The Collegian
Saturday, December 10, 2022

Climate change addressed at public forum

The Governor's Commission on Climate Change heard statements from the community and accepted proposals from environmental groups from across Virginia Wednesday night.

A consortium of environmental organizations aided by the University of Richmond student group RENEW, including the Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, submitted written recommendations to the commission.

Carly Vendegna-Ramirez of RENEW said the group has been dedicated to showing students how to live more sustainable lives.

"We want to get students thinking about things like how they are using energy in their dorms and their driving habits," she said.

Vendegna-Ramirez said RENEW had been asked to attend the public forum to demonstrate to the commission that young people were committed to combating climate change.

Some of the recommendations included establishing a mandatory renewable energy portfolio, establishing a program for decentralized solar, wind and similar renewable energy production and opposing the development offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.

Many community members attended the meeting in the student commons at Virginia Commonwealth University to fight a proposed coal fired power plant in Wise County Virginia.

"Coal is killing us out in southwestern Virginia," said Larry Bush, a 26-year veteran of the Virginia coal mine industry. "It's poisoning our waters and polluting our air. They're turning our Mountain-scapes into moon-scapes and destroying the habitat for all kinds of animals.

"They'll tell you that there is such a thing as 'clean coal,'" he said, "but it's a lie. Coal will never be clean."

Bruce Richie, Appalachian resident and a self-described "hillbilly," asked "How can the same thinking that created the problem, solve it?"

Richie said that he wanted to see the kind of leadership from the commission he saw when President Jimmy Carter told the country to conserve energy.

"I remember when our president told us to turn down our thermostat," he said. "If it's cold, wear a sweater. If your going somewhere, carpool"

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