First, Gov. Terry McAuliffe ducked into a restaurant in Charlottesville last fall to avoid anti-pipeline protestors. Now, just this past Saturday at the Governor’s Mansion, McAuliffe did a tight circle dance attempting to avoid grassroots anti-pipeline activists yet again (see the video).
The Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) held its quarterly meeting Saturday. DPVA central committee members were also invited to a reception following the meeting at the Governor’s Mansion. In support of a resolution Democrats were to present regarding climate change, members of anti-pipeline groups Free Nelson and Friends of Augusta went to the DPVA meeting and the reception hosted by the governor which followed.
The climate change resolution was deferred until DPVA’s quarterly meeting in June, said Second Vice Chair of Rules and Resolutions, Fred Hudson. LG Ralph Northam, AG Mark Herring and Governor McAuliffe all spoke at the meeting about the accomplishments they had made on behalf of Virginians during their first year in office. Governor McAuliffe touted his success in job creation and the 325 “deals” and $6.1 billion in economic activity those deals will generate to help create Virginia’s new economy.
McAuliffe spoke eloquently about climate change and its effects on rising sea levels and the naval bases in our Commomwealth. He noted that heavy rains lasting only an hour in duration force road closures in the Norfolk and Hampton areas on a regular basis. He told us that climate change is real and that we must act to counter its effects on our Commonwealth. McAuliffe didn’t, however, mention his support for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. McAuliffe did tell those assembled that he wanted to hear from them, to talk to them, that his door is always open.
At the Governor’s Mansion reception afterwards, landowner Heidi Cochran and Free Nelson organizers, Sharon Ponton and Marilyn Shifflett, approached the Governor as he was speaking to individuals who were in attendance. McAuliffe deftly completed a tight circle dance, turning quickly to reach out to shake the hands of others in an attempt to avoid the group.
However, McAuliffe was finally forced to make a decision: be rude and continue to ignore the determined trio, or acknowledge our presence. McAuliffe acknowledged landowner Heidi Cochran, but within seconds he pushed her off onto a staffer, who the group requested set up a meeting for them with the governor. The protestors’ persistence was fueled by an interview McAuliffe gave to Kojo Nnamdi the other day, which included several misstatements regarding the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). These grassroots activists are disappointed McAuliffe is supporting the proposed ACP, but are even more appalled he would be so misinformed that he would relate incorrect information over the radio to the Virginia public!
For starters, this pipeline is not “small,” as the governor stated. In fact, if built, it will be 554 miles long, 42 inches in diameter, and operate at the high pressure of 1440 psi. Second, Virginia cannot get “as much gas as it wants” from this pipeline, as Governor McAuliffe told Kojo. Instead, Dominion says it is already 95% full based on its contracts with seven companies, the majority of which serve customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia — not Virginia! Last but not least, Governor McAuliffe insisted in the interview that landowners are being treated fairly. Landowner Heidi Cochran doesn’t believe constructing this pipeline, which has an 1,100-foot explosion radius within 100′ of her home, is either fair or safe.
The grassroots activists believe Governor McAuliffe has an obligation to the people of the Commonwealth to be honest and forthright. They do not believe he should spew Dominion talking points and/or be so misinformed he would make such major errors when speaking to our citizenry. The activists plan to continue calling him out on this issue. After all, he clearly stated he wanted to hear from us during the DPVA’s Central Committee meeting. However, in the end, McAuliffe’s actions speak volumes, and his circle dance at the Governor’s Mansion on Saturday proved an inadequate avoidance tactic to persistent constituents.