This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Virginia Delegate Vivian Watts:
What is unique about protecting Virginia’s resources?
Virginia spreads from the Atlantic seaboard to west of Detroit. Our geology was shaped by many different forces creating rich organic and inorganic mineral deposits; extraordinary marine habitat throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its estuaries; and annual abundant rainfall feeding ancient underground aquifers as well as verdant forests, croplands and pastures. History placed the nation’s capital at our door step and economic forces have placed Virginia in the middle of the east coast’s urban crescent. Each of these resources must be intelligently husbanded to preserve the full potential of the others. It is a constant public policy balancing act to develop the economy of poor Appalachian regions while preserving the environment from the irreversible effects of fracking, uranium mining, and further dependence on coal. Our most densely populated and most economically strong region has long-standing serious air pollution, while we have yet to develop the potential of abundant wind power off our Atlantic coastline to meet the energy needs of this population. Shifting winds, multi-state water basins, and the effect of rising sea level on our thousands of miles of tidal shoreline, constantly challenge us to find ways to build awareness that the actions of each affect all.
As a parent and grandparent, are you worried about the effects of climate change on your children and the children of Virginia?
I am deeply concerned about the effects of climate change on future generations. In a split-second of geological time, we have consumed vast amounts of the earth’s resources and, until recently, we have been unaware of the serious consequences that this consumption has unleashed due to changes in the earth’s atmospheric balance. Time is not on our side to restore a viable, sustainable balance.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important and how can these efforts be achieved in our politically polarizing culture?
As I noted, Virginia is constantly reminded that the actions of each affect all. We must strive to bridge perceived political differences by emphasizing the economic benefits of energy conservation and government budget savings in going green. We must continue to bring together science and religion as the Pope so compellingly has. I also firmly believe the more you engage policymakers through hands-on experiences, the more successful you are in changing perceptions. But nothing beats the kind of grassroots, widespread efforts of real people involved in a group like Moms Clean Air Force.
Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members to know?
Please, let me know what I can do to help.
Delegate Watts is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1996 to present and 1982 to 1986. She was the Virginia Secretary of Transportation & Public Safety from 1986 to 1990. Her previous employment includes: Fairfax CASA Executive Director; Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Director of Research and Government Activities; and a criminal justice consultant. She is the Fairfax Area League of Women Voters President. Delegate Watts is married with two children and six grandchildren.