Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Support Science

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Support Science

An Open letter to Governor Northam.

I just don’t get it. I voted and canvassed for you last year because you stated that you would let science decide on whether Virginia should approve two massive 42-inch fracked gas pipelines to cross Virginia. But since you have been office, you have supported these pipelines despite overwhelming evidence against them.

First, they are not needed and thus the Virginia ratepayers (yes, that’s you Alexandria residents) will be paying a lifetime of charges for a pipeline which cannot be used for its 30-year lifetime if we are to abide by the original commitments to the Paris agreement. It will become a stranded asset.

Second, we know they aren’t needed because our current major gas pipelines are only operating at less than 60 percent capacity and that is not forecasted to rise any time soon. The only reason Dominion wants to build the pipelines is that they can receive their federally guaranteed 14 percent return which they can’t get from solar, wind or other renewables.

Third, private property is being taken via eminent domain because the only thing required to get approval on need from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is a contract between the pipeline company (partially owned by Dominion) and their fellow insider (Dominion). Even our Senator Kaine thinks this process is flawed and asked for a rehearing from FERC — which they denied.

Fourth, it’s not safe. No pipeline of this size has ever been built, but a “best in class” which comes closest recently exploded in West Virginia (luckily no one was killed) due to erosion from heavy rains. (It was 36 inches and built quite recently and included all the latest safety features.) But the explosion location was nowhere near the steep slopes which the Virginia pipelines will have to cross. Does anyone think erosion like this won’t happen in Virginia? Especially when these pipelines are slated to cross miles of “Swiss cheese-like” karst which is prone to sinkholes and landslides.

Over the last year more and more Virginia delegates and senators have publically announced their opposition to these pipelines – in fact even “Dominion” Dick Saslaw has called for stream-by-stream environmental review to protect the drinking water of Roanoke and hundreds of other residents of Virginia. You Governor, have the unique ability to cancel the 401 water permit as not compliant with Virginia’s clean water requirements and turn all those opposed to the pipelines into supporters of the next Blue Wave in 2019. You can support the science and support the party. When will you evolve and decide we should be spending money securing jobs by making our homes and business more energy efficient than on pipelines which will only help condemn our world to more extreme weather events?

Kathie Hoekstra