Why is Creigh Deeds ignoring the environment?


Despite being on the receiving end of an absolute blizzard of communication from Creigh Deeds’ gubernatorial campaign, I have gotten little or no indication over the past weeks that environmental issues are a key part of his platform. This week, of course, the culture wars are the big talking point in Deeds v. McDonnell. And those issues are important. But I’m waiting—I hope not in vain—for some discussion in Virginia about what are, after all, life-or-death questions: climate change, biodiversity, sustainable food systems.

And I’d love for Deeds to convince me that he’s stronger on the environment than he seems thus far. He likes to paint himself as a conservationist, and has done some good things in that direction (though a conservation ethic "grounded in faith" is not really my speed—see Entire History of Christian-Based Worldview in which Humans are Believed to Dominate the Earth. I could be persuaded to reconsider, though).

He shows up in some of the right places: proposing a biomass facility, ogling solar panels at VCU, scoring points in the press for getting his green measures stifled by mean Republicans. And his plan for the economy contains some talk about transportation and green energy.

But there’s very little there, there. This response to Deeds’ economic plan makes clear, once you decipher it, that his targets for renewable energy standards are not at all ambitious—in fact, they fall below the national floor established by Waxman-Markey. Green jobs and weatherizing are great, but they seem to be window-dressing rather than primary goals, as in the speech summarized here.

And they’re hardly the only issues. How are we going to get people out of their cars—not just a few people who then get on a high-speed train, but many people, most of the time? How are we going to cut down on nasty, polluting agricultural practices and build a truly local food economy? How are we going to reverse catastrophic carbon emissions? I don’t see Deeds tackling these questions.

Plus, I find him completely unconvincing when he talks about mountaintop removal.

Please weigh in, people.