January 28, 2015

UCS Supports Common Sense Virginia Coastal Protection Bill

Statement by John Rogers, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (January 28, 2015) – Virginia’s Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources has scheduled a public hearing tomorrow on several bills that seek to lay out Virginia’s strategy for complying with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to achieve a carbon emission reduction of 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

One of the bills—Senate Bill 1428, also known as the Virginia Coastal Protection Act—would establish a fund to help local communities adapt to and prepare for further sea level rise. It would accomplish that by bringing Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap and trade program. The legislation would also fund investment in clean energy and help revitalize communities through economic development and workforce training. Conversely, three other bills—Senate Bills 1202, 1365 and 1442—would impede the state from effectively implementing the Clean Power Plan.

Below is a statement by John Rogers, senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Virginia is already experiencing coastal impacts, including an increase in the frequency and severity of tidal flooding. Scientists in Virginia and around the nation have documented how the problem of rising sea level, which is largely the result of our changing climate, will continue to get worse.

“Only one of the bills the committee is taking up offers a common sense solution to cut the carbon pollution that fuels climate change and decrease its devastating impacts on the state. Unfortunately, the remaining three bills would leave Virginia on a trajectory that exacerbates their existing dilemma. Efforts to block the carbon pollution rules that promise greater coastal protections, cleaner air and a safer climate seem shortsighted and ill-advised.

“By becoming a full-fledged member of RGGI, Virginia has the opportunity to participate in an efficient, market-based program that’s a proven success. This path would have the state use the revenue from auctioning off pollution permits—about $200 million a year—to make the state more resilient to climate change and move it toward a cleaner energy future.

“The majority of Americans—65 percent—support setting stricter emission limits on power plants in order to address climate change. It’s time for Virginia to join in embracing this better energy future.”

For more information on this topic, check out the latest blog from Rogers, which discusses the three reasons why the Virginia Coastal Protection Act is smart policy.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.