Home Energy and Environment Video: Almost a Year Ago, Ralph Northam PROMISED to Hold Focus Groups...

Video: Almost a Year Ago, Ralph Northam PROMISED to Hold Focus Groups on the Pipelines. Since Then…Crickets?

Northam twice comes within miles of "Red" this past week, yet does not meet with her or go see for himself what's going on...


It’s been almost a year since Ralph Northam PROMISED – in response to a question (see video below) about the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines:

“Pam, my wife, and I are going to go around, we want to sit down, we want to have focus groups and talk about how we an protect our environment as best we can, how we can use what leverage we have to make it safe, to make it scientific, to make it transparent, to protect people’s property rights…let’s sit down, put our heads together and talk about as a group how we can move forward…we’re trying to set up times.”

OK, so have I missed something here? Has Ralph Northam held a single “focus group” with concerned citizens on these pipelines?  Let alone, has he gone out to visit the tree and “monopod” sitters first hand? If not, why not?

By the way, note that Northam was in Roanoke on Tuesday, attending “the grand opening of the inaugural Virginia Career Works center.” Also note that Northam was in Salem – just outside of Roanoke – for a minor league baseball game yesterday.  That’s just down the road from where Red (of #StandWithRed fame), a 61-year-old woman fighting to defend her land, has been up in a tree since April 1 fighting the MVP. Red’s daughter Minor is in a nearby tree. They are joined by a group of supporters camped out with her. Yet despite being nearby, Northam didn’t offer to meet with them, nor has he met with people directly affected by the pipelines even once since that promise as a candidate was made last July. What happened to being the guy who, as a doctor, makes a profession out of listening?

P.S. On the other hand, Dr. Northam DID have time to go on WTOP earlier this week and call out Red for her unhealthful smoking habit (note: Red retorted to Northam’s insults — “I am quitting smoking! YOU quit this pipeline!”)

  • Keith Hubbard

    That’s why I wrote In Tom Perriello for governor. Essentially we had two Republicans running head to head last November. Dominion couldn’t lose.

    • benjgc

      And in so doing, you made it harder for Northam to win. In essence, you helped Ed Gillespie. All because you voted on a purity test. If you have two candidates, and Candidate A is markedly better, even if you don’t agree with him/her on several issues, VOTE FOR CANDIDATE A. It’s a math problem.

      • Exactly, it’s simple math. It’s also the fact that Northam was WAYYY better than Gillespie on almost every issue, from LGBT equality to guns to a woman’s right to choose to voting rights to the environment to…ok, everything.

        • benjgc

          Which is why it always amuses and angers me in equal measure when people write stuff like Keith’s comment. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.

          • Agreed.

          • Sharon Ponton

            I disagree. Someone voting their conscience is not wrong, or biting their nose off to spite their face.

            And honestly, if we don’t have a habitable planet none of the rest of what Mr. Northam purportedly believes in makes much difference.

          • notjohnsmosby

            When voting your conscience leads to the exact opposite of what you want, how is that not counterproductive? In the primary, there was a choice of two good Dems. One was victorious. In the general, it was that good victorious Dem vs a very bad Republican. Again, a choice of two. You can’t help win a general election by trying to vote for the guy who didn’t make the ballot. Protest votes with write-ins or not voting at all ends up hurting you. The very spirit of the saying about spiting your face.

      • Jason Rylander

        I will always vote Democratic, but this discussion is not helpful. On this issue, which is of preeminent importance to many Virginians, Ralph Northam is simply not on our side. Many of us hoped that after the election he would at least keep his promises to look critically at this issue, meet with activists, reform DEQ, and ensure stream by stream reviews. He’s done nothing but insult us. And so I am increasingly sympathetic with those who cannot stomach voting for someone they know will not help them on the issues they care most about. Let’s focus on changing that dynamic and not browbeating voters.

        • benjgc

          Jason, I think we have the mental capacity and energy to push our elected officials to see our sides of the issue, and still realize that we can only elect the candidates that are in the general election, so we shouldn’t make counterproductive choices in that moment. I firmly disagree with the Governor on the pipeline issues, but as Lowell alluded to, there are a whole host of other issues that make Kurt’s “two Republicans” allegation laughable and harmful.

          • Yep, I’m with you (benjgc) on this 100%; we need to vote for – and work hard to elect – the best options realistically available, but then hold their feet to the fire once they’re in office.

          • Jason Rylander

            I don’t disagree with either of you on the merits. I disagree with the tactic of calling out voters we have already lost and browbeating them on why they are wrong. It’s not going to work and it just hijacks every thread in which this comes up. Time is better spent demonstrating in actions, not words, why they should come back.

          • benjgc

            How about Governor Northam vetoing the execrable sanctuary cities bill, pushed by Bob Goodlatte’s hand-picked successor in the 6th District?

            How about signing legislation that mandates sexual harassment training for the legislative branch in Virginia?

            How about vetoing a ban on cap-and-trade systems?

            How about signing a bill providing for personal installation of solar facilities?

            How about mandating annual reviews of prescription and dispensation patterns on controlled substances?

            How about raising the threshold for grand larceny to $500 from $200?

            These are all actions that Governor Northam has taken. Do I agree with 100% of what he’s done? No. But if I’m waiting for a candidate I agree with 100%, I’ll be waiting the rest of my life.

          • Jason Rylander

            Funny thing about voters – they get to make their own assessment of what is important to them. Rational or not. But I think you continue to miss my point, which is that calling out and shaming every voter you think should have voted for your candidate is not a very effective way of getting them to do so in the future. Thanks.

          • benjgc

            Jason, I know everyone gets to make their own assessments. But I stand by my assertion that Kurt’s equating Northam with a Republican is wildly inaccurate, based on Northam’s record. Especially since, as demonstrated in the list of actions above, he’s made some steps (albeit minor ones) in the right direction on the environment.

          • Jason Rylander

            Ben, please take note: I’ve never once challenged your assertion!

          • Keith Hubbard

            Sir, I would be willing to guess you live in a part of the state that will not be impacted by MVP on ACP. I most certainly do. Trees less than three miles from my house are being felled. A gigantic truck hauling a Cat grader almost cleaned me out on our little two land country road last week.
            My brother owns .25 of an acre of land. His house is in the MVP blast zone. The BLAST ZONE. My sister owns five acres of land, miles from me and my brother. The pipeline is to come within thirty feet of her house-THIRTY FEET. Do you think my siblings can get a thing for their now almost worthless property, thanks to eminent domain greed? And candidate Northam tap danced around the issue. I told Justin Fairfax (to his face) I planned to vote for him but not Ralph Northam because he was forsaking our region
            -and he has. Sorry, but your logic is flawed. If I don’t vote for issues that matter to me what am I to vote for. Sorry, the environemnt lost out big time last November.

          • benjgc

            Keith, I wholly appreciate your position and don’t envy you the problems you face by being so close to the pipeline and its construction area. I’m sympathetic to the real harm done to you and yours by the pipeline.

            But I will be affected by the pipelines; I live in Roanoke County, which is part of the area that is downstream from the construction. I come by my stance on your original comment because I vote on a lot of issues, not just one. If I were to grade Governor Northam solely on the environmental issues, he’d do very poorly.

            From a more holistic viewpoint, he’s far, far away from Ed Gillespie. There are a great many people in this state (particularly in at-risk communities) whose lives are much better under Governor Northam than they would be if Ed Gillespie had won office. That’s why I consider voting for the best viable candidate in the general election to be of paramount importance.

          • Keith Hubbard

            I appreciate your positions as well. I just find Governor Northam to be too conservative for my tastes. Former Congressman Perriello is truly genuine, and I felt is was a shame he did not get the nomination. In Franklin County, where I live, he got 72.5% of the vote in the primary. Imagine my disappointment later on that evening when it wasn’t even close for the nomination.. While we may agree to disagree on this issue, I remain a lifelong Democrat and hope I don’t have to cast a ‘protest’ vote again any time soon.

            “Live long and prosper.”

          • notjohnsmosby

            In areas where there aren’t that many Dems, they tend to be quite liberal. The last of the holdouts, more or less. The hard cases, the true believers.

          • Keith Hubbard

            Guilty, as charged!

          • notjohnsmosby

            When should we be honest and tell a voter what they did was wrong?

        • notjohnsmosby

          This issue is of preeminent importance to a small percentage of Virginians. Most have different concerns that are most important to them.

          • Could have said the same thing for any number of important issues over the years, like marriage equality back in 2006 (or ever), the DREAMers, etc etc. The issues traditionaly poll high in terms of what Virginians care most about are the economy and jobs (that’s usually by far #1), health care and education. So I guess by your argument we shouldn’t pay any attention to anything else. No thanks.

          • notjohnsmosby

            Don’t put words in my keyboard, Lowell. Jason wrote preeminent, which is defined as “surpassing all others”, i.e. the most important thing. With 8.4 million+ people living in Virginia, one pipeline is not the most important thing to the vast majority of people. Is it important to many? Yes. Along with a lot of other issues that have a variety of people’s attention and concern.

            I pay about 5% of my time to issues like this.

          • Point is, most issues aren’t of “preeminent” importance to voters. To me, the survival of a habitable planet is at the top of the list.

  • Sharon Ponton

    Mrs. Northam was scheduled to visit Yogaville last week. She cancelled. Obviously they are embarrassed to meet with directly-affected communities because they can’t justify their positions.

    • Do we know why she canceled?

      • Sharon Ponton

        No, I don’t know a specific reason. I was told at a meeting with a Northam aide on Wednesday that he was not aware that she had cancelled. I confirmed this morning with a community member that she definitely cancelled but I don’t know the reason why.

        Earlier this month, the Yogaville community plan was to welcome her to Yogaville and give her a tour without engaging her on the pipeline issue. Their goal was to be welcoming, not in any way confrontational.

        • Interesting, would love to know why she canceled. FOIA time?

  • Video: Sen. Tim Kaine on the importance of treating pipeline protesters humanely; also about the flawed FERC process