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Virginia's Congressional Delegation On Opposite Sides of Climate Change Issue

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As the demand to act on climate change mounts, members of the Virginia Congressional delegation are taking a variety of approaches.

It’s time to end carbon emissions. Completely wipe them out, net zero emissions in the next 30 years. That’s the goal outlined by Democratic Congressman Donald McEachin in a bill that would require eliminating carbon emissions by 2050. 

“Every scientist, every reputable scientist, that’s come before our committees has told us we need to get this done by 2050," says McEachin. "And so that’s what the bill calls for, net zero by 2050.”

But Virginia has traditionally been home to coal country, and Congressman Morgan Griffith says coal from his district is needed to make steel. He supports efforts of the Trump administration to lift what he calls burdensome regulations on coal production.

“And so we’re going to continue to mine that high-quality coal," Griffith says. "And we have to find ways to make sure that the American public understands that not every coal is equal to other coal, that a lot of the coal around the world is dirtier than our coal.”

McEachin’s bill calling for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 would empower the EPA to evaluate agency plans, make recommendations and provide regular progress reports.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.
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