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New GOP Gov. of VA Signals that He Has No Interest in Battling Climate Change or Air Pollution

Despite the mountain of evidence that proves that greenhouse gas emissions are the culprit, Virginia's Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, says he has no idea what is causing climate change. He says he's just not smart enough to figure it out.

The Independent [quoting Youngkin]: "I don't know what's responsible for climate change, in all candor," Youngkin said when asked by the forum's moderators about whether "the actions of mankind are responsible for climate change." Youngkin added, "I'm a pretty smart guy, but I'm not that smart."

Youngkin's statement was an early indication that his administration would not seek to mitigate the effects of climate change in the Commonwealth. And he made that abundantly clear this week.

In a move that will surely please Donald Trump, climate change deniers, and fossil fuel company executives, Youngkin nominated former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to serve as the state's Natural Resources Secretary, an agency responsible [usually] for protecting the state's environment. Wheeler ran the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] under Donald Trump where he used his authority to roll back regulations created to protect air and water quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And, ironically, Wheeler was sued by the state of Virginia during his tenure as EPA chief for failing to enforce federal environmental standards.

WUSA9: "Virginia’s outgoing Democratic Attorney General named Wheeler as a defendant in at least six lawsuits: Accusing the Trump EPA of failing to protect the Chesapeake Bay; rolling back clean car standards; abandoning enforcement of environmental protection laws; blocking state climate change policy; allowing more mercury in the air, and enacting a “Dirty Power Rule.”

Youngkin's decision to nominate “an anti-environment ideologue” and climate change skeptic represents an astonishing rebuke to environmentalists in Virginia, signaling that their concerns about climate change and air and water quality will have little impact on his administration's policies.

And Youngkin drove that point home recently by promising to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). a successful 11 state carbon cap-and-invest program that encourages power plants to use renewable energy sources. RGGI has reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and generated $228 million of revenue to fund programs that protect flood-prone communities in Virginia. A recent study published in Energy Economics found that the program "reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 1.3 million tons per year." Moreover, RGGI is cutting harmful power plant pollution, generating at least $5.7 billion of health savings through reductions in harmful emissions, especially particulate matter.

The next big test for Youngkin will be funding for the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, a multi-state plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. which current Governor Ralph Northam has championed during his term in office. Most experts consider the Blueprint to be the Bay's best chance for real restoration. The selection of Andrew Wheeler to serve as the state's Natural Resources Secretary may signal that Youngkin will not support additional funding to finish the project. Wheeler's former boss, Donald Trump tried to slash federal funding for the Blueprint while he was in office.

#environment #Virginia

BY: Don Lam & Curated Content

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