Earlier today, State Senate Candidate Scott Surovell (D) and House of Delegates Candidate Paul Krizek (D) hosted their campaign headquarters office opening with a nice crowd, plus a bunch of special guests. Those included former Congressman Jim Moran, Virginia State Senator Toddy Puller, Fairfax County Board member Jeff McKay, Fairfax County School Board member Ilryong Moon, and several others. Here's some video, starting with Jim Moran introducing his former staffer Paul Krizek, who he's strongly supporting (as am I) to succeed Scott Surovell in the Virginia House of Delegates. More videos are in the comments section.
Dominion Resources and its regulated subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power, are gambling big on natural gas. But while the utility giant will be a winner if gas prices stay low over the next 20 years, the risk of losing this bet is very real-and the risk is being borne disproportionately by Virginia consumers.
Ever since the shale gas boom sent natural gas prices into a tailspin beginning in 2008, Dominion has increasingly been putting its chips into gas. Its Virginia subsidiary just completed a 1,329 megawatt (MW) natural gas plant in Warren County, began construction last year on a 1,358 MW gas plant in Brunswick County, and last month announced plans for a 1,600 MW plant in Greenville County, to be operational in 2019. Virginia ratepayers will foot the bill for construction costs, plus the cost of operating and fueling these mammoth plants for decades to come.
But while Virginians tend to think of Dominion as an electricity provider, its bigger business line is in natural gas transmission and storage. According to the Dominion website, its subsidiary Dominion Transmission, Inc. maintains 7,800 miles of pipeline in six states and operates what it says is one of the largest underground natural gas storage facilities. Another subsidiary operates 1,500 miles of pipeline in South Carolina and Georgia. The company is moving aggressively to add and upgrade compressor stations and build additional pipeline capacity in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
It is also angling to add a massive 42-inch diameter, 550-mile gas pipeline to run from West Virginia through Virginia to the coast in North Carolina. Promising a vast new supply of cheap fracked gas for industrial users, Dominion has won the support of lawmakers like Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe while galvanizing opposition from landowners and environmentalists.
Meanwhile, Dominion has another game afoot, with plans to begin exporting liquefied natural gas from its Cove Point, Maryland facility. Upgrading the facility will cost the company $3.8 billion, and running the liquefaction facility will require 240 MW of power (using more natural gas). Natural gas is so much more expensive in foreign markets that Dominion considers the gamble worthwhile, even as it cites a U.S. Energy Information Administration study for the proposition that little or no natural gas would be exported if the U.S. price "increases much above current expectations."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, April 18. Also check out President Obama's weekly address, in which he "spoke about his commitment to combatting the threat of climate change and to keeping ourselves and future generations safe."
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - A 21-day, peaceful student sit-in for fossil fuel divestment at the University of Mary Washington was forcibly ended Wednesday night after university officials called in the state police to evict the students. Over 20 students with the group Divest UMW were forcibly removed from an administrative office, and two students and one community member were arrested and charged with trespassing. Video of the arrests is available from a Free Lance-Star reporter who was on the scene.
The Divest UMW sit-in began three weeks ago after the university's Board of Visitors rejected-without any deliberation or discussion-students' simple proposal to establish a subcommittee to study the issue of divesting their endowment from fossil fuels.
Today, the university's Board of Visitors will formally meet on campus for the first time since the student sit-in began, and students are holding a march and "Rally for Student Voice" in response starting at 3:00 p.m. (Follow @DivestUMW on Twitter for updates.)
As reported by the Free Lance-Star, board members appeared divided on the issue during a meeting held on campus yesterday to discuss approval of minutes from the March meeting in which Rector Holly Cuellar dismissed the students' proposal. Member Carlos del Toro reportedly said, "I, as one member of this board, think additional recommendations should be made considering divestment. I believe there needs to be further discussion. I believe I am not alone in this opinion."
Drew Gallagher, Campus Organizer at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, had the following statement in response to the forcible eviction and arrest of students:
"We're disappointed that University of Mary Washington officials resorted to calling in the state police to end a 21-day, peaceful sit-in for fossil fuel divestment. These students have shown remarkable leadership in their fight to remove morally unacceptable investments in the fossil fuel industry from their university's endowment. We need this same leadership from school officials and the Board of Visitors. Restricting free speech and assembly will not solve the climate crisis. We urge UMW officials to drop the charges against their students, and work with them for climate solutions."
"Students from across the country understand the severity of the climate crisis, and are leading the way in demanding solutions. So far, over 20 colleges and universities across the country have stood with students and pledged to divest from the fossil fuel companies wrecking their future. University of Mary Washington administrators are facing growing protests because, like those at Harvard, Tulane, the University of Colorado, Yale, and Swarthmore, they have so far stood on the wrong side of history. By ignoring the voices of their students on fossil fuel divestment, University of Mary Washington officials are failing to heed the warnings of scientists-including those on their own campus."
On April 8, I sent Blue Virginia interview questions to all Democratic candidates running for the 45th House of Delegates district (Alexandria, south Arlington) seat being vacated by Del. Rob Krupicka. The candidates are Larry Altenburg, Craig Fifer, Julie Jakopic, Mark Levine and Clarence Tong. I told the candidates that I'd post their interviews in the order I received them. The first one I received back, on Monday, was from Larry Altenburg. Earlier this evening, I received responses from Clarence Tong - thanks! As soon as I receive the remaining candidates' answers, I'll post them. Finally, please note that the primary for this nomination will take place on June 9, so if you're a Democrat who lives in the 45th, make sure you vote!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the Democratic candidates to represent the 45th House of Delegates district in Richmond. I am running for Delegate because I strongly believe in and have dedicated my career to public service. I served as a staffer on Capitol Hill, later became an Obama appointee at the Department of Energy, and currently work as a legislative advocate for the Environmental Defense Fund before our home state Senators on climate and other environmental issues.
My wife Alice and I have made a home in the City of Alexandria and have worked to serve our great community. I was elected Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, appointed to be a Member of the City's Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee (BFAAC), and selected to represent my neighbors on the Board of the North Old Town Independent Citizens Association (NOTICe). I hope to serve our community in a different capacity, as your representative in the Virginia House of Delegates.
I bring a strong background in the legislative process, as well as experience with the complexities of the budget process, and believe that I will be the best advocate for the priorities of the 45th District.
2. What three issues are you most passionate about and why? What specifically have you done to further those issues? What would be the first bill you'd introduce in the House of Delegates? My campaign is based on the idea that all Virginians should have a fair shot. Whether it is access to affordable healthcare, a responsible energy future good for our environment and our economy, or ensuring that all Virginians have access to high quality educational opportunities, I will fight in Richmond to protect our Democratic values and represent the priorities of Northern Virginians.
Virginia candidates' fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2015 are due today, and they're starting to trickle in. According to VPAP: "By 6 p.m. this evening, VPAP will post reports from General Assembly candidates and major state party/caucus committees that were received by COB at the State Department of Elections. Candidates and PACs have until midnight to file their reports. VPAP will update its listing early Thursday morning." Should be interesting. Anyway, here's what I've heard so far.
Gov. McAuliffe: His "Common Good VA" PAC raised $758,452, ending with $334,091 cash on hand.
LG Ralph Northam: His "Stronger Together" PAC raised $44k and ended with $83,223 cash on hand.
AG Mark Herring: His "One Commonwealth" PAC raised $72k and ended with $41k cash on hand.
DPVA: Raised $693,555, ended with $15,537 cash on hand.
RPV: Raised $95,554, ended with $9,705 cash on hand.
State Senate Virginia Senate Republican Caucus: Raised $230,247 and ended with $761,701 cash on hand.
Interesting debate, nice job by the YDs and by moderator Josh Katcher. We'll start off with the "Libby Garvey question," because it got a bunch of "ooohs" from the audience, then post the other videos in the comments section...
P.S. I actually strongly agree with Scott McCaffrey's analysis: "Dodgeball appeared to be the sport of choice as the six Democratic County Board candidates squared off April 15 in their first debate of the season. Specifics were hard to come by, especially when contenders were asked how they would mediate increasingly contentious community battles over allocation of limited county-government resources."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, April 16. Also, here's a fun bit of video from last night's Arlington Young Democrats County Board debate...more later.
Click on the image to "embiggen." As for UMW, how about they just divest from planet-killing fossil fuels instead of acting like a bunch of goons towards their own students, especially when those students are on the right side of history?
Eight years ago, I got the phone call that no parent in America imagines ever getting. "I've been shot," my daughter told me. Emily was in French class that spring day at Virginia Tech, and had just been shot in the head by a young man who legally bought firearms and ammunition in Virginia despite the fact that seemingly everyone who knew him knew he was dangerously mentally ill.
I was one of the lucky ones that day. My daughter survived. Thirty-two other families had to bury their loved ones, denied even the chance to say goodbye.
Many in the commonwealth wondered if April 16, 2007, would be a turning point. Would this be the moment that our legislators finally rejected the National Rifle Association's fatal prescription and supported common-sense gun reforms?
Sadly, the immediate change we were hoping for did not come. But today, as the legislature weighs in on Gov. Terry McAuliffe's vetoes of three noxious pieces of legislation, it is clear that gun violence prevention has become a winning issue in Virginia.
McAuliffe was one of three statewide candidates who swept to victory in the November 2013 elections while publicly and proudly embracing a platform calling for tougher gun laws (along with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring). A few years ago, it would have been unfathomable for a Virginia gubernatorial candidate to announce at a televised debate, "I don't care what grade I got from the NRA," but that's exactly what McAuliffe did. And he won.
Now he's backing up the promises he made during his campaign. The bills the governor formally vetoed would have allowed loaded shotguns and rifles to be transported in vehicles, regardless of local laws; prevented Virginia law enforcement from sharing information about our state's concealed handgun permit holders with certain other states; and forced local law enforcement to provide a certification or denial for the transfer of a machine gun within 60 days. These bills were all designed to be handouts to the gun lobby, and none of them had anything to do with improving public safety. In fact, they would have done just the opposite.
In "honor" of his departure from the Virginia House of Delegates, here are some "highlights" and links to the illustrious career of Del. David Ramadan (Far-right "R"; pictured with the possibly even MORE far-right-wing Sen. Dick Black). Enjoy? ;)
All this extremism and nuttiness is particularly sad, because Ramadan's district (the 87th) is an Obama/Kaine/McAuliffe/Northam/Herring district that should either be represented by a Democrat, or at WORST a moderate Republican (if there are any of those left). Yet instead, the 87th got a far-right loon like David Ramadan. Frankly, that's what happens when "federal election" Democrats stay home in "odd-year" elections. If and when that stops, so will the phenomenon of right-wing Republicans holding otherwise "blue" districts in this state. Until then, expect more David Ramadans...ugh.
April 15, 2015 (Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Representative Don Beyer, member of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement on the JEC's new report that African Americans continue to face economic challenges and are nearly three times as likely as white Americans to live in poverty.
"This report documents persistent economic barriers African Americans face, even as the rest of the country recovers from the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression,” said Rep.Beyer “If we are to meet the challenge of the promise of equality in America we need to address these inequities in employment, income, wealth, housing and education through policies designed for inclusive prosperity. In our commitment to a new American economy, to inclusive prosperity that lifts up all Americans, let us be ever mindful of the decisions we make that can change the economic condition of black Americans for generations to come."
Beyer joined Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the JEC, and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) at a press conference to discuss the report, which reveals that African Americans continue to face disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment and long-term unemployment as well as significantly lower incomes and slower wealth accumulation than white households. When examining various measures to determine economic well-being, the report finds black Americans lag far behind the white population.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, April 15. Also, check out Marco Rubio demonstrating yet again that he's a candidate of the past, NOT the future.
Dominion Resources doesn't just pollute our air, water, and climate. The company pollutes our politics too. And it's not acting alone. Dominion is a member/ supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as are two other big Virginia coal-burning carbon polluters- Appalachian Power (AEP) and the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC). ODEC is complicit through its participation in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
On Tuesday, April 14 we demonstrated against Dominion and its ALEC partners outside the VA Chamber of Commerce's Orwellian-named "Energy and Sustainability" Conference. A conference panel discussion on the EPA Clean Power Plan included representatives from ALEC supporters Dominion, AEP and ODEC and no clean energy representatives. When coal-burning ALEC supporters dominate a conference on sustainability, it's time for the people to stand up and say "enough."
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