We Can’t Count On Virginia’s State Government To Force Dominion To Decarbonize

An objection that is sometimes raised to municipalization: Why do we need to go through all this effort? Isn’t this a problem for the state legislature? Shouldn’t we just focus on electing the right people to the state legislature and governorship, and let them pass laws forcing Dominion to clean up their act?

Republicans have controlled the state legislature for the last 4 years and have passed no climate change legislation. So assuming Democrats take both the state house and senate in 2019, let’s look at who will be in charge.

Governor Ralph Northam: Northam takes in a huge amount of money from Dominion. Northam has also incorrectly maintained that the state does not have the power to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – a de facto approval of the pipelines construction. Northam went and replaced two members of the State Air Pollution Control Board who expressed misgivings about approving the construction of a compressor station for the pipeline. He even wrote a baffling opinion piece where he mentioned the IPCC 1.5c report, and then bragged that Virginia had set a goal of a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, which is far short of the 45% the IPCC report mandates. Last spring he failed to veto a budget provision that blocked funding for carbon-cutting regulations.

Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (probable Senate Majority Leader): Saslaw is widely known as being a reliable Dominion booster. He is the top recipient of Dominion money in the state senate. He has consistently voted for less oversight over Dominion and against energy efficiency standards. Saslaw received a D on the Sierra Club’s climate and energy report card in 2018, lower than some Republicans.

House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (Probable House Speaker): Continues to take money from Dominion. Voted in favor of SB966, which reduced the state’s ability to regulate Dominion and was opposed by progressives. That bill is partly responsible for Dominion’s excessive profit-taking. (To be fair, Filler-Corn is not alone here, most house Dems voted for SB966)

Unfortunately, this is bipartisan problem. Regardless of what party controls the state legislature in 2020, Dominion’s influence will remain strong and it is incredibly unlikely we will see meaningful movement towards aggressive decarbonization. It is conceivable that some day, the public opinion on climate change will move so much that real action will happen at the state level. We simply don’t have the time for that. We have to push!

Municipalizing would free us from Dominion and its political influence. Arlingtonians, not the Virginia State Legislature, would control the priorities and policies of its electric utility and could make sure they align with our values. Additionally, it would reduce the power of Dominion at the state level. Less customers means less money to spend on lobbying. And if other localities were to take Arlington’s lead, its influence could be reduced even further!

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Arlington Elected Officials Mostly Refuse To Take Dominion Energy’s Money

Dominion Energy’s incredible political influence in Virginia politics has become a serious political issue in recent years. Voters and elected officials alike have come to realize the negative effect Dominion’s lobbying has on Arlington. The result is that, as of 2019, only 1 out of the 12 state and local legislators elected by Arlington continue to take money from Dominion Energy.

House of Delegates:

State Senate:

County Board:

*Confirmed by email

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Dominion made $277 million in excess profit and there is nothing we can do about it

Dominion Energy made $277 million dollars more in profit than considered “appropriate” by regulators – and due laws recently passed, Dominion will be able to keep this money. This is money that could be used to lower customer’s energy costs or be used to fund the aggressive shift away from fossil fuels needed to forestall the climate emergency. Instead, the climate-change deniers at Dominion Energy will be able to use the money as they see fit.

This all could change, though. If Arlington municipalized its electrical utility, voters would have control over what was done with the money. We could use it to make our electricity grid more resilient, subsidize rooftop solar and home efficiency improvements, or build our own solar or wind farms.

Read more:

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Dominion Energy Has No Intention of Meeting IPCC goals

The IPCC report from October 2018 laid out aggressive new goals that the world must meet to prevent the worst consequences of climate change

  • A 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (as compared to 2010 levels)
  • Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Dominion Energy has made it clear they have no intention on meeting that goal. Dominion continues to build new fossil fuel infrastructure. This is incompatible with meeting IPCC goals.

  1. Dominion is the lead stakeholder in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is a 600 mile long natural gas pipeline. It would double Virginia’s carbon emissions.
  2. Dominion recently spent 1.3 Billion dollars to build a new natural gas power station. They claim natural gas is “clean-burning” – it is not. They intend to use the station for 36 years, well past the deadline for zero emissions.
  3. Dominion has told its investors that it intends to reduce its carbon output by only 55% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

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