Dominion's abuse of its customers

Upon reading the Jan. 4 lead story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Northam backs bill that forces Dominion to remove coal ash,” and Jan. 7’s front-page story, “Legislature is poised to decide fate of coal ash ponds in Va.,” I felt compelled to share the following.

I applaud Gov. Ralph Northam for his speech recognizing that improperly stored “coal ash can ruin water quality and create environmental disasters,” citing the 2014 Duke Power arsenic coal ash spill into the Neuse River in North Carolina (and again in 2018). What I don’t understand is why the governor’s office and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality waited so long to hold Dominion Energy responsible for the environmental mess that they have been knowingly creating for decades? Dominion estimates that the cleanup in the Richmond area near the James River (a major source of the area’s drinking water) will cost somewhere between $2 billion to $5.7 billion and that cost will be passed onto the ratepayers.

Northam avoided in his prepared environmental speech comments regarding the two largest natural gas pipelines ever (42-inch diameter pipe) that Dominion Power is planning to build to export fracked gas from West Virginia — 600 miles long and 125 feet wide through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Recently, to environmentalists’ dismay, Northam replaced two members of the State Air Pollution Control Board who were critical of a Dominion project considering a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to build a pipeline-related compressor station at Union Hill in Buckingham County, a predominantly black, lower-income community. According to U.S. News and World Report (Sept. 26, 2018), the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is anticipated to cost $6 billion. That cost will be passed onto ratepayers, who will never benefit from the exported gas. Who would benefit from the gas? India and China. Who are the current customers for the pipeline? Dominion Power’s subsidiaries. Any business owner would agree that it must be nice to simply create your own customers and sell that to politicians and government agencies to turn a blind eye to environmental laws at ratepayer’s expense.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel. And to quote Northam’s speech, “science is clear” that the burning of fossil fuels warms the planet and causes sea levels to rise: “The commonwealth can and must play a larger role in reducing that risk.” I find his quote to be quite contrary to his actions.

If you believe that fracking gas is an environmentally safe practice and that huge natural gas pipelines do not present imminent dangers from leaking into ground drinking water and wells and the erosion into water streams to explosions, then you have not paid much attention to such disasters. Last month, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring filed a lawsuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline for environmental violations and neglect to follow environmental protections. Dominion Energy’s environmental violation penalty total since 2000 amounts to $1,254,576,984 according to violationtracker.goodjobsfirst.org. Guess who pays those costs? Dominion? Nope, you do as a ratepayer.

According to the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Public Project’s website, Northam has accepted $199,251 in donations from Dominion Energy. In another Times-Dispatch story, the governor plans to continue to take corporate donation. How can utility companies, such as Dominion Power, be held accountable for the environmental disasters they create if they simply pass along the costs to ratepayers and write checks to politicians who coddle their destructive projects? They have no skin in the game to adhere to environmental laws.

ROSEMARIE BECHT JOWDY

Faber

The revolution is coming

The Jan. 3 letter to the editor (“Nelson, don’t obstruct progress”) promoting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. I do not know if the author has ties to Dominion Energy, but he indulges in the same sort of innuendo we’ve come to expect from the company in this fight. Those of us who have dedicated countless hours of our time as well as our personal money to this struggle are deeply insulted by someone who writes that we blindly “accept statements put forth by agenda groups whose funding is well hidden.” What a vile falsehood.

I’ve met hundreds of Nelsonians who oppose the pipeline. We are anything but blind. We’ve been forced to become extraordinarily well- and self-educated on the issues involved, and we are. We have presented careful scientific studies that strongly counter the propaganda put forth by Dominion in pursuit of the profit to be made off of our pain.

The letter’s author may not be one of the paid Dominion shills we’ve encountered before. But if not, he is one of those deluded corporatists who simply can’t believe that ordinary citizens might actually band together to stand up for their homes — against an oppressive government and its private sector cohorts — without some sort of external guidance. I’ve got news for you, sir. You are ignorant of your country’s history, and shame on you. Our resistance is not the work of some shadowy, unnamed outside cabal. The trampling of the people’s rights is what caused our ancestors to rise up in 1776. This is our land, they said to their government, not something you can confiscate at your whim — and we will fight for it. The same spirit of resistance that birthed the American Revolution is manifesting again, right here, right now.

DOUG HORNIG

Afton

Carry on the fight, Nelson

Much to my surprise, we learn from a recent letter that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is vital to world freedom and to our national defense. Strange that the builders hadn’t mentioned that, and even stranger in that context that one leg of the pipeline will go to a port without a major gas customer, hence presumably for gas export!

Even more shocking, it is proposed in that same letter that we the taxpayers are somehow remiss for not financing and building infrastructure over the past many years for the profit of greedy big energy in general. Huh?

Finally, we are asked to believe that since the pipeline will offend the ecologies of more than one state, we are somehow not allowed to defend and protect our wetlands. Piffle!

Please carry on the fight, Nelson County officialdom!

HOWARD ELLIS

Nellysford

Nation is squandering its riches

A Nelson County station may now hold the state’s precipitation record. The new record has not been validated and certified by NOAA, but if it is the 97.34 inches collected at the Montebello Fish Cultural Station during 2018 will replace the present record of 83.7 inches collected at the Philpott Dam in 1996. NOAA is closed by the president’s government shutdown, so there is no telling how many years we may have to wait for the validation. Hold tight Dems, no wall, please.

As the new political year begins, I see President Trump in a worse position than President Obama was in after January 2011. Are all U.S. politicians this slow? President Obama didn’t use his congressional advantage in the first two years to get things done for the populace and the Republican majority after the 2010 mid-terms quenched his fire forever. Now, Trump, in lots more trouble than Obama ever dreamt of, is way further up the same smelly creek, and he thinks he can get Pelosi and the young House members to paddle. These folks have already called him out. They know who he is. Before they are done, they are going to have the clown drinking the water out of that creek or dying of thirst. He obviously can’t deal and is now telling such obvious lies that even Fox News is bolting. Resignation is painless.

I was very pleased that someone seeking to discredit Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez published a video of her dancing back in college. She appeared to be having a wonderful time, and I can only hope she’s bringing some of her joy to the halls of Congress. From my observations, during the past 50 years Congress is where joy has gone to die. That needs to change: Keep smiling and dancing.

We sure need joy in a country so adept at killing and so ignorant about what makes life worth living. In a blistering critique of the United States, “The United States Is First in War, But Trailing in Crucial Aspects of Modern Civilization” Lawrence Wittner paints a picture of a country squandering its riches on weapons while its educational system, health care, poverty levels, inequality, environment and other social values already place it among Third World nations. He states we have completely forgotten President Dwight Eisenhower’s words: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” A militarized country “is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” Time for a change!

On the other hand, in a very positive move, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee has proposed a constitutional amendment ending the Electoral College and allowing the popular vote to elect the president and vice president. The sooner, the better.

And the sooner the president re-opens the government, the better for the thousands of federal employees now suffering without paychecks. About the wall, why isn’t there one for Canada, too? Is it because racist Republicans don’t mind if good white Canadians come into the country as long as we keep the poor Latinos out?

We can do so much better, and I think we will. No wall!

MIKE TABONY

Gladstone

It’s bigger than ‘The Wall’

“We the people” have allowed the “Political Elite” to buy their way to power. We are now but onlookers to a political battle in Washington. The issue is not about a “Wall.” The issue is about whether this is a nation governed by the people as envisioned by our Founders or a people again ruled by a Royal Elite.

It would be a trite expression to speak of a man and an escalator if it were not for the resulting reemergence of the souls of those at Bunker Hill and Valley Forge.

How do we find ourselves with Executive Branch department leaders behaving as minor potentates responsible to no one; a Judiciary pondering the important decisions of the land, not on a pure behalf of the American people, but tainted by the political party selection of the jurists; a Congress conducting itself in a manner to achieve political party power with total disregard of the concerns of the American people, is ascribed upon the pages of history. The current debate regarding the southern border reeks of self-political interest and not the well-being of the American people.

It is absurd to assert that a $5.6 billion expenditure, in a multi-trillion dollar budget for a “wall” to help keep persons of unknown character out of our homes, is a wasteful expenditure. “We the people” are not stupid. This is a power struggle between a “Royal Elite Establishment, Democrat and Republican” and a frustrated American people who not only saw the man’s descent upon that escalator but heard his call to “Follow me.”

It is time to tell your representative and senators that they work for you, not their political party.

BOB DEWEY

Wintergreen