Category Archives: Climate Change

Virginia to Join Alliance of States to Promote Principles of Paris Climate Accord, following President’s June 1, 2017, Announcement of U.S. Withdrawal

On June 5, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia would join with other states plus Puerto Rico in the U.S. Climate Alliance, which aims to promote the goals of the Paris Climate Accord of 2015, specifically to reduce carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, and to meet or exceed the carbon-reduction goals in the federal Clean Power Plan (published by the U.S. EPA in 2015, but the subject of a review and expected withdrawal by the Trump Administration).  This followed President Trump’s announcement on June 1, 2017, that he intends to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord.  The other states in the alliance as of June 5 were California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Sources:
Virginia Joins Alliance of States Committed to Upholding Paris Climate Agreement, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 6/5/17.
Rejecting Trump, Virginia leaders say they will join other states and cities in climate change fight, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/5/17.
New York Governor Cuomo, California Governor Brown, and Washington Governor Inslee Announce Formation of United States Climate Alliance, New York Governor’s Office News Release, 6/1/7.

The president’s June 1 statement on withdrawing from the Paris Accord is at this link: Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord, White House Office of the Press Secretary, 6/1/7.

History and details about the agreement are available from the United Nations online at http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php.

Va. Governor Executive Directive on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Power Plants; Issued May 16, 2017

On May 16, 2017, Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed and announced Executive Directive 11, which instructs the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to begin a process of developing regulations to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants.  The directive is available online (as a PDF) at http://governor.virginia.gov/media/9155/ed-11-reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electric-power-facilities-and-growing-virginias-clean-energy-economy.pdf.

Following is an excerpt from the directive: “I hereby direct the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, in coordination with the Secretary of Natural Resources, to take the following actions…
1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board’s consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities that: a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program; and b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits.
2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment….”

The new directive follows the report on May 12 of the Executive Order 57 Work Group, which the governor established in June 2016 to study and make recommendations about reducing carbon emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants.  The group’s final report, along with more information about Executive Order 57, is available online at https://naturalresources.virginia.gov/initiatives/eo-57/.

Source: Governor McAuliffe Takes Executive Action to Reduce Carbon Emissions Across Virginia; “Clean Energy Virginia” initiative will cap greenhouse gases and grow Virginia’s clean energy economy, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 5/16/17.

Following are some news media accounts on Executive Directive 11, listed from newest to oldest.
Virginia Begins Development of Cap-and-Trade Program for Electric Power Sector, National Law Review, 5/19/17.
Wagner takes aim at McAuliffe carbon order; critics say he’s seeking attention, Daily Press, 5/19/17.
Amid longshot run for governor, Wagner says he’ll call emergency hearing to fight McAuliffe’s climate change plan, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/19/17.
Virginia Governor Orders Power Plant Carbon Regulations, POWER Magazine, 5/18/17.
Bucking D.C. and Republican legislature, Virginia governor moves to limit carbon emissions, ThinkProgress (Center for American Progress Action Fund), 5/17/17.
McAuliffe Moves to Cap Utility Carbon Emissions, Bacon’s Rebellion, 5/17/17.
McAuliffe moves to curb carbon emissions blamed for sea level rise, [Newport News] Daily Press, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe: Virginia will regulate carbon emissions; ‘the threat of climate change is real’, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/16/17.
McAuliffe proposes statewide carbon cap, Washington Post, 5/16/17.
Virginia AG: State board can regulate carbon pollution, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/12/17.
Will Virginia forge its own path on carbon regulation?, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/3/17.

Climate Change Workshop for Educators to be held July 19-20, 2017, in Charleston, S.C.

On July 19-20, 2017, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium (Consortium), the South Carolina Aquarium (SCA), and the National Park Service (NPS) will hold Rising Tides and Changing Times–A Climate Change Workshop for Educators.  The event will be at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.  According to the event Web site, “[s]cientists from the Consortium and SCA will share information about climate impacts on both our community and wildlife; the NPS will discuss climate change from a historical perspective during a tour of Fort Sumter; and technology will be used to investigate downtown Charleston’s challenges with flooding during a ‘Climate Change Amazing Race’ competition.”  While the event will feature Charleston as an example of sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change, it will involve National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tools and activities that can used by teachers in other states.

For more information or to register, visit http://www.scseagrant.org/Content/?cid=495; phone (843) 953-2078; or e-mail: ev.bell@scseagrant.org.

“Detecting Climate Change in Chesapeake Bay” is a Public-Private Research and Educational Effort in 2017

“Detecting  Climate Change in Chesapeake Bay” is an effort by several public and private partners to document local, recognizable impacts of climate change in the Chesapeake region and to inform people about them.  The Web site for the effort, online at http://www.chesapeakedata.com/changingchesapeake/, states that it is a “public/private partnership [among] the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserves, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Chesapeake Environmental Communications [to] use local data to define the links between climate change and environmental impacts to Chesapeake Bay.”  Scientists participating in the effort have examined 114 years of data from Bay locations in Virginia and Maryland.

A news media account of the efforts to inform people about Bay-region impacts of climate change is Research shows significant ways climate already has changed for the Chesapeake, Baltimore Sun, 3/31/17.

Trump Administration’s March 28, 2017, Executive Order on Climate/Energy Policies of the Obama Administration, Including Review of Clean Power Plan

On March 28, 2017, the Trump Administration issued an executive order affecting several energy and climate policies implemented by the Obama Administration, including most prominently the Clean Power Plan, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August 2015.  (For more on the Clean Power Plan regulation, please see the following News Grouper items: Final Version of “Clean Power Plan” Announced by President Obama and the U.S. EPA on August 3, 2015; and Clean Power Plan Lawsuit Against U.S. EPA Overview and Information Sources; or the U.S. EPA Web site, https://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan).

The order, “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” is available online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/28/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-and-economi-1.

The order’s actions include the following:
reviewing the Clean Power Plan regulation;
rescinding an August 2016 guidance on climate change issued by the Council on Environmental Quality;
starting a 170-day process for each executive agency and department to identify regulations or policies that inhibit domestic energy production;
stopping the use of estimates made during the Obama Administration of the social cost of greenhouse gases;
rescinding a moratorium on coal leases on federal lands;
ordering a review of regulations issued in November 2016 on methane releases from oil and gas production facilities; and
rewriting a regulation issued in 2015 on hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands.

Sources:
Trump signs executive order to review Clean Power Plan, Utility Dive, 3/28/17.

Trump moves decisively to wipe out Obama’s climate-change record
, Washington Post, 3/28/17.

Background Briefing on the President’s Energy Independence Executive Order
, White House Press Secretary, 3/27/17.

Additional sources and news accounts related to the March 28 executive order:

“Clean Power Plan Hub,” E&E News, online at http://www.eenews.net/interactive/clean_power_plan (subscription required; trial subscriptions available).

The big announcement is over. What happens now?, E&E News/Climate Wire, 3/29/17 (subscription required; trial subscriptions available).

States vow to defend rule
, E&E News, 3/28/17 (subscription required; trial subscriptions available).

Trump signs executive order rolling back Obama-era energy regs, Fox News, 3/28/17.

Trump launches aggressive campaign to dismantle Obama climate agenda; Barrasso: Trump climate rollback helps U.S. as an energy superpower [with U.S. Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo.]; and “Difficult slog” ahead to undo Obama climate legacy, says former EPA chief [with former U.S. EPA Director Gina McCarthy] – all on PBS NewsHour, 3/28/17.

Trump signs order dismantling Obama-era climate policies
, Reuters, 3/28/17.

What to Know About Trump’s Order to Dismantle the Clean Power Plan
, New York Times, 3/27/17.

An Examination of Antarctic’s Larsen Ice Shelf Changes, in 3/8/17 PBS NewsHour Video

The section-by-section disappearance of Antarctica’s Larsen Ice Shelf is the focus of “How scientists are tracking a massive iceberg in the making,” broadcast on March 8, 2017, on the PBS NewsHour.  The 5 min./55 second video, available online at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/scientists-tracking-massive-iceberg-making/, discusses how an early 2017 rift in the ice shelf is one of the largest ever seen, separating a section approximately the size of the state of Delaware.  This follows the loss in 2002 of a section in that was approximately the size of Rhode Island.  The report describes some of the satellite technology and imagery used to track such large-scale changes.  More information on changes to the Larsen Ice Shelf is available from the National Aeronautic and Space Agency (NASA), “Antarctica’s Changing Larsen Ice Shelf,” online at https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/antarctica-s-changing-larsen-ice-shelf.

Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Clean Power Plan Implementation Bill

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 160 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

HB 1974, Clean Power Plan; state implementation plan; General Assembly approval.  This bill, sponsored by Del. Israel O’Quinn (R-5th District), of Bristol, passed the House, passed the Senate in amended form, and then—as amended—failed in the House.  The original bill would have required the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to receive approval from the General Assembly for a state plan to implement the federal Clean Power Plan—which regulates carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants—prior to submitting the state plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval.  The Senate amendment stated that the bills would not take effect the 2017 General Assembly passed an appropriation effectuating the purposes of the bill.

News Media Items to this Bill
Virginia Committee Passes Bill Setting Foundation to Reject EPA Clean Power Plan, Tenth Amendment Center, 1/25/17.
Virginia Bill Would Set the Foundation to Reject EPA Clean Power Plan, Tenth Amendment Center, 1/17/17.

Background on the Federal Clean Power Plan
The EPA published the final Clean Power Plan regulation in August 2015.  Implementation of the plan was stayed by a federal court pending litigation against the regulation by several states.  On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling for a review of the regulation.  For more on the Clean Power Plan regulation, including the lawsuit challenging the regulation, please see the following News Grouper items:
Final Version of “Clean Power Plan” Announced by President Obama and the U.S. EPA on August 3, 2015;
Clean Power Plan Lawsuit Against U.S. EPA; Overview and Information Sources;
Trump Administration’s March 28, 2017, Executive Order on Climate/Energy Policies of the Obama Administration, Including Review of Clean Power Plan.