THE ENVIRONMENT

A clean environment is important to everyone. We all want and need clean air, water, and soil. I am pleased to say that the US and Virginia have taken concerted action to clean up the environment in recent decades, which has resulted in a reduction in emissions and in general a cleaner environment than we had when I was growing up.

The Democrats are advancing a package of bills which are purported to reduce emissions and climate change; Virginia’s version of the “Green New Deal”. They would require increased usage of alternative energy sources, like wind and solar, while restricting or phasing out the use of fossil fuels. I am concerned that this legislation will significantly increase the costs of electricity and fuel for no real benefit.

It would cause electric bills to increase by 25 percent or more. This would not only hit families struggling to pay their bills each month but would increase the costs of all goods and services, like groceries and clothing, since all businesses would have to pay increased energy costs to produce and deliver their products.

These bills have been motivated by predictions of eminent disaster if we do not take immediate action. I have been hearing dire predictions of climate calamity for nearly 40 years; none of these predictions have come true and I doubt the current alarmist predictions will be realized as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should do what we can to maintain a clean environment. In fact, we have been taking action without wrecking the economy. The US leads the world in reducing harmful emissions. From 1970 to 2017, aggregate US emissions of primary air pollutants have declined by 73 percent. Ambient concentrations of these pollutants have declined an average of 64 percent since 1990.

Virginia is doing its part in this area as well. From 1990 to 2017, Virginia’s emissions of key pollutants have decreased across the board:

* 61 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides (NOx)
* 89 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide (SO2)
* 68 percent reduction in carbon monoxide (CO)
* 60 percent reduction in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
* 35 percent reduction in fine particulate matter (PM2.5)
* 30 percent reduction in coarse particulate matter (PM10)
* 51 percent reduction in ammonia (NH3)

Additionally, from 2005 to 2016, Virginia’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased by almost 20 percent despite increasing population and energy demands.

While the US and Virginia are doing our part, unfortunately, other nations are not. Countries, like China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and other developing nations continue to dump more pollutants into the air and oceans with little regard for the consequences. Real global progress will be difficult until all nations work together.

The requirements dictated by Virginia’s “Green New Deal” will do significant harm to our economy without making any real difference for the climate. It will increase unemployment and make it harder for families struggling to pay bills, especially the poor. All the while, other countries will continue to pollute. The net effect will be a poorer Virginia, and no change in global climate.

Virginia and the US will continue to do our part to reduce emissions and clean-up the environment, but there is no need to wreck Virginia’s economy and transfer jobs to other countries for no benefit to the environment or climate.