Comments at January 5, 2017 Public Forum Hosted by Arlington Delegation to Virginia General Assembly.
The Arlington delegation to the state General Assembly touts itself as progressive. Delegate Patrick Hope heads up the Virginia Progressive Caucus, which he formed in 2012. Delegate Alfonso Lopez has described himself as the most liberal member of the General Assembly. Yet despite all this grandstanding, the amount of progressive legislation adopted by the General Assembly in recent years is paltry. The Arlington delegation explains that the state legislature is owned by downstate Republicans, who oppose its agenda.
One area where progress is decidedly absent is renewable energy.
In fact the American Wind Energy Association Q3 2016 Market Report indicates that there is no significant installed wind capacity in any southeastern state except Tennessee. This is in marked contrast to states like Texas, Iowa, California and Oklahoma where wind turbines number in the thousands.
So why the lack of progress here? For one thing, Dominion Resources owns some wind farm leases off the Virginia coast, which it bought to prevent energy rivals from developing Virginia’s offshore wind potential.
Dominion Resources also owns the state legislature. According to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) Dominion donated $3.3 million to state legislators between 2012 and 2016, about 45 percent of which went to Democrats, including:
- $8,000 to Janet Howell
- $6,500 to Barbara Favola
- $4,500 to Patrick Hope
- $3,500 to Adam Ebbin
- $3,500 to Alfonso Lopez
The only local delegates who haven’t reported contributions from Dominion are Rip Sullivan and Mark Levine. Both are new to the General Assembly, having been elected in 2014. Sullivan pledged during his 2014 campaign not to take donations from Dominion.
There is no doubt a connection between Virginia’s lack of energy progress and the largesse lavished by Dominion on the state legislature. In fact Dominion could provide the Trump administration with an object lesson on how to put the kabosh on renewable energy elsewhere in the United States. Just grease the skids with campaign contributions from the fossil fuel lobby, and abolishing the EPA won’t even be necessary. It helps, of course, to maintain a stable of rump Democrats who insist on their environmental bona fides while feeding from the fossil fuel trough.