Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund details how Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s long record of climate denial threatens the economic vitality of many of the commonwealth’s communities, industries, and health of its residents.
The increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events has left Virginia vulnerable to billions of dollars of economic destruction and devastating loss of life. As climate change accelerates, extreme weather events will wreak havoc on Virginia. Twenty-five severe weather events caused more than $188 billion in economic damages in the United States in 2011 and 2012, including $257 million in taxpayer dollars in Virginia to recover from these catastrophic events. In the next few decades alone, the damages associated with climate change could reach $45 billion and cost 314,000 Virginians their jobs. Despite this shocking forecast and the overwhelming costs to taxpayers, Cuccinelli refuses to accept what more than 97 percent of scientists agree on—that climate change is happening, and that humans are the cause.
“Virginia is at a crossroads. After coming so far as a pro-science, pro-innovation state, we do not want to turn backward into climate denialism and the new energy economy, particularly when extreme weather stands to cost our commonwealth and its coastline huge costs in the years ahead,” said Tom Perriello, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “Cuccinelli has a long record of climate denial and attacks on science and, as governor, could lead Virginia down a path that has dangerous and costly impacts for Virginia and our next generation’s health and economic well-being.”
In addition to extreme weather events, rising sea levels have led to excessive flooding in Virginia’s coastal regions, forcing communities to pour money into mitigation efforts. In Norfolk, Virginia—which has been identified as one the nation’s most vulnerable communities to economic devastation resulting from flooding—it would cost about $1 billion to keep water completely out of the city’s neighborhoods, roughly equivalent to the city’s entire annual budget. Yet in 2012, Cuccinelli’s Republican colleagues in the Virginia state legislature removed the phrases “sea-level rise” and “climate change” from a state report on coastal flooding, claiming that the terms were liberal propaganda.
Cuccinelli’s anti-science record indicates that as governor, he would lead Virginia down a path that would only exacerbate the current crisis. As attorney general, Cuccinelli has mocked scientific findings, persecuted a climate scientist from the University of Virginia for fraud, and attacked the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce carbon pollution. Meanwhile, dirty energy interests are pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into Cuccinelli’s campaign coffers.
“Ken Cuccinelli is one of the biggest climate change deniers in the country, and there’s a clear contrast in this campaign,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. “If Ken Cuccinelli makes it to the Governor’s mansion, Virginia’s economy and middle class will pay the price for his extreme anti-science views.”
With extreme weather already causing billions of dollars in damage and flooding washing away coastal infrastructure, Virginia is at a tipping point. Attorney General Cuccinelli’s refusal to acknowledge the real threat of climate change will put the lives and economic futures of millions of Virginians on the line.
Read the report: Climate Change and the Commonwealth: How Ken Cuccinelli’s Science Denial Is Putting Millions of Virginians in Economic Danger by Tiffany Germain
- VIDEO: Sea-Level Rise: A Slow-Motion Disaster by Andrew Satter and Kiley Kroh (via Center for American Progress)
- The Real Cost of Cuccinelli by Jon Shields, Anna Chu, and Emma Shapiro
- Cuccinelli and His Caucus Are Bad for Public Safety by Charles Posner and Emma Shapiro
- Cuccinelli and His Caucus Are Bad for Women’s Health in Virginia by Emma Shapiro, Charles Posner, and Anna Chu
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