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VA Looks to Future of Climate Bill, Sea Level Rise

February 2, 2010

NORFOLK, Va. - With all the buzz on Capitol Hill about health care reform and job creation, many legislators have expressed doubt about the passage of a climate bill this year. One Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is actively trying to block new environmental regulations for greenhouse gases, claiming they would be damaging to businesses and the economy.

However, Skip Stiles, the executive director of Wetlands Watch in Norfolk, says doing nothing will be far more damaging, not only to Virginia's environment, but to the economy as well. He says that, next to New Orleans, Virginia is one of the most vulnerable areas in the country to rising of the sea level.

"The entire economy of southeastern Virginia is built upon the coast, quite literally and figuratively, and it's at risk if sea-level rise continues to accelerate."

Stiles says that while views differ on the causes of climate change, most people would agree that the United States should work on reducing man-made pollution, and the longer that regulations are delayed, the worse the environment will be in the future.

"Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a hundred years, so the CO2 that came out of the tailpipe of the bus driving my kids to school today is something that their kids are going to have to deal with a hundred years from now."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last April declared carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that threaten public health. Currently, the United States trails behind many other industrialized nations in Europe and elsewhere when it comes to curbing such emissions.

Stiles says that legislators should take the EPA's findings into account while considering legislation.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA