Our Upcoming Mugging
I'm angry. More angry than I ever imagined I could be.
I'm angry because we’ve been told that we will soon be viciously mugged, that there is nothing we can do to prevent it, and that it will alter our lives irrevocably. And we were told this by the smug bully who is going to mug us!
This is hard to understand and impossible to accept. I fought in Vietnam for a country that honors freedom and respects private property rights, Now I find myself subject to a bully that tramples personal rights, and is supported by our elected representatives!
I appreciate the strength our country enjoys due to our increasing independence from foreign energy sources, often hostile to our way of life. We do not oppose the pipeline per se, but the aggressive and abusive way in which Dominion has handled this is repugnant.
Other energy companies have built pipelines through a collaborative commercial process, by approaching landowners with a request to discuss possible routes across their property and offering fair compensation for its use, even ongoing royalties. And most others have made extensive use of existing rights of way, collocating to minimize damage to private property, small businesses, communities and the environment.
Dominion has done none of that. We received a form letter that told us to sign below to agree to Dominion's trespass, to survey our property, or they would sue us. And that we would lose because in the end they'd use eminent domain to get what they wanted no matter what we said.
Collocation? While other pipelines use an average of 50% of existing easements, and as much as 100%, Dominion has recently bragged that they've gone from 5% to 8% in response to local political pressure in other places.
Political pressure? Senator Kaine has actively lobbied for reconsideration of Dominion’s process and route selections, but Senator Warner has ignored our many entreaties. And the governor? McAuliffe has fully stonewalled all citizen cries for assistance. And why not, since he's the happy beneficiary of over $150,000 of political contributions by Dominion. Besides, he gets enough votes from the Tidewater area; so why care about Nelson County?
Sandi and I have raised 3 strong children over our 48 years of marriage, and today enjoy 8 wonderful grandchildren. We built our home in Virginia to be near to them. Together we built a family homestead in a beautiful, bucolic paradise that is Nelson County. But Dominion will put its pipeline across our private property, and will run so close to our family homes that we've had to discuss leaving. How can a responsible parent raise children in a home that is in the horrific pipeline blast zone? In the case of our daughter Dawn, the pipeline will run just 100 yards from her front door, so she's not just in the blast zone, her house and family will be in the INCINERATION zone!
How does one even pretend to sell a house and disclose the risk that requires we leave? Dominion will not only destroy our homestead, but render it valueless! Wiped out! Dawn's home will be worth scrap lumber at best!
Why am I angry? Because all of this is a result of Dominion’s PURE GREED, their unrestrained drive to create a solely owned 550 mile swath of land from the oil fields to the coast, one that they will never have to share. They do not care whom they harm or how much, as long as they can add the rights to our land to their corporate balance sheet. This is not just legalized theft, it's a MUGGING! With war zone hazards!
Our hope today is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Authority, to which Dominion has applied for permission to proceed, will independently exercise its authority and require that Dominion prove that it has fully met its requirements, conducted a complete examination of alternatives, including collocation options, and fully considered the harm that this pipeline path will cause. I can assure you that they have not. I can also hope that our elected officials will move to protect their constituents and endorse our arguments to FERC, and reject the pressure to support this large donor.
In any case, we will not roll over. We will not agree to this brutal assault on our personal property rights and our peaceful enjoyment of our homestead. I was raised to believe that you can't win by surrendering your lunch to the schoolyard bully, and we will not. However, the Marine Corps did not prepare me to know how to fight this huge multinational petroleum firm and our own government that supports it. I am embarrassed, and humbled, to realize that I may not be able to prevent this rape of our land and our freedoms. But I have to try.