To The Editor:

I’m planning to vote for Juanita Jo Matkins this November for the Virginia House of Delegates in the 56th District. She is challenging the incumbent, John McGuire. Based on what I know about Juanita Jo and her opponent’s unhelpful voting record, I believe Juanita Jo will vote for legislation that we, as Virginians, sorely need. She has my enthusiastic vote!

Climate change is one of the issues that concerns me most. Juanita Jo and the overwhelming majority of scientists believe the evidence that climate chaos is caused by human activity and that we must limit our carbon emissions if we want future generations to have a habitable planet, and ourselves to have a reasonably civilized old age. As a professor at the College of William and Mary, Juanita Jo Matkins taught future science teachers. She understands the science very well.

The majority of residents of our district also understand this need to act to restrict climate chaos. In the 56th district (Louisa County and parts of Goochland, Henrico, and Spotsylvania counties), 69 percent of people know that global warming is happening, and a similar share of residents are worried or very worried about it. 

An even larger number, 78 percent, support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and 82 percent want to provide tax rebates for people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels. We have bought hybrid cars and solar panels for our household, without waiting for tax incentives, but rebates would encourage more people to take these steps.

Juanita Jo’s opponent, on the other hand, has consistently voted against legislation that would begin to limit carbon emissions. He voted against House Bill 1700, recommendation 34, which would have let Virginia partner with its neighbors to reduce climate pollution from cars and power plants through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Transportation and Climate Initiative. This directly reduces Virginia’s ability to attract clean energy jobs and innovate in the transportation sector.

He voted against integrating basic environmental education into Virginia’s schools curriculum, a proposal that had the support of both industry and environmental groups (House Bill 1908).

His vote on House Bill 2611 made it more difficult for Virginia to enter into a regional cap and trade program. States in this program have seen lower electricity bills and more clean energy job growth – joining the regional program makes common sense. 

We could all benefit from lower utility bills and more clean energy jobs! Another approach we could take is a carbon fee and carbon dividend system, which was recently proposed in Congress by the Citizens Climate Lobby.

We need a delegate who has the knowledge and the willingness to tackle this vital issue before it’s too late. Juanita Jo Matkins is that person.

Pam Dawling