The proposed ACP is a 600 plus mile project that would bring natural gas from the fracking fields of West Virginia, to points in North Carolina, and Virginia.
Locally, if built it would end in Chesapeake and then spread through the Virginia Natural Gas Southside Connector Pipeline to Norfolk.
The need for these projects has never been adequately established, and in fact its need has been refuted by industry insiders. The cost of this project is one that will be borne by Dominion and Duke ratepayers and it is estimated to be 6.5 billion dollars. The Virginia State Corporation Commission is guaranteeing a 14 percent profit for the shareholders even if no gas ever goes through it.
This is a lose-lose for the citizens of the Commonwealth. It really makes you wonder, how did we get here? The answer will likely surprise you. This project would have never gone anywhere without elected Democrats pushing for it.
Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has been the biggest cheerleader of all for the proposed project. He actually rolled this plan out, with Dominion, as his catalyst to bring “needed energy” to Eastern Virginia. He continued to support the project right up until he left office, negotiating a sweetheart deal for Dominion that would limit their catastrophic liability in the event of a mishap to no more than 58 million dollars.
Locally, we have had our share of “Dominion Democrats” as well. State Senator Lionell Spruill has a history of supporting this project since the project first became public. In September of 2014 the Senator was quoted as saying “I applaud Governor McAuliffe’s goal of making Virginia the manufacturing hub of the Mid-Atlantic, and for pledging to leverage the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to achieve it. Growing our economy in the face of federal cuts will require bringing new industries here, and this pipeline will be an outstanding asset as we work to bring manufacturers here who need access to clean and abundant natural gas.”
His exuberance for all things Dominion spilled over when the next year he exclaimed “Dominion power has been great to Virginia.” The State Senator then signed on, with other members of the Hampton Roads Caucus, to a letter encouraging Democratic Senators Warner and Kaine to support the ACP.
As the Southside Connector Project was proposed and it indeed targeted Mr. Spruill’s own neighborhood, even given his long history of support for the ACP, he denied having any advance knowledge of the Pipeline. He even joined into a neighborhood protest against it. During this period of protest, he continued to take thousands of dollars from Virginia Natural Gas, Dominion Energy and EQT, builders of another proposed Virginia natural gas pipeline.
When we get to the local government level, we only have to look to Norfolk City Council to find another example of Democratic complicity in this pipeline travesty. Andria McClellan, who was a recent Blue Planet Forum Panelist and Mayor Kenny Alexander, a recent signer of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, both voted to approve the Southside Connector Pipeline that would cross underneath the Elizabeth River.
Next up was a vote to allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross underneath two of Norfolk’s water reservoirs in Suffolk. Mayor Alexander voted to approve the plan and instead of choosing to lead the opposition, Councilperson McClellan abstained from voting .
This is how we got to this point of the ACP story. There is some hope that Governor Ralph Northam could stop this project with his authority under the Federal Clean Water Act. Given his reluctance to even speak about the project and taking note of the huge contributions to his campaign war chest by Dominion, I am not expecting any help from the newly elected Governor. His recent reappointment of David Paylor to head the Department of Environmental Quality is a huge blow to the pipeline fight. Mr.Paylor is considered by many to be a“yes” man to Dominion. Dr. Northam is the same Governor who claimed that he would defy President Trump and keep Virginia within the confines of the Paris Climate Accords. That will be impossible to accomplish should the Atlantic Coast Pipeline be built.
The only way to stop this pipeline now is by doing what we should have been doing all along. We must divest from the financiers of the project such as Wells Fargo. We have to stop believing that because they put a D after their name, that our elected officials are infallible. We have to stay vigilant, throw off the fairy tale, false reality that our representatives have our best interest in their hearts. We have gotten to the point that we must be willing to take the fight to the Utilities and our politicians. They must know that we will hold them accountable for putting profit over people and planet. Please join me, together, I believe that we can win. #NoACP