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Video: Faith, Community Leaders Hold Press Conference on Pipelines After Meeting with LG Justin Fairfax

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First of all, good to see Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax do what Gov. Ralph Northam has NOT done, which is to sit down with pipeline opponents – for 1 1/2 hours, in this case, with “four of his top staff members” – to listen, take notes, etc. Now, the key will be whether he follows up with concrete action. Specifically, pipeline opponents want LG Fairfax to express his opposition against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, and hopefully also to urge Gov. Northam to use his authority under the Clean Water Act to immediately revoke the Section 401 certifications previously issued for these projects. We’ll see what happens, and I’d note that in July 2017, Fairfax said about these proposed pipelines:

“We’ve come out consistently and said that we don’t believe that the case has been made for the pipelines, so I’ve come out against the pipelines for that reason. There are obvious cons, and you mentioned some of the damage that the pipelines could do both environmentally to areas in Southwest Virginia in particular, the Atlantic Coast pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline. Also property rights; there are a number of families who would be negatively impacted with conservation easements…so that they won’t develop their land and in exchange would have it protected, so those will be violated. And I don’t know that the case has been made economically for why these pipelines are necessary and why they will benefit Virginia at a level that will compensate for the cons. So I have come out against those pipelines…I’m also someone who believes that we need to move toward a clean energy future; I’m against offshore drilling in Virginia. Increased wind and solar, grow those portfolios, because I think that really is not only the wave of the future with regards to protecting our environment, but also our economy. There’s been a large growth in green energy and clean energy jobs. That’s where Virginia needs to be moving.”

Second, check out the press conference yesterday by faith and community leaders, explaining why this is an environmental justice issue, an economic issue, and a moral issue. As VA-06 Democratic candidate Jennifer Lewis put it:

“One of the most heartbreaking stories was, we were driving in Highland County – and for those who have never been to Highland County, it’s beautiful, it’s very rural – and you literally just turn this corner and you saw destruction, you saw the clear cutting. And it had been raining, so it was muddy and it was dirty and it was gross. So this beautiful forest was clear cut. So we pull into the driveway of the home that was right next to this clear-cut, and I knocked on her door.  And she said, I don’t even own that land; that pipeline is 200 feet from my home, but since I’m not a landowner I get nothing. She began to cry and I cried too, we cried together on her doorstep. She’s going through her third round of chemo. So here she is living in one of the most beautiful areas of our state, and she’s facing this toxic gas that’s coming from the logging company as they destroy the forest…So those stories that make me even more committed to not only this fight, but we got to elect not just me in November, but other anti-pipeline candidates. And it’s not just a pipeline issue, it’s a racism issue, it’s an environmental justice issue. We’ve gotta be more mindful about our elections…It’s a life-or-death issue for so many people on this pipeline route, so we’ve got to do everything that we can…”