Home Dominion Power Dominion CEO Tom Farrell’s Pro-Pipeline Editorial Is Filled with Lies and Distortions....

Dominion CEO Tom Farrell’s Pro-Pipeline Editorial Is Filled with Lies and Distortions. Here Are a Bunch of Corrections.

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In case you missed it, Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell took to the pages of the Republican Times-Disgrace Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning with a load of horse manure you can smell all over the “Old Dominion.” The column, “Powering Virginia’s future with clean, affordable, and reliable energy,” other than being a bunch of lies and nonsense, essentially is free corporate propaganda in the pages of the local newspaper’s Dominion-friendly editorial page. See below for a few lines that jumped out at  me, with my comments in bold following…

  • “As the largest public utility in Virginia” (Yeah, a MONOPOLY utility that’s “regulated” in name only, which corrupts the political process, and which essentially gets whatever it wants from our elected official)
  • “For generations, we have met Virginia’s energy needs safely, affordably, and reliably” (On the “safely” part, I’d argue that pumping greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere is not in any way “safe.” As for “affordably,” note that “The average monthly residential electricity bill in Virginia is $124, which ranks 8th in the U.S” and that “This average monthly residential electricity bill in Virginia is 15.89% greater than the national average monthly bill of $107.”)
  • “We have done so through hard work, innovation, and making smart investments in the future.” (Actually, what Dominion’s done is used its clout, money, etc. to “capture” the legislature and regulatory agencies, so that it basically can get whatever it wants.)
  • “We also recognize the urgency of making our energy cleaner and more sustainable for the environment.” (That’s the Big Lie at the core of this Dominion propaganda piece. In reality, of course, Dominion doesn’t in any way demonstrate that it recognizes “the urgency of making our energy clean and more sustainable for the environment.” If the company DID recognize that urgency, it would be acting totally differently than it is – starting with a massive push for energy efficiency, followed by a massive push for offshore wind, utility-scale solar power, energy storage, distributed energy, etc. Of course, it’s doing none of those things, certainly not at the scale or with the sense or urgency required, per the urgent/dire IPCC report just released. And Dominion certainly WOULD NOT be building new fossil fuel infrastructure, let alone the equivalent of 20 new coal-fired power plants! So yeah, this is a Big Lie.)
  • “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a great example of the type of investment it takes to affordably and reliably power Virginia’s homes and businesses, while also making our energy cleaner.” (This is utter rubbish. In fact, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a massive, multi-billion-dollar boondoggle that is not needed, will likely end up “stranded” in a few years, and which absolutely will NOT make “our energy cleaner,” as fracked natural gas must have “methane losses…kept below 3.2 percent for natural gas power plants to have lower life cycle emissions than new coal plants over short time frames of 20 years or fewer,” and that “methane leaks offset much of the climate change benefit of natural gas.”)
  • “While the project is overwhelmingly supported by the communities where it’s being built, it has encountered opposition.” (Any serious evidence that this project is “overwhelmingly supported by the communities where it’s being built?”)
  • “Unfortunately, some of the project’s opponents are misleading the public about basic facts.” (Like…???)
  • “Demand for natural gas is growing, but our existing pipelines are stretched too thin to keep up with demand.” (Nonsense. As FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, an Obama appointee, explained in her powerful dissent on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, “After carefully balancing the aggregate environmental impacts resulting from the authorization of both of these projects against the economic need of the projects, I could not find either proposal in the public interest.” Heck, even Trump appointee Richard Glick agreed that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is NOT “in the public interest.” Also, as Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center explained last May: “Dominion the regulated utility has signed a multi-year multi-billion dollar contract with its affiliated Atlantic Coast Pipeline entity, even though Dominion admits it has never actually done a study of whether it needs the Atlantic Coast pipeline to operate its power plants”; ” instead of actually going out and doing a market survey and figure out what people who needed gas would do is they actually just signed contracts with their affiliated entities specifically their affiliated regulated utilities who have captive customers. They then took those, contracts basically with themselves, to FERC and said here is our evidence that there’s an actual market for the pipeline”; and “what you’re left with, in Virginia at least, is a regulated utility using its captive customers to bear all the risk of a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that the utility has never studied whether it needs it and the utility is going to make customers pay for it regardless of whether they ever use it.” Slimy! But of course that’s not Tom Farrell’s story…)
  • “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will save consumers money on their natural gas and electricity bills” (In fact, acording to Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center,the pipeline contract that Dominion has signed on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will actually increase customer costs by about two billion dollars”)
  • “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will reduce air emissions and improve Virginia’s environment” (This is wildly dishonest. In reality, Dominion Energy could “reduce air emissions and improve Virginia’s environment” by orders of magnitude more – at less cost! – by focusing on a massive energy efficiency program, combined with rapid development of solar and offshore wind. Instead, they’re going with the dirty, expensive fracked gas pipeline alternative.)
  • “Some opponents falsely claim that methane emissions from natural gas outweigh the benefits of lower carbon.” (Farrell is lying. I’ve already discussed this issue above, but want more studies showing how methane emissions from natural gas reduce or totally eliminate its supposed greenhouse gas advantage vis-a-vis coal? See the following recent articles/studies: Why increasing shale gas production won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions, NASA just made a stunning discovery about how fracking fuels global warming, US oil and gas methane emissions 60 percent higher than estimated – “High emissions findings undercut the case that gas offers substantial climate advantage over coal”)
  • “We are building this project with the strongest environmental and safety protections ever used by the industry, and we are receiving more regulatory scrutiny than any other infrastructure project in Virginia history. These protections are working. We are preserving the streams and rivers, and we are protecting the fish and wildlife.” (For anyone who’s been following this story, it’s barely even worth responding to this absurd claim. But just for starters, see here for the Natural Resources Defense Council report, “Virginia Drinking Water Threatened by Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines.”)
  • “These are the smart decisions and investments it takes to power the economy and the daily lives of millions of people in an environmentally sustainable way.” (Finally, just to reiterate, building this massive new fracked-gas project is absolutely NOT “smart” or “environmentally sustainable.” In pretty much every way, in fact, it’s the polar opposite of “smart” or “environmentally sustainable.” Again, if Dominion or its CEO were serious, they’d be going all-out for energy efficiency, utility-scale solar, offshore wind, energy storage and distributed energy. If they did those things, they could shut down all their fossil fuel-fired power plants and never need to build another pipeline again. But clearly, that’s not what Dominion’s lucrative, government-protected-monopoly business model is built on…)