Category Archives: Climate Change

Sea Level Rise and Military Readiness are the Focus of Oct. 27, 2017, Conference by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center at the College of William and Mary Law School

Defending Our Coasts: Ensuring Military Readiness and Economic Viability as Waters Rise” is the theme of the 5th annual conference of the William and Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center.  The conference will be held on October 27, 2017, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at the College of William and Mary School of Education, 301 Monticello Avenue in Williamsburg.

For more information, visit; phone (757) 221-3800; or e-mail:

An Overview of Antarctic Ice Developments, in PBS NewsHour Videos in July 2017 and March 2017

Loss of giant ice sections from Antarctica—the most recent a Delaware-sized piece that broke off in July 2017—is the subject of the following two PBS NewsHour videos.

One of the biggest icebergs ever just broke off Antarctica. Here’s what scientists want to know,” broadcast on July 12, 2017 (8 minutes/26 seconds) describes this July 2017 break-off of the Delaware-sized iceberg and gives background on Antarctica’s ice geography, other notable ice rifts, and scientists’ efforts to assess the connection of these developments to climate changes and their potential for contributing to sea-level rises; the video is available online at

A March 8, 2017, segment on the subject was “How scientists are tracking a massive iceberg in the making.”  That 5 min./55 second video, available online at, 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


An Introduction to the Marshall Islands’ Sea-level Rise and Freshwater Issues, in 6/25/17 PBS NewsHour Video

The effects of sea-level rise on the Marshall Islands are the focus of “Fighting for Freshwater Amid Climate Change,” broadcast on June 25, 2017, on PBS NewsHour.  The 9 minute/57 second video, available online at, examines how the islands freshwater supplies are being affected by drought and saltwater intrustion from rising sea levels.

The Marshalls are an island nation in the Pacific Ocean; after being under U.S. administration for about 40 years following World War II, the Marshall Islands gained independence in 1986.

Additional source: World Atlas, “Marshall Islands, online at, 6/27/17.

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.

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

Va. Governor Executive Directive on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Power Plants; Issued May 16, 2017; Regulatory Process Started in June 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

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….”

A Notice of Intended Regulatory Action was published in the Virginia Register of Regulations on June 26, 2017.  The pertinent section of the Virginia Administrative Code is 9 VAC 5-140.   More information on this regulatory action is available online at  According to the “Action Summary” at that Web site, “[t]he purpose of the proposed action is to develop a regulation, in accordance with Executive Directive 11 (2017), ‘Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Electric Power Facilities and Growing Virginia’s Clean Energy Economy,’ that (i) ensures that Virginia is trading-ready to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances through a multi-state trading program, and (ii) establishes abatement mechanisms that provide for a corresponding level of stringency to CO2 limits imposed in other states with such limits.”

A Regulatory Advisory Committee was formed to provide advice to the DEQ on development of the CO2 regulations.  The committee was scheduled to hold its first meeting on August 3, 2017; information on that meeting is available online at

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

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; phone (843) 953-2078; or e-mail:

“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, 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.