Back on Track to Address Climate Change in the Commonwealth

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 | Posted by Hannah Wiegard | No Comments

photo 4 Thanks to the outpouring of opposition to SB 615, a bill in Virginia that would attempt to undercut the EPA's authority to regulate carbon pollution, we’re back on track to addressing climate change in the commonwealth. Here’s how the story unfolded over the last few days. [ More ]

Common Sense, Nonsense, and a Climate Fight in the Making in Richmond

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 | Posted by Hannah Wiegard | No Comments

photo 4 The 2014 session of the Virginia General Assembly is underway, and state lawmakers are wasting no time. Legislation this session falls into two categories: the bright ideas that bring Virginia closer to a future of safe and reliable clean energy, and the downright crazy bills that do the opposite and must be stopped. Here is the breakdown. [ More ]

Hannah Wiegard: Binge-watching “Doctor Who” and Bettering Virginia’s Energy Options

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 | Posted by Hannah Wiegard | 6 Comments

944745_10100206520223687_1797773733_n I joined Appalachian Voices to help steer Appalachian Power and Dominion Virginia Power toward clean energy. Over the recent winter break, I got a jump on this massive undertaking in what may seem an unusual way: by becoming utterly engrossed in a "Doctor Who" marathon. I maintain that it was time well-spent in the fight for clean energy sources and efficiency for the Old Dominion. [ More ]

McAuliffe Lauds Carbon Capture Technology, But Coal’s Impacts Go Beyond CO2 Pollution

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 | Posted by Hannah Wiegard | 3 Comments

TerryMcblog Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe claims that “we need to build on the assets we have” by using carbon capture technology. But carbon pollution isn’t the only measure of coal’s impact on Virginia. Continuing to mine and burn coal will still cause serious problems: more destructive mountaintop removal, toxic mining waste, air and water pollution from power plants, all while southwestern Virginia continues to feel the worst effects of deferring a cleaner energy future. [ More ]

Mapping Forest Change in Mountaintop Removal

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 | Posted by Erin Savage | No Comments

Researchers at the University of Maryland have just released the first high-resolution map of global forest change in the 21st century. University of Maryland Professor of Geographical Sciences Matthew Hansen and his team published “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change” in the scientific journal Science last week. The project uses Landsat data, satellite imagery collected by the United States Geological Survey. A Google Earth Engine team created the map through high performance processing of geospatial data, to complete a time-series analysis of over 650,000 images to characterize forest extent and change between 2000 and 2012.

The online map provides imagery in a series of colors to document forest loss and gain. The accompanying article covers some expected and well known trends – deforestation of portions of the tropics from timber harvest and clearing for agriculture, as well as forest change in boreal forests from forest fire. Overall, the world lost 2.3 million square kilometers of forest between 2000 and 2012, but gained 800,000 square kilometers elsewhere, for a net loss of 1.5 million square kilometers.

The researchers noted one prominent trend in the United States: the disturbance rate of forests in the Southeast was 4 times that of the South American rainforest. In this case “disturbance rate” includes both the loss and regrowth of forest. Several factors may contribute to this high rate of change. In several Southeastern states, pine plantations are grown and harvested on relatively short cycles – more like other crops than natural forest. Another reason for the high rate of change may be mountaintop removal coal mining.

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Stepping Toward Wind and Solar Energy in Virginia

Thursday, August 1st, 2013 | Posted by Nathan Jenkins | No Comments

English offshore wind farm

Virginia may not be a renewable energy leader anytime soon, but the commonwealth is coming closer to embracing industries that will yield economic and environmental benefits.

The call for action on climate change has grown louder in the weeks following the announcement of the Obama administration’s climate action plan. As the president laid out in June, the plan that leads to a more sustainable energy policy, and as the newly confirmed administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, reminded us this week, it is also an incredible opportunity for job creation.

In Charlottesville, Va., last week, Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos and City Councilwoman Dede Smith spoke about climate change at a press conference that was organized by Environment Virginia. The speakers highlighted the need to reduce carbon emissions by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, while removing support and subsidies for dirty energy sources.

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President Obama’s Address on Climate Protection Plan

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 | Posted by JW Randolph | No Comments

Update: The speech covered a lot of ground and held a lot of promise – but was missing several critical points. Read Appalachian Voices’ press statement.

Watch the President’s speech, with coverage beginning at 1:55 EST. Do you think this plan is strong enough? What improvements or changes would you make? What do you think these changes will mean for your state, or for the Appalachian community as a whole? Let us know in the comments – jw

Read the President’s Climate Action Plan
Fact sheet

First Annual Climate Convergence in Raleigh, NC

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Sandra Diaz | No Comments

Citizens converged in Raleigh yesterday to demand that political leadership begin to address the challenge of climate change. North Carolina House Rep. Pricey Harrison reminds the crowd that the state legislature belongs to the people. She recently re-introduced the Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act that would a) ban the burning of mountaintop-removal coal in the state, b) put into place comprehensive rules for the storage and disposal of coal ash waste, c) place a moratorium on the construction of new coal plants, and d) divest state pension funds from fossil fuels.

A Clearcut Connection Between Mountaintop Removal and Climate Change

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 | Posted by Melanie Foley | 1 Comment

Mountaintop Removal and other destructive land uses could turn the Southern Appalachians from a carbon sink to a carbon source in as little as 12 years.

Scientists from the universities of Kentucky and California recently released a study detailing the climate implications of coal extraction by mountaintop removal. If coal mining continues at its current pace, the authors predict the next 12 to 20 years will see Southern Appalachian forests switch from a net carbon sink to a net carbon source — meaning the area will emit more carbon than it takes in.

Consequently, ending mountaintop removal may have more environmental benefits than originally realized. The long-standing goals of mountaintop removal opponents have been to protect human lives, improve drinking water, and support ecosystem health. This new research shows that ending this destructive mining practice would also be a victory in the fight against climate change — and not just by moving away from dirty coal.

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Forward on Climate!

Monday, February 18th, 2013 | Posted by Matt Abele | 4 Comments

This past weekend’s Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., made it more evident than ever that America is ready for a clean energy future. I arrived on a bus from Asheville, N.C., to join close to 50,000 people from across the country and world. As a collective, we showed up inspired and enthused, ready to bring the fight to the White House.

Join the nearly 80,000 people who have signed an open letter to the president calling for bold climate action!

People gathered around a central stage located next to the Washington Monument to listen to keynote speakers ranging from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to indigenous leaders from the U.S. and Canada. These speakers rallied up the crowd as they charged them to stand behind President Obama and make sure he sticks to his promise of a clean energy future by rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and promoting alternatives to coal, gas and oil.

Appalachian Voices staff attended the rally to support communities that have been devastated by mountaintop removal. We were there to join 167 fellow sponsoring organizations in a call for climate action, but also to remind those calling for major policy shifts that economic diversification in the region must be included in a national strategy to combat climate change.

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President Obama Focuses on Energy Jobs

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 | Posted by JW Randolph | No Comments

Climate, Energy, Efficiency Feature as Key Pieces of SOTU

The first “State of the Union” address of President Obama’s second term had a little something for everybody. The President was aggressive about the need to tackle the problem of climate change, while using broad economic language to describe the potential benefits of growth in solar, wind, energy efficiency, and increased oil and gas exploration and consumption.

About the only energy industry the President didn’t throw a verbal bone to was the coal industry. But that doesn’t mean Appalachia isn’t directly implicated in some of the President’s new proposals.

Perhaps most importantly for our region, was how enthusiastically the President pushed rapid American investment in energy efficiency, saying:

I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.

We live right here in the Saudi Arabia of energy waste – the southeastern United States. As such, Appalachian Voices staff and members listened to this proposal with great interest. Energy efficiency is the lowest hanging fruit to negate and replace declining coal demand. It is cheap, clean, and creates loads of good jobs while lowering electricity demand. Few places are better suited to take advantage of the enormous potential of energy efficiency than Appalachia and the southeastern United States, and efforts to use our resources more wisely could provide an out-sized benefit to our historically wasteful region…

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New NC DENR Boss Isn’t Sure About Global Warming

Friday, January 11th, 2013 | Posted by Tabitha Lunsford | No Comments

Watch as John Skvarla, North Carolina’s new head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, sidesteps a question about climate change (near the end of the video) and supports the continuance of fracking.

As the state pursues more controversial forms of energy production, he believes that “we are not going to go backward in air and water quality protection.”

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