Government By and For Whom? The People or Dominion Power?


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    Citizens group Free Nelson, which opposes the proposed Dominion pipeline through Nelson County, Virginia, has sent the following letter to Attorney General Mark Herring sharing residents concerns about the legislative process in Richmond and its bias in favor of Dominion.

    Dear Attorney General Herring,

    We are residents of Nelson County opposing Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline and organized as a group called Free Nelson. As you might imagine, the current Virginia Legislative Session is of great interest to of us.

    We attended the first meeting with Dominion representatives and the Nelson County Board of Supervisors on August 12 and felt dismayed to hear Dominion External Affairs Manager Emmett Toms threaten eminent domain fifteen minutes into a meeting that was to have been informational in nature. “Pin-dropping” silence would have been deafening in comparison to how the nearly 600 residents reacted. When interviewed after the meeting, Toms made arrogant, flip remarks, telling us to go home and put solar panels on our roofs. He also stated that they “would only use as much dynamite as they need” on our slopes. This was the beginning of Dominion’s relationship with Nelson County.

    Our open houses have been, frankly, less than informative. Representatives have given vague answers or no answers at all, when questioned about impact on water sources, construction on slopes damaged by more than 100 slides in 1969, and proximity to houses (they have told us that by law, they only need to be 50 ft from our homes). And when family members questioned the proposed route through an area where the bodies of some 17 residents were never recovered after the flood, they simply responded that they have a policy in place for dealing with human remains. They have knocked on residents’ doors who have denied survey with veiled threats and served lawsuits on landowners at 9 o’clock at night. And as widely reported in the news, they have supplied incorrect maps and filed suits against landowners in error.

    This is not behavior that supports trust. It is an unrivaled arrogance on Dominion’s part, and it has been displayed time and again. And why would they not behave this way when the Virginia General Assembly appears to be enacting legislation to support such actions?

    Since 2004, Dominion has given a total of $2,964,048 to Virginia legislative candidates. Our research indicates that the 2004 Senate Bill 663 (now VA Code Sec. 56-49.01) had only Sen. Frank Wagner as patron. Did Senator Wagner own stock in Dominion in 2004, when he sponsored SB 663? Did Dominion write that bill? Sen. Wagner has recently sponsored the “rate freeze” bill for Dominion, and has pushed this bill forward in committee while allowing postponement of the committee hearing on the repeal bill submitted by Sens. Hanger & Deeds. When questions arose regarding his ownership of stock in Dominion, he responded by quickly selling it. In our opinion, the “damage” was already done. And, as far as we know, he still owns shares in Duke Energy, a partner on the ACP. Sen. Wagner is not alone in stockholdings in Dominion and Duke Energy. Research on the part of another resident uncovered 11 legislators with stock in Dominion and seven with stock in Duke Energy.

    How are citizens in Virginia to view this? How can SB 1338 and SB 1349 possibly go forward with unbiased votes? How can Nelson and Augusta residents be expected to believe that Dominion will make any effort to address concerns if they allow survey? Or any landowner in Virginia facing the three currently proposed 42″ pipelines, for that matter? Although, seemingly written for Dominion, these statutes will impact all of these companies. We believe we speak for many asking these questions and we view the actions regarding this legislation as blatant ethics violations. We are asking your office to help with the answers.

    Best Regards,

    Marion Kanour

    Sharon Ponton

    Marilyn Shifflett

    Free Nelson

    From Free Nelson’s Facebook page from February 3, here is the research done showing stock holdings by state legislators in the companies which are partners in the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

    “We’ve been doing a little research through the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) this morning. [N.B.- Ralph Northam and Chris Jones have stated they will not vote on anything concerning Dominion and/or its holdings]

    The following legislators own Dominion stock:

    Bill DeSteph ^$250,000

    Peter Farrell $10-50,000

    Keith Hodges $10-50,000

    Chris Jones $50-250,000

    Barry Knight ^$250,000

    Manoli Loupassi $50-250,000

    Randy Minchew $10-50,000

    Tommy Norment $50-250,000

    Ralph Northam $10-50,000

    Walter Stosch $50,000-$250,000

    Frank Wagner $10,000-50,000

    It was reported today that Wagner sold his Dominion Stock yesterday, but we wonder if he also sold the $10-50,000 in DUKE stock he owns?!?

    One more note: Peter Farrell is the son of Dominion Chair, Tom Farrell.

    Other legislators who own DUKE stocks are:

    Peter Farrell $10-50,000

    Manoli Loupassi $10-50,000

    Randy Minchew ^$250,000

    Ed Scott $10-50,000

    Rip Sullivan $10-50,000

    Frank Wagner $10-50,000

    John Watkins $50-250,000

    Watkins is the chair of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee

    And then we have Piedmont Natural Gas, another partner in the proposed ACP:

    Manoli Loupassi $10-50,000

    AGL Resources is the 4th partner in the proposed ACP. We didn’t find any record of stock holdings by our legislators.  What we did find is AGL owns Virginia Natural Gas.  AGL gives VNG hundreds of thousands over the years to invest in our legislators through contributions to campaign committees, PACS, and golf outings and other gifts.  This is a common practice for Dominion and others as well!”


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