Climate crisis is up close and personal

Charleston Gazette-Mail Sunday, November 24, 2019  Op-Ed by Betty Rivard

Earlier this month, I celebrated my 75th birthday during the warmest weather I had ever experienced for November. Some of those birthdays were spent in more northern, western, or eastern climates, but about two-thirds of them have been here, in West Virginia.

I know there is a difference between weather and climate. At the same time, the data on the warming of our planet is overwhelming, as is my own experience of the changes.

This past summer and into fall, I could not be outside on most days for more than five minutes at a time from 9 a.m. until well after dark. Last month, close family members had ash on their windshields out West. A few years ago, I lost an old friend to a heart attack just days after his house was flooded by the Elk River for the second time.

This is all up close and personal.

I admit that I have enjoyed the benefits of free gas from longtime wells and pipelines on my farm in the country, where I lived for over 30 years. I know that the band on the new Apple watch I got for my birthday is made from some high-tech plastic, and that carbon was used to manufacture and deliver it. I know there are plastics involved in the clothes that I enjoyed wearing yesterday. I depend daily on the benefits of gas-fueled travel and transport.

At the same time, I also know that all of this can and must change.

We here in our state, and in our nation, must commit to the same kinds of concrete goals to reduce carbon emissions by specified dates as California, New York and most of the rest of the world have done. We must also resolve to leave our carbon fuels in the ground.

We must invest in the kinds of education and resources required to create and maintain a sustainable future. This investment will not only help here at home. We can also help those who live in developing nations to fulfill the opportunity they deserve as fellow human beings to improve their standard of living and raise their families just like we do. Our state’s innate innovation, can-do culture and creativity can lead the way to design and demonstrate the products and systems that will benefit everyone.

We are always rethinking how we do things throughout our lives. Giving up carbon fuels and plastics is like no longer riding a bike or rollerblading in order to reduce the risk of falling as our bones get older and weaker. Do I miss doing those things? Yes, of course I do. Is my life poorer on account of giving them up? No, it is not.

I can now enjoy the slowness of walking, where I can see every detail along the way. I talk with my neighbors on their porches. I stop and pet my friends’ dogs. I appreciate the flowers in the yards and the improvements in houses. I can see and hear the sole bird singing at the top of a tree.

It is like this to switch to solar power, to windmills, to hydro and to use LED lights and cloth bags instead of plastic and generally use energy more efficiently. Other cultures in our own country are already deep into this constant transition to achieve the goals they have set.

We can do this, too, here in our own state. My neighbor six doors up has solar panels on his roof. We can pass laws to create incentives for all of us to do the same thing and work together cooperatively to afford the up-front investment.

At the same time, we can press harder to take care of our coal miners’ health care and pensions. We can strengthen safety protections and lifelong benefits for the younger and younger miners who develop chronic black lung diseases.

We can continue to reform our post-secondary education and workforce development systems and maintain our investment in higher ed. These measures will allow us to fill vacancies of professionals who retire and to support new jobs in new industries and help miners, oil and gas workers, and others to move into them.

We can reinstate union protections and promote high-paying jobs while creating a floor based on a living wage of $15 an hour. We can require paid sick and family leave to allow more of our citizens to enter and stay in the workforce. We can provide universal health care so people can move between jobs and get the medical and behavioral health care they need, including prevention and treatment for those with substance use disorders and the many chronic illnesses that now plague our state.

These policies are all so basic that it is incredible we have not already enacted them. Those who are focused only on profits and self-interests label these basic human rights and protections as anti-democratic. They create side issues to pit us all against each other.

Even some members of the party devoted to working people have somehow convinced themselves that it is OK to support tax breaks that move more money away from the investments we need into profits for those who keep getting richer at the expense of the rest of us. The budget holes we are dealing with now are a direct result of these tax breaks.

We can no longer ignore the elephant in the room. The world is getting warmer. Our children and grandchildren are in jeopardy. It is up to us to make the changes we must make now in order to protect the quality and very existence of life in the future.

We must tell our candidates and elected representatives how critical this issue is to us. Ask them the gut level question: What are you doing to fight climate change? Weigh each of their actions against what needs to be done. Take their responses and actions into account in deciding who we support and vote for. Continue to stay active in advocating for the necessary changes. Explain to our neighbors the impacts and what we can do as citizens.

We must open ourselves up to making changes in our own lives. This is an issue where we need to have all hands on deck.

We can and will make a difference, both as individuals and collectively. We can each help to ensure that all of our systems — fiscal, regulatory, public benefits, education, workforce, cultural and political — are focused on the preservation of all life on our planet. We are each called to be the stewards to cause this to happen.

As one younger friend, with young children, emailed me recently: “[Climate change] is the most important issue of our lifetime and we can’t continue to stick our head in the sand. Does WV want to be part of the solution or the problem, on the menu or at the table?”

Betty Rivard lives in Charleston.

Area students win awards in PSA contest

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019  COMMUNITY NEWS (MOVCA press release)

The 2019 PSA contest winners from WVU-Parkersburg received awards from Jean Ambrose of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action. From left, Ryan McCoy and Madison Sayre and Ambrose. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — Student teams from West Virginia Universityat Parkersburg and Ohio Valley University took top honors in a contest sponsored by Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action to create a Public Service Announcement about the impacts of climate change and the need for action in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The team of Madison Sayre and Ryan McCoy from WVU-P won first and second place in the PSA video category and received prizes of $500 and $300. The team also won the audio category prize of $250.

The video category third place prize of $200 went to the Ohio Valley University Business Communications team of Daniel Hagberg, Catherine Sellers, Todd Goccey and Thomas Weatherford.

Awards were presented on Thursday. As part of the program, contest entries were shown and participants shared their reactions to creating the PSAs.

“Today’s young people will feel the effects of climate change much more than my generation, and having them communicate ideas about climate change is very powerful.” said Jean Ambrose, contest administrator. “All the PSAs entered in the contest had valuable messages, and all of them addressed in different ways the effects of climate change on the Mid-Oho Valley. But most importantly, the messages were hopeful, with positive ideas about what we can do, whether it’s something small and personal or something like these PSAs that can reach a wider audience.”

Jean Ambrose of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action presents a third-place award to the 2019 PSA contest winners from OVU Business Communications. From left, Thomas Weatherford, Todd Goccey, Catherine Sellers, Daniel Hagberg and Ambrose. (Photo Provided)

Ambrose and co-vice chair Giulia Mannarino also recognized the Dunn Family Foundation. Wayne Dunn from the foundation was impressed with the young participants and their efforts to prepare their generation.

“You have stepped forward and taken responsibility,” he said

Part of the problem or solution?

Parkersburg News & Sentinel Sunday, December 1, 2019 Letter-to-the-Editor by Eric Engle, Parkersburg

A new report out Tuesday, Nov. 26, by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 7.6 percent every year from now until 2030 in order to stay within the 1.5 degree centigrade (1.5C) ceiling that scientists say is necessary to avoid climate disaster. A World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report out Monday, Nov. 25, showed that carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are 50 percent higher than in 1750, prior to the industrial revolution, and other potent greenhouse gases are in higher concentrations as well — methane levels are double what they were in 1750 and nitrous oxide levels are 23 percent higher than in 1750. Globally, on average, CO2 emissions have increased by 1.5 percent annually for the last decade and concentrations in the atmosphere are up to the highest levels seen in approximately 3 million years.

Time is up. The sand is in the bottom of the hourglass. International, federal, state and local public policy and the investment vs. divestment strategies of the world’s wealth and asset owners and managers must direct systemic change. This change must be an extremely rapid yet just transition to renewable energy for power generation, industry and transportation, maximizing across-the-board energy efficiencies, sustainable agriculture and development, and massive reforestation and protections of existing carbon sinks like rainforests, woodlands, and wetlands. Plant and animal species conservation and protection of Indigenous rights are crucial. Mitigation strategies, such as massive infrastructural investments and well-funded and planned disaster preparedness strategies, are also crucial, but we’ve got to stop the hemorrhaging of the greenhouse gases and restore some balance even as we treat the wounds and prepare for other wounds.

We’re all, to some degree or another, a part of the problem; ask yourself if you also want to be part of the solution. If so, join us at Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action today! You can find us on Facebook or at movclimateaction.org.

Eric Engle

Parkersburg

Johnson denies being a climate change denier

Letter to the Editor in the Marietta Times Jan 31, 2020 written by Aaron Dunbar

In a letter to the Times published on Jan. 9, I characterized District 6 Congressman Bill Johnson as a climate change denier. I have since heard through the grapevine that Johnson read my letter, and has vehemently disputed this notion. In other words, he denies being a denier.

This intrigued me.

Consider a few passages from an op-ed penned by Johnson a few years ago, currently available to read on his website:

“Long before Americans were around to blame, there was climate change. Geology tells us that at one time, much of Ohio was covered by ice. At other times, the planet was so warm, that Ohio was under water. These are facts proven throughout the Earth’s history, recorded for the ages in the ground that we live on. Our climate is constantly changing.”

“Carbon-dioxide – the air that we exhale when we breathe has been labeled as a primary cause of global warming by some climate scientists.”

“Additionally, a recent peer-reviewed survey of Canadian geoscientists and engineers found that only 36 percent believe that humans are creating global warming.”

“Remember the hysteria over the hole in the ozone layer?”

In so many words, Johnson manages to check off just about every hackneyed and scientifically invalid argument in the climate denial playbook.

But let’s put a pin in that for now. Let’s assume that this is an old view, and that at some point since writing these words, Johnson’s eyes have been opened. Surely by now, his record in congress must reflect this newfound appreciation for the science of anthropogenic climate change.

Here I would advise taking a look at Johnson’s scorecard with the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group that tracks the voting records of politicians across the country. Currently, Johnson’s career voting score on environmental issues sits at an abysmal 3% on the LVC website.

Let me repeat that for you: Three. Percent.

According to campaign finance website OpenSecrets.org, meanwhile, Johnson has received a career total of $603,916 in donations from the oil and gas industry, easily his largest industry campaign contributor by about $100,000.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” Well if this is the version of Congressman Johnson that actually believes in climate change, I shudder to imagine the damage he would do to our planet as a full-fledged denier.

I would absolutely love to be proven wrong about all of this. Nothing would make me happier than to know that my representation in congress was making the long-term habitability of our planet a top priority.

Until Congressman Johnson changes course and begins to show real leadership on this issue, however, I have every intention of referring to him as exactly what he is: a climate change denier.

For more information on how you can get involved with climate issues locally, please contact Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action today!

Find way to help, act

Jan 19, 2020 Parkersburg News & Sentinel Letter to the Editor by Aaron Dunbar

Like millions of people around the world, I’ve watched heartbroken from afar as Australia’s hellish wildfires devastate the nation. These have been the worst fires seen in the country’s history, so far killing a total of 25 humans, scorching 25 million acres of land, and ending the lives of a scarcely fathomable 1 BILLION animals.

Words cannot express the enormity of the crisis still unfolding overseas. Even more horrifying, however, is the fact that such tragedies will continue to plague societies around the world, due to our failure to connect the dots between these worsening, once-natural disasters and climate change.

A 2008 report by Australia’s own government predicted that climate change would begin to set off earlier and more intense wildfire seasons beginning around 2020. “We knew this was going to happen,” says Australian climate scientist Sarah Perkins Kirkpatrick, even as her government continues to ignore its own scientists’ findings.

It’s an all too familiar story. As Australia’s Prime Minister and coal industry shill Scott Morrison infamously abandoned his burning homeland for a sunny Hawaiian vacation, America’s own leadership continued to betray its citizens on the issue of climate change. Our climate denying President recently pulled us out of the Paris Climate Agreement, despite 2019 wrapping up the hottest recorded decade in human history. Trump and his party of climate denial extremists continue to strip away protections of our environment and the living beings that inhabit it, ourselves included.

The exhausting refrain is the same as it has been since the very beginning. Again and again we’ve been told there simply isn’t enough evidence to act, that there’s nothing we can do until we’re absolutely CERTAIN climate change is happening.

This is, of course, in spite of the fact that the scientific consensus on climate change reached an unprecedented level of 100 percent in November of last year, according to one report. Even scientists’ crudest early models mapping climate change, dating back to 1970, have proven remarkably accurate in predicting the trajectory of warming — a reality that should chill us to the bone and spur us to action when examining future trends.

The fact of the matter is, climate change is never going to be an absolute certainty in the minds of the average layperson. The science is complex, and can often feel abstract. I have no doubt that even as our coastlines are buried underwater, there will still be holdouts who insist that it’s nothing but the effect of Earth’s naturally occurring climate cycles.

We are as certain as we’re ever going to be while still maintaining some chance of mitigating climate catastrophe. How many more tragedies like the Australian wildfires can we stomach before we feel compelled to act? I’m honestly afraid to find out.

For those who wish to contribute to Australian relief efforts, please consider donating to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, the Australian Red Cross, and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. For anyone looking to get involved in the climate fight locally, consider joining Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action today!

A Green Resolution

Appearing in The Marietta Times:

January 9, 2020 Letter-to-Editor by Aaron Dunbar

Among the most egregious lies we’ve been told about climate change, is the idea that as citizens we’re powerless to do anything about it.

I consider 2019 to be the year that I became a climate activist. I began the year feeling that there was nothing I could do, that the problem was too enormous, and that someone else would fix it for us. But as environmental crises mounted and warnings from scientists rang in on a routine basis, I decided that apathy was no longer an option.

And so I did something. And then I did more. And soon I found myself taking action in ways I’d never believed myself capable of doing before.

At first I started small. I took easy steps throughout my day-to-day life, such as ending my use of plastic straws in favor of reusable metal ones, eliminating single-use plastic bags from my life altogether, and greatly reducing my intake of meat. I began educating myself through countless books on global warming. I wrote letters to share what I’d learned, and eventually participated in the Global Climate Strike in September.

My most ambitious project, by far, was to deliver a collection of 100 books on climate change to the office of Congressman Bill Johnson at Christmastime. Johnson has long denied the reality of climate change, perhaps in part due to the fact that he’s received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel industry over the years. I don’t expect him to experience his own Damascene moment any time soon- after all, that isn’t what he’s being paid to do.

Still though, it was important to me to be able say I’d confronted my Representative in Congress with all the evidence he could possibly ask for to make an informed decision. And if you’d told me at the beginning of last year that I’d be undertaking such a project at all, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I am by no means satisfied with the actions I took in 2019. I consider them in no way sufficient to bring about the change necessary to combat this crisis, and I have every intention of redoubling my efforts in the year to come. From getting involved with local groups such as Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action and the Sunrise Movement, to campaigning for political candidates who pledge to take action on global warming, I plan on pushing myself harder than ever before over the course of 2020 and beyond. The fight against climate change is one we cannot afford to lose, and time is running out.

I know there are people out there who are far more capable than I am of joining us in this fight, and helping us win. So why aren’t you?

In the timeless words of Anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Say no to storage hub

Appearing in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

Sunday, October 20, 2019 Letter-to-Editor by Eric Engle, Parkersburg, WV

An Oct. 2 editorial, “Storage Hub: Legislation should be a priority,” states West Virginia’s congressional delegation should continue making the Appalachian Storage Hub a top priority and supports recent legislation from West Virginia’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation to direct the Appalachian Regional Commission to provide funding to aid in creation of the Hub. This is dangerous nonsense for several reasons.

First off, the editorial itself mentions a reason why the storage hub shouldn’t be built anywhere: “having about 95 percent of U.S. ethylene production on the Gulf Coast is risky business.” Why does the writer think that is? Well, maybe it has something to do with the increased intensity of hurricane and precipitation events in the Gulf of Mexico caused by anthropogenic global climate change. Warmer air holds more moisture and warmer ocean surfaces provide energy to increase hurricane intensity. This is well-documented climate and atmospheric science. Why does this matter for the hub? Because the storage hub plays a huge part in the continued extraction and use of fossil fuels, contributing to the climate crisis. Methane, for example, is released at every stage of oil and gas development and use, even use for the petrochemicals industry, and methane is 86 times more efficient a heat-trapping greenhouse gas over a 20-year period than carbon dioxide.

Then there is the storage of natural gas liquids. The proposed hub involves storage of these liquids (i.e. butane, ethane) in underground caverns around and even under the Ohio River. These liquids are highly combustible, for one, and the Ohio River is a drinking water source for 5 million people and already the most contaminated waterway in the country for the last 7 years running. Do we really want these highly combustible liquids stored under or near our already highly contaminated river and transported via pipelines to cracker plants up and down the Ohio River Valley? And who really benefits from all of this liquid natural gas (LNG) production? The people of West Virginia? That MOU from China we’re not allowed to see for $84 billion might clarify, but I’m highly skeptical that the value-added benefits go to the people of our state. Our state’s history with extraction industries would suggest otherwise.

Finally, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re a world drowning in plastics that we cannot safely dispose of. The storage hub is not about energy production, as the editorialist obviously knows, it’s about the production of more plastics and polymers. No matter how you spin the industry-provided jobs and revenue numbers, that plastic will end up in our oceans and other waterways and landfills and, well, everywhere (microplastics have been found in the deepest depths of the oceans and the most remote corners of the Arctic). Can we completely do away with plastics tomorrow? No. But 40 percent of the plastics market consists of single-use plastics we can do away with and engineering biodegradable plastics substitutes is the kind of thing Appalachian Regional Commission funds ought to go toward, not a massive increase in plastics production.

We need to say no to the Appalachian Storage Hub! For vital information on the hub and other oil, gas and petrochemicals issues, visit the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition website at ohvec.org.

Eric Engle

Parkersburg

The economy, jobs and renewable energy

Appearing in The Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

Sunday, October 6, 2019 Local Column: Op-ed by George Banziger, Ph,D.

The future of the energy economy and jobs in the U.S. clearly lies in renewables, especially wind and solar power. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (U. S. Department of Labor) predicts that the fastest employment growth from 2016-2026 is expected to be in the occupations of solar photovoltaic installers (105% increase) and wind turbine service technicians (96% increase). Also projected to grow are the occupations of environmental engineers, conservation scientists, hazardous materials removal workers, and wind and solar technicians. All of these occupations are predicted to result in median annual salaries higher than the median salary for all jobs in the U.S.; for example, environmental engineers are predicted to make $86,800/year, and technicians $50,230/year. The predicted growth in these occupations (faster than the average growth of all occupations in the U.S.) reflects the rapid increase in jobs in the renewable energy. There are currently 360,000 jobs in the solar energy sector (more than the jobs in coal and nuclear energy combined), and another 102,000 jobs in wind energy (generation of wind power tripled from 2008-2016).

In 1979 there were 225,000 jobs in the coal industry; now there are about 53,000 (NBC News, 2019). Utility companies are shutting down coal-fired power plants as the energy market shifts toward renewables and natural gas. These are market forces at work. Of course, we should not abandon coal workers to poverty and neglect — we should support them with vocational training, health-care benefits, and other assistance to help them through this transition toward renewable energy. While the market forces in the energy economy make this transition, it is in the national interest to support former coal workers but also to support the advancing economy of renewable energy. It is renewable energy that will address the urgent need to confront climate change and reduce carbon emissions, which should be strong national and international objectives.

Not only do renewable energy sources reduce carbon emissions to generate energy, but they are also less expensive than most other sources. The costs of wind and solar energy per megawatt hour are $50 and $58 respectively, while the cost of coal is $100 and nuclear $110 (Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, 2018).

Electrical generation from renewables has tripled since 2001 (Energy Information Administration, 2019), mostly due to the rapid growth of wind energy. It is estimated that half of the world’s power will be delivered from solar and wind sources by 2050. We have seen some of this growth in our region in the new AEP-Ohio solar hub in Highland County.

There has been much discussion and promotion of natural gas in our region. Natural gas is an important resource to bridge the transition from coal to renewables, but at the current cost of $2.29 per 1,000 cubic feet (July 2019 price according to tradingeconomics.com; that price was over $9 in 2000), it is hard to imagine that many companies can operate profitably at that price, much less provide sustainable jobs to support the economy long term.

When I was vacationing in northern Minnesota this past summer, I took part in a boat tour of the Port of Duluth. The tour guide on our boat pointed to a recently unloaded cargo visible on the shore and noted that this cargo was a shipment of wind turbines from Germany that was bound for Kansas. I asked myself, “Why are such wind turbines (which are usually made of fiberglass) not made in the U.S.A., and furthermore why aren’t they made in eastern Ohio, where I live?” Ohio has a strong base of manufacturing, and our area once enjoyed major glass-making manufacturing facilities. It struck me that what is needed in our region is a major commitment by educational institutions to train engineers and technicians in renewable energy occupations and by the manufacturing sector with the development of capability in making wind turbines, wind turbine towers (80-foot [or higher] towers made of steel), and solar panel manufacturing (most of the latter also involving glass-related manufacturing).

Let’s get Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Valley in concert with the rest of the world and the rest of country in the rapidly growing opportunities in renewable energy before we are left behind.

*** George Banziger, Ph..D., was a faculty member at Marietta College and an academic dean at three other colleges. Now retired, he is a member of the Green Sanctuary Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, the Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action group, and the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Congressional leaders focus on innovation in fighting climate change

Appearing in the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

 Friday, September 20, 2019 NEWS by Kate Miskin Staff writer

While West Virginia’s state leaders are broaching the issue of climate change by talking about renewable energy and answering students’ questions, the state’s congressional lawmakers aren’t making parallel strides.

Next week, two state delegates will hold a video conference with science teachers and students across the state who can ask questions about climate change. Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, an environmental scientist, and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, will lead the talks.

But in Washington, D.C., neither the state’s U.S. Senators, nor its three U.S. Representatives were available for interviews about climate change.

At this rate, global warming will likely reach 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a report published last October. That 1.5 degree jump above pre-industrial levels poses a threat to ecosystems, water and food supply and human health, the report says. Just to contain warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, carbon dioxide emissions will have to be net zero by 2050.

“Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C,” the report says.

Next week, top leaders will meet in New York for the 2019 Climate Action Summit to discuss “concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050,” according to the United Nations.

“What I want is to have the whole of society putting pressure on governments to make governments understand they need to run faster. Because we’re losing the race,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said this week.

Leading up to the summit, more than 250 news organizations around the world are part of Covering Climate Now, an initiative to focus news coverage on climate change. The goal, organizers said, is to shine a light on a pressing issue that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. This story is part of the Charleston Gazette-Mail’s contribution to Covering Climate Now.

Even as Washington, D.C., has recently shifted attention toward the climate crisis — CNN held a climate town hall with Democratic presidential candidates and climate activist Greta Thurnberg spoke in front of Congress this week about the urgency of listening to scientists — West Virginia’s national leaders are falling short.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., all said they were in favor of carbon capture technology and an “all-of-the-above” energy policy — which refers to the idea of using both renewable and nonrenewable energy, and is criticized as not environmentally protective enough.

Both senators had sponsored the “FUTURE [furthering carbon capture, utilization, technology, underground storage, and reduced emissions]” Act, which incentivized technology to carbon capture, utilization and storage.

“[Capito] has a record of doing so in a commonsense, bipartisan way that improves our environment without jeopardizing our economy,” a spokeswoman for Capito said in an email.

These bills are good, said Jeremy Richardson, Senior Energy Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Technological solutions are great, but they’re not enough. There’s a lot we can do right now in terms of deploying existing affordable technology that can get us on the pathway to where we’re trying to go — affordable existing renewable energy,” he said.

Manchin, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement that he’s been “resolute” that climate change is real.

“Many leading the climate change debate will suggest we need to eliminate certain fuel sources, but the truth is fossil fuels will continue to play a role in the global economy and West Virginia still has an important role to play. The U.S. must lead the world in pursuing cost-effective solutions that will allow us to use fossil fuels in a cleaner manner,” he said.

As ranking member, his committee has passed 22 bills, some of which focused on carbon capture and energy efficiency, he added.

“As Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I am committed to ensuring West Virginians are not left behind in the process but instead leading the charge on innovative climate solutions,” he said.

In March, Manchin and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, saying they’ve seen the impacts of climate change in their home states, where they’re both “avid outdoorsmen.”

“The United States is at the forefront of clean-energy efforts, including energy storage, advanced nuclear energy, and carbon capture, utilization and sequestration. We are committed to adopting reasonable policies that maintain that edge, build on and accelerate current efforts, and ensure a robust innovation ecosystem,” they wrote.

“It’s not just about innovation, it’s about policies that can get on that pathway,” Richardson said. “Energy efficiency is a big thing. We should be investing heavily in energy efficiency, electricity and industrial sector, making processes more efficient.”

Rep. Carol Miller, R-W.Va., sits on the House select committee on climate crisis.

Asked about her efforts to address climate change, a spokesman said she’d supported the Affordable Clean Energy Rule — the Trump administration’s counter to the Clean Power Plan that would weaken environmental regulations — “to give power back to states, restore the rule of law, and support America’s energy diversity and affordability.”

“The clean power plan itself was pretty weak and most were actually on track to get those reductions it would’ve required anyway because of economics. The ACE rule takes us in the opposite direction,” Richardson said.

Representatives Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., did not respond at all.

WV can profit from fighting climate crisis

Appearing in the Charleston Gazette-Mail:

Sunday, September 8, 2019   Op-ED by Logan Thorne, project director for the WV Center on Climate Change

Defeating the climate crisis is necessary — unless we want to lock-in scorching heat waves, rampant insect-borne disease and thousands more flooding deaths.

To defeat the growing crisis, we need solutions. And one of the best solutions for defeating the climate crisis is innovation — through massive research and development in new energy technologies. And, right now, the United States Congress is considering legislation to increase funding for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy-E.

ARPA-E pays researchers at places like West Virginia’s National Energy Technology Laboratory to develop high-risk/high-gain technologies that can help transform the energy sector. Increased funding would effectively secure more West Virginia jobs and transform our ability to research global energy solutions right here at home.

ARPA-E’s impressive track record now includes over $2.9 billion in private sector follow-on funding for a group of 145 projects since the agency’s founding in 2009. Equally notable, 76 projects have formed new companies and 131 projects have shown enough promise to result in partnerships with other government agencies for further development.

Yet to date, ARPA-E has only been able to support about 1 percent of the proposals submitted for its open funding opportunities, and 12 percent of the proposals submitted for its focused programs, even though the number of promising, high-quality proposals that the agency has received is many times higher.

House Science Committee Chairman Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, has introduced the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act, House Resolution 4091. The bill authorizes ARPA-E for 5 years, up to $1 billion in 2024.

Organizations who support Johnson’s ARPA-E bill include: the American Chemical Society, American Council for Capital Formation, American Council on Renewable Energy, Association of American Universities, Association of Public & Land-grant Universities, BPC Action (Bipartisan Policy Center’s Government Affairs Arm), the Carbon Utilization Research Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, ConservAmerica, Council on Competitiveness, Energy Sciences Coalition, the Energy Storage Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers — USA, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, National Association of Manufacturers, National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Energy Institute, Optical Society of America, and the Task Force on American Innovation.

That’s a lot of true, bipartisan support for innovative legislation that will grow West Virginia’s economy and help maintain America’s role as an energy provider. And it is obvious, I believe, that all West Virginia members of Congress should join this effort. Our economic and environmental future is at stake.