Thursday, February 05, 2015

Virginia Republicans Again Kill Measures to Address Rising Sea Levels

An increasingly common scene in Norfolk
Science denying Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have again killed proposed legislation that would have aimed at addressing rising sea levels threatening Hampton Roads and other coastal areas of Virginia.  The head in the sand refusal to accept reality goes hand in hand with the continued control of the Virginia GOP by the ignorance embracing theocrats and hate merchants at The Family Foundation and it's "Christian" allies.  These people are literally fiddling while Rome is burning and one has to wonder how desperate things need to become before they will get the head out of their ass.  The Virginian Pilot laments to continued idiocy.  Here are highlights from today's main editorial:
There is little dispute that rising seas and sinking land have combined to threaten Hampton Roads.

Federal and state scientists who've conducted research and simulations estimate seas could rise by anywhere from 1.5 to 4 feet (or more) by 2100. At the high end, it's an increase with devastating implications for life here and for the economy of Virginia.

For years, state lawmakers have dragged their feet rather than addressing the threat, sacrificing the long-term security of critical assets and communities to partisan crusades and gamesmanship. This week, they doubled down, dismissing pragmatic proposals that would build off the bevy of commissions and panels convened to contemplate solutions.

Under Villanueva's bill, the proceeds from Virginia's participation in RGGI would have gone toward helping plan and prepare for sea-level rise in Hampton Roads, as well as strengthening renewable resource programs and boosting economic development in southwestern Virginia, where fossil fuel mining and production traditionally have been strong sources of jobs.

The regional initiative is designed specifically to promote competition and incentives to cut carbon dioxide, a gas that helps trap heat in the atmosphere and increases global temperature.

But the program also highlights the value of economic and energy diversity, amplifying efforts to make greener energy sources more affordable and more available. Research suggests its design to promote competition actually drives down consumers' electricity rates.

Villanueva's bill failed in a House subcommittee on Tuesday; the previous week, Sen. Donald McEachin, a Democrat from Henrico County, witnessed the demise of his version of the plan in the Republican-controlled Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Those defeats reflect the disconnect between those who live far from the places subject to the immediate effects of a changing coastline. And the fight many Virginia politicians continue to wage against the science that clearly shows mankind's role in warming the planet.

Over the past century, the sea has risen by 18 inches at Sewells Point in Norfolk. Flooding that once occurred only during severe storms now occurs several times a year.

The Navy has spent millions of dollars lifting piers at Norfolk Naval Station as part of its effort to adapt to the reality of rising water, and to prepare for the future. Norfolk, too, has begun making changes, including requiring that new homes be built three feet above sea level.

But much more must be done. Building floodgates, raising buildings and implementing other countermeasures carry an estimated cost of $1 billion just in Norfolk; other cities, including Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Poquoson and Hampton, have monumental needs, too.

Those cities and their residents cannot be left to fend for themselves against a rising tide.

Virginia's economic success is tied to Hampton Roads' security. The commonwealth could've taken real, substantive action toward protecting its residents, communities and economy by participating in the regional cap-and-trade program.  Unfortunately, [Republican] lawmakers refused.

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