Sunday, February 23, 2020
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The Wandering Canvasser Visits…California?!

I wanted to do more canvassing this past weekend, but my family needed me in California. So, I took a break. Well, not really,...

Are We Stuck with Jeff Sessions, AG?

Not long ago, as all will recall, President Trump was badmouthing his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Many rallied to warn off the President from firing...

Sessions Humiliated? That’s Not How I See It.

Interesting to me: the recurring media description of the Trump/Sessions drama in terms of Trump humiliating Sessions. (How long will Sessions be willing to...

The Coming Constitutional Test. Will America Pass It?

This piece will be appearing, in the next couple of days, in newspapers in my conservative congressional District (VA-06). ************************* It seems as clear as can...

Republicans in Congress, Is This Too Much to Ask?

This piece will be appearing this weekend in two newspapers in my conservative congressional District (VA-06). ************************* I realize that you Republicans in Congress are in...

How Determinative is Winning – or Losing – the Governor’s Race...

How much correlation - let alone causation - is there between a party's performance at the top of the ticket (governor) and the rest...

Likely 2017 Virginia GOP Attorney General Nominee Clerked for Clarence Thomas;...

With the announcement by Del. Rob Bell (R) that he will not be seeking the 2017 Virginia GOP's Attorney General nomination, it's looking highly...

Dominion Admits Cost of North Anna 3 Nuclear Plant Will Top...

Dominion Virginia Power is projecting that the capital cost of a third nuclear reactor at its North Anna facility will total over $19 billion, according to filings in its 2015 biennial review before the State Corporation Commission (PUE-2015-00027).  

This works out to over $13,000 per installed kilowatt, according to the testimony of Scott Norwood, an energy consultant hired by the Attorney General's Department of Consumer Counsel to analyze Dominion's earnings evaluations. He notes that this capital cost is "approximately ten times the capital cost of the Company's new Brunswick combined cycle unit," which will burn natural gas.

As a result of this high capital cost, the  "total delivered cost of power from NA3 is more than $190 per MWh in 2028." That translates into 19 cents per kilowatt-hour.

By comparison, in 2014 the average wholesale price of electricity in the PJM region (which includes Virginia) was 5.3 cents per kWh. Dominion currently sells electricity to its customers at retail for between 5.5 and 11 cents/kWh.

In other words, NA3 is ridiculously expensive.

Dominion had kept its cost projections for NA3 secret until this rate case forced the disclosure. Previously, executives had acknowledged only that the cost would be "far north of 10 billion."

This cost revelation may point to the real reason Dominion pushed so hard for SB 1349, the 2015 legislation that insulates the company from rate reviews until 2022. As Norwood testifies, "DVP forecasts a dramatic increase in NA3 development costs over the next five years, during which there will be no biennial reviews."  

Reversing 2013 Cuccinelli opinion, AG Herring says localities can ban fracking

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an official advisory opinion on May 5 holding that Virginia localities have the right to prohibit hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") as part of their power to regulate land use within their boundaries. The letter reverses a two-year-old opinion by former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Herring's opinion cites §15.2-2280 of the Virginia Code, which grants broad zoning powers to localities. These include the power to "regulate, restrict, permit, prohibit, and determine" land uses, such as "the excavation or mining of soil or other natural resources." Thus, writes Herring, "I conclude that the General Assembly has authorized localities to pass zoning ordinances prohibiting fracking. The plain language of the stature also authorizes localities to regulate fracking in instances where it is permitted."

The letter is not available online as of this writing, but is expected to be posted on the Official Opinions page.

Herring's opinion comes in a letter to Senator Richard Stuart, who had asked whether Virginia law allows localities to prohibit "unconventional gas and oil drilling," commonly known as fracking, and whether they may use their zoning authority "to regulate aspects of fracking, such as the timing of drilling operations, traffic, or noise."

The letter overrules a January 11, 2013 opinion by then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, which held that the General Assembly had preempted localities' right to regulate or ban drilling when it passed the Virginia Gas and Oil Act.  Under §45.1-361.5, localities may not "impose any condition, or require any other local license, permit, fee, or bond to perform any gas, oil or geophysical operations which varies from or is in addition to the requirements of this chapter."  

DACA’s Two Year Anniversary

Two years ago following Congress's failure to pass the DREAM Act, President Obama issued an executive order providing some residents who arrived as children the ability to openly participate in and contribute to the economy. This is no free pass and not a path to citizenship. It deals with reality.

This anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) marks the beginning of a new cycle for its beneficiaries. This is a discretionary grant of relief from the threat of removal for a term of two years. The significance of that term today is that the first set of applicants are now in the window for renewal. Because it is not a permanent status, renewal applicants receive the same scrutiny as they did when first applying. Renewal is neither automatic nor certain in the long term. In the short term it assures the simple dignity of acknowledged existence.

For Virginians who achieve this status, there are three significant benefits that confer beyond blocking removal for a term. First, they can legally work. They receive a social security number. Next it provides the status required to obtain a driver's license even with the punitive Virginia statute establishing absurd presence requirements. And, almost two years after the status was established, thanks to an opinion by Attorney General Mark Herring, they may attend college as in-state residents.