Clean Power, Clear Savings: Virginia Report

Click on image to read this report.

From Public Citizen, Protecting Health, Safety and Democracy:

Virginia: Clean Power, Clear Savings
The EPA Clean Power Plan Will Cut Virginia Electricity Bills

July 9, 2015

A new report by Public Citizen shows that Virginia consumers will see lower electricity bills under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to cut carbon pollution.

In June 2014, the EPA introduced a proposal to curb carbon pollution from existing power plants, a critical step to address climate change in the U.S. The proposal, dubbed the Clean Power Plan, asks each state to design its own strategy to achieve carbon reduction targets by 2030 and is expected to be finalized by August 2015.

The EPA rule will require Virginia to reduce its carbon pollution by 38 percent by 2030. The Clean Power Plan presents a great opportunity for Virginia not just to fight climate change, but to lower electricity costs for consumers and boost its economy.

Key Findings:

  • Based on the EPA’s conservative data, by 2030, electricity bills will be 7.7 to 8.4 percent lower under the Clean Power Plan, saving the average Virginian household $135 to $147 annually.
  • Under the Clean Power Plan a typical Virginian household will pay $1,615 to $1,627 for electricity in 2030; without the Clean Power Plan it will pay $1,762.
  • Virginia could see even greater savings than the EPA’s data suggest because the agency omits entire categories of efficiency measures that states can use, such as building codes and appliance standards.

More here.

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

CC. Evidence and CausesFrom Climate Change at the National Academies:                        “The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society have released ‘Climate Change: Evidence & Causes,’ a new publication produced jointly by the two institutions. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the publication is intended as a brief, readable reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative information on the some of the questions that continue to be asked.

The publication makes clear what is well-established and where understanding is still developing. It echoes and builds upon the long history of climate-related work from both national academies, as well as on the newest climate-change assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It touches on current areas of active debate and ongoing research, such as the link between ocean heat content and the rate of warming.”

The full booklet can be downloaded at no charge from the Climate Change at the National Academies website. Other options include viewing parts of the booklet or engaging in an interactive site based on the booklet. Hard copies may be purchased here as well.

AAAS What We Know

AAASreportIn March 2014, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a report What We Know: The Reality, Risks and Response to Climate Change.

AAAS CEO, Dr. Alan Leshner, explained “We’re the largest general scientific society in the world, and therefore we believe we have an obligation to inform the public and policymakers about what science is showing about any issue in modern life, and climate is a particularly pressing one. As the voice of the scientific community, we need to share what we know and bring policymakers to the table to discuss how to deal with the issue.”

The report provides three key messages for every American about climate change:

  • Climate scientists agree: climate change is happening here and now.
  • We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts.
  • The sooner we act, the lower the risk and cost. And there is much we can do.

More about the report and link for downloading is here.

Extracting Fossil Fuels from Your Portfolio

Click on this image to download the 28 page divestment guide.
Click on this image to download the 28 page divestment guide. teamed up with Trillium Asset Management and Green Century Funds to produce this guide for personal divestment from fossil fuels.’s Go Fossil Free program concentrates on encouraging college campuses to divest but offers resources for all entities to consider this.

As grassroots divestment campaigns take hold of institutions across the country, many individuals are taking matters into their own hands and choosing to divest their personal finances from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel companies are currently overvalued, and as the international community moves toward regulating carbon emissions, divestment may be a good long-term investment strategy as well as the right thing to do. –

IPCC 5th Assessment Report

IPCC report 2013In September, 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a 36 page Summary for Policymakers relating to their Working Group 1’s Physical Science Basis section of the 5th Assessment Report.

Headline Statements from this Summary are here.

The full Summary for Policymakers is here.

About the IPCC 5th Assessment Report

from Working Group 1 Fact Sheet,

IPCC WGI Technical Support Unit, Bern, 30 August 2013

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) contains contributions from three Working Groups. Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change. Working Group II assesses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability while Working Group III assesses the mitigation of climate change. The Synthesis Report draws on the assessments made by all three Working Groups.
The Working Group I contribution to the AR5 (WGI AR5) has 14 chapters, a Technical Summary and a Summary for Policymakers. The report includes an assessment of observations of the climate system, with separate chapters covering changes in the atmosphere and surface, the ocean and the cryosphere, as well as information from paleoclimate archives. There are chapters covering the carbon cycle, the science of clouds and aerosols, radiative forcing and sea level change. Coverage of climate change
projections is extended by assessing both near-term and long-term projections. Climate phenomena such as monsoon and El Niño and their relevance for future regional climate change are assessed. An innovative feature of the WGI AR5 is the Atlas of Global and Regional Climate Projections (Annex I), which is intended to enhance accessibility for users and stakeholders.
The WGI AR5 involved experts from around the world with expertise in the many different disciplines necessary to produce a comprehensive assessment of the physical science of climate change according to the approved chapter outlines. There were 209 Lead Authors and 50 Review Editors. More than 600 additional experts were invited by the Lead Authors of the report to be Contributing Authors and to provide additional specific knowledge or expertise in a given area.
Lead Authors and Review Editors were selected for their scientific and technical expertise in relation to the approved chapter outlines for the WGI AR5 from lists of experts nominated by governments and IPCC observer organisations. Regional and gender balance were also considered, as well as ensuring the involvement of experts who had not worked on IPCC assessments before.
The author teams assessed thousands of sources of scientific and technical information in the course of their work on WGI AR5. Priority is given to peer-reviewed literature if available and over 9,200 publications are cited in the WGI report.
Multiple stages of review are an essential part of the IPCC process. Both expert reviewers and governments are invited at different stages to comment on the scientific and technical assessment and the overall balance of the drafts. The review process includes worldwide participation, with hundreds of experts reviewing the accuracy and completeness of the scientific assessment contained in the drafts.
The WGI AR5 will be presented to the IPCC member governments for approval and acceptance in September 2013.
For more on the IPCC:  What climate scientists talk about now  by Pilita Clark,
                                                                       Financial Times Magazine, August 2, 2013
David Vaughan, glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey
David Vaughan, glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey

From CAAV member Doug Hendren:

This article is worth a look. It opens with the drama of pieces of Antarctica disappearing (unlike the North Pole, the Antarctic ice is on land, so when it starts sliding off, the oceans rise).

It also gives a glimpse into the workings of the International Panel on Climate Change. For all the denunciation by critics funded by the oil and coal industries, the IPCC is in a class by itself as a dedicated organization of serious scientists. And their ability to predict the future has been pretty darn good, when compared to other types of prognostication. The hard thing is actually getting through our heads that this is really happening.

Changing Course for Dominion Power

Changing course coverClean Energy Investment Plan for Dominion Virginia Power

by David Schlissel, The Institute for Energy and Financial Analysis,

Jeffrey Loiter, Optimal Energy, Inc. and

Anna Sommer, Sommer Energy, LLC

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and Optimal Energy were asked to evaluate the potential for additional energy efficiency and renewable energy in Virginia, and to analyze the economic costs and benefits of a Clean Energy Investment Plan for Dominion Virginia Power (“Dominion” or “the Company”) in comparison to the “Preferred Resource Plan” and other alternatives evaluated in the Company’s 2012 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). This Report presents the results of their analyses.

Key findings of the report are:

• Dominion’s current resource mix is heavily dependent on fossil–fired generation, with coal, natural gas, and oil–fired power plants providing nearly two–thirds of the energy from Dominion–owned facilities or that the Company purchases from non–utility generators or other utilities in the PJM energy market.

• Dominion’s Preferred Resource Plan would encompass more of the same, adding more than 5,000 megawatts (MW) of new or converted natural gas– fired capacity by 2027 while failing to retire any additional coal–fired units beyond those the Company currently plans to retire by 2015. As a result, as late as 2027, with the Preferred Resource Plan, coal and natural gas–fired facilities would continue to provide nearly 60 percent of the Company’s energy mix.

• Dominion’s Preferred Resource Plan is fraught with significant uncertainties and risks for ratepayers and the environment, and it fails to account for Virginia’s substantial untapped potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy resources.

• Adoption of a Clean Energy Investment Plan, while only a first step in moving the Company towards a cleaner energy future, will provide by 2027 nearly 6,800 MW of energy efficiency and renewable resources and more than 18 million megawatt hours (MWh) of clean non–emitting energy each year, at a lower cost than building one or both of the new natural gas–fired combined cycle (NGCC) power plants that Dominion plans to add by 2019.

The Clean Energy Investment Plan considered here is a moderately aggressive plan, just a first step in addressing the future welfare of Virginians. It is not an estimate of the maximum technological potential for clean energy, but rather was developed within the restrictive regulatory structure currently in place in Virginia. The steps taken in this plan are based on technologies already known, commercialized, and expected to be economically feasible within the time frame established.

The Clean Energy Investment Plan considers a limited set of changes from Dominion’s Preferred Resource Plan that are economically competitive; i.e. that would be as economic or more so than the Preferred Resource Plan based on current conditions and conservative projections of future trends. Changes in conditions such as much higher costs associated with greenhouse gas emissions might justify a much more aggressive move toward clean energy resources.

The Report’s conclusion is that Virginia has substantial untapped potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, particularly solar and offshore wind. Even a moderately aggressive Clean Energy Investment Plan would produce significant benefits for Dominion’s ratepayers. However, instead of pursuing this new direction, Dominion has chosen a Preferred Resource Plan that continues its historic dependence on large central–station fossil–fired and nuclear generating units, thereby maintaining a resource strategy that is fraught with risks and uncertainties for ratepayers.

See the full 44 page report at Wise Energy for Virginia.

Governor’s Commission on Climate Change Action Plan 2008

Kaine's Climate report 2008In 2007 Governor Kaine assembled a commission of over 3 dozen Virginians representing a broad spectrum of interests and areas of the state to develop guidelines to address climate change in Virginia.

According to the report, the group was asked to:

“1. Inventory the amount of and contributors to
Virginia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and
projections through 2025.
2. Evaluate expected impacts of climate change
on Virginia’s natural resources, the health of its citizens, and the economy, including the industries of agriculture, forestry, tourism, and insurance.
3. Identify what Virginia needs to do to prep are for the likely consequences of climate change.
4. Identify the actions … that need to be taken to achieve the 30% reduction goal of Commonwealth greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 set by the 2007 Virginia Energy Plan.
5. Identify climate change approaches being pursued by other states, regions, and the federal government.”

After a year of study and discussion, the commission’s report was issued in December 2008. A Virginia wetlands advocacy group Wetlands Watch out of Norfolk has ensured public access to this report after it was removed from the state Department of Environmental Quality’s website in 2012.

Commission member and Wetlands Watch executive director Skip Stiles summarized the commissions findings and recommendations here.

The entire report can be accessed here on the site maintained by Wetlands Watch.

The Ceres Report

Ceres reportCeres is a far reaching non-profit organization championing sustainable economies. They conducted a survey of the insurance industry in 2012 to determine how prepared it is for the changing climate. Their report on the survey findings came out in March 2013.

Ceres proposes recommendations to insurers and regulators to maintain insurability in a warming world.

2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states and the second most extreme weather year in United States history. Insurers are increasingly acknowledging that extreme weather has become the new normal, yet a new report from Ceres finds that many in the industry are only just beginning to think about how to address the effects climate change may have on their business – while a small group of companies is leading the way.

The Ceres report, Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey: 2012 Findings & Recommendations, is based on 184 company disclosures in response to a climate risk survey developed by insurance regulators. Surveys were completed by insurers licensed to operate in three states – California, New York and Washington – that require climate risk disclosure. Collectively, these companies represent a significant majority of the American insurance market.

Ceres found only 23 companies in the property & casualty, life & annuity and health insurance sectors have comprehensive climate change strategies. Those companies provide a roadmap for the rest of the industry as it begins to wrestle with the issue.

The rest of this press release and links to the report are here.

GAO’s 2013 High-Risk Report

GAO report 2013The Government Accountability Office issues a High Risk report every other year. According to the GAO website:

“The federal government is the world’s largest and most complex entity, with about $3.5 trillion in outlays in fiscal year 2012 funding a broad array of programs and operations. GAO maintains a program to focus attention on government operations that it identifies as high risk due to their greater vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need for transformation to address economy, efficiency, or effectiveness challenges. Since 1990, more than one-third of the areas previously designated as high risk have been removed from the list because sufficient progress was made to address the problems identified.

This biennial update describes the status of high-risk areas listed in 2011 and identifies any new high-risk area needing attention by Congress and the executive branch. Solutions to high-risk problems offer the potential to save billions of dollars, improve service to the public, and strengthen the performance and accountability of the U.S. government.”

“This year, GAO has added two areas.

  • Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks. Climate change creates significant financial risks for the federal government, which owns extensive infrastructure, such as defense installations; insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program; and provides emergency aid in response to natural disasters. The federal government is not well positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by climate change, and needs a government wide strategic approach with strong leadership to manage related risks.
  • Mitigating Gaps in Weather Satellite Data. Potential gaps in environmental satellite data beginning as early as 2014 and lasting as long as 53 months have led to concerns that future weather forecasts and warnings–including warnings of extreme events such as hurricanes, storm surges, and floods–will be less accurate and timely. A number of decisions are needed to ensure contingency and continuity plans can be implemented effectively.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island discusses the significance of the addition of climate change to the GAO 2013 High Risk report and implores Congress for action in this address to President Obama on February 27, 2013 :

JMU Climate Action Report

JMU Climate Action ReportJMU logo

JMU Climate Action Report Update 1, December 2012

This document discusses progress and revisions since the 2010 report. Noteworthy environmental achievements include diverting more waste to a composting program, transforming campus transportation, implementing environmental policies, adopting student environmental literacy learning outcomes and an assessment, fostering student-led environment programs, integrating environmental stewardship across the curriculum, creating an employee conservation program, and greening operations. Integration into the planning process, cross-divisional collaboration, and stakeholder support at all levels are key to success. …