Opinion: Governor Northam’s Clean Energy Plan is a Dud

Today, Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 43 to address Virginia’s renewable energy goals. 

In response, Food & Water Watch Virginia Organizer Stacy Lovelace said:

“We are gravely disappointed by the executive order Governor Northam rolled out today, which doesn’t come close to giving Virginia what it needs to tackle the climate crisis, and proposes potentially devastating nuclear energy development under the guise of ‘carbon-free’ renewables. 

“Achieving 30% clean energy by 2030 is neither ambitious nor bold, and this goal falls pitifully short of where Virginia needs to be. We know Virginia has huge solar and wind capacity, so calling for a mere 30% is embarrassing. Communities and leaders around Virginia are demanding a just transition to 100% clean renewable energy by 2035, which is in line with what scientists recommend to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

“Northam’s 2050 deadline for carbon-free electricity is shameful in its deception. The term ‘carbon-free’ is a dog whistle to fossil fuel corporations, indicating that through industry-friendly policies like cap and trade, and allowances for forms of energy that masquerade as renewables but aren’t really (like nuclear), they can keep turning profits by posing as “clean” energy producers. Nuclear is neither a renewable nor clean source of energy. Frequent accidents pose huge threats to communities and ecosystems, and nuclear production by necessity results in toxic radioactive waste, which is often placed near frontline communities.

“Northam makes no mention of halting current fossil fuel infrastructure projects, although Virginia communities are under constant threat from the highly controversial Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipelines (MVP), as well as two new proposals to build out the MVP Southgate and Transco Southeastern Trail pipelines. All along, Northam has been a cheerleader for fracked gas infrastructure, which his plan cannot distract us from. In the past six years, six new fracked gas plants have either come online or have been given the okay to do so. Northam has done nothing to ensure that Virginia is moving in the direction of clean, renewable energy options.

“Northam will be remembered for his failure to end fossil fuel infrastructure projects that threaten the health and safety of Virginia’s communities on a daily basis. The children and families of Virginia don’t just deserve an aggressive, ambitious climate plan, they need it to adequately prepare for the changes we’re already seeing in Virginia.”