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Virginia FINAL

Virginia FINAL

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Published by Amber Allen

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Published by: Amber Allen on Jun 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Pay Now, Pay Later: Virginia
dmittedly, the eects o climatechange, a complex and intri-cate phenomenon, are dicultto predict with precision. Inormedscientic and economic projections, as we have used in our research, however,allow us to see that Virginia aces
Rising sea levels and increasingly requent ooding have long been a disruptive, costlyreality along the Virginian coast. Already, adaptation measures have reached $1.25 millionin just one coastal Norolk neighborhood.
 Severe storms, strengthened by climate change,
will likely have an increasingly signicantefect on hal o the state’s land area,
afecting properties valued at a combined $129.7billion as well as 1.5 million Virginians.
Virginia’s green job industry is steadily growing, but has much room to expand and muchto gain. Investing in nuclear energy, or example, has paid of or the state; the industrycurrently employs 4,200 people.
According to a new study, a ailure to mitigate the efects o climate change could beginto cause serious gross domestic product and job losses within the next several decades.Between 2010 and 2050, it could cost Virginia $45.4 billion in GDP and over 314,000 jobs.*
signicant losses in industries crucialto its economy i no action is taken.Moreover, data shows Virginians are ina position to benet rom the research,development, and use o renewableenergy technologies. Virginia currently imports more energy than it produces,yet it is home to a wealth o bioenergy, wind and solar resources, which couldboth compensate and save Virginiansmoney.
Should we ail to take action,Virginia has much to lose.
Pay Later: The Cost o Inaction
Virginia is the proud home o theBlue Ridge Mountains and a beau-tiul Atlantic shoreline, both o whichdraw thousands o tourists each year.But i the eects o climate changecontinue unabated, tourism, recre-ation, and agriculture will be severely aected. Climate change threatens theCommonwealth’s economic security.
Severe Storms, Flooding andCosts to the Coast
In June 2009, Wetlands WatchExecutive Director William A. Stilesreported that a two-oot rise in sealevel along Virginia’s coast wouldhave a deleterious impact on thestate’s wetlands and dunes.
Under ahigh sea-level rise scenario this couldhappen as early as 2050. A “hot spot”or rising sea levels, Virginian waterscould rise 20-30 centimeters (8-12inches) under even a low-rise scenarioduring this time period, or 30-40
Sources: National Wildlie Federation; EDF,
Virginia ropical Storms and Hurricanes
*GDP numbers are based on a 0% discount rate. Job losses are measured in labor years, or entire years o ulltime employment. Backus, George et al., “Assessing the Near-erm Risk o Climate Uncertainty:Interdependencies among the U.S. States,” Sandia Report (Sandia National Laboratories, May 2010),141.
(accessed  March 23, 2011).
1100 New York Avenue, NW|Suite 710W|Washington, DC 20005 202.347.4267| 
centimeters (12-16 inches) given a mid-level rise in waters.
Climate change is likely to bringstronger hurricanes
to Virginia’scoast, potentially aecting hal theCommonwealth.
An increase in suchevents—
today, there are twice asmany Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide as there were roughly 35 years ago
—will cost the state animmense amount o money. In 2004,Hurricane Gaston, a Category 1 hurri-cane originating over the Carolinasas a tropical storm, cost Virginia $60million.
Hurricane Isabel, the mostdamaging hurricane o the last 50years, cost the state $925 million.
 Te threat posed by storm surgesand fooding along the 3,315 miles o Virginian tidal shoreline will likely intensiy.
Popular tourist destina-tions and residential areas—VirginiaBeach, Newport News, and Matthewsto name a ew—are projected to besignicantly impacted.
Te Environ-mental Protection Agency estimates Virginia’s beach sand replenish-ment costs at $200 million to $1.2billion under a 20-inch rise scenarioby the end o the century 
Tiscould be highly detrimental to theVirginian economy. In 2008, VirginiaBeach brought in $1.2 billion (6%o Virginia’s total domestic travelers’expenditures), supporting 11,900 jobsin tourist-related industries and $209.4million in aggregate income—as wellas $48.7 million or the state andnearly $47.2 million in local govern-ment revenue.
 Coastal real estate is also threatened.Mid-Atlantic insurance companieshave realized the potential or seriouslosses.
 As o June 2009, 55% o themid-Atlantic insurance market reused to insure businesses and primary residences in the coastalregion
Many industry membersbelieve it will soon become too costly to cover many o these potentially high-risk properties. Some havebegun to reuse coverage or vacationhomes.
One-th o the population,1.5 million people, lives along Virgin-ia’s coast.
Norolk Woes
Given coastal Virginia’s economicdependence on U.S. military bases,climate change poses an even greaterthreat. Norolk, home to the world’slargest navy base, is a low-lying city situated on the banks o the Chesa-peake Bay.
Rising sea levels, whichhave increased by over a oot since1930,
have already begun to aectU.S. Navy operations. Floodingcaused by storms and abnormally high tides have covered power lines,caused electricity outages on the base,and halted services to ships. Multi-million dollar adaptation projects arealready underway,
but a changingclimate threatens to interrupt navalreadiness.
Encroaching waters alsothreaten nearby Langley Air ForceBase.
Hampton Roads is home tothe base, and hal o its economy istied to deense spending.
Looking to make cuts, the ederalgovernment could choose to closebases particularly threatened by climate change.
In Norolk, therelocation o one aircrat carriergroup to Florida or the Pacic wouldcost the local economy $900 millionannually.
A Sportsman’s Nightmare
 A point o pride to the Common- wealth, the
commercial and thesaltwater sport shing industriesgenerate $130 million and $1.2billion, respectively, each year
.Climate change, however, is likely to signicantly harm the ecosystemso the Chesapeake Bay—and theeconomic benets it provides the state,not to mention the livelihood o smallrural communities.
Warming andrising waters jeopardize the oystersheries
and the hard shell clamindustry as well. I sea levels continueto increase, the roughly $50 millionhard shell clam industry may bepermanently destroyed.
 The threat posed by storm surgesand ooding along the 3,315miles o Virginian tidal shorelinewill likely intensiy. Popular touristdestinations and residential areas—Virginia Beach, Newport News,and Matthews to name a ew—are projected to be signicantlyimpacted.
Te hunting, shing, and wildlieviewing industries are also likely tosuer. Warmer waters in the Appala-chian region could cause trout levelsto all by as much as 61%.
Withinthe next 30-80 years, ShenandoahPark’s red spruce could lose ground tosouthern pine orests. Likely to suer
Source: Bureau o Economic Analysis 
Percent of VirginiaLabor Force Projectedto be Directly Affected
1100 New York Avenue, NW|Suite 710W|Washington, DC 20005 202.347.4267| 
 would be the wildlie-related industries, which, in 2006, generated $2.1 billion and created nearly 50,000 jobs. Unortu-nately, it will be the 3.6 million huntsmen, anglers, and wildlie viewers who eel the brunt o these changes.
Pay Now: Benets to Taking Action
Virginia has much to gain rom renewable energy. In 2007,Virginia set a voluntary renewable standard that encouragesutilities to generate 12% (o 2007 base sales) o their energy rom renewable sources by 2022.
Virginia’s energy consump-tion currently exceeds its energy generation, but the state cancompensate or this imbalance by developing its renewableenergy sector. For example, Virginia currently utilizes only 40%o its oshore wind potential, and 14-20% o its solar powerpotential, its two most promising renewable energy sources.
I the Commonwealth invested $2.7 billion in the greensector, it could generate nearly 56,500 jobs.
Embracing biouel and landll gas are two promising options.Virginia has an abundance o the required resources orbiomass combustion in particular, including mill and cropresidues.
Each year, 8.7 million tons o biomass—1,700 MW o electricity—are produced and available or energy use.
 Only 2.5% o electricity in Virginia is currently produced rombiomass.
Currently, Virginia is operating at 90% capacity in its use o landll gas or energy generation.
As trash in landlls breaksdown, methane and carbon dioxide are released. Rather thansimply burning this gas as many landlls do, some are startingto trap the methane and convert it into useable energy.
 Virginia has many o these gas sites, several o which are very productive.
Te two generators at the Rappahannock regional landll produce 2.14 MW o electricity—more thanenough energy to power 1,300 homes each day 
Converting waste to energy also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
 For Virginia, addressing climate change is not about altruism, but rather about protecting the Commonwealth’s economy and traditions while seizing the opportunity to create thousands o new jobs.
Virginia must consider action on climate change not just in terms o cost, but in terms o opportunities. I we give Virginia’spopulation, businesses, and investors clear and consistent signals by properly oering initiatives and cultivating demand,investment and innovation in renewable technologies will ollow.
 Virginians will have to pay or the efects o climate change
. Te only remaining question is whether they will pay now,or pay later and run the risk o paying signicantly more.

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