Archive for April, 2013

Delegate David Toscano Reports on the 2013 General Assembly

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Delegate David Toscano spoke at the April 10, 2013 meeting to provided his perspective on the issues that came before the 2013 Virginia legislature. Delegates Steve Landes, Rob Bell and Matt Fariss were also invited to speak but were unable to attend. The program was moderated by SSV board member Bill Davis.

toscano_130410Delegate David Toscano is serving his fourth term in the Virginia General Assembly. He represents the 57th District (Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County) in the House of Delegates and, since 2011, has served as House Democratic Leader.

David is a member of the Courts of Justice; Transportation; and Science & Technology committees. He also a member of the Disability Commission and has served on the special Joint Subcommittee to Study Land Use Tools in the Commonwealth and the Joint Committee to study Math, Science, and Engineering. He is also a member of the United Way Board. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters have named David a “Legislative Hero” five consecutive years for his work on environmental issues.

An attorney with Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, Ltd., David specializes in family law, real estate transactions, and estate planning.

Program Summary

The program for the April meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia was a report from the Virginia delegates on the 2013 General Assembly. Delegates Rob Bell, Matt Fariss, Steve Landes and David Toscano were all invited to participate, but Delegates Bell and Faris declined due to scheduling conflicts. Delegate Landes was hopelessly ensnared in a traffic jam on the way to the program, so Delgate Toscano provided the report. He is finishing his eighth year in the Assembly and second year as Democratic leader in the Virginia House.

Delegate Toscano opened his remarks by highlighting what he saw as the things that were important and that were discussed in this session of the General Assembly. He noted that this was the “short” session (45 days instead of 60 days) which occurs every other year and originally set up to just tweak the two-year budget, but over the years has morphed into a totally new session with all these new bills being introduced. This session will be remembered for the transportation plan. For years he has said that, if we get some leadership, we could get a transportation plan that would raise enough money to fix our roads and bridges, build new roads, speak to our transit problems and provide a dedicated source for passenger rail. The approved plan raises over a billion dollars a year. By necessity, localities have been diverting local funds for road maintenance, but now money will be coming to the localities and also a dedicated source of revenue to fund passenger rail.

The second big thing for this region was the debate about Helen Dragas and the Board of Visitors. As it eventually turned out, she was reappointed on a split vote, and several bills that were introduced related to the governance at UVa largely failed.

A third major item was the debate about Medicaid. Governor McDonnell took a strong position opposing the expansion of Medicaid where the feds would pay 100 percent for the first three years and then eventually decline to the present level of 50 federal/50 state. Delegate Toscano was concerned about the uninsured as well as the status of our major teaching hospitals that are required to serve the uninsured. The expansion could serve 300,000 Virginians, provide 30,000 jobs, and $9 billion in revenue coming to the Commonwealth. A compromise was arrived at establishing a special joint commission which would recommend the expansion only if certain reform measures were met. So, we don’t have the expansion, but rather a road map to getting it, and it will depend upon the next governor and everything may change.

Unconventional Oil: Illuminating the Global Paradigm Shift to New Petroleum Fuels

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

“We will never, ever run out of oil,” says Deborah Gordon in this interesting podcast on the future of fossil fuels.

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Deborah Gordon is a nonresident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Energy & Climate Program), where her policy research focuses on oil, climate, and transportation issues in the United States, China, and globally. Ms. Gordon spoke at the Wednesday, March 13, 2013 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The program was moderated by SSV board member Grace Zisk.

Since 1996 she has been a policy consultant specializing in transportation, energy, and environmental policy for non-profit, foundation, academic, public, and private-sector clients. From 1996 to 2000 she founded and co-directed the Transportation and Environment Program at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and from 1989 to 1996 she founded and then directed the Transportation Policy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Additionally, Gordon has worked at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (1988-1989), under a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Gordon began her career as a chemical engineer with Chevron (1982-1987). Ms. Gordon also authors a blog on the topic of unconventional oil.

Program Summary

What happened about three years ago shocked the world and the oil companies: recognition of the fact that we will never, ever run out of oil. It’s not oil though, because now economically the prices are high enough, and technologically we’re adept enough, that we can transform anything with hydrogen and carbon in it into liquid fuel.

When you live in the world of scarcity, you act in one way, and when you live in the world of plenty, you act in a very differently, and we’re in a world of plenty, so this is confronting the complexities of oil. Seventy percent is in transportation and 30 percent in everything we use and enjoy in our lives, from plastic bottles to diapers to pace makers.

With so much oil now available, the question is how are we going to prioritize which oils we will use. Even with all the growth in gas, oil will remain the dominant energy force world-wide in the foreseeable future.

After detailing all of the types and sources of new oil, Ms. Gordon described the important knowledge gaps on new oil including: make up of oil and their supply chains; price of oil; geography of oils; geopolitics of oils; sound oil investments; and the social impacts on water and climate change.