The Mark UP

Virginia’s Golden Opportunity to Lead

Virginia’s Rappahannock River at sunrise.

On Tuesday, Virginians have an opportunity to reject the Trump administration’s reckless and destructive environmental agenda. Showing up to vote has rarely, if ever, been more important.

Reversing the damage caused by the Trump administration’s unraveling of common-sense health and environmental safeguards won’t be easy, but doing so is urgent and essential to protecting Americans’ quality of life.

Since January, President Trump and his congressional allies have declared war on our health and environment. Trump has abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement, rescinded the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, ditched fuel efficiency upgrades in cars and trucks, allowed more toxic chemicals in our food, water and consumer products, and moved to expose our most treasured publicly owned lands to exploitation by dirty energy corporations.

For Virginians, this could mean more air and water pollution. More bad air quality days. More childhood asthma attacks. More risk for coastal communities. And fewer opportunities to lead the country into the clean energy economy of the 21st century.

But here’s the good news for Virginians: their leaders have a plan. Thanks to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s (D) actions to defy President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, Virginia could become a major player in the fight against carbon pollution and climate change.

And with that investment comes economic opportunity for Virginia, unlocking the potential for growth that clean energy brings. Solar energy jobs in Virginia grew 65% last year, and that growth will only continue now that Virginia has a forward-thinking plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Virginia voters have the chance to build on this new progress and choose a governor who will reject President Trump’s agenda and prioritize their health, safety and future—Democrat Ralph Northam. The alternative, Republican Ed Gillespie, casts doubt on the causes of climate change and supports Trump’s plan to weaken environmental enforcement, all to benefit polluting corporations’ bottom lines at the expense of our kids’ health.

Virginia voters should seize this golden opportunity to lead the nation to a safer and more prosperous future.

Kevin S. Curtis is the executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.