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Marilyn Shifflett: March on Richmond

mcauliffe pipelineThe thermometer rose in Richmond on July 23, and so did the voices of more than 600 Virginians. The heat index was no match for the commitment of Virginia’s youth, its young families pushing toddlers in strollers, and its “soon-to-be retired”, who made it crystal clear that they are far from being “ready for pasture”.

Organized by Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and endorsed by more than 60 groups, Jane Kleeb from Bold Nebraska & Bold Alliance lent “star power” and inspiration with her speech at Brown’s Island and joined marchers along the route. This event should signal the media that “pockets of resistance”, “radical environmentalists”, and “heavily funded”, are phrases that must be tossed into the nearest waste basket; no recycling needed.

It’s critical to note that these marchers were landowners threatened with eminent domain for corporate profit, residents from areas with rising sea levels, residents faced with loss of air quality and quality of life due to the proposed compressor stations needed to power these pipelines, young people who know they must inherit the impacts of natural gas build-out and disposal of coal ash into state waters, and Virginians whose drinking water has been destroyed by the close proximity of their homes to Dominion’s coal ash ponds. Countless hours of research late into night on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and Dominion’s Cove Point Export Terminal, have birthed an informed, concerned, and dedicated mass of individuals growing larger and stronger every day. Less than professional signs were made at kitchen tables with the help of kids, church social halls, and community centers. The lettering may have been less than top notch, but the messages were accurate and passionate.

When looking over photos from the March on the Mansion, I was stunned by a photo of Dominion employees standing on the steps of their Richmond headquarters, with arms crossed and feet spread in a defiant stance, clearly protecting Dominion’s property from potential trespass as marchers passed by. This, from a corporation that has used threats, intimidation, and the courts, to trespass on, and seize the private property of families across three states? Families whose property will be devalued; families with children forced to live in the “potential impact radius?

Dominion’s robotic response:

In a statement to CBS19 (Charlottesville), Dominion Spokesperson, Robert Richardson, wrote:

“What’s lost here is that Dominion is already one of the cleanest energy companies around and we’re committed to getting even better. You can see that in our solar projects around the country, and our natural gas products. You can see that when we help low income families save money on their energy bills.”

The reality is, and analysts agree, Dominion has done little to promote “clean energy” in our State. The majority of their solar holdings are far from Virginia where they don’t currently play “electricity monopoly”. They have essentially “blocked” off-shore wind development, citing costs, and limited solar development to businesses who’ve requested it, along with a few tiny installations they use for “green washing”. Some quick internet searches reveal that residents in West Virginia, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania take issue with Dominion’s commitment to “getting even better”. And while the media is tossing out the aforementioned phrases about the opposition, they should consider losing the “natural gas, is clean, safe, and cheap” phrase as well.

And finally, Governor McAuliffe and his team have been deafeningly silent following this march. This silence is further evidence that our Governor feels no obligation to acknowledge concerns from residents regarding the ACP and MVP, and he continues to fall far short of his promises to see these projects built in an environmentally safe manner, that protects the rights and safety of Virginia landowners and residents.

Marilyn Shifflett resides in Nelson County.


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