Part Three of my interview with House of Delegates candidate Angela Lynn.
Fairness and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Angela: “I’m a fighter. When I met my husband, I was a college basketball referee, and this was in the early ‘80’s when there weren’t very many women doing that. First I ref’ed for the armed forces – the men and women’s teams – and then I went out to the colleges in Arizona, Texas, and in Michigan. Even though people were this tall and had never seen a woman walk out on the court before, I’m the referee and they had to listen to me. The referees and umpires, we have rules. And some guys would look at me and laugh, but they’d still have to listen to me.
I think fairness was a big part of my whole make-up.
I like to be able to feel that people follow the fairness rule of life. And then everybody will feel that nobody is being taken advantage of. I just don’t see that happening in politics. I had never planned on being a politician. But I am somebody who acts. And, yes, it will be a fight. I want everybody –democrats, tea partiers, republicans, everybody who is feeling left out –to have a voice. Is it a blue and a red fight? Not necessarily in this district anymore. Because we have key issues dividing the parties… and one of them is the pipeline.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline [the route proposed by Dominion Power] creates two new friendships that aren’t normally there – environmentalist and eminent domain people. And these were party-line drawn types of people. ’I’m a democrat so I’m and environmentalist’, ‘I’m a republican so I’m an eminent domain supporter’ but there were concerns that they both shared. What’s going to happen to this land? What’s going to happen to Our land? Our water? Our mountains? Our Virginia? This issue is uniting people. And how did it get this way? How did it get to be that we don’t have any say over our own land? This is the issue that may push this district out of Landes’ hands.”
Question: “What do you think the alternative is for the pipeline?”
Angela: “A route that would have less impact. They [Dominion Power] keep moving it but they don’t bring the people in who have studied the land. The water conservationists and land conservationist. This bothers them. The big issue is the water. It’s the main issue now. Because there are certain impact studies that won’t be complete when construction begins, so residents and homeowners are saying ‘Wait! Can we at least wait to see what these impact studies will say’, and Dominion Power is saying ‘No, push! Push! Push! Go! Go! Go!’ That bothers people because this is something we all share. The Department of Environmental Quality [DEQ] has stated that they don’t have the policing power to watch this entire route, so that bothers people. So now there’s going to be litigation. There shouldn’t be a rush. Safety should be there. Quality should be there. And definitely our water supply should not be imperiled.”
Question: “So you’re not really against the pipeline.”
Angela: “No, I’m just against irresponsibility. I don’t think they [Dominion Power] did a good job with the public trust. Politician just got quiet and said ‘we can’t do anything about it’ and they could. They could have said ‘look we gotta stay out of the water, we gotta go a route that make sense.’ They talked about a shared route. Creigh Deeds and Dickie Bell talked about having a shared route, but once it was handed over to Dominion, they didn’t have to talk to anybody where the route will be. So there is suspicion because of the lack of transparency and the idea that maybe they’d get more money by not having a shared route. At this point, Dominion has diminished the public trust so badly that it almost needs a whole recall.
Are the people who care about the water going to be part of the discussion group? What about the people who are concerned about the size of this pipeline going through mountainous terrain that’s never been done before? Are they going to be part of the discussion group? They keep moving the route but they don’t bring these people into the discussion. Water quality matters. Personally, I think it’s great to have something besides coal.”
Comment: “It’s much cleaner energy.”
Angela: “I think the issues are more on the natural aquifers. Once you ruin them, they’re ruined. Eminent Domain is a whole other issue. Farmers in rural Augusta have a saying ‘To the Last Tree’, meaning to my very last tree they don’t want you telling them what to do. As far as the environmentalists – the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Piedmont Environmental Law Center – they do not like the pipeline’s route. It currently would create more problems environmentally than need be. If there’s a better way to do it, Dominion hasn’t come up with it. They’d like to see Dominion put it in an already existing route, but Dominion doesn’t even have those discussions with people. That’s what people don’t like. They weren’t represented.”
Question: “Will Dominion cut surface transportation [trains and trucks] once the pipeline is in? Is that the deal? Is it a safety issue to put in the pipeline?”
Angela: “In the end, it still comes down to transparence issues. They’ve never put a 42-inch diameter pipe through mountainous terrain. And there’s a lot of money in politics already so it doesn’t look good. It doesn’t feel good.”
Question: “is there any mandate that Dominion Power has to provide a certain percentage of their electricity via renewables? Before we begin digging up mountains, is anyone holding Dominion Power up to a standard?”
Angela: “From what I hear, no one tells Dominion Power what to do at all, which is another issue. The question is should renewables have more…”
Comment: “If we agree with what science is saying about global warming, we need to stop putting more carbon in the air. And I know natural gas is not as bad as coal. We all know natural gas is not as toxic as coal. And perhaps fracking is better than mountaintop removal, but that’s like saying skin cancer is better than brain cancer. I don’t want either one.”
Angela: “They put some renewables into the energy plan, but not enough. People would like to see a lot more renewables because of the new technologies. Solar panels and such.”
Comment: “Dominion gets lots of perks from the state because they’re a utility.”
Angela: “It’s one of those things that people say ‘I’m glad it’s not me’ but it is somebody It’s very contentious. Working with conservation and easements here in Albemarle County, we have done so much. 95% of Albemarle County is designated as no growth, and if Dominion came along and upset the things we’ve been working on, we would be up in arms about it.”
Comment: “There used to be cows nearby, now it’s all subdivisions.”
Angela: “I understand. Progress has to come with making people feel secure. “
Comment from one of the guests: “It had an effect on our family. Our family used to own acreage on Claytor Lake in Southwest Virginia. And they wanted to run a power line right through our woods and right across the lake. Well, one of my brothers was in a position to fight that, but of course it didn’t do any good. And it cut right through. So we lost about twelve acres to the pipeline and its prime waterfront property. And so it affected the value significantly. And it’s very, very disruptive. One issue is contiguous forest. Once you break a forest and you have this big mowed area that brings in grasses that were never there, you’ve open up the forest to invasive species. Old oak, maple, and chestnut forests start getting Ailanthus altissima [also known as Tree of Heaven – very invasive species], and all these other destructive things, that come in and choke out the native plants. So where the Atlantic Coast Pipeline cuts through the forests in this plan is something environmentalists are very concerned about. Where does it end?”
Angela: “It won’t end before my election. They have the scoping and perking decision in late August, so that will make people even more upset or something. I wouldn’t vote party line and I definitely wouldn’t a certain way just because someone gave me money. But now, they’re saying there’s nothing they can do. They can’t stop Dominion Power.”
Comment: “Government is supposed to regulate utilities, not the other way around. And yet this is what I’m hearing. That Dominion is regulating the government. And who is paying for it? We’re paying for it. More and more needs to come from renewables. That needs to be the law.”
Angela: “If you don’t feel like you’re being represented, whether it’s your vote, whether it’s your voice, whether it’s your backyard, whether it’s your mountain, if you don’t feel like you’re being represented, then what are these guys doing? That’s the whole point. But they don’t need your vote because they’re safe. That’s why I’m running against Steve Landes. And thank God a couple of other women are opposing other men in the Valley. April Moore is going against Obenshain, and Ellen Arthor against Cline. And the thing is, we didn’t have enough women, we need some women, but also, just to stand up against these guys and say ‘You know, you’re not too big.’ We have to have real representation.
Follow up on: The Curse of Oil Producing Nations
Petroleum is a curse. For the consumers and even more for the producers. Consider oil rich Nigeria. Excerpt from Obama’s Dream Realized, Nigeria’s Nightmares Just Began By Toyin Dawodu
In Nigeria, oil is used as a weapon of Mass destruction, while in America, oil is used as a weapon of Mass Prosperity. In Nigeria, everywhere there is oil, there is extreme pollution, huge joblessness, hopelessness, and poverty. There is no electricity, no running water, no plumbing and no functioning schools.