Action on RGGI blocking bills

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Alleyn Harned

Feb 10, 2019, 10:52:53 AM2/10/19
to Harrisonburg Ecomind

Sharing the below letter request from April Moore and call to action to oppose a house bill which would block VA from joining regional greenhouse efforts:


From: April Moore

The Republicans in the State Senate appear poised to pass a terrible, truly indefensible bill.

I am calling on every right-thinking resident of our district: Call Mark Obenshain on Monday.  (The vote will likely be on Tuesday or Wednesday. Obenshain’s number is 804-698-7526.) –Tell him that if he supports that bill again (he voted for it in committee), you will campaign hard in this fall’s election to help replace him with me.

The bill (HB 2611) is indefensible because it is profoundly anti-human-welfare and anti-democracy.

It is anti-human-welfare because it blocks Virginia from taking responsible action, along with other states, to meet the challenge of climate change.

(Specifically, the bill would block the Governor from having Virginia join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  RGGI is a market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.  Through RGGI, the current nine member states have grown their economies while reducing emissions significantly.  Here’s a factsheet with more details. )

The importance of our meeting the climate challenge has become so clear, that more than 70% of Americans now recognize it, and the great majority of them say they’re worried about what this destabilization of our climate bodes for our future.

We can see that future descending upon us with

  • the past four years being the four warmest years ever recorded
  • the number of extreme weather events that do at least $1 billion in damages more than doubling in recent years, with this past year doing more than $100 billion in damages and displacing well over a million people
  • serious calculations suggesting that our failing to act appropriately now will cost our economy trillions of dollars.

The scientists are doing everything but stand on their heads to get us to take appropriate action in what they consider a planetary emergency.

Does Mark Obenshain really think he knows more than the scientists? More likely, he’s just doing the bidding of his fossil fuel masters. (Obenshain gets support from the Koch Brothers and from energy companies like Dominion Energy, who can count on him to protect their interests, regardless of how that may hurt the people he represents, the state he’s supposed to serve, and indeed to the whole planet and human civilization.)

The bill is indefensible also for the attack it represents on the basic principles of American democracy. The system our founders gave us rests on the proposition that ultimately it is the voice of the people that should rule. But this bill will require a 2/3 vote in BOTH Houses of the General Assembly to remove the shackles Obenshain and the other Republicans are trying to place on Virginia.

Requiring a 2/3 vote in both Houses means that the Republicans need only have one vote more than a third of the seats in either house to have complete veto power over any change.

Even if the people of Virginia reject this disastrous course that Obenshain and his Republican allies are trying to put us on, and vote a great many of them out of office, it’s hard to imagine that even widespread public rejection of the Republicans would drive them below a third of the seats in both houses.

This deliberate theft from the people of the power to choose a better course shows clearly the Republicans’ contempt for American democratic principles and indifference to the people they represent.

Rather than respect the “consent of the governed,” Republicans like Obenshain are themselves consenting to the greed of the fossil fuel companies.

This measure cheats “the governed” even at the level of dollars in people’s pockets: the experience in other states who are participating in RGGI shows that overall this program—which the Republicans are trying to prevent Virginia from joining – results in lower utility bills for consumers.

But that also means lower profits for companies like Dominion, that powerful, supposedly regulated corporation that Obenshain apparently is really representing.

A bill that hurts the people – robs them now, and robs our children and grandchildren in the future, all to feed the greed of these fossil fuel companies – and that attacks the basic values of American democracy.

If being an accomplice to actions such as that doesn’t mean that a Senator should be replaced, I don’t know what would.

If injuring the future of humankind and turning government “by the people” into government by greedy corporations aren’t evidence of evil, I don’t know what would be.

So I request all the citizens of SD-26 – Democrats and Republicans alike – to call Obenshain this Monday and tell him that his vote for this measure will galvanize you to work hard to take that seat away from him.

And one more request: please forward this message to other people you know in any part of Virginia represented in the Senate by a Republican, and suggest they make similar calls to their own Senators.

The measure passed out of committee on a party-line vote. In this nearly evenly-divided Senate, all we need is to get one Republican Senator to switch from yes to no on this appalling measure. Then, with the tie broken by the Lieutenant Governor, this bill – which betrays Virginia and Virginians -- will die.

April Moore


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