Charlottesville rally calls for climate action from Virginia leaders
Virginians are already experiencing the impacts of climate change – from more extreme weather to rising seas. That is why a crowd of concerned citizens gathered on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall Saturday to demand Virginia’s leaders take action to address climate change by supporting the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Participants urged state leaders to prioritize solar, wind and energy efficiency projects to meet Virginia’s carbon pollution reduction goal. [Photos available here]
“Global warming isn’t some distant threat. It’s here now, in the present,” said Sarah Bucci, Campaign Director with Environment Virginia. “The good news is we know what is causing it and we have the solutions at our fingertips. To take full advantage of Virginia’s clean energy resources, we need our elected officials to lead.”
In June, the EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from the U.S. power sector. The proposal sets a goal and allows each state to develop its own implementation plan to meet the standard. Virginia’s power plants contribute 34.4 percent of the state’s total carbon pollution. The Clean Power Plan would reduce carbon pollution from Virginia’s power sector 31 percent by 2030.
Citizens at Saturday’s rally called for the EPA to finalize the strongest possible standard and for Virginia’s Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Governor Terry McAuliffe to support the EPA’s actions. To date, over 195,000 public comments from Virginians have been submitted to the EPA in support of limits on carbon pollution.
“Protecting our environment and climate is a win-win for the City of Charlottesville. We’ve already using energy efficiency and clean energy programs to reduce pollution, create jobs and save residents and the City money,” said Charlottesville Vice-Mayor Dede Smith. “Limits on carbon from power plants could help spur even more clean energy here in Virginia.”
This rally also comes just two weeks before hundreds of thousands of people from across the country and globe, including more than 100 Virginians from the Charlottesville area, are expected to head to New York City to participate in the People’s Climate March. The People’s Climate March is shaping up to be the largest climate demonstration in history, and is scheduled to coincide with a gathering of world leaders for a landmark climate meeting at the United Nations.
“The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club strongly supports the proposed Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels,” said Kirk Bowers, the group’s Conservation Chair. “We believe that, eventually, we can use energy efficiency, wind and solar power to get ALL the energy we need from clean, carbon-free sources. In fact, that’s what we need to do to solve the climate crisis.”
“The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan provides Virginia with a huge opportunity to move the ball forward on global warming,” concluded Bucci. “It’s critical that Virginia’s Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, defend the Clean Power Plan from attacks as they head back to Congress next week.”
The rally was sponsored by 350 Central Virginia, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Virginia, Organizing for Action, Sierra Club – Piedmont Group, Sierra Club – Virginia Chapter, and the Virginia Conservation Network.