good to dismiss climate change as if it doesn’t exist or to rail against nonexistent conspiracies, as this newspaper does. Neither does it do any good to think the problem can be solved easily. Rather, we need to put the past behind us and create an environment where innovation can flourish.

Dr. Grady lives in Harrisonburg.

Find a link to I Am One Of The Alarmed here. A printable pdf version is here.

Les Grady is an active member of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley Steering Committee. He currently heads up the organization’s Speakers Bureau. He served as Steering Committee Chairman from 2012 through 2014.

Global Warming Is No Hoax

Former CAAV Chair Les Grady
Former CAAV Chair Les Grady

Global Warming Is No Hoax, Les Grady
February 19, 2015, Daily News-Record

Although the editor would have us believe that global warming is a hoax, that is far from the truth (“How Hot Is It?” Feb. 13 *see this below).

For an analysis of the news stories and blogs upon which the editorial was based, read “Nothing False about Temperature Data” at FactCheck.org.

Calculating the global mean temperature record is complicated. For an explanation of why and how adjustments must be made to the raw data from weather stations see “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change” by Robert Henson or read “Instrumental Temperature Record” on Wikipedia.

As much as we fixate on global air temperatures, more than 90 percent of the heat gained by Earth has gone into the oceans. That record shows a steady and inexorable climb, demonstrating clearly that Earth is warming in a manner consistent with the increase in greenhouse gases.

Leslie Grady Jr.

*How Hot Is It?
Daily News-Record, February 13, 2015

Shortly after 2014 melded into 2015, we were told – ad infinitum and nauseam – that the former was the “hottest year on record.” The implication: Man is so intent on baking the planet, so get ready for more of the same. Year after sweltering year.

But what if this isn’t so? What if the only things getting cooked are the data on which these lamentations are based? That seems to be the case. Francis Menton, who writes the Manhattan Contrarian blog, points his readers to Christopher Booker of London’s Telegraph, who calls into question 2014’s distinction as the “hottest year on record,” employing words such as “fraud” and “scandal.”

The basic charge cited in both articles was this: To quote Mr. Menton, “The past has been cooled to make the present look warmer by comparison.” At first blush, this sounds so diabolical as to totally strain credulity. So how, really, can such an allegation be credibly explained?

Simply stated, intrepid researchers such as Paul Homewood and Tony Heller have culled historical data from myriad weather stations across the globe – from Paraguay to Siberia to upstate New York – and found a similar pattern of tampering: “one-way adjustments” downward. That is, the willful rejiggering of data to establish evidence of irrefutable, and perhaps irreversible, global warming.

Consider Mr. Booker’s summary of Mr. Homewood’s findings:

“Homewood has now turned his attention to the weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada (51 degrees W) and the heart of Siberia (87 degrees E). Again, in nearly every case, the same one-way adjustments have been made, to show warming up to 1 degree C or more higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded. This has surprised no one more than Traust Jonsson, who was long in charge of climate research for the Iceland met office (and with whom Homewood has been in touch). Jonsson was amazed to see how the new version completely `disappears’ Iceland’s “`sea ice years’ around 1970, when a period of extreme cooling almost devastated his country’s economy.”

Mr. Menton concludes that “hottest year on record” declarations have been tendered without proper – or any – examination of satellite data. And none of the reports trumpeting the distinction (whether in Scientific American and The New York Times or by the BBC), he says, refer to these data.

“[A]nybody who follows this issue even a little,” Mr. Menton writes, “knows that beginning in 1979 the U.S. government at great taxpayer expense has put up satellites with sophisticated instruments to get much more accurate measurements of world temperatures than previously available. … Luckily it’s not too hard to figure out what the satellites say.”

And that is? Precisely this, notes Mr. Menton: “2014 was not the hottest year, nor close, but rather tied for 6th/7th place in the 36-year record … 0.3 degrees Celsius cooler than the warmest year, which was 1998 – 16 years ago. Now 0.3 degrees C may not be a lot, but it’s also not a little in a record that only varies by about 1.2 degrees C from coolest to warmest year.”

No wonder Mr. Menton calls climate change, formerly known as global warming, “the greatest scientific fraud of all time.”

Are Local Reps Dragging Feet On Environment?

Joy Loving © Matt Schmachtenberg
Joy Loving © Matt Schmachtenberg

Are Local Reps Dragging Feet On Environment?, Joy Loving
Daily News-Record, February 13, 2015

A recent editorial in the Virginian Pilot reported on the defeat of the Virginia Coastal Protection Act put forward by Republican Del. Ron Villaneuva, R-Virginia Beach, and Democratic Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico. Virginia would have joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

This “East Coast cap and trade program lets states sell carbon allowances to utilities, with a goal of reducing emissions,” the Pilot reported. Money raised through the program would have prepared for sea-level rise and sinking land along our coast, bolstered our renewable energy industry, and assisted coal miners whose jobs are shrinking rapidly.

Too bad my local legislators did not support this market-driven way to create jobs and retrain workers whose jobs are going away. Are Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, and Del. Steven Landes, R-Weyers Cave, among state lawmakers who for years, the Pilot claimed, “have dragged their feet rather than addressing the threat, sacrificing the long-term security of critical assets and communities to partisan crusades and gamesmanship”?

Joy Loving

Virginia A Dark Hole Of Ignorant Policy?

Laura cropped.pic
CAAV Chair Laura Dansby

Virginia A Dark Hole Of Ignorant Policy?, Laura Dansby
Daily News-Record, February 12, 2015

The Atlantic Ocean has risen 18 inches at Sewells Point in Norfolk. Del. Ron Villanueva, R-Virginia Beach, introduced The Virginia Coastal Protection Act.

The goal of the bill is to reduce heat-trapping emissions and raise money for coastal adaptation. This is accomplished by allowing states to sell carbon allowances to utilities.

Virginia would join 10 other Eastern states in a program that would raise $200 million per year for Virginia toward coastal adaptation. Also, a portion of the funds would strengthen renewable energy programs and help to economically diversify Virginia’s dying coal region. Unsurprisingly, Dominion opposed the bill and it failed. Ron Villanueva, a Republican, but he gets it.

The people on the coast, the U.S. military, and the politicians know something must be done. Virginia should be the jewel in the crown of the Eastern Seaboard, not a dark hole of ignorant policy.

Laura Dansby

TO: Virginia Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Commission


TO: Virginia Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Commission
FROM: Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV)
DATE: October 11, 2014

Dear Commissioner:

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley is a grassroots organization in the Harrisonburg, Virginia area formed seven years ago with the mission to educate and lobby on issues arising from climate change and their solutions, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable practices. During that time we have organized public forums on all aspects of renewable energy and conservation; tabled at countless environmental events; written editorials and letters to the editor in our local newspaper and others around the state; met with the editorial board of The Daily News-Record and a committee from the local television station; lobbied local, state, and federal representatives; and given numerous presentations for civic and political groups. Our steering committee of 14 meets bi-monthly. We have an active mailing list of 450 associates.

We were gratified when Governor Kaine formed the first climate change commission, disappointed when Governor McDonnell ignored it, and are now encouraged that Governor McAuliffe has reinstated the Commission. We are impressed with the quality of its membership.

Some of our members attended meetings of the Commission under the Kaine administration, as well as the Commission’s inaugural meeting under Governor McAuliffe. We are pleased that Governor McAuliffe did not mince words as to the reality and seriousness of climate change and explicitly charged the Commission to proceed on that basis. Indeed, in general, we were impressed with the energy and forcefulness of the Governor and his charge to the Commission. At the same time, there are some things the Governor said and did not say that we would like to go on record as questioning.

Concerning the EPA carbon rules, the Governor seems to be convinced that the rules have not given Virginia credit for efficiencies already implemented. However, the process used by the EPA explicitly gives credit for initiatives implemented or started by states. We prefer that Virginia focus on complying rather than contesting the EPA carbon rules.

The Governor made the case that the proposed natural gas pipeline would help power Virginia’s economy and reduce the use of dirty coal. With respect to job creation, the Governor’s enthusiasm overlooked the “staying power” of those jobs once the pipeline construction is completed. In addition, he did not address the significant probability for harm to Virginia’s land, air, and water, and therefore to the economy, that the pipeline’s construction and deployment will cause.

Natural gas is cleaner than coal only if the leak rate is kept below 3%. No mention was made of the importance of keeping leak rates low if we are to use natural gas.

Building out natural gas infrastructure must be done as part of an overall plan that achieves greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. The danger is that if too much is invested in natural gas infrastructure, we will not be able to afford the desired build-out of renewable energy infrastructure.

The Governor seemed to let his concern for Virginia’s economy dominate his energy policy by citing the decline of national defense jobs. We think the proper approach is to design an energy and climate policy to meet climate change goals, allowing the economy to build around those priorities. If we do the former rather than the latter, we almost surely will continue the pattern of sacrificing the environment in hopes of short term gains for the economy.

Calling upon the Dominion Power representative on the Commission, the Governor pointed out that about 40% of Virginia’s power comes from nuclear power. There might be a push by Dominion to build additional nuclear power since nuclear power’s comparatively low carbon emissions could help with compliance with the EPA carbon rules. Conventional nuclear power continues to be plagued by the problem of disposal of nuclear waste, danger of meltdown and release of dangerous radiation, and vulnerability to terrorism. Given these considerations, the State Corporation Commission should be enabled to provide rate increases to support utility plans that involve additional nuclear power only if (a) the cost is less than solar and wind, either distributed or owned by the utility, and (b) the nuclear technology used is of an advanced type that minimizes vulnerability to terrorism, safety concerns, and issues of storage and/or disposal of nuclear waste.

Governor McAuliffe came across as defending the interests of Dominion Power. The demand for electricity is very likely to go up tremendously as we transition off of fossil fuels, possibly as much as 3-5 times by 2100. More cars will be electric, more buildings will use heat pumps, airplanes are likely to be powered by hydrogen, which requires electricity to produce, etc. Even with tremendous growth of rooftop solar and other on-site renewables, Dominion Power is destined for massive, continuous growth. It is our job to make sure that growth is from renewables and not fuels that emit greenhouse gases.

Among the specific recommendations we would like to see come out of the Commission are:

1.    A mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard for the utilities with incremental yearly increases
2.    Energy efficiency building code standards with enforcement of those standards for all commercial and domestic buildings, public and private
3.    Incentives and programs for schools to build net zero energy buildings and to add solar power to existing school buildings
4.    Build-out of offshore wind without delay
5.    A moratorium on offshore oil and gas (How can we expect to reduce greenhouse emissions if we keep expanding fossil fuel infrastructure?)
6.    Incentives for installation of solar power and avoidance of disincentives, such as standby fees, for connecting solar arrays to the grid
7.    A document that covers all of the sustainability practices needed to reduce greenhouse gases that include power plant emissions, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and agricultural practices.
8.    An analysis that shows how the sum of the initiatives required by the Federal government combined with the Commission’s recommendations will achieve Virginia’s share of greenhouse gas reductions needed to keep global temperature rise below 2° Celsius.
9.    If new nuclear energy facilities are used to meet our electricity needs they should be only advanced designs that minimize vulnerability to terrorism, safety concerns, and issues of storage and/or disposal of nuclear waste.

We would also urge the Commission to encourage the use of a carbon fee and dividend approach to meeting greenhouse gas emissions reductions. This approach has been incorporated into several bills proposed in Congress and is the focus of the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Carbon fee and dividend is a market based approach to emissions reduction. The carbon fee removes the current market distortion of fossil fuel prices that do not reflect the damage to the climate. The result would be that renewable energy will tend to replace fossil fuels and energy will be used more efficiently. The fees collected on carbon based fuels are paid back to citizens per capita to offset the increase in the price of fuel and other goods tied to that increase. Credible studies have shown that carbon fee and dividend reduces emissions and even modestly improves the economy over business as usual. (See REMI report at CitizensClimateLobby.org)

One of the tasks of the Commission should be to study how carbon fee and dividend would affect the Virginia economy in particular. It is likely that Virginia would benefit highly, because Virginia is not an oil and gas producing state. The movement to renewables would benefit Virginia’s high technology and manufacturing sectors.  The only sector that would be negatively affected would be coal, but coal is already destined to dramatic decrease regardless of how emissions are reduced.

We consider climate change the defining issue of our time, of all time, and encourage the Commission to make its decisions bearing this in mind. All credible sources have warned us that, indeed, time is not on humanity’s side with respect to our changing climate. Unfortunately Virginia has not been a leader with respect to energy reform up to this point. We trust that this will change with a rapid roll out of the Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Commission’s bold, thoughtful, and forward looking recommendations.

On behalf of the CAAV Steering Committee, whose names follow,

C. P. Leslie Grady Jr., Ph.D., Chair

Steering Committee Members
Emily Blake
Laura Dansby
Carl Droms
Joni Grady
Joy Loving
Pete Mahoney
Anne Nielsen
Lynn Smith
Cathy Strickler
Charles Strickler
RoxAnna Theiss
Adrie Voors
Rickie Wertz

CAAV at International Fest 2014

Letter signing at the International Fest.

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley hosted a table at the Harrisonburg International Festival on September 27, 2014, in Hillandale Park. We featured a display board with a map and images of climate-related changes being realized by the friends and families of many Harrisonburg residents. We displayed the letter below to Senators Kaine and Warner and Representative Goodlatte and asked for signatures:

Dear Gentlemen:

Nations around the world, many of whom contribute very little CO₂ to the atmosphere, are already suffering from the impacts of human-caused climate change. Many immigrants from these countries live in our Harrisonburg community. We work with them, shop with them, share our lives with them, and so the destruction we read about is not abstract, it has a human face.

A 20-year forecast from Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI) found that a carbon fee rising $10 per ton each year would add 2.8 million jobs to the economy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions 52 percent below 1990 levels. It is no longer true that we must choose between the environment and the economy; the REMI study shows we can cut carbon emissions and improve our economy at the same time through a revenue-neutral carbon tax that gives the revenue back to households.

We the undersigned call upon the United States Senate, House of Representatives, and President Obama to work together to introduce, promote, and pass legislation that puts a price on carbon pollution and returns revenues directly to the American people.

We owe this action to ourselves, our grandchildren, and to all the people of this small world we share.

Senators Kaine and Warner and Representative Goodlatte were each sent a copy of this letter with some 75 signatures attached as collected at the International Fest.





Posted to Daily News-Record online in the Open Forum on July 24, 2014

By Leslie Grady, Jr

Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s Fourth of July message to constituents came while I was attending week two of the Chautauqua Institution in New York. The theme for the week was “Feeding a Hungry Planet.” As we listened to the forward-looking speakers during the week and grappled with the complex issues surrounding the future of agriculture in an age of changing climate, it was particularly disheartening to read the congressman’s backward-looking and shortsighted views.

risky businessThe entire focus of his newsletter was increasing the exploitation of fossil fuels in the United States. Unfortunately, increasing the production of fossil fuels is the worst policy we could pursue because it ignores and exacerbates the risks associated with global warming. Those risks were on my mind while reading the newsletter, because I had just read a report entitled “Risky Business, The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States,” released in June by The Risky Business Project, co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulson, and Tom Steyer. That report provides critical information about the effects of climate change on key sectors of our national economy. It is based on an extensive study conducted by the Rhodium Group titled, “American Climate Prospectus: Economic Risks in the United States,” also released in June.

These studies represent the first comprehensive assessment of the economic risks our nation faces from climate change if we continue on our current path of fossil fuel use. Using a standard risk-assessment approach they focus on the clearest and most economically significant risks: damage to coastal property and infrastructure from rising sea levels and increased storm surge; climate-driven changes in agricultural production and energy demand; and the impact of higher temperatures on labor productivity and public health.

Because of sea-level rise, coastal property and infrastructure are particularly vulnerable. Even though we in the Shenandoah Valley do not share that vulnerability, we will certainly share the costs through our insurance premiums and tax revenues that will go to help our neighbors along the coast. We can minimize those costs, however, by acting now to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with their associated warming. As former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe has said: “If we were told – in any sphere – that we had at least a 90 percent chance of averting a disaster through changes we ourselves could make, wouldn’t we take action?”

Farmers in the Shenandoah Valley may be luckier than those in the Midwest and South because the projected effects here are smaller. Nevertheless, because of the integration of modern agriculture, we will all be affected by changes in climate anywhere in the country. Thus, it is of concern that the yields of corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton in some parts of the country are projected to decline by 10 percent or more throughout the next five to 25 years if we continue on our current path of fossil fuel use.

Many have spoken of the ability of humans to adapt, thereby dismissing the impacts of a hotter world. However, given our current path, by midcentury many parts of the country will be so hot and humid in the summer that the ability of people to work outdoors will be limited or their productivity will be diminished. Furthermore, as parts of the nation heat up, the worst health effects will be felt by the poor and elderly, many of whom have no access to air conditioning.

If we act today to move onto a different path of fossil fuel use, we can avoid many of the worst impacts of global warming. We are fully capable of managing climate risk, but only if we start to change our business and public policy decisions today. In short, we have a choice between just accepting the climate risks associated with our current practices or getting on another path.

As the “Risky Business” report states, “This is not a problem for another day. The investments we make today – this week, this month, this year – will determine our economic future.” Encourage Rep. Goodlatte to help us get on another path.

Leslie Grady Jr. lives in Harrisonburg.

Open as a pdf file here:  DNRonline _ Goodlatte Wrong On Climate

Congress Must Tax Carbon

Daily News-Record, Open Forum, April 14, 2014

By Leslie Grady

If you take a quick look at the global temperature record over the past 15 years, you’d think that global warming has stopped, or at least slowed drastically, and that burning fossil fuels isn’t a problem. But you’d be wrong. The atmosphere isn’t warming as fast but the planet is still warming, with most of the heat going into the deep oceans. This is a result of natural cycles in ocean currents and winds. As these cycles continue, atmospheric temperatures will rise again because the cause of global warming, increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has not been addressed.

Satellite measurements show clearly that more heat is coming into Earth from the sun than is leaving as outgoing radiation. We all know from experience that when more heat comes in than goes out, the temperature rises, and this is true of Earth just as it is true for any other object. The cause is the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, which decrease outgoing radiation. It raises the temperature of the air, the land, and the oceans. It also melts the ice in Earth’s ice caps and glaciers.

Even though we know that about 90 percent of the additional heat enters the oceans, surface air temperatures are used as evidence for global warming. This would be fine if the air temperature accurately reflected the heat content of the oceans, but it doesn’t because of their depth and the huge amount of water contained in them.

The amount of heat transferred to the oceans is determined by the combined effects of winds and ocean currents and as these vary, the climate changes. One combination forms the El Niño-Southern Oscillation in the Pacific Ocean. During El Niño periods, Earth’s surface is warmer and during the opposite La Niña phase, it is cooler. A major El Niño event occurred in 1997-98, resulting in a record high global mean temperature that wasn’t surpassed until 2010 when another major event occurred.

Unlike ENSO, which occurs with a frequency of 5 to 7 years, several other oscillations occur over periods of decades. These include the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. These influence sea level pressure as well as sea surface temperature so they affect both trade winds and upwellings from the deep ocean, as well as the down-wellings that help transfer heat to the deep ocean.

Climate scientists are gaining a much better understanding of how these oscillations impact climate and the variability we see in it. For example, from 1943 to 1976 and from 1999 to the present, both periods of pauses in global warming, the PDO was in a negative phase. When it returned to a positive phase in 1977, rapid atmospheric warming was observed. Because of the continued buildup in CO2 in the atmosphere during the current pause (from 368 to 398 parts per million), the imbalance between incoming and outgoing heat has increased. This means that once the PDO returns to a positive phase and a smaller fraction of incoming heat is stored in the oceans, Earth will be in for a rapid rise in air temperature. This will not be good for crops, for forests, for animals, or for people.

The only way to combat global warming and its associated climate change is to address the root cause, the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration caused by the burning of fossil fuels. This needs to be done globally, but because the USA has contributed more CO2 than any other nation, the world looks to us to take the lead.

Although a legislative approach to reducing CO2 emissions is preferable, Congress has failed to act, and thus the EPA is acting through regulation. This would not be necessary if Congress would enact a steadily increasing revenue-neutral carbon tax. Passing such a tax would make the price of fossil fuels reflect their true cost to society, including health and environmental effects, as well as global warming and climate change. It would allow market forces to solve the problem. Call on Congress to act.

Les and Joni Grady at CAAV's booth at Blacks Run CleanUp Green Scene April 13, 2014. © John Reeves
Les and Joni Grady at CAAV’s booth at Blacks Run CleanUp Green Scene April 12, 2014. © John Reeves

Leslie Grady Jr. lives in Harrisonburg.

Les has chaired the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley steering committee since 2012.

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards need strength!

To State Senators Emmett Hanger and Mark Obenshain, and Delegates Tony Wilt and Steve Landis, as signed by participants of a presentation by Virginia Conservation Network’s Policy and Campaigns Manager Chelsea Harnish at Ruby’s on April 8, 2014, concerning the recent General Assembly session.

Dear Gentlemen:

Many states in the mid-Atlantic region have enacted legislation to require a percentage of electricity sold in the state to be generated from renewable sources, i.e. Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania all have legislation requiring the generation of 15 to 25 percent of electricity from renewable resources in the next decade.

Not only are Virginia’s Renewable Portfolio Standards weak but they are merely voluntary. In 2012 Dominion Virginia Power generated 552,033 MWh from renewable sources, out of a total of 64,600,000 MWh sold. That’s about 0.8%, none of it from wind or solar.

We call on you, our elected representatives, to join the states around us in bidding farewell to the fossil fuel economy that is destroying Earth’s ecosystems. We call on you to put Virginia on the path of progress toward a renewable energy economy that will generate jobs, stimulate innovation and research, create new industries, and restore ecosystem health.

We call on you to enact real and credible Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards in the next session of the Virginia General Assembly.

On behalf of the CAAV Steering Committee and the Citizens signing the following pages,

Dear Senator Kaine:

Senator Kaine participated in a rare Senate all-nighter to attract attention to the need to address Climate Change.

In response to Democratic Senators’ March 10, 2014, all night session to stir up climate change action, CAAV’s Legislation and Election committee prepared the following letter to Senator Tim Kaine. It was displayed and available for signatures by the attendees of CAAV’s March 18 letter writing workshop with Pete Bsumek. Find Senator Kaine’s presentation to the Senate Climate Action Task Force’s overnight meeting here.

Senator Tim Kaine
388 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington , D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Kaine:

We listened carefully and were encouraged by your remarks at the recent all-night Senate event on March 10. Your understanding of climate issues and energy challenges was correct and to the point. You stated there is no conflict between the economy and the environment and that, in fact, the path to the new economy lies in environmental innovation. Win! Win! We agree!

There is another important arrow in our quiver in the fight against climate change and that is putting a price on carbon. Experts agree that it is the most cost effective and efficient way to reduce carbon emissions. The carbon price discussion draft released in March of 2013 by Waxman, Whitehouse, Blumenauer and Schatz provides an excellent starting point but needs strengthening.

1. The tax or fee should be applied upstream on carbon-based fuels at the first point of sale. Sale of permits should not be allowed because that leaves open the possibility of switching to a cap and trade system, which creates complexity and non-transparency.
2. The carbon tax legislation must include border adjustment tariffs to prevent American businesses from being placed at a competitive disadvantage. Countries without similar carbon prices would have a tariff imposed, along with refunds to U.S. businesses exporting to those countries, in order to create a level playing field. Also this would help encourage the carbon pricing to spread world-wide.
3. The tax should start at $35 per ton and increase at an annual rate of 8% per year. (The original numbers put forward by the task force were too weak).
4. All revenue generated from the tax should be divided equally among individuals in the U.S. and returned as a monthly or annual payment. This protects low and middle income consumers and makes the bill truly revenue neutral. (There are many other ideas out there on this point including a portion going to R and D and subsidies for renewables).
5. There must be bipartisan support!

We look to you and Senator Warner to provide leadership not only for Virginia but for the entire Nation on this climate crisis. Thank you for stepping out and into the light last week and becoming a “climate hero”. We’re right here behind you, supporting you in any way we can with the political will for a livable world.

For the CAAV Steering Committee and the Citizens signing the following page,
Leslie Grady Jr, Ph.D.
Chairman CAAV Steering Committee
Harrisonburg, VA