Category Archives: Legislation

Dominion Defends Political Handouts, Squashes Dissent

In commenting on February 7, 2017, about recent activity in the Virginia Legislature, Ivy Main says, “Dominion Power defends its billion-dollar handout from ratepayers; squashes dissent; asks for more.”

She discusses bills that have been proposed this session that could have brought an early end to a five-year prohibition on regulators’ ability to review Dominion Virginia Power’s earnings and to order refunds where warranted (SB 1095), would have prohibited campaign contributions from public service corporations like Dominion Power (SB 1593), and HB 2291 which allows Dominion to seek approval to charge customers for billions of dollars in nuclear power plant upgrades.

As she says, it “is hard to see the 9-2 vote in Commerce and Labor to kill Petersen’s SB 1095 as anything but a blatant, bipartisan gift to Dominion.”

“Legislators themselves publicly reject the idea of a causal relationship between the steady stream of campaign cash and their votes in favor of the bills, while privately acknowledging the sway Dominion holds over the General Assembly. Indeed, the comfortable fiction that campaign donations don’t affect a politician’s votes is such an insult to voters’ intelligence that the wonder is why it took so many years to become a campaign issue.”

Read the full article here.

VA Sierra Club Statement: Executive Order on Infrastructure

The Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club issued a statement on January 26, 2017, on the inclusion of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the President’s executive order on infrastructure.

“Once again, Donald Trump is looking to take credit for something he had no part of, only this time, it’s a dirty and dangerous project that will deliver pollution to our communities. There is no need for this project, and it is baffling to include an enormous 42-inch fracked gas pipeline in a proposal of general infrastructure projects. Clean energy investments would create more long-term career jobs in our communities throughout Virginia and wouldn’t require large swaths of private property to be taken through eminent domain.

“Dominion Resources’ stranglehold on Virginia’s energy policy has been unacceptable for decades, and Dominion should not be given the opportunity to dictate our national energy policy as well.”

See our earlier post on the executive order here.

Further on Anti-Trust Questions about Dominion and ACP

Michael Hirrel has filed a new response to FERC on anti-trust questions.

In May 2016 lawyer Michael Hirrel, who retired last year from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate “whether ACP’s project constitutes a prohibited monopolization by Dominion, Duke and Piedmont, under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, and an unfair method of competition, under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.”  Hirrel’s original filing is here.

On June 23, 2016, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club submitted a letter (with numerous attachments) to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) detailing the harm to consumers and competition stemming from the role of Dominion Resources, LLC and Duke Energy as partners in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The letter says its purpose “is to support a complaint filed by attorney Michael Hirrel on May 12, 2016. Mr. Hirrel stated his concern that the activities of the utility investors in the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline violate Section 2 of the Sherman Act and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. We believe Mr. Hirrel has identified potential antitrust violations that merit investigation by the FTC.”

Dominion filed an answer to Hirrel in August 2016.

New info: November 7, 2016, Hirrel filed a response to the response that ACP had made to his original filing. In it, he characterizes ACP’s filing as firing “a series of aimless scattershot arguments…The result (of which) is a lot of noise and no useful information.”

Friends of Nelson Joins Call for Congressional Review of FERC

With a press release issued on September 22, 2016, Friends of Nelson has joined more than 180 organizations representing communities across America calling on leaders in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold congressional hearings into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) extensive history of bias and abuse. The groups are also requesting reform of the Natural Gas Act, which the groups say, gives too much power to FERC and too little to state and local officials.

A letter to Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairwoman Lisa Murkoski (R-AK), Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), signed by 182 community organizations representing communities in 35 states argues that FERC’s review and approval process for jurisdictional pipeline projects is infected by bias; and that it is resulting in uncontrolled and irresponsible proliferation of unneeded natural gas pipelines. Finally, the letter charges the agency with misusing provisions in the law to strip people and states of their legal rights, to prevent fair public participation in the pipeline review process, and to improperly use the power of eminent domain to take private property and public lands in a way that inflicts unforgivable harm to rights, jobs, and communities.

The letter details how FERC has implemented the Natural Gas Act in ways that deliberately undermine public input. FERC has prevented communities from challenging projects before the exercise of eminent domain and pipeline construction, made decisions to benefit its Commissioners, and used conflicted consultants to handle much of the review process.

Other regional groups endorsing the letter include the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance, Friends of Buckingham, Wild Virginia, Free Nelson, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, the Augusta County Alliance, Appalachian Voices, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, the Pipeline Education Group of Nelson County, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and Southern Shenandoah Chapter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Read the full press release here.

Read the letter to Senate and House leaders here.   Includes full list of supporting organizations.