Bob McDonnell: Four Years of Failure (Part 2 - Environment)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Yesterday, I posted Bob McDonnell: Four Years of Failure (Part 1 - Energy). Today, I turn to Part 2 - Virginia's Environment. Again, let's start with what Bob McDonnell promised in his 2009 campaign, and compare it to the results - or lack thereof - he's accomplished (or not) since he became governor.1. "He is committed to protecting our environment using innovative technology, pollution prevention programs and holding polluters accountable."
To put it mildly, none of that happened. Instead, we had Bob McDonnell continuing to let polluters -  for instance, mountaintop removal coal miners - run amok in Virginia. No significant pollution prevention programs were enacted in McDonnell's governorship, but his Attorney General did manage to fight many efforts to protect the environment. In 2012, McDonnell made matters even worse by signing legislation aimed at "support{ing} Virginia's coal industry by promoting tax credits for coal industry jobs in southwest Virginia." But McDonnell's efforts to rape and pillage our environment didn't end there; in July 2012 he wrote a letter "to express serious concerns with, and strong objection to, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) proposed rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands." McDonnell has even supported "the natural gas companies and their desire to frack our national forest." And, of course, McDonnell is a big fan of offshore oil drilling, which is a disaster waiting to happen environmentally, while it threatens Virginia's vital tourism industry and U.S. Navy operations off the coast of the Hampton Roads area. #FAIL all around.
2. "Protect the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia's Watersheds"
Let's start with the fact that the Virginia Sierra Club gave McDonnell an "F" for "fail{ing} to protect the Bay from agricultural runoff, from storm water runoff and sewage pollution, and failed to provide the jobs and economic growth that come from protecting the Bay." In fact, the Virginia Sierra Club pointed out, "The only accomplishment {McDonnell} has is his giveaways to polluters." On the other hand, Environment Virginia reports that "after mobilizing public support, we were able to convince Gov. Bob McDonnell and the EPA to compose a promising new plan to clean the Bay and cut pollution back to safe levels by 2020." However, Environment Virginia added an important caveat, that "the restoration plan can only work if Gov. McDonnell stands strong and enforces the new rules." Meanwhile, Environment Virginia points out that the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates rejected a bill that "would have been a significant step in reducing the waste that enters Virginia's rivers, lakes and streams" by putting "a 5 cent tax on each plastic bag used at grocery and convenience stores, as well as pharmacies." What exactly did Bob McDonnell do to fight for this bill? Well, there was...uh...and...uh. Oh forget it. Finally, we should point out that Bob McDonnell loves to take credit for things he had little, if anything, to do with - whether it's the economic "stimulus" that helped Virginia's economy recover from the "Great Recession," or the rebound in Chesapeake Bay oyster populations, based on programs that were begun years ago (also note that "[s]ome biologists say the slow uptick in the harvest in both states is hardly enough to save the oyster"). Other than that, heckuva job Bob!
3. "Preserve 400,000 new acres of open space"
Even according to Republican-friendly PolitiFact, Bob McDonnell broke his promise on this one. The bottom line: "McDonnell, with less than two months remaining to his governorship, is not even halfway to filling his 400,000-acre preservation vow," having "protected 164,433 acres through Sept. 16." #FAIL
4. "Establish Virginia as a "Green Jobs Zone" to encourage renewable energy technologies"
We covered this in our previous post, on McDonnell's energy policy failures. In short, it  didn't happen, except perhaps at an extremely minimal level that won't make any significant difference to Virginia's energy or environmental future.
The bottom line: when it comes to the environment, Bob McDonnell made some promises that sounded good on the surface, but then didn't do much if anything about them. The cynical among us would probably argue that McDonnell was never serious about any of this stuff in the first place, that it was put out in the 2009 campaign as part of his strategy to portray himself as a "moderate." Well, now we see the results - or lack thereof - and it confirms every bit of cynicism we ever had. Next time a Republican candidate promises to protect the environment, just remember Bob McDonnell's pathetic record of pandering to polluters, and take those "promises" for what they're worth - nothing.