Del. Ken Plum: Keep Virginia Green

by Del. Ken Plum May 25, 2017 at 10:15 am 19 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

For more than a half century, signs along the roadsides and ads in local newspapers featured Smokey the Bear with a message “Keep Virginia Green.” His reference was to forest fire prevention, for which he said 9 out of 10 could be prevented. Forest fires were a big concern because wood products were big business in Virginia.

A campaign continues today with a “Keep Virginia Green” theme as part of the “Keep Virginia Beautiful” effort. It has a broader meaning, as it now includes stopping littering and other actions consumers can take as part of caring for the environment in the Commonwealth.

Maybe the most meaningful effort ever taken to protect Virginia’s environment was announced last week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe — that he had signed an Executive Directive ordering the Department of Environmental Quality to begin the process of establishing regulations in Virginia that will reduce carbon emission from power plants. As the Governor explained, “As the federal government abdicates its role on this important issue, it is critical for states to fill the void. … Virginia will lead the way to cut carbon and lean in on the clean energy future.” The current federal administration has moved to rescind actions of the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and to act on climate change.

While proponents of states’ rights may applaud the shift from the federal to the state governments, wind currents from power plants and airborne pollutants do not recognize state boundaries. It is critically important that other states follow the actions of Gov. McAuliffe.

According to the press release announcing the Governor’s Executive Directive, the Commonwealth has seen an increase from just 17 megawatts of solar installed to more than 1,800 megawatts in service or under development. Revenues in the rapidly growing clean energy sector have risen from $300 million to $1.5 billion between 2014 and 2016. In the last year alone, solar installations have risen nearly 1,200 percent. The number of Virginians employed by the solar industry rose 65 percent to 3,236 — twice the number of jobs supported by coal. An analysis by The Solar Foundation quoted in the release said that Virginia is now second in the Southeast and ninth in the nation for year-over-year solar growth. As of 2017, Virginia is first in the Southeast for corporate clean energy procurement.

Dominion Energy, the Commonwealth’s largest electricity producer, announced earlier that it intends to follow the federal Clean Power Plant regulations even if they are rescinded by the current administration. Older coal-powered plants are being converted to natural gas or closed. The company will be subject to any additional regulations that result from the Governor’s Executive Directive.

It is heartening to see the number of citizens who have expressed a greater interest in environmental matters as they realize the threat to current protections under the new administration. We need to thank and applaud the Governor for his action and at the same time keep the pressure on federal and state elected officials to see that our air is kept clean and safe. I am pleased that both the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters have recognized my efforts in this regard.

  • cRAzy

    The place to start would be to STOP Fairfax County from allowing developers to cut down every tree in the name of greater profits and tax revenues. Take this for example: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/taking-aim-at-tysons-last-forest–again/2017/05/12/01dd7708-3420-11e7-b412-62beef8121f7_story.html

    • Anonymous Poster

      Meanwhile, I’m not allowed to cut down a dead tree without a million approvals.

      I don’t think either extreme (clear cutting or save-every-tree-ism) is the answer. But let people cut down dead trees and those horrible pear trees, let’s plant something that doesn’t reek and pose a threat in ten years to people and property.

      • Greg

        No stinko ginkos?


    Dominion Power and the government has driven up our energy costs to chase these theories. I was in Australia earlier this year and the shift to green/sustainable energy there has been an unmitigated disaster. Blackouts, unsustainable costs, politicians running for cover.

    • Greg
      • Jenny Gibbers

        Wind power is harmful because of its unpredictability. To accommodate fluctuations on the grid generators have to be throttled back or shut down which is harsh on the equipment. It also makes rates more volatile. Interestingly N Americas largest energy reseller sits right in our backyard. Constellation. Another interesting one is Lk Anna. 4000 acres of hot and 9000 acres of cold water, by Dominion (pic)

        If you ask me energy is not even the issue, water is. With so much runoff stemming from new roads and developments we do a poor job of containing it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/89f501ad4241c06fa3cc0360feca7320d5d50481d6819489fca9a83ca9fe3058.jpg

        • 40yearsinreston

          That is why wind is not a total solution
          However Tesla is a billion dollar company that is betting billions on their part of the solution i.e batteries

      • 40yearsinreston

        I would not use the UK Daily Express as a reliable source for Australian news
        Try http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/

    • 40yearsinreston

      Australia is on track to.become the worlds largest LPG producer
      However their politicians blind adherence​ to the ‘ free market’ meant that all the product was sold to Asia and none was left for Australia and their businesses
      This short sighted squandering of natural resources and reliance on the so called free market leads to plundering of citizens assets
      The same free market economic mumbo jumbo led to the 2001 California ‘energy crisis’ where Enron manipulated the Energy Market

      Republicans are still using this discredited theory as the justification for redistributing wealth. Hope based estimates are not facts

      • RERSRESQ

        It wasn’t the free market that sold Australia’s coal to China, it was the government. You can’t paper over the disaster there by blaming market forces. It was the green energy regional government that caused the disaster. Learn something from government’s failures please and put your ideology to rest.

        • 40yearsinreston

          Ideaology ?
          Excuse me, but i suggest you expand your horizons by reading some Australian news sources
          They may have a different perspective than your insular jerk reactions

    • 40yearsinreston
  • Jenny Gibbers

    Thanks China, but if the United States innovates, cuts costs and nurtures newer technologies, it might emerge as the world’s second largest solar panel manufacturer by 2020.

  • Reston Realist

    I think Ken is trying to push Cannibis farming. Actually not a bad idea.

  • 40yearsinreston

    Ken pats himself on his back so often its a medical miracle that he hasn’t dislocated his shoulder

  • 40yearsinreston

    What are you doing about the toll road robbery
    It was opened on 1985 and has been paid for at least a 1000 times over

    The MWAA are using it as a cash cow

    • vdiv

      Hmm… how about HOT lanes on FCP? 😉


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