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VIDEO: Virginia Elected Officials, Faith Leaders, Social Justice Advocates Gather At Capitol To Release Exposé of Dominion Energy and Announce “Off Fossil Fuels by 2035” Bill

Bill would require at least 80% clean electricity in Virginia by 2028, 100% by 2036.

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UPDATED 3:50 pm: Video of the press conference just below this update. At 37:45, Del. Sam Rasoul announced two pieces of news – 1) that the case against Red and Minor Terry has been dismissed (yay!); and 2) that the Northam administration might dismiss two members of the Air Pollution Control Board, both of whom oppose the compressor station for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Union Hill (grrrr).

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Environmental group Food and Water Watch, which “champions healthy food and clean water for all,” is out with a new exposé of Dominion Energy, which you can view below. A few highlights from the report are as follows (bolding added by me for emphasis).

Also note that at 3 pm today, “Delegate Sam Rasoul (District 11) and Delegate Elizabeth Guzmán (District 31) will stand alongside other elected officials, community faith leaders, and social justice advocates to announce the Off Fossil Fuels by 2035 bill.” This bill, HB1635, would establish a “moratorium, effective January 1, 2020, on approval by any state agency or political subdivision of any approval required for (i) electric generating facilities that generate fossil fuel energy through the combustion of a fossil fuel resource.” It would further require that “at least 80 percent of the electricity sold by a retail electric supplier in calendar years 2028 through 2035 be generated from clean energy resource,” and 100% starting in 2036. This is superb, and absolutely SHOULD pass the Virginia General Assembly in 2019. But will it? Not if Dominion and its bought-and-paid-for elected officials have anything to do with it! Of course, that’s where we, the people, need to make our voices heard. Also, Virginia Democrats should pledge, right now, that if we take control of the General Assembly in November 2019, that they promise to pass this legislation in the 2020 session. Hello Dominion Dick $a$law? You down with that? LOL

With that, here are highlights from the report.

  • “Dominion Energy is one of the biggest U.S. utility companies and wields outsized political power in its home state of Virginia, where it has designed the rules that oversee its operations, padding its profits and threatening the climate with a renewed commitment to fossil fuels.
  • “Today, Dominion Energy and its subsidiaries and affiliates (Dominion) are aggressively pushing another fossil fuel — natural gas — to slowly replace the company’s coal-fired operations,” but of course natural gas “is no climate solution: gas-fired power plants emit greenhouse gases, and natural gas infrastructure like pipelines and power plants leaks the potent greenhouse gas methane that warms the climate”
  • Dominion has lavished politicians with at least $59 million over the past two decades…Nowhere is that more evident than in Virginia, where Dominion has long been the biggest corporate contributor to political campaigns, a dominant lobbying force and a generous gift-giver to legislators and officials. Dominion gave Virginia legislators over $430,000 in meals, cocktails, conferences, sporting events and hunting trips from 2008 to 2016, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project — including nearly $122,000 for Washington Redskins games.”
  • Top recipients of Dominion campaign cash since 1998 are: Dick Saslaw ($274k), Terry Kilgore ($197k), Kirk Cox ($149k), Tommy Norment ($116k), Creigh Deeds ($110k). Also of note: “In 2016, Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell and Dominion’s foundation combined gave $125,000 to the Peter Paul Development Center, which employed Virginia Delegate Lamont Bagby.
  • Dominion’s “foundation grants can appear to buy support or at least buy silence from recipients, including environmental groups that might otherwise oppose Dominion’s dirty energy operations.”
  • Dominion exercised its political power to repeatedly reshape Virginia’s electric utility regulation over its key subsidiary Virginia Power, largely to pad its profits by preventing the state regulator from protecting ratepayers from high electricity costs.”
  • Dominion is now expanding to become a key player processing, storing and delivering fracked gas from the drilling wells in the Marcellus and Utica shale basins in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia…Dominion is fueling fracking through its sprawling network of gas infrastructure.”
  • “The urgency of climate change requires a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels, but not only is Dominion increasing investments in gas-fired power plants and gas pipelines, it has only modestly invested in wind and solar power — and mostly outside of Virginia.”
  • Perhaps no one has profited more handsomely than
    Dominion’s chief executive and chairman Thomas Farrell II. Farrell joined Dominion in 1995, during the struggle to control Virginia Power, and rose to control the boardroom by 2007 Farrell’s total compensation from Dominion was almost $15.5 million in 2017 (including nearly $100,000 worth of private travel in the company airplane) — 50 percent more than he received in 2015.”
  • Dominion’s largesse is eased by Virginia’s lax campaign finance and conflict-of-interest rules. Virginia allows unlimited corporate campaign donations and permits elected officials to vote on legislation affecting companies in which they have substantial investments.”
  • Dominion has a “well-oiled lobbying machine” that, during the 2018 fight over the “Dominion bill,” ” fielded 22 lobbyists, including hiring one of Governor Northam’s key political advisers,” plus “a revolving door of former state legislators and lawyers from blue-chip Richmond law firms.”
  • Dominion runs multi-million-dollar media and “astroturf” campaigns, such as its 2018 push for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
  • “Dominion also has pumped money into shell organizations that downplay their direct industry ties in order to create astroturf support for their projects. Dominion, other Atlantic Coast Pipeline investors and the American Gas Association funded astroturf groups to engage the voters to ‘elect a pipeline’ during the 2017 Virginia elections. Dominion also sent 76,000 mailers to its employees, shareholders and retirees urging them to consider candidates’ pipeline positions when casting their 2017 vote. In 2018, these Dominion supporters contacted state legislators to back the Dominion-drafted utility bill.
  • The entrenched political power of Dominion is the single greatest obstacle to charting a clean energy future in the Commonwealth”