Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency Key to Growing Economy and Fighting Climate Change in Virginia

Climate change threatens Virginia's economy, endangers its citizens' health, and threatens our coastal cities.

But as a new issue brief from NRDC shows, Virginia can fight back simply by meeting existing state goals to ramp up clean energy, improving its energy efficiency, and in the process reducing dangerous carbon pollution that is the single largest driver of climate chaos.

In fact, the new brief shows that if the Old Dominion were to meet its already existing voluntary energy goals, the state would actually beat the carbon emission targets in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan by 20 percent.

Furthermore, the brief shows that Virginia can create 5,600 new jobs in 2020 alone by crafting a strong state plan to meet new federal carbon pollution standards that invests in clean energy, expands energy efficiency, and develops a cleaner, 21st century economy.

And why would we wait? Virginia is already suffering from the extreme weather linked to climate change. In 2012 alone, Virginians paid $1,079 per taxpayer in federal taxes to clean up from extreme weather events. Sea level rise could damage the state's coastal cities, possibly rendering the homes of more than 35,000 families uninhabitable by the end of the century. And with 2014 being the warmest year on record, it's not that surprising that Lyme disease cases in Virginia doubled between 2006 and 2007, due to the rising temperatures that expand tick habitat.

Fortunately, Virginia's potential to harness renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power makes the state well positioned to meet the new carbon emissions standards set forth in the Clean Power Plan, which would, on a national basis:

  • Reduce carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel power plants nationwide by about 550 million metric tons;

  • Prevent thousands of premature deaths related to climate change-related health problems--such as asthma, heat stroke, and kidney failure;

  • And create an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion of nationwide economic benefit in the year 2030, according to a robust, industry-standard EPA analysis.

As the electrical grid operator of Virginia recently made clear, Governor McAuliffe has an immense opportunity to tap these economic benefits for Virginians through the Clean Power Plan.

To read more good news for the Commonwealth, the full state issue brief is here.