Editor: Dominion Energy is proposing to build a $5.1 billion, 600-mile pipeline to transport 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of fracked natural gas from West Virginia’s Marcellus shale fields through 13 central and eastern Virginia counties on its way to North Carolina. Construction is scheduled to begin this year with gas delivery to begin in late 2018.
Along with 8.4 million others, I am a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia—and I emphasize the term, “Common-wealth.” As such, it is our collective, democratic civic responsibility and obligation to ensure that actions taken by our government achieve its purpose as defined in the U.S. Constitution—to “promote the general welfare.”
Against this standard, Dominion’s proposed pipeline project does not “promote the general welfare.” Accordingly, Virginia’s regulatory agencies of jurisdiction should deny approval of the permits that would allow Dominion to begin construction.
The Atlantic Coastal Pipeline project fails on three substantive grounds.
First, the project will physically alter and unavoidably disrupt delicate and consequential environmental and ecological systems in one of Virginia’s most notable, and long-protected, nationally significant stores of natural resources, the George Washington National Forest, with only conjectural public compensation. Many Virginians depend on these resources for their livelihoods and quality of life.
Secondly, the economic, social and environmental costs of the pipeline will be disproportionately borne, with little or no compensation, by the residents in the communities of the 13 Virginia counties that will suffer—without their consent—the misfortunes of being designated to be on the pipeline route by Dominion Energy.
Third, but by no means last in significance, the pipeline
is a $5.1 billion investment that contributes to the progressive warming of the planet, an unprecedented global, existential issue. It is an investment in the physical infrastructure that ensures, and requires, for the foreseeable future, the expanded use of natural gas, a fossil fuel with 34 times the impact on global warming as carbon dioxide.
In the face of the threat of global climate change to generations of human and other lives worldwide, Virginia has a moral obligation to join with other states and make policy decisions consistent with the magnitude of the issue. Already coastal areas in Virginia are experiencing some of the predicted effects of global warming.
Under the leadership of Governor McAuliffe, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Dominion Energy, have made contributions to the diversification of our energy economy by expanding the installation and use of renewable energy technologies. These are prudent, necessary steps forward.
Continuing improvements in renewable energy technologies are making them cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Mass production to meet expanding demand for renewables will bring further cost reductions. In this is the future for Virginia, dictated by necessity, facilitated by technology, and promoted by government policy—with the consent of the governed.
Randy Ihara, South Riding