Virginia scientists to McAuliffe: Embrace EPA’s climate rule

A group of scientists are urging Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) to embrace strong targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Obama administration’s carbon pollution rules.

In a letter on Monday, 15 scientists from universities across Virginia pressure McAuliffe to use the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards for existing power plants to set ambitious reduction targets for the state.

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“With its diverse economy and proximity to the coast, Virginia is particularly vulnerable,” the scientists write.  

They argue that increased temperatures also threaten the respiratory health of Virginians by increasing ground-level pollution and allergens, and increasing floods will hurt infrastructure.

“Embracing the targets for emissions reductions in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a great opportunity for you to accomplish this in your single term, particularly if cleaning up energy production is combined with reducing energy consumption through more efficiency,” the letter states.

Dr. Edward Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change, joined scientists from the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and other universities in signing the letter to McAuliffe on Tuesday.

"Surveys show that most people in Virginia correctly understand that climate change is happening, and that it is already causing our weather to become more extreme," Maibach said.

In the plea, the scientists offer to help McAuliffe and to provide “current and accurate information” to inform his decisions on the issue.

Brian Coy, spokesman for McAuliffe, said the governor is currently finalizing comments to submit to the EPA on its pollution proposal before the Dec. 1, deadline.

“Governor McAuliffe is strongly supportive of reducing carbon emissions across the Commonwealth," Coy said.

McAuliffe has said he believes that climate change is being caused by human activities and supports policies aimed at fighting it.

However, he also supports expanding offshore drilling along Virginia’s coast, which is not backed by environmentalists, who are argue it would undermine action on climate change.