In two recent columns, Del Ken Plum issued a “dire warning” about climate change and called for an end to coal subsidies, intensive green job development, a carbon tax and more renewable energy.
But as I pointed out recently, Virginia is poised to allow a $12 billion investment in climate change inducing methane for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipelines. Plum seems to have a blind spot when it comes to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is being proposed by Dominion Energy, Plum’s largest campaign contributor.
Now Plum has a new target: his own constituents. Plum now tells us to take “personal responsibility for climate change” by planting more trees, riding a bike and driving less. Apparently, it’s our fault.
In fact, 100 large corporations are responsible for more than 70 percent of the world’s climate change. The “personal responsibility” mantra only diverts attention away from corporate culpability. In Virginia, which allows unlimited campaign donations, Plum and others love to talk about climate change but are silent when it comes to Dominion Energy, the Commonwealth’s major climate change offender and the largest donor to both political parties.
Their silence has consequences.
Just this past week, the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board held hearings on Dominion’s request to build a massive pipeline compressor station in the historic 85 percent African American community of Union Hill, which was settled by freedmen after the Civil War. The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP and Governor Northam’s own Advisory Council on Environmental Justice have denounced the proposed Union Hill compressor station as environmental racism. Delegates Jennifer Carroll Foy and Elizabeth Guzman went to Richmond to join a chorus of social justice advocates to stop Dominion. Air Board members expressed concern about environmental racism and the pipeline’s effect on climate change.
Ken Plum was nowhere to be found.
If Ken Plum really wants to take “personal responsibility,” he should denounce the environmental racism of Dominion’s plans for Union Hill; urge Governor Northam to direct the Department of Environmental Quality to revoke certifications for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines; and join the growing list of legislators who refuse campaign contributions from Dominion Energy.
Until then, Plum has no business telling the rest of us to take personal responsibility for climate change.
Jon Sokolow is an attorney, writer and activist who has lived in Reston for 25 years.