Thursday, September 13, 2007

Burning More Coal, Drilling for Oil, and Splitting Atoms: Meet Gov. Kaine's Energy Plan

I give up. I'm moving to Montreal so I can be there when global warming makes its weather more like Boston's is today.

My friend
Lowell at just pointed me to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's newly-released Virginia Energy Plan (news release, full report). Here are the highlights:

- Virginia will not stop burning coal for you or for anyone else. We also will not burn less. In fact, we'll actually burn even more.
- Search the entire document and you will not find the words "
mountaintop removal." Let's pretend it doesn't exist, mmmkay?
- "Coastal energy production" sounds so much nicer than "drilling off Virginia's coast so we can have more oil to burn," doesn't it?
- Massive taxpayer subsidies should be given to Dominion Virginia Power to build new nuclear power plants.
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs will save us. (For why they'll help but won't do nearly enough on their own,
click here.)
Adding to The Green Miles' frustration, the Washington Post's article on the energy plan appears to be rife with factual errors:

- "
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine unveiled long-range health-care and energy plans Wednesday that would slash the number of uninsured Virginians and dramatically reduce energy consumption."
False. You'd think they could get through the first sentence without an inaccuracy, wouldn't you? Energy use would actually rise under the plan, just at a slower rate. It's right on page 8 of the report, Figure 1-8.

- "One aspect of the plan calls for the state to reduce the energy it uses by 40 percent over the next decade."
Still, in fact, false. The plan calls for reducing the rate of growth of energy use by 40 percent. Energy use would continue to rise. And page 20, the report calls for increasing in-state energy production by 20 percent over projected 2017 levels. Did the reporter even read the plan?

- "Kaine (D) calls for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025."
Sorta. That's one way of putting it. It's the way the press release put it, so why wouldn't the reporter reguritate it unchallenged, right? Another way of putting it is that Virginia will only reduce carbon emissions to 2000 levels.

- "Virginia could become a leader in efforts to combat global warming if lawmakers embrace the plan."
Batshit insane. The Republican governors of California and Florida have committed to cutting carbon emissions
20% off 1990 levels by 2050. They're the leaders. And under the Western Climate Initiative, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington have all already committed to steeper cuts than Kaine is even proposing (read the full plan), and that's before the Republican-controlled House of Delegates gets a chance to soften it up.

But apparently the Virginia Conservation Network likes the plan. Which raises the question, how bad would the plan have to be for them to not like it?

Where's a renewable portfolio standard? Where's cutting our greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, the amount scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming? Where's decoupling?

A better plan comes from the Virginia Sierra Club, which has issued its Citizens Energy Plan. Let's hope the governor's paying attention.


Paul said...

Thanks for the synthesis of the Govs energy plan. I got the feeling that it would suck, I just didn't know how much.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for tracking this important issue. It's extremely important to have you and others ground-truthing reportage on energy. Your point that that reporters should have described the greenhouse-gas reduction target as a return 2000 levels (or a 30% cut off projected growth) is a central distinction. But...why knock Virginia Conservation Network? I stand by my quote, but I didn't claimed to "like" or "praise" the entire plan. Instead, VCN welcomed the greenhouse reduction target as a "significant first step." Hopefully many more will follow--especially if you and your readers continue to let lawmakers know that you're watching.

The Green Miles said...

Nathan, I was going off of today's Washington Post story that immediately preceding your quote says, "Several environmental organizations praised the plan and called on lawmakers to quickly implement its recommendations" (emphasis added). Obviously the reporter wasn't very concerned about accuracy on those other points, was he wrong to generalize VCN's reaction?

I'll definitely be doing a follow up post, if you put out a full statement, please send me the link!