McAuliffe Should Adopt a Bold Plan to Slash Carbon and Grow Clean Energy

WASHINGTON – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has a golden opportunity to overcome President Trump’s retreat on climate action by adopting a bold plan to cut carbon pollution 30 percent by 2030 and spur clean energy, a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows.

Trump this week signed an order aimed at rolling back the Clean Power Plan that aims to cut the climate-changing pollution from power plants. In response, McAuliffe sharply criticized the order, saying it threatens Virginia’s environment, security and economic competitiveness, and he vowed to “continue to confront the impacts of climate change and support clean energy investments that will grow our economy and shape our future.”

NRDC calls on McAuliffe to take decisive steps now and released its report, “30x30: Virginia’s Key to Climate Action and Growing the Economy,” showing how he could cut dangerous carbon pollution and tap into vast clean energy resources in Virginia that are currently sitting on the sidelines.

“The governor’s exactly right, climate change is real, its impacts are growing and Virginia must take action now,” said report author Walton Shepherd, attorney and policy advocate in NRDC’s Energy & Transportation Program who works on Virginia issues. “Governor McAuliffe can combat this serious threat—and protect Virginians and the economy— by adopting a 30x30 goal to cut dangerous carbon pollution.

“This achievable goal,” Shepherd added, “can spur long-overdue growth in clean energy that creates good-paying jobs, saves Virginians money on electric bills and puts Virginia on the map as a clean energy leader for the 21st Century.”

Virginia also should turn away from the direction its largest utility, Dominion Power, is promoting—to build more natural gas plants that would worsen climate pollution and leave clean energy resources on the sidelines.

In June 2016, McAuliffe signed an executive order convening a working group to recommend steps to reduce carbon pollution from the state’s power sector, and to build a new Virginia economy.

NRDC’s report demonstrates McAuliffe should establish a clean energy plan that cuts carbon pollution 2 percent annually from 2015 levels until 2030. That includes two other steps:

  • Energy efficiency: Gradually increasing Virginia’s electricity sector energy efficiency to 1.5 percent energy savings a year.
  • Renewable energy: Gradually increasing Virginia’s renewable energy capacity to 20 percent of the state’s electricity mix by 2030.

Improving energy efficiency can be achieved by upgrading to LED light bulbs, weatherizing homes and buildings, and improving heating and cooling system efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates there are already 75,552 jobs in energy efficiency in Virginia, and boosting efficiency deployment alone could add at least 5,600 more jobs by 2020, the report states.

Virginia is one of the lowest-performing states in reducing unnecessary and costly electricity waste; one reason why Virginians’ electric bills are the 10th highest in the nation.

Similarly, Virginia lags far behind many states—including neighbors West Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland—in the amount of energy generated from wind and solar power. Seven states get 20 percent or more of their power from renewables, and five others exceed 15 percent, the report shows.

NRDC’s report also shows that California and the nine northeast states comprising the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that have enjoyed booming economic growth as they cut their carbon pollution.

Walton Shepherd has more on this issue in his blog here:

NRDC’s report is here:

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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