Home 2017 Races 10 Actions to Oppose Dominion Energy’s Stranglehold on VA Politics

10 Actions to Oppose Dominion Energy’s Stranglehold on VA Politics

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By Josh Stanfield of Activate Virginia

After last Tuesday’s incredible results, it should be clear that we’re experiencing a democratic moment of transformation. The power dynamics in Virginia are in flux; now’s the time for everyday citizens to go all in, to insist that our representatives put our interests above those of corporate donors.

Over the next several months, this struggle can and should be focused on combatting the political influence of Dominion Energy in particular. The Richmond-Times Dispatch recently published an eight-article series tracing the origins and transformation of Dominion’s political power. This series, in part, details Dominion’s role as Virginia’s top corporate contributor. Yet in the aftermath of last Tuesday – since 13 candidates won who have pledged never to accept Dominion contributions – we have the momentum. Virginians who’ve had enough of Dominion’s stranglehold over our politics should act now, so I’ve put together a set of short-term actions below.

Inaugural Committees

Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Mark Herring – now victorious – need to fill the coffers of their inaugural committees. These committees, like campaign committees and political action committees, must report contributions received. The question has arisen, however, about Dominion giving to inaugural committees and whether or not our statewide winners will accept the cash. From Charlie Spatz at Climate Investigations Center:

“In the coming weeks, Dominion Energy will almost certainly try to deliver a $50,000 check to Governor-elect Northam for his inaugural committee. In Virginia politics this is routine–since 1998 Dominion has contributed over $225,000 to gubernatorial inaugural committees. No other corporation has donated more than Dominion to these committees according to records kept by the Virginia Public Access Project.”

Our statewide candidates raised tens of millions of dollars for this single campaign season; indeed, the Northam campaign emphasized fundraising prowess in a recent memo on how they won. I think they can handle replacing one donor – or, as a Virginia activist recently put it – “One less buffet line.”

Action

(1) If you want to keep Dominion money out of the inaugural committees, perhaps because you understand for-profit entities don’t give money without some expectation of return, send your concerns to:

Clark Mercer, Chief of Staff, LG Ralph Northam:
Clark.Mercer@ltgov.virginia.gov804.786.2078. 

The Transition

As Governor-elect Northam prepares his incoming Administration, it’s necessary to scrutinize the cabinet picks. Specifically, we need to make sure that whoever succeeds Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward doesn’t have close ties with Dominion. We should also pay attention to the DEQ Director position.

Marianne Radcliffe has been chosen to lead the transition team. A former lobbyist for Virginia Natural Gas, Radcliffe appears to be tangled in a web of connections to corporations behind the proposed fracked-gas pipelines. DeSmog reports:

“Yet perhaps even more significantly, Radcliff is also longtime lobbyist for Fluor Corporation, a multinational construction and engineering company with extensive operations in the oil and gas industry. In the past several years alone Fluor has been involved in the construction of three natural gas-fired power plants owned by Dominion: Brunswick County Power Station, Bear Garden Power Station, and Greensville County Power Station. Dominion has tied the latter two facilities explicitly to the Atlantic Coast pipeline, arguing that the pipeline will deliver gas to power the new stations.”

Recall that Tom Perriello sold his stock in Fluor Corporation during the primary to demonstrate his commitment to opposing the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines.

Actions

(2) If you want a Secretary of Natural Resources and a DEQ Director without Dominion ties, send your concerns to the head of the transition team:

Marianne Radcliff: mradcliff@kemperconsult.com, 804.649.7945.

(3) Also send your concerns to Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and DEQ Director David Paylor:

Molly Ward: molly.ward@governor.virginia.gov, 804.786.0044.

David Paylor: david.paylor@deq.virginia.gov, 804.698.4020.

Pipelines

There’s no need to make the case against the pipelines here. If you’re unfamiliar with these dangerous and unnecessary projects, read a synopsis of critiques, a discussion of some science, and a case for racial justice. Though Northam’s campaign was financially backed by the interests behind the pipelines, we should vigilantly refuse to allow the completion of a pipeline quid pro quo (in a non-legal sense).

In my opinion, anti-pipeline activists should focus on Governor Terry McAuliffe as well. If McAuliffe plans to run for president, he has every incentive to kill the pipelines with a “nod” to the DEQ. After all, with such a talented field of Democratic candidates already talking about running in 2020, does McAuliffe really have a shot if he’s opposed by environmentalists? Will Democratic voters, prone to identity politics, choose a white, male, corporate Democrat who folded to Trump’s fossil-fuel agenda? Unlikely.

Actions:

(4) Attend the Water is Life Rally & Concert on Saturday, December 2nd, in Richmond. Event details here

(5) Show up in solidarity and protest at the Virginia Water Control Board final hearings on the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines: 

Mountain Valley Pipeline: 9:30 a.m.Wednesday, December 6, 2017, and Thursday, December 7, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline: 9:30 a.m.Monday, December 11, 2017, and Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

You can find the agendas here.

(6) Contact Governor McAuliffe and appeal to his presidential ambitions (because appeals to principle, the environment, property rights, public health, and consumer protection have been insufficient):

Paul Reagan, Chief of Staff, Gov. Terry McAuliffe: paul.reagan@governor.virginia.gov, 804.786.2211

(7) Contact Tom Perriello and urge him to use his platform to combat the proposed pipelines. Though Tom deserves a respite after months of campaigning for our amazing House of Delegates candidates, now is the time for him to rejoin the fight.

Legislation

Pending the recount in HD 94 and the shenanigans in Stafford County, Virginia Democrats could be in a position to proactively legislate in the House of Delegates. We need to make sure our elected Democrats understand the importance of diminishing Dominion’s political influence immediately.

State Senator Chap Petersen will introduce a bill to prohibit political contributions from public service corporations (e.g. Dominion), as he did last session. We already have 10 members of the General Assembly who’ve committed to supporting this bill.

Sen. Petersen will also introduce a bill, as he did last session, to repeal the 2015 “rate freeze” bill (SB 1349), which suspended regulatory reviews of electric rates. According to an SCC report, Dominion Energy has pocketed over a quarter of a billion dollars that – in part – should have been refunded to ratepayers. Governor McAuliffe has claimed he’d sign Petersen’s repeal bill if it made it to his desk; presumably Ralph Northam would do the same. We already have 12 members of the General Assembly – including Republican Del. Steve Landes – who’ve committed to supporting Petersen’s repeal bill. 

You can read objections to the 2015 “rate freeze” bill from the Richmond-Times Dispatch Editorial Board, former Democratic Attorney General Andrew Miller, former Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Jeff Schapiro at RTD, and AG Mark Herring.

Also keep in mind that Dominion has a very savvy team ready to mitigate damage in the General Assembly. We should be suspicious of rate-freeze repeal bills coming from legislators like Sen. Dick Saslaw or Sen. Louise Lucas, two of Dominion’s top investments on the Democratic side of the state senate. The same goes for bills from Del. David Toscano or Del. Charniele Herring. Repeal bills from Republicans, of course, should be closely scrutinized – especially from Sen. Tommy Norment or Sen. Frank Wagner. You can examine Dominion contributions to our Democratic Party network here.

Actions

(8) Contact your representatives in the House of Delegates and State Senate. Implore them to support both a ban on contributions from public service corporations and a repeal of the 2015 “rate freeze” bill.

(9) Contact your local party officials, candidates who fell short last Tuesday, and advocacy groups. Implore them to push these ten actions.

(10) Thank the 13 Delegates-elect who pledged never to accept contributions from Dominion Energy or Appalachian Power. Remind them of the importance of supporting a ban on contributions and a repeal of the 2015 “rate freeze” bill.

Actions Condensed

(1) If you want to keep Dominion money out of the inaugural committees, perhaps because you understand for-profit entities don’t give money without some expectation of return, send your concerns to:

Clark Mercer, Chief of Staff, LG Ralph Northam: Clark.Mercer@ltgov.virginia.gov, 804.786.2078.

(2) If you want a Secretary of Natural Resources and a DEQ Director without Dominion ties, send your concerns to the head of the transition team:

Marianne Radcliff: mradcliff@kemperconsult.com, 804.649.7945.

(3) Also send your concerns to Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and DEQ Director David Paylor:

Molly Ward: molly.ward@governor.virginia.gov, 804.786.0044.

David Paylor: david.paylor@deq.virginia.gov, 804.698.4020.

(4) Attend the Water is Life Rally & Concert on Saturday, December 2nd, in Richmond. Event details here.

(5) Show up in solidarity and protest at the Virginia Water Control Board final hearings on the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines:

Mountain Valley Pipeline: 9:30 a.m.Wednesday, December 6, 2017, and Thursday, December 7, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline: 9:30 a.m.Monday, December 11, 2017, and Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

You can find the agendas here.

(6) Contact Governor McAuliffe and appeal to his presidential ambitions (because appeals to principle, the environment, property rights, public health, and consumer protection have been insufficient):

Paul Reagan, Chief of Staff, Gov. Terry McAuliffe: paul.reagan@governor.virginia.gov, 804.786.2211

(7) Contact Tom Perriello and urge him to use his platform to combat the proposed pipelines. Though Tom deserves a respite after months of campaigning for our amazing House of Delegates candidates, now is the time for him to rejoin the fight.

(8) Contact your representatives in the House of Delegates and State Senate. Implore them to support both a ban on contributions from public service corporations and a repeal of the 2015 “rate freeze” bill.

(9) Contact your local party officials, candidates who fell short last Tuesday, and advocacy groups. Implore them to push these ten actions.

(10) Thank the 13 Delegates-elect who pledged never to accept contributions from Dominion Energy or Appalachian Power. Remind them of the importance of supporting a ban on contributions and a repeal of the 2015 “rate freeze” bill.

  • Ken Wheeler

    Could you please, please, please add an action to start funding State Delegates now. If 10% of the people who voted for our Delegates gave their Delegate $15 dollars a month, starting now, they would each raise close to 500K. 15 Dollars a month for many of our suburban delegate district residents, is giving up valet parking once a month out, or giving up 3 Starbucks. It is a pittance, for the benefit of allowing delegates to focus on listening and legislating for us. All of the newly elected have campaign accounts. They all can support credit card auto charges. A small monthly installment payment would wipe out the need for corporate fundraising. Plus, our delegates share, and so by supporting your local delegate, who you can hold accountable, you will be supporting efforts to move further into rural VA. Money they don’t need for their re-election can be moved to support other candidates as needed. I know Kathy Tran will. I am already giving her $25 dollars a month. By the time 2019 rolls around, I am going to be a major donor, without ever breaking a sweat. Many people who read this, could afford 5 or 10 dollars a month. The secret is volume and time.

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