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New Report Shows Wind Energy in Virginia Could Prevent Global Warming Pollution of 14,000 Cars on the Road

For Immediate Release

Roanoke – As Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath prompt more Virginians to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment Virginia released a new Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center report today that shows the environmental and public health benefits Virginians could enjoy with wind energy.

In downtown Roanoke Environment Virginia was joined by Mark McClain, Dr. Rupert Cutler and Dr. Stuart Tousman in releasing the Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, and touting wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. The speakers urged Congress to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—before they expire at the end of the year.

At a simultaneous press conference held in front of the windmills at the Pupil transportation facility in Virginia Beach to discuss the potential of Virginia's offshore wind resources.  Environment Virginia's Ruth Engel was joined by Clay Bernick of the Virginia Beach Department of Planning, Dr. Benjamin Cuker of Hampton University, and David Boring of the Hampton Roads Green Building Council.

“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Americans,” said Ruth Engel of Environment Virginia. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff.  Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”

Virginia has enormous potential for wind energy: there are approximately 94.4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy potential within 50 nautical miles of Virginia’s coast, and Virginia’s combined wind resources could provide 4.5 times the state’s current electricity needs. The state could begin to see significant environmental and health benefits as a result of the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit.

If wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016 and projects currently underway come on line, Virginia would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 14,000 cars off the road.

“The Roanoke Valley is well situated to benefit from wind energy; however, a lack of a strong state renewable standard and expiring federal incentives have stalled our progress,” said Dr. Rupert Cutler, former member of the Roanoke City Council.  “It is crucial for Virginia’s budding wind industry that Congress extends these critical incentives.”

“The threat of global climate change is too great to ignore.  We’re investing in a greener future here in Roanoke and wind energy is an important component for Virginia to reduce carbon pollution,” said Mark McClain of the Roanoke Cool Cities Coalition.

The report also outlines how wind energy in Virginia can deliver results for public health, by avoiding 30 additional tons of smog-causing pollution and 50 additional tons of soot pollution wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016.

“We need the environmental and health benefits of wind energy by increasing wind power in our state,” said Dr. Stuart Tousman of the Greater Roanoke Valley Asthma and Air Quality Coalition.  “With so many Virginians suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma, the air pollution benefits of wind power can help save lives.”

Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels.  But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for Virginians on the table.

Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.

“We must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Sarah Bucci with Environment Virginia.  “Time is running out. We urge Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb and Virginia’s Congressional delegation to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year.  Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”

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Environment Virginia is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a clean air, clean water and open space.

For more information and the view the full report visit www.environmentvirginia.org.

 

Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces by investigating problems, crafting solutions, educating the public and decision-makers, and helping the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.