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Cover Story Vir iniainia irginia West st PROPOSED ROUTE Richmond ichmondm nd


MARCELLUS & UTICA SHALE FORMATIONS


Pipeline path The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would


transport natural gas from Marcellus and Utica shale formations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio to Virginia and North Carolina. After consulting with landowners and performing fi eld surveys, the ACP team said it made more than 300 adjustments to the route to avoid environmentally sensitive areas and address landowner concerns.


Graphic by Adrienne Watson The pipeline controversy also has


found its way into the gubernatorial race. Northam faces political pressure from anti pipeline groups and Republicans because he has not publicly opposed the pipeline. In a recent radio interview, Northam indicated that if FERC approves the project and mitigating measures could prevent envi- ronmental harm, then he would not move to stop it should he be elected governor, a statement Republicans said proves he is for the pipeline. Northam’s campaign disagreed and responded that “Dr. Northam has always said he wants DEQ’s (Department of Environmental Quality) evaluation to be rigorous, based in science, transparent, and to make sure that Virginia takes care of people’s property rights. He believes the facts should dictate the outcome, and his position has not changed.” Former U. S. Rep. Tom Perriello,


Northam’s primary opponent, had made his opposition to the pipeline and refusal to take donations from Dominion key


26 AUGUST 2017 Hamptomp n Hamp p Norffo Po tsortsmouth out Portsmousmouth uthut olk ol olk Virginia


II, one of Virginia’s most powerful busi- ness executives. Farrell serves on several of the state’s high-profile boards. He is a member on the board of trustees of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and is chairman of the Richmond Performing Arts Center and the Colonial Wil- liamsburg Foundation. Farrell is a former rector of the University of Virginia board of visitors and the former chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education. He also was among state busi- ness leaders who pushed for the creation of GO Virginia, a new regional economic development initiative, where he serves as a board member. The political pushback against


Ca Ca olinaaroli Nort lina th t ina


Dominion comes at a time of growing political populism. During the June primary, 61 Democratic challengers for House of Delegates seats said they would not take donations from the company. “What we have emerging is a branch of the Democratic Party, a progressive wing, that is skeptical of the business-friendly orientation that has dominated Virginia politics for a century and a half,” says Quentin Kidd, a political analyst and the director of the Wason Center at Chris- topher Newport University in Newport News.


Sources: Dominion Energy and Atlantic Coast Pipeline


campaign points. Northam had accepted political dona-


tions from Dominion and its executives totaling about $29,500 from January through June, and he also owns stock in the company. During the same time, Republican


gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie had received about $13,000 from Dominion. He favors the ACP and the Mountain Val- ley Pipeline (MVP), a $3 billion, 300-mile proposed natural gas pipeline that would cross parts of Southwest Virginia. The MVP has sparked strong


opposition as well, but it doesn’t involve a Virginia-based corporate heavyweight. Dominion and its charitable founda-


tion distribute about $20 million a year in grants within its 18-state footprint, includ- ing $8.6 million to Virginia nonprofits in 2016. The company also sponsors numer- ous events and is building a new corporate headquarters in downtown Richmond. It’s headed by CEO Thomas F. Farrell


While Virginia has seen populist poli-


ticians before, today’s climate “is a Bernie Sanders, business-skeptical populism,” adds Kidd, “and that’s the difference.”


The shale revolution Politics aside, “All infrastructure is


controversial,” says Cathy Landry, a spokes- woman for Interstate Natural Gas Associa- tion of America, a trade association that represents the operators of interstate natural gas pipelines. In the last decade the country has seen


a boom in natural-gas development, thanks to the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Advances in hydraulic fracturing, a hori- zontal drilling process challenged by some environmentalists, provide access to these rich gas reserves. And with the shale close to high-demand markets in the Northeast, “this certainly has been a game changer,” says Landry. With shale deposits expected to last 100 years, advocates hail a new era of energy security for America. The U.S. Energy Information Admin-


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