Home Energy and Environment Tom Perriello: Breaking Through Political Consultant Shibboleths About the Environment?

Tom Perriello: Breaking Through Political Consultant Shibboleths About the Environment?

  • “Climate change doesn’t poll well.”
  • “People don’t care about the environment.”
  • “Shouldn’t talk about science, it’s not an issue.”
  • ….

If you are someone who understands our environmental (especially climate) challenges and have had the “pleasure” of being around the political consultant VSP (very serious people) cabals who pad their bank accounts off political campaign after political campaign, you’ve heard comments like those.  It doesn’t matter that climate change has demonstrably been a key (winning) issue in close campaigns (like Terry McAuliffe in his election to Governor in 2013), that discussions of climate change amid political speeches & debates often have the strongest responses, that environmentalists are serious deep pockets for Democratic Party (primarily) candidates, that science denial is core to the GOP, that science/climate is one of the starkest arenas of difference between the parties, that deep analysis shows that climate is a mobilizing issue for significant voting constituencies, and — while it doesn’t seem to matter to VSPs — this is potentially the most serious challenge for humanity in the coming decades/centuries with a multitude of life-and-death implications.

Despite all that, the VSPs will tell you: when it comes to climate, just be silent.

It seems that Tom Perriello, in his campaign to become the Democratic nominee for and next Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, doesn’t have such VSPs on his payroll. This Wednesday, Tom came out with a video calling for Virginia to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy rather than allowing Dominion Power to steamroll its way through the Commonwealth with two fracked natural gas pipelines.

The statement with the video:

Where I Stand on Two Pipelines

Virginia deserves better than two pipelines we don’t need, with an $8.5 billion price tag, when there is a better way. As governor, I’ll fight to prevent the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. We should reject these rusty ideas that risk Virginia’s natural heritage and contribute to the threat of climate change. I will demand a better way that creates thousands of good paying clean energy jobs for Virginians. We are a state of innovators. We can’t get stuck in the past.
Simply put, I (along with so many Virginians who know about these pipelines and about Dominion’s dominance of VA politics/politicians) find a tremendous amount to agree with in Perriello’s statement and ideas. And this is a well put-together (very low-cost) video, with Tom speaking simply and clearly into the camera with beautiful Virginian countryside as his backdrop.
This, however, is beside the point for this post. Perriello put up this video roughly 48 hours ago. This is February in an off-year primary that won’t occur until June. Yet after just 48 hours or so, the video has over 114,000 views on the Facebook page alone.
  1. Political consultant VSPs tell us environment and climate don’t matter and are bad election/campaigning issues.
  2. Perriello’s campaign video on environmental/energy issues is essentially “viral,” with huge numbers for this point in the campaign season.
  3. Here is another data point that those VSPs in [1] are wrong about the environment not resonating with voters.


  1. While I plan another post to directly discuss Perriello’s video, it is a thoughtful statement about policy that goes directly against the Governor’s desires but seems to align well with the voters views on what our clean energy future should look like. It will be interesting to see whether Ralph Northam engages as forcefully on the pipelines or whether this will be an arena of stark difference between the two candidates in the Democratic primary.
  2. As an aside, in my decades as a voter in the Commonwealth, this is the first time that I can recall feeling like I face a primary with two good choices.  When either of them is sworn in as Virginia’s next Governor, the Commonwealth will be well served.  A hope from this voter: that the two of them and their supporters find a way that they battle through the primary such that they can coalesce to fight together to keep the Governor’s mansion blue.  And, that there be an honest path for the primary loser to have a genuine offer for a meaningful path for service to the Commonwealth’s future within the next Governor’s administration.

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