National Environmental and Health Leaders Urge Va. Governor Terry McAuliffe to Reduce Net Carbon Pollution Under Federal Climate Plan

For Immediate Release

RICHMOND— Conservation and health leaders representing over 5 million supporters nationwide today released a first-of-its-kind letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe asking him to cut global warming pollution.

The letter, released during a conference call with reporters today, is signed by the executive directors of Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters,, Environment America, the Center for Biological Diversity, NextGen Climate America, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The letter presents evidence showing that Gov. McAuliffe has the full legal power and the extraordinary opportunity to influence America’s national response to climate change by developing a strong and economically beneficial plan to cut carbon pollution in Virginia under the federal “Clean Power Plan.” Virginia’s largest utility company, Dominion Virginia Power, has urged the governor to embrace an alternative strategy that would allow carbon emissions to rise significantly for decades to come in the state.

“The eyes of the nation and the eyes of all Virginians are clearly on Governor McAuliffe right now as he creates a historic plan to fight climate change,” said Glen Besa, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club. “When this many national leaders pen a letter to a governor, it’s clear that the state has a chance to show national leadership with national consequences.”

Gene Karpinski, national president of the League of Conservation Voters, said, “Our letter is simply a reminder to Governor McAuliffe that sometimes in history what a governor does can help change the world. By forming a state plan that reduces total pollution – current and future – from Virginia power plants, the governor can be that person that children read about for years to come.”

The health consequences of Gov. McAuliffe’s decision are critical. “Climate change is an enormous risk multiplier for everything from asthma to the Zika virus,” said Dr. Catherine Thomasson, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Doctors all over Virginia and the nation support reducing global warming pollution as soon as possible to save lives.”

Daniel Lashof, another signatory to the letter today to Gov. McAuliffe, is chief operating office for NextGen Climate America, Inc. “We're optimistic that Governor McAuliffe will seize this tremendous opportunity to stand up for our children's future by reducing carbon pollution and growing Virginia's economy,” said Lashof.

Added Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America, "The Clean Power Plan is the largest step the U.S. has ever taken to tackle global warming, and gives Virginia the chance to join with the states and local governments that have been leading the way on clean energy. Our Virginia members want the state to move ahead with a plan to cut dangerous pollution and spur the development of wind and solar to protect their health and the planet’s future."