Wealthy Greenies Dump Millions into Virginia Elections

Virginia after the climate apocalypse… or after a green energy policy?

by Hans Bader

You may not be following Virginia’s legislative elections, which will occur on November 5. But liberal billionaires across the country are. They are spending millions to help progressives take control of the Virginia legislature.

The Washington Post reports that heaps of money are flowing into Virginia political campaigns ahead of the election.

As John Massoud notes, Charlottesville hedge-fund manager Michael Bills and his wife Sonjia Smith have injected $3 million in donations to Democratic candidates. He says this is to elect a legislature that enacts California-style alternative-energy rules. Such rules enrich investors in alternative-energy schemes by requiring utilities (and their customers) to pay for them. Massoud argues that such schemes are not “able to power a modern day economy. If allowed to have their way, we will soon be having the same blackouts that California is having.” PBS reports that 1.5 million people lost power in the latest round of California blackouts.

A group called Beyond Carbon, funded by a liberal out-of-state billionaire, is spending $335,000 this week alone on TV ads to defeat a single Republican member of the House of Delegates, Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach. On first glance, Stolle may seem like an odd choice as a target, given that he backed legislation to mitigate the effects of climate change, making him a relative moderate in the state legislature.

But Beyond Carbon wants Stolle’s progressive challenger to win so the legislature will enact alternative-energy mandates similar to California’s. Such mandates could increase the price of electricity a lot — electricity is a lot more expensive in California than Virginia. They may also reduce the reliability of the state’s power supply. Due to widespread blackouts in California, many people there are currently without power. Polling suggests that Stolle’s race is one of the four closest races in the legislature.

Trying to achieve alternative-energy goals can come with a substantial cost. The Virginia “Green New Deal” backed by progressives could easily double Virginians’ electric bills. In Germany, an ambitious alternative-energy program has doubled citizens’ electric bills, yet greenhouse gas emissions still rose in three of the last four years.

Progressives are favored to take control of both houses of the state legislature, in next week’s election, especially the state senate. But many races are very close. It will likely be the first time in history that progressives control a southern legislature, boasts Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope.

In Virginia, the legislature is very powerful. It even selects the state’s judges.

Hans Bader, a former Competitive Enterprise Institute scholar, is an attorney living in Northern Virginia. This column first appeared in the Liberty Unyielding blog.