I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but the more I see how Dominion Energy and other fossil fuel interests are behaving vis-a-vis anti-pipeline activists, the more I’m wondering if there might be some sort of organized smear campaign going on. (UPDATE: just to be clear, I’m certainly not trying to say there’s anything bad about being anti-fascist; I’m just saying that the right wing has been attacking “Antifa” for months now, and THEY definitely mean it as a smear, slur, insult, etc. Also, it’s simply factually inaccurate to lump the vast majority of environmentalists together as “Antifa,” as these are different things.)
Exhibit A: The November 29 Washington Post article, “Campaign to Elect a Pipeline,” which lays out the type of tactics – astroturfing, disparaging pipeline opponents as “absolutists,” attacking the media for not toeing the Dominion Energy line, etc. – our pals at Dominion has been using to jam their fracked-gas pipeline monstrosity through to fruition.
Exhibit B: Dominion’s astroturf campaign to encourage people to bombard “the Northam transition team in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”
Exhibit C: Dominion’s thuggish behavior at the recent Atlantic Coast Pipeline hearing, including a heavy police presence, people taking photos of anti-pipeline activists, etc.
Exhibit D: This over-the-top, fact-challenged interview with Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby, in which the Trump former Virginia co-chair hands it over to Ruby with a comment about “enviro thugs” (seriously, not joking here), and then Ruby gets into conspiracy theory la-la land, claiming “there’s been a concerted effort by anti-pipeline groups to really silence anyone in the community who has a different point of view than they do and to silence anyone who tries to express support for the pipeline publicly.”
Exhibit E: This bizarre article in the far-right Washington Examiner earlier today. It’s almost beyond parody, laughably claiming that pipeline opponents are “well-organized and well-funded much to detriment of America’s geopolitical standing”; referring to dirty/destructive fracking as “innovative drilling techniques”; and pointing to “an environmentalist version of Antifa working within the framework of a self-described “digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements” known as It’s Going Down” (something I’ve never heard of) in order to smear the 99.9999% of anti-pipeline activists who are peaceful and trying to persuade via letters to the editor, social media postings, testimony at public hearings, etc. And who is the author of this hit piece? A guy named Kevin Mooney, whose bio lists one far-right, pro-fossil-fuel organization after another: The Daily Signal (by the faaaaar-right Heritage Foundation); Tucker Carlson’s The Daily Caller, the also-faaaar-right Washington Free Beacon, The Washington Times, Breitbart, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, The State Policy Network, etc, etc. The bio further states that “Kevin specializes in reporting on the environmental movement, its impact on economic activity and new scientific data that questions the premise of man-made global warming.”
The bottom line is that Dominion Energy desperately wants its fracked-gas pipeline, just as other fossil fuel interests want their infrastructure projects (the Keystone Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, trashing our national parks and public lands for coal and other resources, etc.), and will go to great lengths – and great expenditures of dirty money to smear environmentalists – in order to win. Let’s all make sure we don’t let them get away with it.