Home Energy and Environment Two Months After Publishing White Supremacist, Roanoke Times Editorial Page Hits Another...

Two Months After Publishing White Supremacist, Roanoke Times Editorial Page Hits Another New Low…This Time Fracked-Gas Pipeline Shill Ranting About Supposed “Eco-Terrorists”

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In recent months, there have been major changes at the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s editorial page (see “Veteran journalist Pamela Stallsmith named RTD’s first female opinions editor” and “Raynor is retiring as RTD Editorial Pages editor“), and what was once a far-right cesspool is now…kinda normal, actually. Amazing.

Meanwhile, 189 miles to the west, the Roanoke Times editorial page has been publishing some stuff that would have fit in very well at the old, far-right “Richmond Times-Disgrace” editorial page. For instance, back in February, the Roanoke Times posted an op-ed from a self-proclaimed “white supremacist” who argues that anyone mentioning racism is a racist, the Gov. Northam supposedly concurs with “murdering the new born [sic],” that “Feminists have dictated that all women, regardless of intelligence, education and sense of fairness, are not allowed to decide things for themselves,” etc. That same writer, by the way, has had his trash posted numerous times by the Roanoke Times, including one op-ed entitled Yes, we need to arm teachers; and another entitled “How to divorce poverty,” in which he riffs on “imaginary welfare leech Marry Freeloader Poverty’s plight,” ” tons of black, oriental and white success stories” (yes, he actually uses the word “oriental”), claims that “Marry Freeloader” needs to “take your sons and daughters to church via it’s (sic) free buses,” and rants “to hell with the secular atheists, their failed morality and their irresponsible belief in the innate goodness of man alone.” Sick stuff, the question being…why on earth would any legitimate newspaper publish it???

So today, the Roanoke Times went with another extreme op-ed writer (Craig Stevens, “a former senior advisor to U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman under the Bush Administration, is the spokesman for Grow America’s Infrastructure Now, a national coalition focused on promoting key infrastructure investments”) and another bizarre, filled-with-falsehoods-and-conspiracy-theories column, this one entitled “The real cost of anti-pipeline activism.” See below for some of the “highlights” of the crap Stevens spews out in the pages of the Roanoke Times (note: my comments in brackets and green):

  • “anti-pipeline protesters continue to threaten our access to affordable energy with dangerous protests and misguided ideology” [In fact, fracked gas is highly polluting, toxic, expensive – especially compared to energy efficiency and/or the plummeting costs of solar and wind power – and a horrible long-term investment; also, there’s nothing “misguided” about caring about the future of the planet or listening to the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who say we need to get off of fossil fuels ASAP; also, there hasn’t been, to my knowledge, anything “dangerous” about the vast majority of anti-pipeline activism here in Virginia]
  • “These efforts are not the local, grassroots movements they’d like the public to believe. Protests are carefully coordinated to cause as much disruption as possible.” [In fact, regular people who live along the routes of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline are the crux of the anti-pipeline movement, although clearly anyone who understands economics or listens to scientists knows that these boondoggles are both environmentally destructive and complete ripoffs]
  • “They have rightfully earned the nickname ‘eco-terrorists.'” [This is completely nuts; in fact, there has been nothing by anti-pipeline activists even remotely akin to “terrorism.” As for seizing people’s land, dropping rock-hard pellets on kids’ heads, trashing the environment for profit, etc., I’m not sure how Craig Stevens would describe that exactly…]
  • “The eco-terrorist ideology is rooted in a ‘keep it in the ground’ mentality that calls to end all fossil fuel use. This doomsday rhetoric purports that keeping resources like oil and natural gas underground will translate into a clean and affordable energy future. That’s not the case. Abandoning fossil fuels would be economically ruinous, and the eco-terrorist ideology ignores this basic science.” [OK, this is just insane. Not even worth a response, other to note that it’s all completely false and batshit. Oh, and to ask again, why did the Roanoke Times publish these unhinged ravings?]
  • “Studies have confirmed again and again that pipelines are the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally friendly way to move oil and gas.” [Completely absurd point, as almost all natural gas transported overland is moved by pipeline. But of course, Stevens completely misses the problems with the fracking process, methane leakage, damage from building and maintaining natural gas infrastructure, etc, etc.]
  • “Eco-terrorist ideology proves they’re not actually concerned about pipeline safety, just that they are willing to threaten public safety to keep fossil fuels in the ground.” [Again, why did the Roanoke Times allow this to be published?]
  • “Pipeline protests are typically unsuccessful in stopping a pipeline construction project, but they are successful in placing a heavy burden on taxpayers.” [In fact, these multi-billion-dollar pipeline boondoggles usually see their costs passed along to…yep, ratepayers like customers of Dominion Energy. The profits, of course, go to the shareholders of these wealthy, powerful corporations.]
  • ” What’s more, the increased use of natural gas — especially in electricity generation — is actually improving our environment.” [Completely false; in fact, fracked natural gas emits the highly potent gas methane, which means that gas “could warm the planet as much as coal in the short term.” Natural gas also is a fossil fuel, of course, with a lot of CO2 content, although somewhat less than coal…but again, that’s offset by the potent methane released in the fracking process.]
  • “No matter your ideology or political position, life relies on oil and natural gas for clean, affordable energy.” [This is Orwellian, completely backwards of reality, which is that fossil fuels are expensive, dirty, acidifying the oceans, melting the polar ice caps, fueling dangerous storms, raising sea levels, etc, etc.]

So again, why would the Roanoke Times agree to publish this fallacious trash? Do they believe that there are two “sides” to the science of man-made climate change? Do they want to maintain false “balance” in their editorial pages, even to the extent of allowing someone to use their pages to call peaceful environmental activists “eco-terrorists?” Not sure, but so far, the comments to this op-ed are scathing, including:

  • “Wait a minute. We ARE local people who are mostly paying our own bills and spending uncompensated time/travel/energy on this. I believe this is a placed op ed by an out of state, uninvolved person. He is doing what he is charging us with and did not do enough homework to know what is truth. I hope we’ll get a counter article to this. It’s bogus and likely even company propaganda.”
  • “I wonder if the industry paid him $2,000.00 for the propaganda piece as they did for years to every academic who denied climate change in commentaries and confused people for decades until we’re in the current situation of having only 11 years for radical transformation or all hell breaks loose as it already is with Bomb Cyclones, etc. This is tough club to sell those ideas here in Appalachia. We know the effects of fossil fuels. You can’t fool us.”
  • “Fracked gas pipeline construction is genocidal organized crime. The industry kills communities, and people. And yet it remains a crime for We The People to protect ourselves from the endless acts of violence that these criminals perpetrate against us. Stevens is a murderous conspirator.”
  • “Shame on the Roanoke Times for printing this outside agitator’s shoddy piece of PR crap. Starting to think the Times does not have its hometown readers’ interests at heart anymore. Since being bought by the billionaire, service has plummeted and the quality journalism we used to love and respect is sadly missing. We need our own paper again that serves the needs of local businesses and readers! May have to start one ourselves…”
  • “LOL – You think I’m not local? That Red and Minor Terry aren’t part of the Bent Mountain community? That Mara and Joshua aren’t the same people we’ve known all our lives? YOU are the stranger here – not us. YOU blew up a street in Durham yesterday – not us.”
  • And my comment: “Check this guy’s Twitter feed, it’s a piece of work For instance, he’s OBSESSED with Obama’s supposed reliance on a teleprompter and how many rounds of golf he played (but doesn’t mention that about his hero Trump, of course), is a global warming denier (of course), you name it. The question is, why would the Roanoke Times publish anything by someone like this?”