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Why Virginia’s Proposed Green New Deal Would Be a Disaster for the Commonwealth

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

Not only do Virginians have to worry about pre-filed gun confiscation bills coming next month, a state version of the Green New Deal was just pre-filed too.

I warned readers here this is inevitable, but could be challenged.

Just filed on December 6th is a bill called the “Green New Deal Act,” or House Bill 77. Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) is the chief patron behind it.

He previously introduced House Resolution (HR 724), which would have promoted “a Just Transition to a clean energy economy through lifting working families.” Rasoul also was a chief patron of House Bill 1635, or the clean energy mandate that would have put a moratorium on fossil fuel projects.

If HB 77 passes, there will be a moratorium established by January 1, 2021, on electricity generating facilities that “generate fossil fuel energy through the combustion of a fossil fuel resource,” “import or export terminals for fossil fuel resources,” and “certain maintenance activities relating to an import or export terminal for a fossil fuel resource.” It also would put a moratorium on pipelines, refineries, and future exploration of fossil fuel resources in the state.

Not surprisingly, the bill is considered a “clean energy mandate.” If passed, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy would be mandated to adopt “a Climate Action Plan that addresses all aspects of climate change, including mitigation, adaptation, resiliency, and assistance in the transition from current energy sources to clean renewable energy.” 

The Daily Progress expanded on the definition of “clean energy” in Rasoul’s bill as:

The bill defines clean energy as energy efficiency, energy conservation, demand response, energy storage, and energy derived from solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, geothermal and ocean tidal sources. It does not include nuclear power, which accounts for nearly a quarter of Dominion Energy’s total capacity and generally supplies a much larger percentage of actual use at any point in time, since many Dominion plants only operate when demand is particularly high.

Pipelines, too, are a target, since the bill would put a freeze on approval of any that require the use of eminent domain to secure a route, as well as any new lines or maintenance work that would enhance an existing line’s capacity.

Any retail electric supplier who fails to comply with Virginia’s Green New Deal Act, the bills adds, is “liable for a civil penalty equal to twice the cost of the financial investment necessary to meet such goal or mandate that was not achieved, or three times the cost of the financial investment necessary to meet such goal or benchmark that was not achieved if not met in an environmental justice community, defined in the bill.”

Good lord.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s State Profile and Energy Estimate notes Virginia heavily relies on traditional fuel sources—as renewable energy only accounts for less than 10% of electricity generated. Natural gas powers 53% of Virginia’s electricity, while nuclear power generates nearly 31%, and coal fuels about 10%. It notes renewable resources, especially in the form of biomass, supplies about 7%.

Americans, including Virginians, are greatly opposed to paying more for energy costs—per a January 2019 AP-NORC poll that found that 68% of respondents wouldn’t pay $10 more each month in energy bills to combat climate change. The poll also found that as costs increased, opposition also increased:

$20 a month, 69% opposed

$40 a month, 76% opposed

$75 a month, 83% opposed

$100 a month, 82% opposed

HB 77 wouldn’t make sense for the state and doesn’t accurately reflect energy production operations here. It would undermine the industry and put countless people out of work, while raising energy bills on hardworking Virginians. The proposed bill is not only costly, it’s impractical since our state isn’t dependent on renewable energy. And any “clean” energy plan that doesn’t include nuclear isn’t to be trusted.

Fellow Virginians: urge your Delegates and State Senators to oppose this bill.

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