Tag Archives: Virginia

Justice Dept. sues Virginia county over denied permit for mosque

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Culpeper County, Virginia, alleging the county violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 when it denied a sewage permit application to the Islamic Center of Culpeper.

The Justice Department said denying the permit effectively preventing the ICC from building a small mosque on land that it had purchased in the county.  The land is located in a zoning district where religious land use is permitted by right.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, alleges the county imposed a substantial burden on the Muslim congregation’s exercise of religion and discriminated against the ICC based on religion when it refused to grant a “pump and haul” permit to allow the ICC to transport sewage from the ICC’s property to a point of disposal.

The county had told the ICC that such a permit was necessary because its soil, like much soil in the area, could not support a septic system.  Since 1992, the county has considered 26 applications and never denied a pump and haul permit to a commercial or religious use prior to the ICC.

“The Constitution and federal law specifically protect the freedom of religious communities to establish houses of worship,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department will continue to work tirelessly to protect every person’s right to assemble for religious exercise.”

“Religious liberty is a fundamental right in our country and this case seeks to uphold that right,” added U.S. Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. of the Western District of Virginia.

RLUIPA, enacted in 2000, contains multiple provisions prohibiting religious discrimination and protecting against unjustified burdens on religion exercise.

‘Loving’ tenderly explores the human side of a landmark case

“Look at me,” Ruth Negga says in between sniffles. “I’ve only been doing this for two weeks and I’m sick already.”

You wouldn’t know it to see her. The Irish and Ethiopian actress, soon to be known for a star-making performance in the new film “Loving,” looks put-together. But behind the smile and the camera ready stylings, Negga is battling a wicked cold while soldiering her way through a long day media interviews to promote the film. It’s something that won’t likely let up for the next four months either as Hollywood kicks into full blown awards season where “Loving” is expected to be a major contender.

The film, written and directed by Jeff Nichols (“Mud,” “Take Shelter”), is about the real-life couple Richard and Mildred Loving, who, despite yearning for a quiet, simple life, became accidental revolutionaries in their quest to raise a family together in their home state of Virginia.

In the summer of 1958, 10 days after they were married, a local sheriff and his deputies burst into the newlywed’s bedroom at 2 a.m. and arrested them. Richard Loving was white. Mildred Loving was African American and Native American, and their union violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act. Over the next nine years, the couple, exiled from the state, fought to get back. Their struggle culminated in the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which ruled that laws against interracial marriage were unconstitutional.

For Negga, who plays Mildred, not even a bad cold can diminish how privileged she feels to get to talk about the extraordinary story and her deep appreciation for what this unassuming couple did. Joel Edgerton, who plays the stoic and silent Richard, has a similar take. They’re both happy to have had a chance to be part of something that’s both art and of historical significance. That they’re also being singled out for their performances is almost beside the point.

“In my Australian way of deflecting any of those compliments, I’ll just say that it’s really great for the movie that people are talking about it. It just reflects how important it is and how well made it is,” Edgerton said.

The film was inspired by Nancy Buirski’s 2011 documentary “The Loving Story,” comprised of archival footage of the couple at home, newscasts following pivotal court moments and intimate photos done by Life Magazine photographer Grey Villet. The documentary, available to stream on HBO, proved to be an invaluable resource for Negga and Edgerton too. They were able to study the people they were tasked with portraying and the relationship they’d be emulating.

Edgerton focused in on Richard’s silences _ what he might have been thinking, what they meant. He studied his eyes, in particular, which wandered as though he was always “looking for the door and looking for the way out of view of the camera.”

“In a bigger sense, he’s a guy looking for a way out of the whole thing, a way to will everybody to disappear or to find the back door where he can go through and their life can be simple, or the way it used to be,” Edgerton said. “Mildred was the one who got on her tippy toes and looked over the fence and had her eyes on the horizon of some sort of change and reached out about it. She was the leader.”

The heart of the film, however, and its power is in how Richard and Mildred are together.

“It’s quite special what they have. They actually liked each other. They liked being in each other’s company,” said Negga. “There’s no big romance cliches and pastiches and declarations of undying love. It’s very simple. Simple, but intimate and truthful.”

Nichols elevates the ordinary and creates empathy in showing the banalities of their everyday _ washing clothes, doing chores, playing and even settling down on the couch to watch television.

Now, with the election looming, the film is being touted as especially timely even if it is set a half century in the past.

“They weren’t people who thought they were special. They didn’t have a calling and they weren’t orators. They didn’t want to be in the limelight. In many ways they’re the every couple. And yet this couple reminds us that everyone has the capability to be extraordinary and to do extraordinary things,” said Negga. “We love Mildred and Richard and we’re so proud of what they achieved. We’re not Americans but we’re world inhabitants. We’re all in it together.”

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Love conquers in ‘Loving’

Jeff Nichols, sitting by the beach, was surprised to notice a curious calm amid the usually anxiety-ridden premiere experience at the Cannes Film Festival.

His film, Loving, is about Richard and Mildred Loving, the Virginia couple whose biracial marriage in 1958 led to a landmark Supreme Court decision on marriage equality.

“It’s not my story,” said the writer-director, whose previous films, including the Mississippi River coming-of-age tale Mud and the science-fiction thriller Midnight Special were original creations. “It’s their story.”

Loving, starring Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, is told straightforwardly and simply. Although it has the context of a civil rights drama, it’s a portrait of a humble, unassuming love so steadfast that it eventually toppled one of the most odious legal remnants of slavery-era America — the ban against interracial marriages.

Without the standard Hollywood histrionics, the film patiently accumulates considerable force before finally overwhelming the viewer.

“No one moment adds up to the whole. But if you put them all together, hopefully, the weight of it gains this emotional density,” said Nichols. “Part of the cruelty of what was happening to them was time. Time was being taken away from them.”

The Lovings didn’t seek the spotlight, but their efforts to return home after being exiled from Virginia eventually led to the 1967 Supreme Court ruling of Loving vs. Virginia — a decision cited in the high court’s 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage.

Nichols and Edgerton believe the film has obvious significance at time when religious liberty laws and bathroom battles are being fought in the U.S.

“It’s kind of shameful to watch and look back and think 50 years ago that that was happening and yet it’s still very much relevant today,” says Edgerton. “Things are changing, obviously, but it’s weird to think we’ll look back in 20, 30 years’ time and say that law (gay marriage) changed in 2015.”

Of the many films in Cannes, Loving, which Focus Features will release during the heart of awards season in November, is among the most likely to garner significant attention from both moviegoers and the Academy Awards. The performances of Negga and Edgerton have already been widely hailed.

“This is the most important film I’ve made and it’s one of the most important films in history, I think,” Negga told reporters in Cannes. The Irish-Ethiopian actress — the first Nichols auditioned for the role — pursued the part fervently. “There was no alternative, really. I just really had to play her.”

Both actors drew from the famous images of the couple, who were photographed by Life magazine’s Grey Villet (Michael Shannon in the film) in 1966. The photographs captured their sweet, almost teenage-like manner together. In one, Richard — a buzz-cut blond country boy — lies with his head in Mildred’s lap while watching TV.

Nancy Buirski’s 2011 documentary The Loving Story was also a major inspiration.

“The court case is fascinating, but I just wanted to hang out in that documentary footage more,” says Nichols. “I wanted to go around the edges of it. I wanted to go around the corner of it.”

Avoiding inflated dramatics, Nichols and his cast sought to stay true to the Lovings, who effected change just by being.

“To me, it’s like this series of checkmates. It tends to move and be shut down. Move and be shut down. Have a voice and be stifled,” says Edgerton. “Finally when the Supreme Court decision releases that weight, it’s quite an overwhelming feeling. It’s a triumphant feeling, but when Richard proposed in the field, that should have been their right and freedom at that time.”

Richard Loving died in 1975, the victim of a drunk driver, and Mildred Loving died in 2008.

Loving may be a departure for Nichols in that it’s a true-life tale. But it continues the Arkansas native’s interest in the preservation of family amid elements out of one’s control.

Choosing to make the film, though, was easy enough. When he first shared the trailer of The Loving Story with his wife, she told him if he didn’t make it, she’d divorce him.

“That’s all she wrote. She didn’t sign off or anything,” recalled Nichols, chuckling.

 

Calls for stronger gun laws follow on-air shootings

The on-air slayings of a TV journalist and her cameraman in Virginia brought renewed attention to gun violence in the United States, which has the highest percentage of privately owned guns in the world, followed at a distance by Serbia and then Yemen.

Each day, an average of 89 people die of gunshot wounds in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 58 of those deaths are suicides. Most of those who die are white and male.

The morning of the killings, Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he was heartbroken over the tragedy and loss. He said, “As we reflect with heavy hearts on this tragedy, it is appropriate to begin to ask questions about how we can prevent these senseless events in the future. Keeping guns out of the hands of people who would use them to harm our family, friends and loved ones is not a political issue; it is a matter of ensuring that more people can come home safely at the end of the day. We cannot rest until we have done whatever it takes to rid our society of preventable gun violence that results in tragedies like the one we are enduring today.”

Of course, McAuliffe is aware that gun control is a political issue — charged like a powder keg, partisan and polarizing.

The White House quickly called on Congress to move on gun-control legislation and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton repeated her call for universal background checks. 

“We’ve got to do something about gun violence in America,” Clinton said while campaigning in Iowa. “And I will take it on. It’s a very political, difficult issue in America. But I believe we are smart enough, we are compassionate enough, to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventative measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths, needless, senseless deaths.”

Republicans, meanwhile, focused on mental health.

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio said, “It’s not the guns, it’s the people who are committing these crimes.”

“The common thread we see in many of these cases is a failure in the system to help someone who is suffering from mental illness,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who as Milwaukee County executive dramatically cut the budgets for mental health services and opposed $92 million in federal stimulus money for a mental health complex.

Gun-rights advocates like Walker argue that stricter gun laws wouldn’t prevent killings like the WDBJ shooting.

However, gun-control advocates point to the law in California that bars people convicted of violent misdemeanors from owning guns and to the permit-to-purchase regulations in 13 states that require prospective gun buyers to be cleared by local police, who can check character references. 

Meanwhile, a national permit-to-purchase system was proposed in legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

“The evidence is clear: sensible handgun laws save lives. … All states require licenses to drive a car or hunt or fish — so why not handguns, which can kill? Requiring a license to purchase a deadly weapon is at least as important as requiring one to drive a car. This legislation should win broad, bipartisan support,” said Blumenthal.

The bill is based on research from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research showing a clear link between requiring a license to purchase a handgun and a dramatic reduction in firearm homicides. The research found Connecticut’s adoption of its handgun-purchaser licensing law led to a 40 percent decrease in firearm homicide rates. Earlier research found that Missouri’s repeal of a similar law led to a 25 percent increase in firearm homicide rates.

In Wisconsin, the open carry of loaded handguns and long guns is allowed without a license. Private sales of guns are legal in the state and no background check or government permission is necessary.

In June, Walker signed into law measures that eliminated the state’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases and allowed off-duty, retired and out-of-state police officers to carry firearms on school grounds.

Walker, who has a rating of 100 percent from the NRA, previously made Wisconsin the 49th state to legalize concealed carry and signed into law a “castle doctrine” bill, giving homeowners more legal protections when they shoot someone.

Jeb Bush: Stronger ‘Christian voice’ needed in the world

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush over the weekend condemned the Obama administration’s use of “coercive federal power” to limit religious freedom as he courted Christian conservatives at a Liberty University commencement ahead of a likely presidential run.

Bush, a Catholic convert, is preparing to enter a Republican primary contest that includes competitors considered far more popular with the party’s religious right. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz formally announced his presidential campaign at Liberty University last month. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist pastor, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have all made their Christian faith a centerpiece of prospective campaigns.

Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, is considered among the top tier of candidates in the crowded Republican field.

Charging that “the Christian voice” isn’t heard enough in the world, Bush lashed out at the Democratic president’s administration for “demanding obedience in complete disregard of religious conscience.”

“The present administration is supporting the use of coercive federal power. What should be easy calls in favor of religious freedom have instead become an aggressive stance against it,” Bush told an estimated 34,000 gathered for a graduation ceremony.

“Somebody here is being small-minded and intolerant, and it sure isn’t the nuns, ministers and laymen and women who ask only to live and practice their faith,” he said. Bush was speaking inside a packed football stadium at Liberty University, an institution founded by the late conservative culture warrior, the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Falwell was at the forefront of the modern anti-gay movement.

All the Republican presidential contenders have aggressively condemned Obama’s health care overhaul which requires some religion-affiliated organizations to provide health insurance for employees that includes birth control. The measure is among several examples of what Republicans charge is Obama’s attack on religious liberty.

“How strange, in our own time, to hear Christianity spoken of as some sort of backward and oppressive force,” Bush said. “Your generation is bringing the Christian voice to where it always is needed, and sometimes isn’t heard enough.”

Despite nagging questions about Bush’s conservative credentials, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. noted that Bush was considered a hero among social conservatives as Florida governor. He fought to keep Michael Schiavo from removing the feeding tube from his brain-damaged wife, Terri. Leaders in the anti-abortion movement still praise Bush today.

And in a reminder that his path to the presidency depends upon moderate and independents perhaps as much as conservatives, Bush concluded his remarks with a message for non-Christians.

“In my experience, at least, you generally find the same good instincts, fair-mindedness, and easygoing spirit among Americans of every type — including, of course, the many who belong to no church at all,” he said.

Democrats were paying close attention to Bush’s remarks.

“Jeb Bush will not win over any Virginia voters with his close-minded pandering to the right wing,” said Morgan Finkelstein, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

Same-sex marriages begin in the South

Gay and lesbian couples are getting legally married in the South for the first time, crossing a threshold into a conservative region that long stood united against same-sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Oct. 6 to turn away appeals from a handful of states including Virginia means marriage bans are unconstitutional throughout the 4th U.S. Circuit. And that means similar bans in West Virginia and North and South Carolina should fall as soon as judges in each state follow through on the appellate court’s orders.

Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County challenged Virginia’s ban, wanting their California marriage to be recognized in the state where they are raising a 16-year-old daughter. Their victory shows that a region once considered inhospitable to gays has changed, Shall said.

“It says the South is a wonderful, welcoming and open place,” she said.

But as with other civil rights battles, plenty of southern conservatives seem determined to fight to the bitter end.

“Until the courts rule on the matter, South Carolina will seek to uphold our state constitution,” said the state’s attorney general Alan Wilson, a Republican.

Initial reactions to the region’s first legal gay and lesbian marriages exposed social divisions — between cities and rural areas, and between more progressive mid-Atlantic States and the Deep South. North Carolina’s attorney general, for example, has said he will no longer fight a losing battle.

“The South, like the nation, is changing,” said William R. Ferris, a professor with the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We’ll accept same-sex marriage just like we accepted desegregation and the end of slavery,” Ferris added. “These other barriers that have burdened us for too long are coming down and the people in the South are open to change.”

Polls show gay marriage has less support in the South than anywhere else in the country, but the ground is shifting. The latest AP-GfK survey, in September, found 34 percent of Southerners favored legalizing gay marriage in their state, up from 28 percent the year before. In the Northeast, 47 percent backed it, as did 43 percent in the West and 38 percent of Midwesterners.

Southern progressives saw weddings in Virginia as evidence that the arc of history is bending in their direction.

These court rulings can’t help but “change the culture of the South,” said the Rev. Nancy Petty, a lesbian of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. Her congregation was “dis-fellowshipped” by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1992 after deciding to welcome gays and lesbians and bless same-sex marriages long before they were legal.

“I think these kinds of cultural shifts in society and in religion mean that we become a much more accepting, tolerant, diverse community,” she said. “That’s really important, because we have to learn here in the South how to live with our differences, instead of fighting over our differences.”

Not everyone was celebrating. Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, said the justices disenfranchised voters who banned gay marriage, and “left Virginians without a definitive answer.”

Attorney Byron Babione of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented two Virginia clerks in their appeal, noted that it’s still possible that another federal case will reach the Supreme Court and produce a different result.

Following North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s earlier announcement that he won’t keep spending taxpayer money to uphold the state ban approved by voters in 2012, the state’s Republican leaders in the state announced Monday they would seek to intervene, despite the high court’s decision.

“The people of North Carolina have spoken, and while the Supreme Court has not issued a definitive ruling on the issue of traditional marriage, we are hopeful they will soon,” said North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in November.

Virginia’s 2006 ban on gay marriages also was challenged by Timothy Bostic and Tony London, who were given flowers by a pair of strangers — Larissa Boose Williams and her 10-year-old daughter Sedona, who arrived at Norfolk Circuit Court hoping to witness history.

“It’s huge for it to be legal in the South. It’s long overdue,” said Williams, a Norfolk resident. “We’ve got those old Southern ways. People think they can vote on the equal rights of others. You can’t do it. The whole point of democracy is to help protect the minority from the majority.”

Campus life: Remains of 18th century brewery found at College of William and Mary

College students have always had a taste for beer, and archaeologists have uncovered new evidence at the College of William and Mary to prove it.

The remains of what is likely an 18th century on-campus brewery were discovered just outside of the nation’s oldest college building when campus officials were looking to widen a sidewalk.

School officials say the discovery near the Wren Building will allow them to tell a broader story about campus life in the Colonial era that involved the interaction of slaves, Native Americans, faculty and students.

“This is exactly what we want,” said Susan Kern, executive director of the college’s historic campus. “It’s a marvelous find.”

Records have long indicated that the college had slaves who sold the school hops that slaves had grown on a nearby plantation. It wasn’t always clear, however, exactly where that brewing was taking place after the initial campus building burned down in 1705. Based upon cannon debris found at the site, officials believe the brewery they’ve found only existed until the Revolutionary War.

If known about by previous archaeologists, the brewery was never included in historical records or artist renderings. Instead, attention was generally focused on the main historic buildings like the Wren, which was built sometime between 1695 and 1700 and housed students and faculty, a kitchen and also served as a classroom space.

After it was gutted by fire, the Wren Building was rebuilt in 1716 and debris from its construction was placed in a large pit near the building site. Sometime after that – likely in the 1720s, although the exact date isn’t known – archaeologists believe the school built a small brewery right next to that trash pit. It would’ve provided beer for the few dozen students and faculty who were there during the Colonial era.

The brewery site itself isn’t large, with the brick outlines measuring 18 feet by 20 feet. A small addition measuring 18 feet by eight feet was added at some other point in time. The building’s remains were found only about a foot underneath the surface in a heavily trafficked area of campus near Colonial Williamsburg where students and tourists have been snapping photos of the dig site.

Archaeologists wrapped up the intensive excavation work on the site Friday, and will now turn to laboratories to analyze everything they’ve found.

One of the things they’ll be looking for is pollen residue, which would help prove that hops were in the area.

“Hops are flowers, essentially, and they should have pollen,” said Andy Edwards, lead archaeologist on the dig. “If they’re around, we should get their signature and that’ll help with the case.”

Other evidence strongly points to the building being a brewery, he said. In the middle of building’s outline is a fire pit, which he believes was used to boil water in a kettle used for the beer. The pit didn’t have bricks for a chimney base as would be expected in a home or kitchens and the dimensions of the building’s outline suggest it’s too large to be a smokehouse.

Edwards’ team also found a faucet, which is what would be used for a beer tap. Edwards said that for a brewery, the building was cramped. He said nobody would’ve been drinking beer at the brewery itself and that the beer wouldn’t have been very strong.

“Beer was beer. It was small beer, which is likely what they’re brewing. Small beer just means it were second or third brew and less alcoholic, like an ale today,” he said.

Supreme Court blocks same-sex marriages in Virginia

The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 20 granted an emergency request to stay an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which said that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Some gay couples were preparing to marry at 8 a.m. on Aug. 21, but the stay from the Supreme Court means those weddings won’t be taking place pending further appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked by

The Commonwealth of Virginia has asked the Supreme Court to consider Virginia’s case — brought by the same legal team that successfully challenged California’s anti-gay marriage amendment — in its next term. The state filed its petition for writ of certiorari, or request for review, on Aug. 8.

Given the stay, the attorneys for the same-sex couples suing in Virginia for the right to marry also now want the Supreme Court to take up the case.

“Never before have federal courts across this country so swiftly, convincingly and unanimously come to the same conclusion on an imperative constitutional question as they have when presented with the issue of marriage equality,” said lead co-counsel David Boies . “The federal court system agrees, the majority of Americans agree and the president of the United States agrees that it is time this country treats its same-sex couples and their children just the same as all other loving families. We are confident that when the Supreme Court reviews the Bostic case, it too will agree and end the flagrant injustice of segregating Americans based on sexual orientation.”

Tim Bostic, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said he and his partner are disappointed they must wait to wed. However, he added, “We feel that this case deserves to be heard by the Supreme Court and be finally decided for all Americans. There are thousands of couples just like us in 30 other states waiting to get married. It is time for all Americans to be able to enjoy the freedom to marry, no matter what state they live in.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the primary sponsor of the case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia last July and maintains that Virginia’s ban on gay marriage violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In mid-February, U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen ruled that all laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying in Virginia are unconstitutional, and recognized that they single out gay and lesbian Virginians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of “second-class citizens.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that ruling on July 28.

Not in my backyard: US sending dirty coal abroad

Coal from Appalachia rumbles into Newport News, Virginia, 150 railroad cars at a time, bound for the belly of the massive cargo ship Prime Lily. The ship soon sets sail for South America, its 80,000 tons of coal destined for power plants and factories, an export of American energy — and pollution.

In the United States, this coal and the carbon dioxide it will eventually release into the atmosphere are some of the unwanted leftovers of an America going greener. With the country moving to what the administration calls cleaner natural gas, the president wants to reduce power plant pollution to make good on its promise to the world to cut emissions.

Yet the estimated 228,800 tons of carbon dioxide contained in the coal aboard the Prime Lily equals the annual emissions of a small American power plant. It’s leaving this nation’s shores, but not the planet.

“This is the single biggest flaw in U.S. climate policy,” said Roger Martella, the former general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush. “Although the administration is moving forward with climate change regulations at home, we don’t consider how policy decisions in the United States impact greenhouse gas emissions in other parts of the world.”

This fossil fuel trade, which has soared under President Barack Obama, threatens to undermine his strategy to reduce the gases blamed for global warming. It also reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global issue. As the U.S. tries to set a global example by reducing demand for fossil fuels at home, American energy companies are sending more dirty fuels than ever to other parts of the world, exports worth billions of dollars every year. In some cases, these castoffs of America’s clean energy push are ending up in places with more lax environmental standards, or where governments are resistant to tackling the emissions responsible for global warming.

It’s a global shell game on fossil fuels that at the very least makes the U.S. appear to be making more progress on global warming than it actually is, because it shifts some of the pollution — and the burden for cleaning it up — onto another country’s balance sheet.

“It’s not taking responsibility,” said Thomas Power, a research professor at the University of Montana who has worked for environmental groups and clean energy foundations and has pushed for a more honest accounting of emissions. “It’s shifting the responsibility to someone else.”

With companies looking to double America’s coal exports, the nation’s growing position in the global energy trade could make global warming worse, fueling the world’s demand for coal when many experts say most fossil fuels should remain in the ground to avert the most disastrous effects of climate change.

In 2012, about 9 percent of worldwide coal exports originated in the U.S., the latest data available.

White House officials say the U.S. will continue to be a small player with a negligible global footprint and the best way to address global warming is to reduce coal’s use globally. In the meantime, they’re considering adding crude oil and natural gas to the menu of U.S. energy exports shipped abroad.

“There may be a very marginal increase in coal exports caused by our climate policies,” said Rick Duke, Obama’s deputy climate adviser, in an interview with The Associated Press. “Given that coal supply is widely available from many sources, our time is better spent working on leading toward a global commitment to cut carbon pollution on the demand side.”

But as companies plan new coal export terminals, the Obama administration has resisted evaluating the global fallout of those decisions.

It says that if the U.S. didn’t supply the coal, another country would.

In Oregon and Washington state, where three proposed terminals would double U.S. coal exports, the Democratic governors are pressing the administration to assess the global-warming impact of that coal when it is burned abroad. The administration has refused to do so.

Guidance drafted by White House officials in 2010 did outline how broadly federal agencies should look at carbon emissions from U. S. projects. Four years later, that guidance is still under review.

Carbon dioxide, regardless of whether it enters the atmosphere in Germany, India or Brazil contributes to the sea level rise and in some cases severe weather that is linked to global warming.

The nexus of the challenge, and its international conundrum, can be found here, in Norfolk, Virginia, a low-lying coastal community that exports more coal than any place in the U.S. One of the region’s three coal export terminals, Dominion Terminal Associates, says that it supplies “Coal for the World.” At the same time, Norfolk is already experiencing one of the fastest rates of sea level rise in the country.

“Ultimately we would like to leave the coal in the ground. That is the best place for it,” said Joe Cook, a local resident and Sierra Club activist. He is fighting a much more local side effect of coal exports: dust released as it travels along rail lines, is dumped in massive piles by the dock and loaded onto ships. Cook believes that the dust is threatening people’s health.

When asked about the emissions from exports harming the planet, he said, “We have no control over that.”

As for the president, in recent speeches promoting his plan to reduce global warming Obama has highlighted the progress his administration has made driving down emissions at home.

“Together, we’ve held our carbon emissions to levels not seen in about 20 years,” he recently told the League of Conservation Voters. “Since 2006, no country on earth has reduced its total carbon pollution by as much as the United States.”

But that’s only part of the story.

The U.S. has the largest recoverable coal reserves in the world. Over the past six years, as the country has cut its own coal consumption by 195 million tons, about 20 percent of that coal was shipped abroad, according to an AP analysis of Energy Department data.

Last year, global coal use grew by 3 percent, faster than any other fossil fuel, according to the 2014 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

And while less coal being burned here has helped the power sector reduce carbon emissions by 12 percent and left more U.S. coal in the ground, a growing share is finding its way to the rest of the world.

The proportion is expected to get larger as global demand for coal rises and the U.S. continues to clean up its power plants, boost energy efficiency and move to less-polluting sources of energy such as wind and solar. The latest EPA proposal on power plants envisions even less coal being used to make electricity.

The Obama administration, and the world, account only for coal burned inside their own borders when charting their progress on global warming.

“Energy exports bit by bit are chipping away at gains we are making on carbon dioxide domestically,” said Shakeb Afsah, who runs an energy consulting firm in Bethesda, Maryland. Pollution from coal exports has wiped out all the carbon pollution savings the U.S. achieved by switching from coal to natural gas, according to an analysis he published earlier this year. A 2012 report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in England said the carbon contained in coal exports put back half the pollution.

On the other side of the Atlantic, in a town on the edge of Germany’s coal-mining region, sits a new power plant burning some of America’s coal. The 750-megawatt Trianel power plant in Luenen relies completely on coal imports, about half from the U.S.

“American coal is simply very attractive for us because of its price, and therefore we’re using a high percentage of it,” Stefan Paul, executive director of the Trianel Kohlekraftwerk Luenen GmbH & Co. plant, told AP.

During a recent visit by an AP reporter, workers unloaded South African coal from two barges docked in an adjacent canal. The canal was built in 1914 to send coal from the Ruhr Valley through Rotterdam to ports overseas. Now the coal comes the other way.

German coal mining has been a dying tradition. The government will end subsidies in 2018, effectively killing it.

However, Germany is experiencing a resurgence in coal-fired power. Five German coal plants have been built since 2008, and more are coming. While the new plants are more efficient and much cleaner than older plants being phased out, they are also larger and are replacing some of the nuclear power that the country has been phasing out since the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The result: In 2013, Germany’s emissions of carbon dioxide grew by 1.2 percent.

This has happened even as the European continent has clamped down on the emissions blamed for global warming by increasing the use of renewable energy and instituting a cap-and-trade pollution system similar to one the U.S. Congress rejected in Obama’s first term.

Coal is cheaper than alternatives in Germany, particularly natural gas. So, too, are the prices on the carbon market in Europe. Companies can afford to buy the right to release more pollution.

“When coal is available, it is kind of like crack. It is the cheapest, biggest high that an industrial consumer can get,” said Kevin Book, an energy analyst at Washington,-based ClearView Energy Partners LLC.

In the U.S., the opposite is happening. Until recently, coal was more costly than natural gas, which is booming. Environmental regulations also are pushing the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired plants to retirement by adding more costs, and any new coal-fired power plants will have to capture carbon dioxide and bury it underground if the Obama administration gets its way. Few if any new coal plants are expected to be built.

But the U.S. and other countries have no problem supplying Germany and the world with coal. Last year, the U.S. exported coal worth $11 billion.

Of the top five countries receiving power plant-grade coal from the U.S. in 2013, four were in Europe: the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Italy and Germany. All have seen their coal imports more than double from the U.S. since 2008.

German environmental officials say the reliance on coal-fired electricity will make it hard for the country to meet its climate-protection goals. Activists partly blame the U.S.

“This is a classic case of political greenwashing,” said Dirk Jansen, a spokesman for BUND, one of Germany’s most influential environmental advocacy organizations. “Obama pretties up his own climate balance, but it doesn’t help the global climate at all if Obama’s carbon dioxide is coming out of chimneys in Germany.”

It’s unclear just how much pollution the U.S. is sending abroad or its overall effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. No one, including the administration, has calculated it. It’s a complex equation that includes global demand, natural gas prices, cheaper sources of coal from other countries, even weather. For instance, coal exports are down this year after a colder-than-average winter and higher natural gas prices in the U.S. caused power plants here to use more coal. Exports are forecast to be down slightly for several years before resuming an upward trajectory through 2040.

U.S. coal producers, and the companies that move and sell coal for export, are laying the groundwork for more exports. They see a growth market globally, in spite of efforts by the Obama administration to curb it. The administration has placed restrictions on U.S. financing of coal plants overseas that don’t control for carbon dioxide.

No such limits are in place for coal exporters.

In 2012, the U.S. Export-Import Bank backed $90 million in loans to XCoal Energy & Natural Resources LLC, a Pennsylvania-based exporting company, which plans to increase coal shipments to Japan, South Korea and China for use in steel and other industrial facilities.

Kinder Morgan, which owns one of the three terminals in the Norfolk area, earlier this year expanded its facilities to handle 1.5 million more tons of coal there. The company also spent $388 million to boost exports from Louisiana and Texas, mostly for thermal coal, the type of coal burned in power plants.

In Virginia, a coal-friendly state, the expansion has barely caused a stir. Coal has been leaving these shores for 130 years from Norfolk Southern Corp.’s enormous terminal.

The politics in the Pacific Northwest have been less favorable for coal. Three terminals proposed for Oregon and Washington would double U.S. exports, sending coal mined from mostly federal land in Montana and Wyoming to China and other markets in Asia. The plans have drawn fierce opposition from environmental groups, tribes and others.

And they’ve prompted some of Obama’s allies in the climate fight, the Democratic governors of Oregon and Washington, to point to what they describe as contradictions in the administration’s energy and climate policy and ask for a full analysis of the environmental impact both at home and abroad.

In a 2012 letter, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said, “The impacts of United States coal exports on climate change are an issue of national concern that merits a hard look by a federal agency.”

The administration seems unwilling.

The lead federal agency in charge of evaluating the terminals’ environmental impact, the Army Corps of Engineers, has refused to analyze the contribution that coal from the terminals will have on global warming, despite calls by the Environmental Protection Agency to consider them.

The Council on Environmental Quality, the White House office in charge of overseeing environmental matters, has stood on the sidelines, though saying that the law allows emissions abroad to be part of the analysis.

A 2010 guidance aimed at clarifying how agencies should evaluate greenhouse gas emissions for major projects is still being reviewed.

“They have sat on their hands,” said George Kimbrell, a senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, which has sued the administration over this delay.

Meanwhile, the state of Washington has decided to estimate on its own the quantity of greenhouse gases its two terminals will generate in the U.S. and in the countries that receive the coal.

Independent analyses have come to different conclusions about the impact the West Coast terminals will have.

A study by Power, the Montana professor, found that exports of cheap-to-produce Powder River Basin coal to Asia would depress prices, driving up demand and increasing the amounts of gases blamed for global warming. But another, by the Washington, D.C.,-based think tank Energy Policy Research Foundation Inc., said that expanding U.S. exports will have no impact on world coal consumption or global greenhouse gas emissions, because it will replace higher-cost coal that would come from somewhere else.

A federal judge last month faulted the administration for using similar logic when it failed to fully analyze the greenhouse gases from the expansion of a Colorado coal mine.

“The production of coal … will increase the supply of cheap, low-sulfur coal,” wrote Judge R. Brooke Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. “At some point, this additional supply will impact the demand for coal … and coal that otherwise would have been left in the ground will be burned.”

Changing the global system to start looking at the flow of carbon out of the ground would carry political risks, especially for the U.S., which is trying to boost energy production and exports even as it addresses global warming. America is an outlier among the top coal exporters worldwide, making the most significant public strides to combat climate change. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a visit to Indonesia in February, the largest coal exporter in the world, told the country that if it didn’t do something on climate it would put its entire way of life at risk.

Australia, the world’s second largest coal exporter, recently repealed its carbon tax, in part because the coal industry argued it was making it more expensive to do business.

“The U.S. needs to be pragmatic on this,” said Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. “If our coal exports are very small and having no or little impact on global greenhouse gas emissions … the government has to take into account the economic and foreign policy costs of restricting exports.” He was a National Security Council energy and climate change adviser to Obama until January 2013.

The United Nations’ climate chief earlier this year warned that three-quarters of all fossil fuels must remain in the ground if the world has any hope of containing the planet’s temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, as the international community, including the U.S., agreed to in 2009.

Norfolk is caught in the middle.

In 2013 alone, coal shipped from here for foreign power plants contained 48 million tons of carbon dioxide, pollution that could come back to haunt this city. The sea level here is expected to rise an additional 1.5 feet in 50 years, even if the world stops releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere tomorrow.

Bob Parsons lives on a half-mile-wide sandbar, just miles from two coal export terminals, and keeps a chart on his garage door chronicling a decade’s worth of battles with rising water.

The highest line marks the 2006 nor’easter that submerged his backyard in more than three feet of salt water from the bays and inlets. Another mark, around a foot, was the brush with Hurricane Ernesto the same year.

“Sure, there is a connection between them, what gets exported out of here and burned and the sea level rise,” said Parsons. “They are still burning it. They are still polluting the atmosphere.”

Associated Press writers David Rising and Kirsten Grieshaber contributed reporting from Berlin and Luenen, Germany.