Secret Sellout or Pay to Play?

“Did Terry McAuliffe sell out Virginia right before he left office? Or did he do something even worse? Did McAuliffe accept $58 million (paid to various entities) in a pay to play scheme to guarantee Virginia would approve Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline?

“In late December, the then-outgoing Virginia Governor, a longtime cheerleader for the ACP, committed the state to a secret Memorandum of Understanding with Dominion and its pipeline partners. This agreement, apparently never before reported in Virginia, let Dominion buy its way out of paying for damages to Virginia’s forests and water quality caused by construction of, and possibly by operation of, the ACP. And McAuliffe did this before the pipeline has even been approved – it still has not been approved – much less built.

“Let that sink in for a moment.

“Terry McAuliffe gave Dominion a full and complete release from any and all damage to Virginia’s forests and water from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Jon Sokolow, writing in Blue Virginia, exposes McAuliffe’s secret Memorandum of Understanding with Dominion, signed on December 28, 2017, by Molly Ward, McAuliffe’s outgoing Secretary of Natural Resources, includes the following:

  • Dominion agreed to pay $38,650,000 to three public and private entities, referred to as “Forest Mitigation Partners,” who are tasked with dispersing funds to others to restore or enhance forest habitats that are “similar to those adversely impacted by the pipeline. In return, Dominion gets a full release from any further liability: “The Parties further agree that such amount fully satisfies any and all mitigation responsibilities related to and otherwise fully offsets the direct or indirect forest-related impacts of the Project in Virginia.” This leaves Virginia without remedy if costs exceed damages!
  • In return for a payment of $19,200,000 (to a group of entities known as “Water Quality Mitigation Partners”), Dominion gets a full release for any damage to water quality: “The Parties agree that such amount fully satisfies any and all mitigation responsibilities related to and otherwise fully offsets all water quality impacts caused by forest fragmentation.” No definition of what those “water quality impacts” might be, no matter how much damage is done, as far as the state is concerned Dominion is off the hook!
  • Further, the agreement says, “this Agreement reflect the full extent of natural resources-related mitigation measures and investments contemplated for the Project by the Parties.” As Sokolow says, “That’s Dominion’s way of saying don’t ask us for another dime, no matter what.”

Note that there is no such release agreement in the North Carolina pay-to-play agreement between ACP and Governor Cooper. NC’s agreement says, “Nothing in this Memorandum shall be construed as precluding or otherwise barring the Governor of the State of North Carolina from recovering damages or equitable remedies from Atlantic for spills or leaks stemming from the ACP.”  McAuliffe decided not to extract this promise from Dominion.

Read the full article by Sokolow here.

Then demand that Governor Northam and the members of the Virginia’s legislature – regardless of where they stand on the pipeline – immediately revoke this reprehensible agreement.