Climate change is real and impacting Virginia, governor declares

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RICHMOND, Va. — Citing the threat of climate change and its impact on Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Directive 11 — instructing the Department of Environmental Quality to establish regulations to reduce carbon emissions from Virginia power plants.

“The threat of climate change is real, and we have a shared responsibility to confront it,” Governor McAuliffe said. “Once approved, this regulation will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Commonwealth’s power plants and give rise to the next generation of energy jobs.”

The Governor’s Office indicated the effects of climate change are already being felt in Virginia where rising sea levels threaten the coast.

“The threat from frequent storm surges and flooding could cost the Commonwealth close to $100 billion for residential property alone,” a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office said. “The impacts extend far beyond our coast, as half of Virginia’s counties face increased risk of water shortages by 2050 resulting from climate-related weather shifts.”

The governor’s directive — which you can read here — was designed to ensure Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” and includes a structure that enforces carbon-reduction mechanisms.

“As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void,” the governor said.

President Donald Trump has not yet decided whether or not to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, a determination he was originally intending to make ahead of next week’s G7 summit in Italy. Aides say Trump is newly unsure about how withdrawing from the plan would affect US interests, and his advisers — led by daughter Ivanka — have been working to develop a more robust picture of what withdrawal would look like.

The Paris Agreement requires participating countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The following information about Virginia and climate change was posted on the EPA website:

Virginia’s climate is changing. Most of the state has warmed about one degree (F) in the last century, and the sea is rising one to two inches every decade. Higher water levels are eroding beaches, submerging low lands, exacerbating coastal flooding, and increasing the salinity of estuaries and aquifers.

The southeastern United States has warmed less than most of the nation.

But in the coming decades, the region’s changing climate is likely to reduce crop yields, harm livestock, increase the number of unpleasantly hot days, and increase the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

Our climate is changing because the earth is warming.

People have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by 40 percent since the late 1700s.

Other heattrapping greenhouse gases are also increasing.

These gases have warmed the surface and lower atmosphere of our planet about one degree during the last 50 years.

Evaporation increases as the atmosphere warms, which increases humidity, average rainfall, and the frequency of heavy rainstorms in many places—but contributes to drought in others.

Greenhouse gases are also changing the world’s oceans and ice cover. Carbon dioxide reacts with water to form carbonic acid, so the oceans are becoming more acidic.

The surface of the ocean has warmed about one degree during the last 80 years. Warming is causing snow to melt earlier in spring, and mountain glaciers are retreating.

Even the great ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are shrinking. Thus the sea is rising at an increasing rate.

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