Dominion’s Political Toxicity

Writing in a Washington Post opinion column on May 19, 2017, Mike Tidwell and LaDelle McWorter discuss why an all-powerful corporation is becoming politically toxic in Virginia. “More than 60 candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates have rejected campaign contributions from fossil-fuel giant Dominion Energy. Two candidates for governor, a Democrat and a Republican, have, too. It’s the equivalent of an earthquake.”

Why? Because Virginians are realizing that Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction plans include removing the tops of 38 miles of heavily forested, mostly pristine ridge lines, shaving off 10 to 60 feet to create the wide, flat surface needed for Dominion’s heavy equipment to lay the 42-inch-diameter pipe. Plus much of the needed land would be seized by eminent domain from landowners who understandably don’t want such destruction on their property. (Dominion says they would remove all the rock and rubble, then pile it back again in a treeless heap, and professes to believe that would be environmentally friendly. Of the treeless swath of wasteland, Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby says, “You won’t even notice it.”

Further, Dominion has dumped toxic coal-ash liquid into major Virginia rivers, wants to bury remaining coal ash right where it currently sits on the river banks (where it is already suspected of toxic leaking) because they say it is too expensive to move it to modern, safer landfills. Plus Dominion wants to build an unneeded $19 billion nuclear reactor at its North Anna plant, costs that would be passed on to consumers. Without Dominion’s throttle hold on Virginia and its legislators, the state might even begin to improve its abysmally low standing in development of renewable energy and start to catch up with neighboring North Carolina and Maryland in solar and wind power.

In a related story reported in the May 18, 2017 Newport News Daily Press, State Senator Chap Peterson, D-Fairfax, wants “to harness a populist wave against the energy giant to pass major reforms in Virginia. Those include a new ban on campaign contributions from Dominion and other public service corporations, as well as an upheaval at the State Corporation Commission, the government branch tasked with regulating utilities and other businesses.”