As Trump Abandons Environmental Protection, NRDC Urges McAuliffe to Step Up

Feb 28, 2017

With sea levels rising along Virginia’s coast and its forests threatened by a warming climate, Governor McAuliffe appointed a work group to suggest executive actions he could take to reduce carbon pollution.  That group met for the last time yesterday, and got some advice from environmentalists. 

Sandy Hausman reports on what they suggest.

As sea level rise threatens Virginia's coast, the Natural Resources Defense Council offers advice to Virginia's governor.
Credit NPR

With President Trump rolling back environmental protections for the nation, The Natural Resources Defense Council says state officials must step up with policies that promote renewable energy – solar and wind – along with conservation.

"Renewable energy and energy efficiency are going like gangbusters in all the states around Virginia but not here in the Commonwealth," says NRDC staff attorney Walton Shepherd. "The governor has a chance to turn that around and address the climate change that threatens the coast

He says solar and wind can now compete with fossil fuels on price alone.  What’s more, relying on renewables and conservation is good for the state’s economy.

"Renewable energy and energy efficiency are basically homegrown resources," Shepherd explains.  "If Virginia wants to produce its own power and not send dollars out of state for things like natural gas that we actually have to import, we can tap those resources right here in Virginia and keep those dollars local.

And clean energy is a big generator of jobs. In a report prepared for the work group, the NRDC says Virginia should aim to reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2030 and the state should reject Dominion Virginia Power’s request for new natural gas burning plants.

“We have a 22% extra supply of energy beyond what we would need on the hottest summer day in our electricity grid, so new natural gas plants in Virginia are a completely unnecessary investment.”

The committee must send its report to the governor by the end of May.  In the meantime, it’s accepting comments from the public.