The Defenders at Stuarts Draft Farm Market

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Climate change is upon us and we need to do what we can to ‘build the best and block the bad.’ Fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines threaten people’s homes, health, safety, and access to clean water. Ultimately, these proposed projects harm all of us by deepening our dependence on fossil fuels and accelerating climate chaos.

A collaborative effort to ‘block the bad,’ an 8-foot tall, 8-foot wide steel sculpture, “The Defenders,” was created as a strong symbol of resistance to stand in defiance along these pipelines’ proposed paths. With $4000 raised through a crowdsourced fundraising campaign, donated talent from sculptors Mark Schwenk and Cheryl Langlais of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, “The Defenders” is currently making the rounds to properties close to the proposed pipeline route in Augusta, Bath and Nelson Counties whose landowners are welcoming the piece on their land.

This protest sculpture stands against the needless swath of destruction and downstream consequences of fracked gas pipelines. As a symbol of resistance and inspiration, it honors all those Defenders who are engaged in the fight against pipeline projects that threaten people and planet.

Members of the public are cordially invited to view “The Defenders” sculpture at its current location in Augusta County along Rt 340 at the Stuarts Draft Farm Market store at 2964 Stuarts Draft Hwy in Stuarts Draft at least through November … and pick up your holiday goodies while you are there!

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Above photo is by Ken Wyner at the September 30, 2018, dedication of “The Defenders” near the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center in Nelson County.

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Rise for Community Climate Action

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Saturday, September 8, 1-4 PM
Pale Fire Brewing Company
217 S. Liberty St, Harrisonburg

Join the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Renew Rocktown, and Virginia Clean Cities in sharing, celebrating, and supporting local climate resilience actions!

On September 8, thousands of rallies will be held in cities and towns around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that works for all of us. This collective Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice is part of an effort by Peoples Climate Movement​ to show the world how many people think climate matters. And that we need to elect officials who will take strong, fast action — or take matters into our own hands.

In the Harrisonburg/Rockingham-area, we hope to bring together climate, sustainability, and justice-seeking allies to celebrate our community successes and build capacity for more initiatives that are grounded in local ownership, equality, and climate resilience.

We are calling on a number of organizations and groups to showcase their inspiring work at this event, but the central initiative featured at our ​Rise for Community Climate Action​ will be the Harrisonburg City Sustainability Action Plan. This plan has been under development by the Environmental Performance Standards Advisory Council (EPSAC)​ for many, many months. The plan calls to create a new sustainability coordinator position in City Council, conduct a Greenhouse Gas Inventory, increase in renewable energy, and set other community priorities for climate resilience. It is being supported in large part by Renew Rocktown​, a community coalition dedicated to climate action and resilience in the Harrisonburg area.

Join us Saturday, September 8th at Pale Fire Brewing Company​ in downtown Harrisonburg for a fun, informative afternoon of connecting with fellow community organizers and do-ers! You can learn about exciting projects underway by various sustainability and climate resilience allies and find out how to get involved in those efforts that interest you most!

  • Talk to EPSAC members about the Sustainability Action Plan and give feedback and support
  • Add your voice to the call for local climate action by joining a letter-writing coalition
  • Sign up to visit or volunteer at local Sustainability Success Sites
  • Check out electric vehicles brought to you by Virginia Clean Cities for National Drive Electric Week
  • Learn about other climate action, environmental justice, and sustainability efforts in our area

Community gardens, pipeline opposition, composting, compost/recycling pick up, restorative justice, organic agriculture, community policing, fossil fuel divestment, fair trade retail and cooperative ownership, waterway management, sustainable transportation, accessible housing, solar power installation — these are the kinds of solutions that we hope to promote at this event.

Please reach out if you are working on introducing or implementing an initiative that you’d like to be featured at this gathering! Interested parties are invited to set up a table and/or poster display of their work, or just show up and share your ideas for climate action and resilience!

Contact: Rosie Lynch rosielynch11 [at] gmail.com

Harrisonburg Rise for Climate Action Network event page

fb-art event page

Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley to Speak at NAACP Banquet on Climate Change and Civil Rights

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NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet
Featuring Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley presenting: Seize the Moment – Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue

Sunday, September 16, 2018 | 6-8PM
Festival Ballroom, James Madison University, Harrisonburg

“Environmental injustice, including the proliferation of climate change, has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low income communities in the United States and around the world. The NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program was created to support community leadership in addressing this human and civil rights issue.” https://www.naacp.org/issues/environmental-justice/

Harrisonburg-Rockingham County NAACP Branch #7132 and the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley are excited to be part of this program and to bring climate justice activist Dr. Gerald Durley to the 15th Annual Freedom Fund Banquet. This is the major fundraising event of the year for Branch 7132 and is vitally important to our work for civil rights.

Only rarely are we privileged to hear a speaker combine knowledge and experience, understanding, compassion and humanity. Even rarer is one who also speaks with such enthusiasm that he can inspire a whole room to rise up and seize the moment, ready to meet the challenge of climate justice right here in the Valley.

Dr. Gerald Durley, Pastor Emeritus of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, is such a person. While serving as Pastor, he became intensely involved in the climate change, global warming, and environmental justice movement. Rev. Dr. Durley now combines the disciplines of faith and science with the lessons learned as a civil/human rights advocate from the 1960’s. He believes that God created a perfect ecologically balanced world for humans to care for, but we are destroying it at an alarming rate. He asserts that for the environment to be saved, the educational, scientific, business, political, and faith communities must seek common solutions.

Dr. Durley has served on many interfaith associations and boards, including Interfaith Power and Light, as well as being a long-time member of NAACP of Atlanta. A few of his notable awards include the White House Champion of Change Award given by President Barack Obama and the placement of his name on the International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame in Atlanta.

 You can watch one of his speeches, “Race, Faith and Climate Change: How Global Warming is a Civil Rights Issue,” at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgEO5GkBuQY

Tickets for the September 16th banquet are $40 per seat ($25 for students) and $300 for a table of 8. 

The form to purchase tickets is HERE. Advanced sales only. Please print form and send it along with payment by August 27, 2018, to:

Harrisonburg- Rockingham County NAACP
C/O Freedom Fund
P.O. Box 1010
Harrisonburg, VA 22803

You may also purchase an endorsement in the 8″x10″ printed brochure. The form to purchase endorsements is HERE.

fb-art facebook event page HERE.

Dr. Durley recently received a letter from Ted Turner announcing his reception of the Captain Planet Exemplar Award. This will be given Dec. 7 ” In celebration of your commitment to a sustainable future, the fight against climate change, and your indefatigable work to spread the message of creation care…” He’ll be in good company with previous winners Jimmy Carter, Sir Richard Branson and Erin Brockovich, and others. I’m sure you will want to be there with us and the NAACP to congratulate him on this latest recognition. See the letter HERE.

 

Climate Advocates Meet with Senator Hanger

Hanger24On May 8, six constituents of Senator Emmett Hanger met with him at Valley Pike Farm Market (his choice).  Present were:   Joni and Les Grady, Sally Newkirk,  Erik Curren of Staunton (author of The Solar Patriot, Staunton city councilman, and consultant with Secure Futures (solar company), Sandy Greene, local conservationist, naturalist, and solar advocate, and Joy Loving.

The meeting lasted about 1 ½ hours.  We talked about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – RGGI,  and Distributed Solar.  The agenda is below.  We took turns speaking and each of us focused on different areas.  We scripted it loosely and more or less took our cues from him.  It was really a conversation.  We gave him background materials, including two books and a “solar primer” full of pictures.  We thanked him for his efforts on Medicaid expansion and on Chesapeake Bay restoration.  Erik gave him a copy of his book and Joy gave him a copy of Virginia Climate Fever by Steve Nash.

The Senator was receptive, cordial, and engaged, and he offered suggestions on how to reach out to other legislators and whom to consider contacting.  He also recommended we try to develop a business coalition similar to one he is aware of around the I-81 corridor improvements and see if we could get anywhere with the Chamber of Commerce, using a market/business approach.  He is already familiar with the idea of the trade part of cap and trade because of the “nutrient trading” program that has been in effect for some time as part of Chesapeake Bay cleanup.  He offered to meet with us again; we’re thinking early September but haven’t tried to schedule anything yet.

RGGI Discussion with Senator Hanger, May 8, 2018

  • What is Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) bill, SB 696/HB 1273? Virginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act, a Carbon Cap and Trade Carbon Reduction Program
  • RGGI Bill Provisions
  • RGGI Regulations Provisions: 9VAC5-140. Regulation for Emissions Trading Programs, Published January 8, 2018
  • Difference between Regulations and SB 696
  • Alternatives and Opposition to RGGI
  • Benefits
  • Moving Forward for 2019 General Assembly Session

Solar Discussion with Senator Hanger, May 8, 2018

  • Intro to Erik Curren’s book and its premise, that America and Virginia need a clean energy revolution not just for climate but to create jobs and build resilience
  • Popularity of rooftop solar across political spectrum, especially among conservatives
  • Benefits of distributed rooftop solar over centralized utility solar
  • Answer to utility claim that rooftop solar owners are “free riders” on the grid who shift costs to non-solar ratepayers, many of whom are low income — the truth is the opposite in fact, that solar owners give more value to the grid in peak demand reduction, and their non-solar neighbors, than they receive in net metering payments

– Joy Loving, May 2018


From the Daily News-Record, June 1, 2018

Sen. Hanger’s Efforts To Listen To Constituents To Be Applauded

RECENTLY, SIX CONSTITUENTS of Sen. Emmett Hanger, R- Mount Solon, sat down with him at the Valley Pike Farm Market (his suggestion).

The senator agreed to meet during a brief time when he was not in Richmond for the special April/ May sessions. He was engaged in delicate negotiations with members of his party regarding Medicaid expansion. Even so, he was attentive and engaged during our meeting, readily offering his reactions to the matters we raised and his responses to our questions.

Del. David Toscano, D- Charlottesville, offered high praise: “The House budget, with the amendments proposed by Senator Hanger, is perhaps the best budget that I have seen in my time at the General Assembly. If the budget comes to the House with these good amendments, I will enthusiastically support it.”

To that I add my gratitude for the senator’s efforts on behalf of his constituents during his tenure in the State Senate.

Joy Loving Grottoes

The Defenders: Protest Against Pipelines

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The Defenders Kickstarter campaign site is HERE.

Thanks to the Daily News-Record and Pete DeLea for covering the preview event. Find the article HERE as published on June 18, 2018.


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We face events that call us to action, that stir our deepest emotions.

We are forced to take a stand and Defend our rights to a safe future.

Stand with us in solidarity to The Defenders driving the local pipeline resistance.

Help us fund “The Defenders” – a massive protest sculpture symbolizing their brave resistance to fossil fuel destruction.

Erected in steel, standing 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide, “The Defenders” will make a strong anti-pipeline statement across the Valley.

It will amplify our message of action and protection.

It will inspire and engage more people to join the fight to resist domination by the fossil fuel industry.

As you all know, climate change is upon us and we need to do what we can to ‘build the best and block the bad.’ Fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines threaten people’s homes, health, safety, and access to clean water. Ultimately, these proposed projects harm all of us by deepening our region’s dependence on fossil fuels and accelerating climate chaos.

So we, a committee of activists, want to ‘block the bad’ with a strong symbol of resistance: “The Defenders” – a large, moveable, steel sculpture that will stand in defiance along these pipelines’ proposed paths. We have a sculptor team that has agreed to volunteer their time erecting this piece of protest art, and landowners in Augusta, Bath and Nelson Counties who will welcome the piece on their land, close to the proposed pipeline route. (We are also exploring additional display sites).

To pull this off, we need to raise $4,000 to pay for the steel materials. The rest is in place to pull of this act of defiance. We need to act fast to make this statement, as the pipeline plans continue to encroach on our lands and destroy Earth’s balances.

Join us at Pale Fire Brewing Company, 217 S. Liberty St., Harrisonburg, on Sunday, June 17th for The Defenders Preview Night. This event will kick off our fundraising campaign and lead into a month-long Kickstarter campaign that starts the following day. Please help us pull off this act of defiance by supporting us on June 17th and inviting your friends and family to join you.

You will have the chance to preview “The Defenders” model, meet the sculptor team, Mark Schwenk and Cheryl Langlais, and have any questions you may have answered by the campaign organizers — all while enjoying Pale Fire’s great beer selection. We also hope to bring some local food vendors to offer delicious food for purchase on site!

Join the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley in making a strong statement of pipeline resistance in this act of solidarity with the many Defenders who are committed to stopping these projects. Checks and cash donations will be accepted to help us reach our $4,000 fundraising goal. Keep an eye out for the launch of our Kickstarter campaign on June 18th!

fb-art  Facebook event page HERE.

Printable poster is HERE. Please share it!

Mayor Reed on Earth Day 2018

Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed was invited to say a few words at the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley-hosted Earth Day Celebration, Picnic and Tree Planting in Purcell Park on Sunday, April 22, 2018. Thank you Mayor Reed for participating in the event and sharing your heartfelt and inspiring thoughts!

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Thank you so much for having me to share a few words today as we have our “picnic in the park” and honor our Mother Earth. So we all know the history of today close to 48 years ago on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, suddenly realized they shared common values. On this day people will march, sign petitions, meet with their elected officials, clean up their towns AND as we will do today … plant trees. It is a wonderful day of being earth conscious.

Now since I have been elected I have come to appreciate and advocate for the environmental movement. But I have to be honest and I must admit I have not always been aware. I was one who didn’t care if we recycled or about going green or about global warming. But I can say now I do care. And I especially care now that I am Mayor. I’ve learned so much since I have been elected. I’ve learned that Climate change is real! We have snow in April and summer weather in February most of the time we can’t tell what season we are in. And along with that comes climate change health risk. According to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 48-year-old environmental organization.

The study, “Climate Change and Health in Virginia,” warns that as heat waves increase, the risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths in Virginia will grow. Allergy season is starting earlier and lasting longer, and asthma attacks are increasing in the southeastern United States. “Climate change is already affecting the health of Virginians, and it’s getting worse. The idea that we could be facing more intense allergy seasons is likely and that affects me personally. So how do we as a city get people like me involved about our earth. Well it starts with you. If you are here today then that shows that you are passionate and concerned about our environment. You are concerned about these issues that should be looked at. You know we need more efforts to cut carbon pollution, which drives climate change, you know we need to use wind and solar energy rather than coal, oil or natural gas. We need You to continue to educate us and be the voice for our community. I believe as a community we have made progress in our Environmental Initiatives. If you go on the city website you will see all of our initiatives, programs and organizations. However we have a lot more work to do. As Mayor, I would love to see Harrisonburg lead the way and be the example of promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

So let me remind all of you that we have a very important local election coming up 2 seats for city council 3 seats for school board. We need to see where these candidates stand on sustainability. And let us continue to have community discussions so that we can progress toward a more sustainable future for Harrisonburg. And last Thank you to the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) for 10 years of dedication to climate change. Thank you for being the environmental compass of our community. Thank you so much for having me here today.

– Mayor Deanna Reed, April 22, 2018

Celebrating Earth Day with a Picnic and Tree Planting

Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in the Earth Day Celebration in Purcell Park on April 22, 2018!

Notably among the attendees was Daily News-Record reporter Kelly Clark. We found her nice work on the front page of the paper the very next day: An Earth Day Birthday: Group Planted Black Gum, Swamp Oak Tree.

We’d also like to thank Mayor Deanna Reed for graciously attending and sharing her thoughtful comments with us. We’ve posted her remarks here.

Harrisonburg Landscape Manager Mike Hott, with support of the Department of Parks and Recreation, did a wonderful job of facilitating the tree planting and guiding us on an educational tour of trees of Purcell Park. We hope to watch the pond-side swamp oak and black gum trees prosper for years to come!

Scroll down for photos of the event.


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purcellparkmapsnipEarth Day Picnic in the Park
Sunday, April 22 from 12 noon to 2 PM

Purcell Park
Shelter #3 (near the pond)
41 Monument Ave, Harrisonburg

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley invites you to celebrate Earth Day, Sunday April 22, with them.

Bring your picnic basket and come to Purcell Park, Shelter #3 close to the pond, at noon to eat and visit with friends. Stay to hear the comments by Mayor Deanna Reed and plant two new trees (holes already dug!) Then you can take a hike, go on a tree ID walk led by Mike Hott, certified arborist, play Frisbee, or check out the playground with your kids. Or you can just sit, soak up the sun, and enjoy Mother Earth on Her Day.

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Click on a photo below to enlarge it and see a slide show version of these photos:

Solutions to Save Us: Cool It for the Earth

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Reining in Refrigerants

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley hosts the third and last public forum in a series based on the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming edited by Paul Hawken. Refrigerant management offers the number one most impactful action humans can take to prevent runaway global warming.

Tuesday, May 1st, 7PM
Fire and Rescue Training Room, Building A
Rockingham County Administration Center
20 E. Gay St., Harrisonburg

We’ll hear from Jay Monger of Excel Heating and Cooling and Wayne Teel, professor in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University.


New Delhi India will have temperatures in the triple digits this week. Phoenix AZ will reach 99 and a man running the London marathon last week died from the unusual heat. Climate change will only bring more and more extreme temperatures, and people and food will need more and more air conditioners and refrigerators.

If the current refrigerants, HFCs, spare the ozone layer but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, we have a huge problem. Solving it should be one of our highest priorities.
Learn more about the issue and solutions from JMU Professor Wayne Teel and find out how it will affect us in the Valley from Jay Monger, CEO of Excel Heating and Cooling.

In October 2016, officials from more than 170 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda, to negotiate a deal to address this problem. Through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the world will phase out HFCs—starting with high-income countries in 2019, then some low-income countries in 2024 and others in 2028. Substitutes are already on the market, including natural refrigerants such as propane and ammonium.

Scientists estimate the Kigali accord will reduce global warming by nearly one degree Fahrenheit. Still, the bank of HFCs will grow substantially before all countries halt their use. Because 90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life, effective disposal of those currently in circulation is essential. After being carefully removed and stored, refrigerants can be purified for reuse or transformed into other chemicals that do not cause warming.

Solutions to Save Us: Educate for the Earth

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV), is devoting series of forums to 5 of the top 100 climate change solutions Paul Hawkens and his fellow researchers enumerate in the new book, “Drawdown.” (You can read more about this research at http://www.drawdown.org/).

CAAV continues the spring 2018 series, “Solutions to Save Us” with a forum on how women & girl’s access to education and family planning can solve our climate crisis.

The Drawdown research calculates that educating girls is the 6th most promising solution to solving the climate crisis, while access to family planning comes it at 7th. However, when combined, these two strategies beat the top ranked solution, with the ability to reduce nearly 112 Gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2050.

This event, “Solutions to Save Us: Educate for the Earth” will be a chance for community members to learn more about the barriers to these two solutions and how they can promote them worldwide.

Featured speakers will include:

-Dr. Laura Desportes, College of Education, James Madison University
-Dr. Andrea Knopp, School of Nursing, James Madison University

We hope you will join us on Thursday, March 29 at 7PM in the Fire & Rescue Training Room at the Rockingham County Administration Center, 50 E. Gay Street, Harrisonburg.

Past “Solutions to Save Us” Event:
– “Eat for the Earth,” (February 28), focused on reduced food waste (Solution #3) and plant-rich diets (Solution #4).

Future “Solutions to Save Us” Event:
– “Cool it for the Earth,” (early May), focused on Refrigerant Management (#1 solution).

Explore the complete list of 100 solutions to climate change at http://www.drawdown.org/solutions.

Women'sMarch

Support Cap & Trade for VA Power Plants

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley joins Sierra Club/Virginia Chapter, Appalachian Voices, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Virginia Interfaith and Light, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network among other organizations, in urging you to raise your voice in support of the proposed regulations to establish a carbon reduction program for the Commonwealth. There are several ways you can make sure your concerns are heard.

1.      You can attend the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public hearing at 4411 Early Rd, Harrisonburg, on March 14, from 5 to 7 pm and make your comments in person.  http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Air/GreenhouseGasPlan.aspx

2.      You can go online and offer written comments to DEQ by April 9http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/entercomment.cfm?stageid=8130 or https://www.addup.org/campaigns/virginia-needs-a-strong-standard-to-protect-our-climate

3.      You can express yourself—and inform your Facebook friends:  https://www.facebook.com/events/206763563204173/

4.      You can sign a petition:  http://appvoices.org/virginia-needs-climate-action/

5.      You can write a letter to the editor (LTE).

What’s very important is that you speak up—and do so SOON. The Clean Power Plan is pretty much dead for the next several years. There will likely be little if any effort at the federal level any time soon to lower carbon emissions and there will no doubt be federal actions to increase carbon emissions.  The VA General Assembly (GA) has declined to enact carbon reduction legislation that has been proposed during the last three sessions (including 2018). DEQ’s regulations represent the only viable avenue now available for Virginia to act.

Former Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Directive 11 (https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=20285 ) in May 2017 directing DEQ to develop regulations that they issued in draft, for public comment, in Jan 2018 (http://www.townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewStage.cfm?stageid=8130). In brief, “ED11, or the VA Carbon Reduction Plan, is designed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel-burning power plants by 30% by the year 2030, and give rise to a generation of clean energy jobs. ED11’s approach is the same one that is being successfully used in 9 other states that are a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).” [Sierra Club VA Chapter] The draft regulations provide a way “to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is ‘trading-ready’ to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon allowances through a multi-state trading program.” [Appalachian Voices, Lena Lewis]

To help you offer your comments, we’ve provided talking points, background information, a list of the areas DEQ wants addressed, and sample LTEs below. Be sure to include your own personal statement as to why you believe these regulations are needed–i.e., why and how reduced carbon emissions will benefit you and your family.

PLEASE ACT NOW TO DEMAND THAT VIRGINIA REDUCE ITS CARBON POLLUTION FROM POWER PLANTS!!

– Joy Loving
Chair, Legislative and Elections Committee
Climate Action Alliance of the Valley


Background information

Appalachian Voices Front Porch Blog: Virginia inches closer to a carbon market
By Lena Lewis, student in the Master of Public Policy program at the Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy, University of Virginia, July 2017

The Daily News-Record‘s Nolan Stout covers the issue in this March 7, 2018, article: Carbon Emissions Hearing On Tap

This Augusta Free Press article from March 7, 2018, gives more viewpoints: DEQ public hearings to cut carbon in Virginia

Environmental journalist Chris Bolgiano lays out the case for why forest carbon offsets should be part of the VA cap-and-trade plan in the March-April issue of Virginia Wildlife Magazine: Seeing the Forest for the Carbon

Concerns that cap-and-trade plans promote fracking are described here: Don’t Let RGGI Frack Us Over


Carbon Cap-and-Trade Talking Points by Lena Lewis

Carbon Cap-and-Trade creates a financial incentive to reduce carbon dioxide pollution. Businesses that reduce their carbon emissions can earn revenue, while polluters have to pay.

How Cap-and-Trade Works

1. CAP: The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sets a cap, or limit, on the total carbon emissions allowed by power plants.

2. ALLOWANCES: The DEQ creates allowances to emit carbon. Each allowance permits its owner to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. Then that allowance is used up.

3. ALLOCATION/DISTRIBUTION: The DEQ distributes allowances. In most cap-and- trade programs, this is done through an auction. The price determined by the auction is the “clearing price” which all bidders pay for their allowances.

4. TRADE: Allowance holders can buy and sell allowances. This creates an incentive to lower carbon emissions. If a power plant can reduce its carbon emissions, it can sell its allowances to increase revenue. If a power plant emits a lot of carbon, it loses profit because it has to buy more allowances.

5. LOWER THE CAP: Each year, the DEQ lowers the amount of emissions allowed and offers fewer allowances. This raises the price of allowances, and creates even more incentive for power plants to reduce their carbon emissions.

Virginia could reduce carbon emissions from our power plants by 30% over 10 years.

The nine member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade program have set a goal of reducing their power plant emissions by 30% of 2020 levels by the year 2030. If Virginia links with RGGI, we would lower our cap at the same rate as RGGI states.

RGGI states have already reduced their power plant carbon emissions by 30% since the program began in 2008. They have achieved this goal while their economy has increased faster than the rest of the country (25% economic growth in RGGI states compared to 21% in other states). RGGI states have also lowered their average electricity rates by 3.4% while the rest of the country’s electricity bills have increased by an average of 7.2%.1

Carbon Cap-and-Trade levels the playing field for zero-carbon and low-carbon energy sources.

Fossil fuels have so far had an unfair advantage in the competition with zero-carbon energy sources: they have not had to pay for the damages caused by their carbon pollution. Putting a price on carbon levels the playing field for solar, wind, and other zero-carbon energy sources.

Carbon Cap-and-Trade is simple and reduces the need for government intervention.

Carbon Cap-and-Trade works to lower carbon emissions without the need for further government regulation of carbon emitted by power plants. With a cap-and-trade program in place, we do not need a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to mandate that a certain percent of electricity be produced by renewable sources. An RPS would be redundant, because the incentive to reduce carbon is already created through cap-and trade.

Carbon Cap-and-Trade works to lower carbon emissions without mandating how revenue from allowances sales is spent. Though it is tempting to demand that revenue be spent on investment in zero-carbon energy, such mandates are not necessary to reduce carbon. Companies already have the incentive to invest in more zero-carbon energy because doing so makes good business sense.

Carbon Cap-and-Trade is not a magic solution for everything.

A cap on carbon emissions from power plants does nothing to limit carbon emissions from transportation and other sources. We need to work toward comprehensive limits on all sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Reducing carbon emissions has the additional benefit of reducing other types of pollution and environmental destruction caused by the fossil fuel industry. However, a cap on carbon may not be sufficient to limit those negative impacts. A cap on carbon does not excuse the power sector from limiting other pollutants and environmental degradation. Communities near power plants will not be harmed by carbon cap-and-trade, and will likely enjoy cleaner air as a result. Yet we need to remain steadfast in our insistence that these communities and others affected by fossil fuel extraction have the right to clean air and safe neighborhoods.

Allowances should be distributed based on energy output, not historic carbon emissions.

Creating carbon allowances turns something that was once free into something that can be sold. Carbon allowances become a valuable commodity and an additional source of revenue. If allowances are given to power plants based on historic carbon emissions, it will still achieve the goal of carbon emissions. But it will not provide a new source of income to zero-carbon energy generators. Instead, allowances should be distributed based on updated energy output. This method gives some allowances to zero-carbon energy sources, who can sell the allowances as a new source of revenue.
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1 Source: Acadia Center. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Status Report. July, 2016

Written by Lena Lewis, who is researching carbon market policy while earning her master’s degree at the Frank Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Lena [at] tikva.com


Sample Comment by Becca Summers, Virginia League of Conservation Voters

Background: Virginia is working on a plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants and invest in clean energy – the Clean Energy Virginia Initiative, commonly referred to as Executive Directive 11. Six public hearings are being held across the state, giving us an opportunity to make our voices heard for a clean energy future in Virginia.

We need to pack the house at these hearings to counter the influence of Virginia’s utilities, and show overwhelming public support for Virginia’s plan to cut carbon pollution from power-plants.

Suggested Language: ‘I’m writing today to voice my support of a regulation in Virginia that cuts carbon pollution from power plants and allows us to trade carbon allowances with other states.

With no help coming from the federal level in addressing climate change, it’s up to states like Virginia to act. By cutting carbon emissions in Virginia, we have the opportunity to protect public health and safety while also creating jobs in the carbon-neutral renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors.

And because we’re joining up with a coalition of other states with carbon caps, action we take here in Virginia is greater than the sum of its parts.

I urge you to proceed with a strong regulation that shows Virginia is a leader in addressing climate change and takes its responsibility seriously.’

Burning fossil fuels has left a toxic legacy of pollution across Virginia’s land, air and water. Reducing carbon emissions from power plants and incentivizing renewable energy will lower electric bills, create jobs, improve air quality, improve public health and protect and preserve Virginia’s environment.


Sierra Club Guidance on What DEQ and VA Air Quality Control Board Want from Public Comments

Whether the initial Virginia CO2 Budget Trading Program base budget for 2020 should be 33 million tons or 34 million tons, and declining accordingly by 3% per year.
● Whether any fossil fuel power generating unit owned by an individual facility and located at that individual facility that generates electricity and heat from fossil fuel for the primary use of operation of the facility should be exempt from the requirements of the regulation.
● The potential for DEQ to directly auction carbon allowances in addition to the proposed consignment auction format.
● The costs and benefits of the proposal, the potential impacts of this regulatory proposal and any impacts of the regulation on farm and forest land preservation.
Impacts on small businesses as defined in § 2.2-4007.1 of the Code of Virginia. Information may include 1) projected reporting, recordkeeping and other administrative costs, 2) probable effect of the regulation on affected small businesses, and 3) description of less intrusive or costly alternative methods of achieving the purpose of the regulation.


Sample Letter to the Editor and LTE Talking Points
In the Daily Press, February 12, 2018

Follow Northam’s lead

As a native Virginian and former elected official who cares deeply about the impacts of global warming on our beautiful state, it was refreshing to see Gov. Ralph Northam, tweet about climate change during his first days in office:

“As a native of the Eastern Shore, a scientist, and a resident of Hampton Roads, I can tell you personally that, no matter what politicians in Washington say, climate change is real. Sea levels are rising. It affects us every day.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the southern Chesapeake Bay region is sinking, making it one of the most vulnerable in the nation to the rising seas. Gov. Northam clearly understands these problems.

He and his predecessor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, proposed a legislative agenda that would enable Virginia to join a multi-state effort which has cut global warming pollution in half since 2005. This bipartisan partnership, led by five Republican governors and four Democratic governors, has cleaned up the air, invested billions in the clean energy revolution, and lowered utility bills throughout the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic regions.

Unfortunately, there are some lawmakers in the General Assembly who are attempting to derail climate process by thwarting the governor’s plans to link Virginia with this successful climate program. We need our elected leaders to follow Gov. Northam’s actions to cut the pollution that is putting our communities at risk.

Andrea McGimsey
Global Warming Director
Environment Virginia
Richmond