McAuliffe’s Folly: The Atlantic “Trump” Pipeline

The November 12, 2017, Huffington Post asks, “Is outgoing Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe a climate change denier?” It notes that just asking the question “is bound to offend the governor and some of his supporters,” who list his efforts to reduce emissions and his very recent return from the 23rd United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing Virginia to reduce carbon emissions (after he leaves office) as part of the Under2Coalition.

But, the article continues, “Never mind that close observers have called McAuliffe’s record on climate change ‘abysmal’ and ‘marred by contradictions and empty rhetoric,'” that by joining in November 2017 Virginia came very late to the Under2Coalition, formed in May 2015 and already including 180 jurisdictions. And “never mind that McAuliffe has spent the past three years as the state’s biggest cheerleader for two massive and controversial fracked gas pipelines, that, according to recent estimates, will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to that produced by 45 coal fired plants or 158 million metric tons per year, more than doubling Virginia’s carbon footprint.”

The article goes on to discuss

  • A Moment of Choice for Virginia and Terry McAuliffe – How the Water Control Board hearings in December are an opportunity for “an historic choice for climate change action – or climate change denial” as McAuliffe, after belatedly signing on to the Under2Coalition, is “trying to write the final chapter of his gubernatorial narrative – or the preface to his next campaign.” But, “If these pipelines are approved, Terry McAuliffe will forever be where any Democratic politician does not want to be, particularly in a Democratic primary – firmly on the side of climate change denier in chief Donald Trump.”
  • The Atlantic “Trump” Pipeline – Less than a week after taking office, Trump released a list of top 50 domestic priorities, including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, saying the permitting process was done. Actual fact, of course, is that the process is not done, and since January “the public debate and the legal, regulatory and political terrains have shifted decidedly against these pipelines. The tide has started to turn – and smart politicians are catching on fast.”
  • The Anti-Pipeline Movement Grows Strong – “The opposition to these pipelines is growing and is not going away. Indeed, the scope of opposition activity over the past few months has been breathtaking.”
  • The Legal Terrain Shifts Beneath McAuliffe’s Feet – In August two different federal appeals courts issued rulings on two different pipelines (in New York and in Florida) making it “much more difficult for these pipelines to survive judicial scrutiny,” and in early November a court issued an order halting a third pipeline.
  • Regulatory Agencies Start to Balk – Both NC and WV state environmental agencies delayed approvals and demanded new and additional information from pipeline proposers. Two brand-new Trump appointees to FERC, who gave FERC a quorum of three, approved both the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines, with an almost unheard of stinging dissent from veteran FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur. On election day, “Virginia Democrats swept all three statewide offices and erased what many thought was an insurmountable 66-34 Republican majority in the House of Delegates.” Dominion also lost big: “Thirteen newly elected members of the House of Delegates – fully one quarter of the caucus – were elected on a platform that included signing the Activate Virginia pledge. Justin Fairfax, who also took the pledge and ran as a pipeline opponent, was elected Lieutenant Governor.”
  • It is Time to Choose Sides – “But more importantly, by acting now – before the December State Water Board hearings – McAuliffe could stop these two massive environmentally irresponsible, job killing, social justice destroying methane projects. He would be doing Virginia a world of good. That would transform his signature on the Bonn agreement into a new beginning for real action on climate change. McAuliffe can join Obama’s FERC appointee, Senator Tim Kaine, Lieutenant Governor-Elect Justin Fairfax, the newly elected anti-pipeline Democratic delegates, supported by landmark anti-pipeline federal court rulings, and stop these pipelines, or he can stand with climate change denier Donald Trump.”

Read the full Huffington Post article here.