Note: The text from most of this post was published as an op-ed piece in the News-Leader on 7/17/20.
A Six-Year Fight Against Dominion
Celebrate the victory—the defeat of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a 600-mile, high-pressure, fracked-gas pipeline planned to rip through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. It was a six-year fight for people’s land rights, our water, environmental justice, and common decency. We defeated more than just a pipeline, we defeated the mendacious, well-funded fossil fuel lobby and their government allies, namely Virginia Governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam and the leadership at the very top of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
I often heard, “It’s a done deal, you will never win.” I never, ever lost hope and knew from the core of my being that somehow, we would win.
For sure, this victory could not have happened without the persistent, thorough, and ever-vigilant legal teams working for its demise, but what brought about the tsunami of opposition from thousands of common people like me? Our abhorrence of the pipeline goes much deeper than just the environmental and eminent domain issues.
More Than the Environment
It was easy for me to enter the fight. At first, it was because the pipeline was going to damage our streams and take people’s property against their will for corporate profit. And why did we need more fossil-fuel infrastructure when what we really need is a global, warlike effort to use renewable energy to stabilize climate change? Those were worthy enough causes to get in the fight, but what galvanized my resolve was how Dominion Energy, the builder of the pipeline, treated people—with disrespect, and bullying. My first galvanization happened the night of our only local Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hearing on March 19, 2015.
Dominion Slam-Dunked Our FERC Meeting
The meeting was strictly timed: a two-hour meeting with only three minutes for each speaker. It was FERC’s chance to hear from the people in Augusta County, whose land would be taken and whose streams would be damaged by the mayhem of constructing what would be the largest and most expensive fracked-gas pipeline in Virginia’s history. Dominion took advantage of us. They slam-dunked us. And that made me grit-my-teeth-mad and put me in the fight forever until the end.
My neighbor and I arrived two and a half hours early to stand in line to get our chance to speak for three minutes. I’ll never forget the well-dressed young woman with the clipboard greeting only some people as they arrived at Stuarts Draft Middle School. “Who is she?” I thought, and “Should we check in with her?” Some of the people she checked in were escorted inside to a special room and some were placed in line. What was going on?
Dominion’s clipboard lady was making sure the company had plenty of people speaking in favor of the pipeline. Dominion brought in so many people that many of the locals did not have their chance to speak. The imported speakers were treated to a meal in a private classroom, while other “imports” held their place in line. How was this fair?
Perhaps it’s no surprise that I watched the same scene unfold five years later on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court of the United States on the night of February 23, 2020. The Justices would hear the USFS v. Cowpasture River Preservation case, also known as the “Lorax” case, the next morning. I got there at 10:30 p.m. And there, another well-dressed lady with a clipboard was checking people in—placeholders for Dominion people and their allies. Just before dawn the next morning, the well-dressed, slick-haired Dominion people arrived to take their places in line, and this time money was exchanged for the placeholders.
We had been there all night, in the cold waiting for our opportunity to hear the case. I looked up at the towering Supreme Court building and saw the words, “Equal Justice Under the Law,” and thought, “how could this be? Is this really America?”
Dominion Used Quick-Take Condemnation
Another galvanizing moment for me was Dominion’s use of “quick-take” condemnation. I had never heard of this legal maneuver until the ACP. It’s a way to take possession of someone’s property in emergency situations before the court can award compensation to the landowner.
Union Hill—Textbook Case of Environmental Racism
The most recent case of blatant environmental racism occurred in Union Hill, Virginia. This was, perhaps, the most galvanizing moment for me. Dominion planned to build a compressor station there, which would have caused 24-7 air pollution and noise in a predominately African American community. The historic community had been founded by many of the current residents’ ancestors, who were newly freed slaves. Dominion and the Virginia DEQ both denied, even in federal court, that Union Hill was a community of predominantly African American citizens. The data were clear as day, and yet Dominion denied it in court. The judges saw through Dominion’s tainted lens of urgency and ruled against the company.
And what about Governor Northam? The man with the black-face scandal in his past who is now trying to restore his credibility with the African American community. I have not forgotten that he disbanded the Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice or that he removed two Virginia Air Pollution Board members for noting the racial injustice of the compressor station in Union Hill. I have not forgotten that he has been absolutely silent about Union Hill.
Dominion’s Blanket Permit to Cross Thousands of Streams
During his gubernatorial campaign, then-candidate Ralph Northam informed the media that he sent a letter to DEQ requesting that Dominion perform a stream-by-stream assessment of stream crossings instead of relying on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) Nationwide Permit. DEQ did not follow through on that. The ill-planned pipeline would have crossed over 1,400 streams in Virginia, 189 in Augusta County alone. I’m a farmer. I had to get an engineer to design a crossing for my cows to cross a stream on our farm. I also had to submit a joint permit application to the COE and the DEQ for my cows to cross the river. Did Dominion have to comply with the same regulations that a common farmer does? No! It received a blanket permit for all the stream crossings.
Dominion Violated Its Permit to Cut Trees
When Dominion began clear-cutting trees in the path of the pipeline in Virginia, the company was cited for violating the conditions of the permit. How could we trust Dominion to build the largest high-pressure pipeline in Virginia history when it could not even follow simple guidelines to fell a tree?
Common Decency Wins
In the end, it wasn’t just about the pipeline. It was about Dominion taking advantage of the permitting system, the government, the people, and their property. I was fighting for the environment, racial justice, and, most important, common decency. And this time, the people and common decency won!
So Many to Thank
To the thousands of pipeline fighters, organizations, lawyers, landowners in the path, journalists, and politicians that helped us defeat this pipeline, I want to say thank you. Thank you for your long-lasting support of our water, our property rights, and common decency.
In Virginia, we need to help our fellow pipeline fighters to defeat the Mountain Valley Pipeline and then help Virginia meet the goals of the Clean Economy Act. Economies that depend on fossil fuels are not sustainable. Rise up and help us move forward with climate change, environmental justice, and respect for each other.
My First Article About the ACP Was Published Six Years Ago
It has been an emotional six-year journey to defeat this pipeline. I went back to the first article I wrote about it, which was distributed by The Bay Journal News Service on September 23, 2014. The article, “Unwise Pipeline Calls for People Power,” remains on target today.
This was such an eye-opening read about the frustrating reality of the special treatment governmental agencies, politicians, and anyone with general power receives over us “common people”, so to speak. Whereas an average citizen must fight tooth and nail to protect what is theirs, many lobbyists will be able to cheat the system to further their agenda. Things such as blanket permits allow corporations/individuals to abuse their power.
The environmental racism case was also incredibly interesting to learn about. I learned a lot about environmental racism in a class I took my sophomore year and learned that one of the biggest hurdles in equality in that sphere is the difficulty to define what exactly constitutes environmental racism. As Dominion attempted to absolve itself from responsibility by denying facts and data, they were willing to wreak havoc on an African American community just to further their goals. It shows how cutthroat the fight for environmental justice remains to be.
Catherine, good comments. We’ll go into more detail about environmental racism when we study Union Hill.
it’s shocking to me that corporations are allowed to insert themselves into public hearings like they did at the FERC meeting. Its so upsetting that there are people willing to sabotage a meeting like this and not allow the locals voices to be heard. It was interesting to learn about the “quick take” condemnation and its honestly scary to learn that someone can lose their property so quickly and without any say in the matter. When it comes to the case of the environmental racism faced in Union Hill it’s interesting to learn that Dominion was able to deny the fact that Union hill is a predominately African American community and just dismiss facts and statistics like that. I had no idea just how many ways Dominion wronged the communities that surrounded the pipeline and how they took advantage of permits and the government to try and get their way.
This read was both good in that the overarching goal of getting the ACP cancelled was fulfilled but it was also troubling to see in a real world example how miniscule the government feels of the people. I think this example really shows that the government doesn’t care too much of individual land and thinks of public land as ‘something that they can do whatever they want with’ as long as it goes through the government. Something else that I got out of this post was that often times, the people really do know best. The people are the ones living on the land, farming on the land, and engaging with the land day in and day out. For a couple hundred or so individuals within government to make decisions for hundreds of thousands of people who are actually living on the land is pretty crazy to think about. Not only do I think this is a win for the environment but also a win for the image of the people; that the people should be making the decisions.
It was really interesting to learn about the different ways that Dominion violated their agreements. The violation that I found most fascinating was the cutting down of the trees. They were given very clear guidelines and could not follow them. This shows a level of great disrespect for the people administering the guidelines and the environment. It was also horrible to learn about the ways they were being racist in the building of the pipeline. This happens too often in the world, industries build infrastructures in areas where minorities are present. I am grateful that the government did not let Dominion implement these practices that would create more pollution in predominantly African American communities. I am hopeful with the new generation that big corporations will not take actions like this in the future.
It is so frustrating reading about how those in favor of the ACP were only interested in the money, and not the massive environmental damage that it would have caused and the property they would have stolen. In addition to all that the blatant racism with the compression station was really frustrating to learn about. It makes me wonder about the reason that they decided to place it there. Was it because they thought it would be approved better? Either way their actions really stir up anger inside me and make me want to become more informed about other situations like this occurring right now.
I think they went to Union Hill because they thought there would be little resistance. There is another pipeline . . . the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
There has not been enough light shed on the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. I knew of this issue from past news however, I was uneducated on the damage it would have caused nor the damage it did cause. The damage to farmers and society is astonishing and the way Dominion carried themselves through this process is disgraceful. Through a tough fight thankfully the pipeline was cancelled however, the issues this plan caused in society should not be brushed under the rug. Our environment is vital to our societies as a whole and corporations such as Dominion need to stop treating it as an elitist issue. The way this would have impacted countless farmers such as yourself is not something that should just be brushed over. These corporations need to held accountable for the actions just as farmers and other members of society are.
This article highlights to me the threat that big-money corporations pose to the democratic institutions in our country that protect our rights as citizens. The fact that Dominion was able to overpower local voices at a hearing simply because of the funds at their disposal is terrifying. I wonder how many of those people have children that play in these streams, livestock that graze the land, or if they even live in the affected area. Companies like these exploit our land and people with ease in order to optimize profit, while we, as “common people” are left to face the consequences. This case is a prime example of how money and oil lobbying has corrupted even our most local institutes of government. In my opinion, the defeat of this pipeline was a historic win for both environmental justice and democracy as a whole.
Yeah! Spot on, Caroline.
This blog shows the power that these big companies hold over their people. The goal of shutting down the ACP was a success, but the ways that it got to this point were corrupt and simply not fair. Dominion like the blog said manipulated the people by paying off placeholders in public hearing lines, or pushing away actual citizens of that community to allow Dominion spokespeople talk in their place to add support to the ACP. The environmental racism was another matter that pointed Dominion in the wrong because they tried to build a compressor station in the middle of a predominantly black community that would cause a ton of air pollution, and they tried to deny that it was not a predominant black community. Dominion stayed trying to take advantage of the citizens that the ACP would affect, but the situation that really made it surreal was Professor’s example. Professor Whitescarver stated that he had to get joint permit to have his cows cross the stream, but dominion just gets to bypass that permit and use the stream that takes away from actual farmers trying to do their job. Overall, I did not know much about the ACP or Dominion’s role in the project either, but now I know what steps they tried to take to win their argument or case.
I cannot imagine the anger those people at the public hearing felt due to their voices being silenced ultimately by money. Same thing with the African American community, silenced by money and a man who had already committed acts of racism in his past. The irony you spoke of, when reading the words on the Supreme Court while simultaneously having a corporation meddling in the process of due justice, very much spoke to me. I think in the fight to save the planet’s and environment, and so many more issues, many have felt a similar feeling.
It is really inspiring that activists across Virginia were able to come together to protest and win against a huge corporation like Dominion. However, after reading this article, it was really sad learning that Dominion clearly was aiming to take advantage of people in the communities that they serve and believed that they were going to be able ti fly under the radar “unchecked”. The big accomplishments in the Lorax case and Union Hill are encouraging to the overall issue of climate change that the world is facing. It shows that when well informed people come together under a cause, a lot of big changes and victories can happen. This also emphasizes the importance of staying educated on local and statewide issues and supporting in activism.
It is extremely frustrating to read about the oppression that took place during this timeframe, especially involving Dominion. Not only were they manipulating public hearings and court cases by inserting their own men into these local meetings, but Dominion also contributed to systemic racism in the country. The fact that it took six years for people to come to their senses and realize how wrong Dominions actions were, both in creating the pipeline and manipulating the public, makes me wonder if the government even cares about the people and the environment we live in, or if money is the only thing that truly matters to politicians.
Reading about this type of activism always gives me a little more hope for the political atmosphere. I think a lot of Political Science/Public Policy students get burnt out rather quickly because they see big ticket issues—climate change, poverty, homelessness but do not get to see any progress within them. I never knew that about the “quick-take” condemnation. I think that not only is this policy unjust to the common person, but after doing a quick google search, there doesn’t seem to be many listed benefits. In addition, it seems that this policy was created in order to leave space for elitism in the political system: to ensure that someone is always above “the people.”
Kristin, thank you. Good comment. Quick take condemnation is meant for emergency purposes and it does have a place. But not so a utility corporation can stay on their timeline.
This was a great read, and I really enjoyed that the pictures showed how excited and proud everyone was to participate. It is crazy to me to see how we are treated as “lesser than” individuals by big companies and corporations, only so that they can attempt to control, manipulate, and take advantage of their customers. It is also very slimy that dominion tried to cut multiple corners in order to give themselves a leg up in the situation. I’m glad that the people who put hard work into fighting this unjust situation were able to prevail and win because if big companies like Dominion were breaking regulations and laws in this scenario, they will probably try again with another pipeline in the future. Luckily, this is a great story that shows that democracy does have a place, and the people do have the power to overturn events like this. A great step forward for environmental policy and protection!
Spot on, Tyler. Thank you.
This article is a great example about how frustrating and long it can take to get something done but if you stick with it change can happen. Also, how money fuels the decisions of our elected officials which is wrong it should be about what is right vs wrong. I’m a big believer in only allowing locals to speak as they’re the one being affected. Where I am from, Loudoun, they only allow people that live in Loudoun to speak at school board and board of supervisor meetings. Loudoun did this as people from other counties were coming in when they were on national television about CRT and the sexual assaults that happened. In this case it should’ve only been Augusta County residents able to speak.
Julia, good story about Loudoun County! Thanks for sharing.
I very much enjoyed this article because it reinforced my opinions on corporations and their deliberate efforts to fulfill profit-motive regardless of their implications on people and the environment; it also gave me more insight into how they mistreat and exploit the public through the tactics they deploy. It was disheartening, but not surprising, to read how Dominion utilized its money and power to sabotage local hearings and national cases. Additionally, Dominion (and the DEQ) chose ignorance at Union Hill – they denied the empirical evidence used in federal court despite the validity of the statistics. I’m glad to hear that the efforts in defeating the ACP pipeline were successful; the mobilization of pipeline opponents was inspiring and gave me hope in our journey to better our environment and prevent climate change.
Well stated, Shreyas. Thank you.
It is awful how huge corporations can just take advantage of communities and are frequently not held up to the same standard as those communities are. The people who will be most affected by these changes should be heard first and foremost, not those who just want to make a profit. However, it does give me hope that there are many activists ready to not give up on creating real change or back down from facing those huge corporations.
Yes, Sarah. You are right!
It is clear to me that the effect of money and lobbying on our government is unsustainable. As the divide between the rich and the poor increases, especially after Covid in which oil companies made record-breaking profits while the rest of America was in an economic slump, the amount of influence these large companies have is magnitudes larger than the rest of us combined. This leads to politicians focusing on keeping the lobbyists that fund their reelection campaigns happier over trying to keep the citizens of those they represent satisfied with their representation.
Very good comments, Ian. Thank you.
While reading this article I found that the section on Union hill stood out to me the most. I wasn’t aware of the environmental racism that goes on in the world today. This is the first time that something like this had been brought to my awareness! I think it’s beyond crazy that companies can even put people’s lives in danger to where it would cause 24/7 pollution. I will never understand why Dominion would think it would be okay to build on land that is a historic area.
Tiana, very nice. We will get more into environmental racism a little later in the course.
I think this blog post goes to show that Dominion Energy does not care about the environmental repercussions of their actions. They deliberately tried to stop the opposing side from speaking at a public hearing and they do not care about the obvious issues with crossing over 1,000 streams in order to build their pipeline. There is no way they can do that without causing some sort of contamination to these bodies of water. Furthermore, they could not even clear-cut trees without a violation. Obviously, they would have some sort of violation if they tried to build a massive pipeline through three different states.
Spot on, Bryce. Thank you.
That is so so frustrating that Dominion got away with planting many people to agree with them and especially that those people didn’t even wait in line. I think the only public hearing I’ve been too was when I was young with my grandparents about hydro-fracking in upstate new york, and my grandma had my cousin and me make a poster against fracking and stand outside at the beginning of the meeting. I look forward to attending more in the future.
I also find it very interesting to look at the ways environmental issues insect with other social/economic issues in our world. It is especially important to recognize the ways environmental issues affect marginalized populations more severely, and how the little changes no one notices have huge impacts.
Felicity, thanks for the story about your grandparents and fracking. That’s awesome!
The defeat of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a well-awarded victory for the environmental community. Before taking this class, I was aware of the “no pipeline” movement but not at the capacity I know now. The ACP is a problematic 600-mile gas pipeline planned to run through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, crossing 1,400 streams in Virginia. Dominion began clear-cutting trees the path of the pipeline, not only in Virginia but in my actual backyard. Towards the top of the mountain directly behind my home, in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, there are overgrown clear-cuts made by Dominion for the ACP. Fortunately, the atlantic coast pipeline had come to a halt, and the native plants will take back over what is rightfully theirs.
Very good comment, Erin. Thank you.
This article demonstrates how, despite the various hurdles that are only intensified by our current system of corporate overreach, people can organize to save their communities and the environment at large. One of the most interesting parts of this article to me was the different ways that Dominion attempted to circumvent true critique and scrutiny of their plan, the most shocking to me being the hiring of placeholders. While this case turned out in victory, this article gives great insight into just how hard that victory was to attain and provides a blueprint for future battles to save our waters and environment.
It is incredible to see the juxtaposition of the mobilization of interested civilians versus the bigger actors involved. Within the FERC meeting, there was a power struggle in play. In this instance, because they packed the meeting with individuals for Dominion, Dominion won the battle; however, we see that with collective action and a strong willed body of people, it is possible for big companies to lose the war.
At this point from what I have heard about Dominion, they have so much money already (as exhibited by being able to hire placeholders to stand in line, hire expenses lawyers and lobbyists, etc) that I’m almost surprised they haven’t funneled money into some kind of renewable energy project as a way to “pay off” environmentalists. Maybe they don’t because they know the environmentalists will see through it.
I also appreciate that you included the fact that the ACP and other environmentally harmful projects are also harmful to the heritage of black and Indigenous communities. Environmental racism seems like it’s often overlooked and it’s an important component of this fight.
This blog post is inspiring to me because it proves that the underdog can win. It also makes me want to be more involved in current issues. At the start of this ACP battle, I was in High School, and I cannot recall hearing much about it. If I had known about this issue, I most definitely would have tried to be more involved. This story is encouraging, knowing that there are and will be environmental issues that I can take part in mitigating and advocating for the environment. I have been to a protest for Climate Change through the Environmental Management Club at JMU, and it was exciting and fulfilling knowing what I was advocating for and being surrounded by those who cared as much as I do. I want to make it my life’s career goal and goal in general to push for environmental justice, racial equality, and basic human rights through whatever means necessary. Although these legal, ethical, and political battles are not easy to go through, at least I will not have to do it alone.
Very good, Alyssa! Will you be writing about that protest?
I really liked this article because it shows how when you bring enough people together your goal can prevail, even if you are up against some big money and powerful people. There are so many instances where the environment seems to be at the mercy of a few key decision-makers and it feels like there isn’t much you can do personally to intervene. I think the biggest problem most of the time is that it’s hard to actually get the crowd to show up and people to stand in line for hours. I would be interested to learn more about how the public was organized to show up for these various protests. I also wonder if Dominion hadn’t been so blatantly taking advantage of people if the end result would have been different as people might not have been angry enough to show up. This article does a great job of showing how important it is for the public to get involved with environmental issues and politics and how impactful it can be when enough people truly care about an issue.
I grew up right off the Blue Ridge Parkway deep in Roanoke County, quite close to Franklin County. I was in high school when the Mountain Valley Pipeline was proposed, planned, and constructed. I lived at the bottom of a mountain range the pipeline would run through. I had friends all over those mountains. I remember when regular protests were not halting the pipeline development, people began tree sitting. Multiple people started tree sitting on our mountain, one I knew through mutual friends, and we cheered for them through the winter. Eventually, though, they were taken into custody for blocking the path of construction. The longest tree sitting to ever occur in America happened in opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. They were up there for 932 days. The pipeline was still built. When I visited from college, I would ride my bike up the mountain on the parkway. The pipeline was put just six miles from my house. It was an awful sight during construction. Clay was exposed and all the trees were gone. It went right through what used to be a farmer’s field.
I wish we could have fought it off like you all did with the ACP.
I was at the Virginia Clean Energy Summit just a few days ago, and for some reason, the Governor opened the conference. A man trying to dismantle the VCEA and withdraw Virginia from the RGGI. Laws and groups that fuel the clean energy industry and what everyone at this conference support. There were protesters outside the conference, supporting RGGI and the VCEA, and I found them so much more inspiring than what was being said in the convention center.
Protesters have so much power, and I think my generation has the drive to push for even more change.
Anna, I am grateful that you wrote this story. Thank you. I have been in protests with Red Terry and her daughter and sat with them in hearings. They were tree sitters for the MVP. Much of the MVP has been put in the ground but it is not a done deal. We are still fighting to defeat it. I would like for you to tell this story to the class when we get to this section and I would like to know more about your attendance at the clean energy summit.
This article was a very conflicting read. It was so cool to hear how, overall, people can speak their mind in this country, however, it makes me sad to think that there are some people or organizations trying to make short cuts and put themselves and profit above other people. I think a lot of the information in this article just reiterates how people can be greedy and careless when it comes to making profit. I’m glad to see people make their thoughts and feelings known, despite if I agree with them or not. Thanks for the uplifting read!
This article, although a fantastic win for environmental justice, is frustrating to read about how Dominion treated people at public hearings, violating agreements, and tried to overpower a minority community with misleading and out of date data. A hearing specifically to hear from the community which the pipeline was going to affect was overrun by Dominion simply because they have the money to do so, and the people who were going to have to live near the pipeline and deal with all of the consequences got pushed back and not heard. These examples show large corporations prioritize large profit margins over human decency of the people living in the surrounding areas and the large environmental consequences of projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It is fantastic how people came together to fight the unjust pipeline and hopefully will inspire communities to come together more to be able to fight against large companies who think they can take advantage of minority communities.
Especially during a time where working towards environmental justice can seem like a near-impossible uphill battle, it is great to see an example of common sense and decency prevailing. When I was young, my parents took me to pipeline protests and climate protests in D.C., but I didn’t have the education to understand exactly why pipelines were so bad for individuals, as well as for the community as a whole due to increased use of fossil fuels. One of the aspects of the article that stood out to me the most was that Dominion Energy was able to acquire a blanket permit for the stream crossings. Many of my classes explore the best ways to bridge the gap between legislators and farmers, because although they may both work towards the same goal of environmental sustainability, the distance between them sometimes results in policies that farmers see as unreasonable. However, if farmers are required to enlist engineers and invest much larger amounts of time and money for each individual stream crossing than companies like Dominion Energy have to for a “bundle” of stream crossings, it hardly seems fair to ask farmers to put in this work and money without question.
Spot on, Leah. Thank you.
This article was a great read and I learned a lot, especially about the tactics used by Dominion throughout the process of trying to get the pipeline approved. Inserting their own speakers into public hearings in order to sway the audience is something that just shows the amount of greed involved in the energy industry, and demonstrates that they really don’t care about how the public feels or how it would impact them. I’m glad that this pipeline was defeated, but it is obviously not the end of fighting against energy companies and their disregard for the environment and the public.
I loved the way that this article showed the many different people involved in making this pipeline haunting possible. There were so many people doing different things, so it was good to see a lot of them through the pictures and stories. It is sad to see the shortcuts and violations of contracts that the pipeline company took, and how people were hurt by it. However, the positive of stopping this project majorly overshadowed the harm caused by its early stages. This is a great example of how individuals can use their rights to stand up to a large corporation and actually succeed in a court of law.
The part where you described looking up at the Supreme Court building and seeing “Equal Justice Under the Law,” and having to question whether or not this was America was a highlight for me. America is praised for being the strongest democracy “Of the People, by the People, for the People,” yet the people can barely get a 3-minute audience with those in positions of power, supposedly representing us. I think it speaks to how much money talks in this industry, and how the detrimental effects on the environment and the people are an afterthought to be dealt with later down the line when they have already taken hold. The pipeline would’ve not only had all the terrible effects you mentioned, but it would’ve been an anchor for fossil fuel use for the next several decades. Instead, Dominion turned to other renewable projects like the offshore wind turbines set to be one of the biggest power generators in the country, and I don’t think they would’ve fully committed resources to the clean energy projects if the pipeline got completed.
Its eye opening to see just how much of an advantaged organized well funded organizations have in court and when seeking permits for large scale operations. In community meetings and in any court of law everyone should have to follow the same route in order to get their opinions heard. and should also have to follow the same regulations in order to get things done When we allow large organizations to pack up court houses and city halls with people who’s interest is in their payrolls we lose the meaning of these meetings to come together to hear out issues in an honest way.
This story really moved me. Good on you for recognizing something that others might not, and fighting for it until you saw it through. Too many large companies get their way by maneuvering through the law and creating special situations that will benefit them the most. If a hearing is to be held to hear the communities thoughts, it should be the community speaking. Not others brought by Dominion who are treated to dinner just to speak on their behalf. It is unethical and our laws give companies like Dominion the ability to cheat the system.
I love how this article showed both sides of an incredible win on the front of environmental justice. It is easy to get swept up in the fact that we “won”, however when you look more deeply at the different conflicts that came in opposition, it can be disheartening. It is extremely frustrating to think that there are organizations out there willing to sacrifice others wellbeing in order to turn a quick profit. Hearing about how dominion blatantly took advantage of people was an eyeopener, however, when it came back to bite them it felt like a bitter sweet victory. Overall I think this really showcased the importance of involvement in issues like this and made me think more about how we can stand up to the persistent fight against our environment.
My first reaction to this article is that people had to fight so hard against this huge pipeline operation, just for basic human necessities and common decency. It’s ridiculous that people have to camp outside of a building in the middle of winter just for the slim chance that they might be able to voice their opinions to someone who probably wont take their thoughts into consideration anyways. Virginians were arguing, “Please don’t ruin my farm, my family depends on it to survive” and “Please don’t pollute my water supply, my community depends on it to survive” and the government’s response was, “We may take that into consideration.” These are peoples lives we are talking about. There should not be so much fuss and debate about doing what is right. I will continue to support (justified) environmental activists and I am thankful that their are people in the world who are brave, strong, and outspoken enough to fight for our rights and wellbeing.
It’s encouraging to see how the people’s voice can still be heard if they fight hard enough, even while facing opposition from those who want these projects to pass, as shown in the case of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. While burning natural gas as an energy source may be cleaner than other alternatives such as coal, the fracking process is especially harmful to the environment and to the people who live near these operations. The documentary, “Gasland”, does a great job of showing how normal people are affected through their water when in proximity to fracking operations, and the health issues that come with it. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would’ve caused countless streams to become polluted with natural gas and it is fortunate that the pipeline did not come to fruition.
This article demonstrates how, despite the hurdles and issues that have been systemically put in place for those like you and me to enact change can not stop people from still organizing and coming together to save their communities and the environment. One section that i found to be most interesting was the different ways that Dominion attempted to hide the true critique and scrutiny of their plan, the most shocking to me being the hiring of placeholders. While at the end of the day, the case was one, this article gives the insight just to how long and grueling these battles with the big corporations can be but also how rewarding it can feel once accomplished
I was incredulous that Terry McAuliffe would run for governor again in 2021 and equally surprised that the media didn’t mention pipelines in general and the ACP in particular as a reason that he lost. This article provides an outline of Dominion’s offenses against voters with a generous assist from the democratic party. The Union Hill compressor station is the most egregious example. Black voters have complained for generations that they are taken for granted and not really seen by the democratic party. Dominion actually tried to make black voters in Union Hill “disappear” via bogus demographic court filings. Of course, the Republican party is also in Dominion’s pocket but they never pretended not to be.