“If you want fair media coverage you need to pay for it.” So says Bruce McKay, senior energy policy director for Richmond-based Dominion, who oversees the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s public affairs. Apparently the only media coverage he considers “fair” is coverage favorable to Dominion.
An analysis released on March 8, 2018, by Associated Press discusses Dominion’s largest-ever outreach program that has included 225,000 direct-mail pieces; community meetings; TV, radio and print ads; and social media use to reach more than 35,000 followers, all in an effort, according to McKay, to “create and maintain a political environment which allows permitting agencies to do their work.” McKay also denies “quid pro quo for campaign donations, saying Dominion simply gives to candidates who support sound energy policy” and he insists that “grants to health foundations, land trusts, charities and other local groups shouldn’t be considered lobbying.” But, says the article, in at least four cases, “grants have gone to organizations run by or affiliated with pipeline boosters.”
The article notes that “Other emails obtained through a public-records request show an administrator in Buckingham County, Virginia, frequently alerted a Dominion employee to news or complaints. In one, the administrator predicted an outspoken pipeline critic would ‘be a problem.’ Another email says Dominion wrote a letter for a county supervisor to sign supporting the conversion of conservation easements — which are supposed to forever protect land from development — for use for the pipeline. The emails suggested printing it on Buckingham County letterhead for a Dominion worker to hand-deliver to the decision-making agency. McKay says opposition from organized, well-funded environmental groups made all this outreach necessary.
“David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, said that’s a false comparison. He said: ‘What ties all of these stories together is, Dominion is trying to con people, trying to con their own customers and policymakers and legislators, because the arguments don’t stand up on the merits.‘”
Read the full AP article here.