Atlantic Coast Pipeline Roils Democratic Unity

There is mounting evidence of an increasing divide among Democrats as environmental liberals seek to pressure Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Ralph Northam over his position on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

NBC29 reports that protesters took the streets of Charlottesville at a local Albemarle Democratic Party meeting Saturday morning in an effort to question and increasingly pressure Northam to disavow fracking and any pipeline efforts:

“You can’t just talk out of both sides of your mouth and say you’re pro-environment and pro-pipeline, those things don’t go together, at all,” Jennifer Lewis, president of Friends of Augusta, said. “Pipelines burst, they leak, they explode, if you have one leak in a water source and it’s gonna go down stream, and it’s gonna end up in the bay.”

The anxiety for Lewis is that Northam is on record as having supported the pipeline and being a recipient of Dominion donations. She represents a significant movement within the Democratic party that is vehemently opposed to fossil fuels.

“In a perfect world I would love to see our Democratic governor candidate return the money he’s gotten from Dominion and come out against the pipelines,” Lewis said.

Northam, to his credit, is trying to assuage the concerns of this Sanders-Perriello wing of the party by traveling Virginia with his wife and holding focus groups.

“In the next few weeks, my wife, Pam, who’s an environmentalist, and I will be traveling around Virginia, not only to Charlottesville, but to places like Nelson County, Staunton, places that are affected by the pipeline and really sit down and bring people to the table and figure out how we can move forward in the best way,” Northam said.

Notable in the report is that Lewis is also the vice chair of the Waynesboro Democratic Committee and she says that she will not vote for Northam as long as he maintains his current position on ACP.

Of course, there is a candidate in the gubernatorial race who does support her ideas on ACP: Cliff Hydra, the Libertarian nominee.

Given Northam’s need for support from this base of the party, will he move his position further left?

  • MD Russ

    Interesting dilemma for Northam. The tree-huggers want to ban fossil fuels completely and convert an industrialized economy to windmills that kill millions of migratory birds and create noise pollution as well as solar farms that have their own environmental issues. And, of course, there is always the fairy tale that we can conserve our way out of the problem. But don’t even think of nuclear power generation. I am reminded of a bumper sticker from the Colorado School of Mines I saw many years ago, “Ban Coal Mining–Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark.”

    So since we are inextricably tied to fossil fuels, which ones do we use and how do we get it from the source to the point of consumption? The ACP is a natural gas pipeline, which is the cleanest fossil fuel we can burn. Yes, Ms. Lewis, “Pipelines burst, they leak, they explode, if you have one leak in a water source and it’s gonna go down stream, and it’s gonna end up in the bay.” But you are talking about oil pipelines. Natural gas also leaks and explodes but much more frequently when transported by rail or truck than by pipeline. If you want to throw away your vote on a single-digit-polling Libertarian, then go for it. But you will also be voting for a party that wants all government environmental regulations removed and wants public funding of many of your other pet rocks eliminated.

    The Democrats are saddled with the Sanders-Perriello left wing of their party. But the Republicans have the Freedom Caucus to deal with, so it all averages out. Move to the left at great peril of losing the moderate Independent voters, Mr. Northam. Gillespie might just win in November after all.

  • roc1

    Co-locate the ACP with interstate highways and other public easements and right-of-ways like railroads and other utilities. Keep it out of pristine forests, environmentally-sensitive areas, private property, historical areas, farms, and recreational/vacation resort areas. Cost to Dominion = practically nothing.

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