|Ralph Northam being sworn in as Governor of Virginia.|
With the Trump/Pence regime openly attacking environmental regulations and seeking to undo decades of clean water and clean air policies that have greatly reduced water and air pollution, states are increasingly seeking to step in and protect their own environments and the well being of their citizens. Indeed, 17 governors are now members of the U.S. Climate Alliance which aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris agreement. A joint editorial by Governors Ralph Northam and Larry Hogan of Virginia and Maryland (one Democrat and one Republican), respectively lays out efforts states can take to blunt the damage being done by the rogue Trump/Pence regime and to protect the air and water quality of their states. Here are column highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
THE TRUMP administration’s pursuit of policies to reverse or supplant environmental laws that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions has made combating climate change difficult. But where the federal government refuses to lead, state governments will.
For the sake of our future and the future of our children, it is time to put aside partisan interests and get to work.
Today, nations from around the world are in Poland working on a common set of rules that will govern the implementation of the Paris climate agreement and report on their progress. The residents of Virginia and Maryland, as well as all those of other states across the country, have a stake in ensuring that the agreement succeeds.
That is why we support the elected officials and leaders from cities, tribes, businesses, universities, hospitals and churches who represent U.S. support for the Paris climate agreement. Together, this delegation of leaders will make it clear to the world that we are doing our part to keep the United States on track to fulfill the promise it made in Paris.
We are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change, as the recent National Climate Assessment from 13 federal agencies made painfully clear. . . . . This new report from the federal government confirms what we already know: Climate change can hurt public health and cripple our economy.
Our most important job as governors is ensuring the safety of our constituents. So when we face a threat to people’s livelihoods and way of life, showing leadership means acknowledging the risks and addressing them.
This is why a bipartisan group of governors joined to form the U.S. Climate Alliance. After starting with three governors, the alliance has now grown to 17 state leaders who have committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris agreement. We are united in our belief that smart, coordinated state action can ensure that the United States continues to contribute to the global effort to address climate change. Together, we are taking action to implement a range of climate policies — such as lowering the cost of renewable energy and promoting the use of electric vehicles.
In our home states of Maryland and Virginia, we are experiencing rising seas, more extreme weather events, regular high-tide flooding and a changing Chesapeake Bay. That’s why Maryland has become a leader in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and passed a law to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent, creating a model for others to follow. Maryland also has an active, bipartisan Commission on Climate Change and is a leader in climate resilience and preparedness, as well as in championing green infrastructure, open spaces, and a climate academy for local officials and citizens. Recently, the state has announced its intention to ban the manufacture and use of hydrofluorocarbons, a super-polluting greenhouse gas.
And just to the south, Virginia has begun the process to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030 and recently announced its intention to significantly reduce emissions of methane — a greenhouse gas that is more than 80 times more damaging than carbon dioxide in the short term. Virginia also issued an executive order last month detailing steps to address extreme weather, including the creation of a Coastal Resilience Master Plan to protect private property and critical public assets, using nature-based infrastructure whenever possible.
[W]e will make plans to adapt and protect our residents and our coastlines. These steps will help slow climate change, but we need help. We call on leaders of all political persuasions to get to work and cooperate across aisles and across borders — both national and international — to meet the challenge of climate change.
Elections have consequences. Had Northam not won in 2017, there is little doubt that Ed Gillespie would be taking a very different approach and joining in with the Trump/Pence regime and hastening the willful degradation the environment.