Pipelines and Property Lines

Pipelines and Property Lines

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline wants to inspect land along a proposed 550-mile route. Legal challenges from landowners could re-write a 2004 law governing property rights in utility surveys.

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Salvaging Wind Power in Virginia

Salvaging Wind Power in Virginia

Dominion thinks $400 million is too much to pay for two experimental offshore wind turbines. The utility is exploring ways to drive the cost down.

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Cutting CO2 One Refrigerator at a Time

Cutting CO2 One Refrigerator at a Time

Energy efficiency is everybody's favorite strategy for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. But conservation programs are not always economical.

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Shining Sunlight on the Accomack Solar Project

Shining Sunlight on the Accomack Solar Project

Amazon's giant solar power plant will lighten the environmental footprint of the company's growing cluster of Northern Virginia data centers. It won't do much to lighten the tax burden of Accomack County.

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Grid Pro Quo

Grid Pro Quo

The EPA wants to restructure Virginia’s electric grid. Skeptics argue that slashing CO2 emissions will drive electric bills higher. Environmentalists disagree. Who’s right?

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Conserving Energy, Helping the Poor

Marjorie_Wilson

Marjorie Wilson

by James A. Bacon

Marjorie Wilson has lived in the same 1,000-square-foot bungalow on Texas Street in the City of Richmond since 1953. Two sons and a grand-daughter share the residence with her but it isn’t easy keeping up with the bills, including the electric bill, which averages about $120 per month.

“We’d talked about insulating the attic years ago,” says daughter Diane Campbell, who helps look after her mother. But they never found the money to get the job done.

volunteer_work2

Project:HOMES volunteers pump insulation into the walls of the Wilsons’ house.

The family hit an energy conservation bonanza this year, though, when it qualified for improvements by Project:HOMES, a non-profit enterprise that makes home improvements for the poor, elderly and disabled throughout Central Virginia. Combining federal weatherization money, Dominion Virginia Power EnergyShare funds and volunteer labor, Project:HOMES was able to insulate the attic and walls, plug air-infiltration gaps, wrap the hot water heater and pipes and install LED lights for about $4,000, says CEO Lee Householder.

The goal is to shave 30% off the Wilsons’ electric bill. If the project meets expectations, that will amount to savings of about $40 per month on average or $480 per year. That’s a pretty good return on a $4,000 investment.

The Wilsons’ house was featured yesterday in one of three events held around the state marking the re-launch of Dominion’s EnergyShare program. The Richmond event was attended by Dominion Virginia Power President Paul Koonce and Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. Governor Terry McAuliffe was the headliner at the Northern Virginia event, while Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam led off in Hampton Roads. The McAuliffe administration had pushed hard for an expansion of EnergyShare this spring when lawmakers crafted legislation in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s crackdown on CO2 emissions from electric power plants.

Dominion has committed to spend $57 million on the program over the next five years, including $15 million that will be recouped from rate payers and $42 million to be contributed by the company itself. The $42 million, in effect, will come from shareholders of parent company Dominion Resources, said Katharine M. Bond, director of public policy. Those sums do not include additional funds contributed by Dominion customers, employees and others.

The program, said Koonce in remarks at the Richmond event, is the result of “a bipartisan effort to expand energy efficiency.” There is a broad political consensus that Virginia will have to aggressively pursue energy conservation in order to meet the strict CO2 emission goals of the Clean Power Plan.

There has been considerable debate about the merits of weatherization programs since the Obama administration’s 2009 economic stimulus plan. Government auditors found the $5 billion lavished on weatherization was riddled with waste and fraud. And in Dominion’s own analysis of alternatives for CO2 reduction, the “Income and and Age Qualifying Home Improvement Program” was judged to have the second highest cost per megawatt hour, exceeded only by off-shore wind energy. The cost of $236 per megawatt hour compares to the voltage conservation program, costing $38 per megawatt hour, or the residential appliance recycling program, costing $55 per megawatt hour, according to Dominion’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan.

However, EnergyShare is more than a conservation program. It is designed to help the poor, elderly and disabled pay their electric bills, which explains its broad political appeal.

In its earlier incarnation, EnergyShare helped Virginians keep the lights on and also paid for weatherization. The big design change in the program is linking financial assistance with weatherization. If a customer faces a choice between paying an electric bill or a medical bill, the problem likely is not a one-time event; it is probably a chronic one. Weatherization creates a permanent reduction in a poor family’s electric bill. “That linkage has not been part of the equation before,” says Bond. Continue reading

Comments on a Book Review

Yesterday, on this site, a book entitled “Ethics and Economics ,” authored by      Mr. Wight,was discussed. The review raised a few points that were a bit unclear to me.

One of the points made was that the government lacks knowledge about society. This is a bit surprising since the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Commerce Department, and the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve are probably the largest suppliers of raw economic data in the United States.  If, as a review of the book states,  legislators often act in a manner contrary to the public interest, perhaps a review of the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United Case, which allows for virtually unlimited campaign contributions should be in the cards.

Like most conservative analysis, Mr. Wight ignores the basic concept of externalities.  When the state improves the highway system, this helps all by providing economic growth via ease of transportation.  When an entity pollutes, passing on the cost of cleanup to the wider society, this is a negative externality.  A purely market-driven economic policy will not provide positive for the wider society.

An examination of the 2008-2009 financial crisis demonstrates the folly of totally unregulated markets.  The institution at the core of the debacle was the insurance giant A.I.G. and its subsidiary A.I.G. Financial Products.

A.I.G.F.P. was the largest player in the credit default swap market.  Credit Default Swaps are insurance written to guarantee the principle of a bond.  A yearly premium is a percentage of the interest paid on the bond.  A.I.G.F.P. was a leader in insuring mortgage-backed securities.  This market was totally unregulated and unlike most insurance products and derivatives written against currencies or S&P movements, no reserves were required.  The A.I.G.F.P. was in effect renting the rating of the parent company to issue unreserved for insurance.

A.I.G.F.P. was closely monitored by then-C.E.O. Hank Greenberg until he was forced out in an accounting scandal brought on by Elliott Spitzer then Attorney General of New York.  The charges were later dropped but without Greenberg’s oversight, A.I.G.F.P. ramped-up its business, and in the short run was a significant contributor to the company’s overall products.

When the housing market burst, payments were required to fund the credit default swaps written against defaulted mortgages.  Because no reserves had been required, and there was no regulatory oversight for that market, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was forced to bail-out the company to the tune of about US$180 billion.  Had the activities of A.I.G.F.P. been monitored in thee way Futures Exchanges and traditional insurance companies, the Great Recession and the recovery would have been less severe and costly.

Sometimes, the Government should play a role.

— Les Schreiber

The Bay Needs More than a Pollution Diet

Photo credit: Richmond.com

Photo credit: Richmond.com

by Carol J. Bova

The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to set limits on the amount of pollution and sediment reaching the Chesapeake Bay through TMDLs, Total Maximum Daily Loads. TMDL plans are sometimes referred to as a “pollution diet.” The 3-judge panel said, “The Chesapeake Bay TMDL will require sacrifice by many, but that is a consequence of the tremendous effort it will take to restore health to the Bay….” (Opinion of the Court, Case No, 13-4079, July 6, 2015.)

The ruling and the legal arguments, for and against, failed to recognize that TMDL pollution limits alone cannot restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay or of the streams, rivers and smaller bays connecting to it.

Virginia’s Attorney General Mark R. Herring said in his July 6 news release, “The most promising plan for Bay restoration was under attack from out of state special interests and I couldn’t let that go unanswered.” But the Attorney General isn’t acknowledging that TMDL plans are only part of the answer and can’t restore the Bay.

TMDLs are determined from computer models. Existing levels of pollutants in the waterways are determined through monitoring. Pollutant levels above the maximum the waters can tolerate without exceeding water quality standards are divided among the potential sources. Those sources must then attempt to meet the reduction targets.

Sounds simple and straightforward, but computer models are only as good as the information input into them. At best, they’re a reasonable estimate. At worst, they attribute the pollution to the wrong sources, or in the wrong quantities, or miss factors related to damaged ecosystems, factors like stream flow.

Stream flow is akin to a Goldilocks story with too much, too little or just right rates. A natural rate of flow is the just right part. Flow that’s too fast, as in the well-known and litigated Accotink Creek situation, scours too much material from stream banks and the streambed and deposits that sediment downstream. (Virginia’s former Attorney General won that case against the EPA for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), with the court ruling the EPA can regulate pollutants like sediment, but not conditions like stream flow rate that erode and move sediment downstream where it causes a problem.)

VDOT also creates the opposite condition, too little flow in streams that must cross under state roads or pass through state roadside ditches and culverts to reach receiving waters. This slowing or obstruction causes a different kind of sediment problem, one that results from lack of dissolved oxygen in the water. Impounded rainwater or streams lose oxygen. Without oxygen, beneficial bacteria that decompose dead plant matter die off. Partially decomposed matter accumulates, further blocking flow. This mucky sediment smothers aquatic plants and bottom-dwelling invertebrates, forces upstream water to back up, and deprives downstream waters of the dissolved oxygen every living thing in the Bay needs.

In Mathews County, the first hard-surfaced road the Commonwealth built interfered with stream flow in 1926-28—and still does there and across the county today. As the Accotink Creek case shows, VDOT impacts stream flow in other counties too.

The EPA can’t force VDOT to correct damaging stream flow conditions. DEQ (the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality) can only issue new VDOT permits and has no enforcement power over prior VDOT stream impairments. The Attorney General’s office provides for the legal needs of state agencies, including protecting them from the consequences of prior bad decisions and practices.

Farmers and private citizens can observe TMDLs to the letter, but that won’t fix VDOT’s impacts and let streams flow without carrying excessive sediment or allow obstructed streams to deliver life-giving oxygen to truly restore the Bay. Article XI of the Virginia Constitution says, “…it shall be the Commonwealth’s policy to protect its atmosphere, lands, and waters from pollution, impairment, or destruction.”

So, Attorney General Herring, if you believe in restoring the Chesapeake Bay, can you advise us how the Commonwealth is going to address VDOT’s impacts?

Carol Bova is author of “Drowning a County,” a book documenting VDOT’s neglect of its roadside drainage ditches in Mathews County.

Easy Come, Easy Leave

virginia_migration

Image credit: Atlas Van Lines

Virginia has not been one of the nation’s fastest growing states but it has consistently enjoyed a healthy net in-migration from other states. In other words, for years more people have moved into Virginia than moved out.

That likely changed in 2014. According to Atlas Van Lines moving records based on nearly 77,000 interstate and cross-border household relocations, more households moved out of Virginia — 66 to be precise — than moved in last year. Now, that’s just Atlas Van Line customers, not everyone. Atlas’ sample size is so small compared to total migration and the margin of out-migration is so tiny, that it’s conceivable that Virginia actually gained population through in-migration. Of course, it’s also possible the Atlas sample was biased the other way and that the Old Dominion lost more than indicated by the numbers.

What really matters is the trend. I’ve reformatted the numbers from the table above: inmigration_trend

Declining movement between states is a national trend, usually attributed to people being locked in by the prices of their houses. Still, there are two obvious inflection points in the Virginia numbers: between 2009 and 2010, outbound migration took a jump up, and between 2011 and 2012, in-migration took a nose dive. The latter can be attributed to sequestration and federal cuts. I have no ready explanation for the former. Any ideas?

— JAB

Market Failure and Government Failure

ethics_and_economicsby James A. Bacon

Jon Wight, a business school professor at the University of Richmond, is a huge fan of Adam Smith, best known for his classic economic treatise, “The Wealth of Nations.” Wight thinks Smith is one of the greatest economists who ever lived, not as much on the grounds that he championed “free markets,” as many conservatives might think, as on the way he built his economic theories upon a platform of morals and ethics, as articulated in his earlier, lesser known work, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” Not surprisingly, Wight makes frequent references to Smith in his own, recently published book, “Ethics in Economics: an Introduction to Moral Frameworks,” in which he outlines a moral framework for understanding markets.

Wight, a friend of mine, argues that is impossible to disassociate markets from the cultural and moral context in which they are embedded. In one chapter, “Moral Limits to Markets,” he argues that not all human relationships can, nor should be, market relationships. Relationships between husband, wife and children, for instance, are not, and should not be, conducted in accordance with market rules. Similarly, he argues against price gouging in times of crisis, discrimination on the basis of race and the commercial transaction of human body parts (made all the more timely by the recent revelation of Planned Parenthood’s commerce in fetal tissue). At bottom, his book is an argument for social justice and a retort to the “modern welfare theory” school of economics that argues that voluntary transactions between willing buyers and sellers maximizes consumer preferences and economic welfare.

The book is an easy read, spiced with lots of contemporary allusions, of an incredibly abstract subject, and I urge Bacon’s Rebellion readers of a philosophical bent to buy it. The book advanced my thinking about the moral context of economics immeasurably. If you’re too cheap to buy the book, at least check out Wight’s “Economics and Ethics” blog here. He doesn’t always reach the same conclusions I do… well, let’s say he often reaches entirely different conclusions… but I like the way he thinks. He acknowledges the complexity and nuances of issues. He takes the trouble to understand the arguments of others even if, in the final analysis, he doesn’t agree with them.

To my mind, if there was one philosophical flaw to Wight’s book, it is this: While Wight does a masterful job of dissecting “market failures” — they are many, and they are real — and while he does acknowledge parenthetically that many government fixes to market failures do themselves have flaws, he doesn’t give the same level of attention to the “government failure” as he does to “market failure.”

That is a very lengthy and roundabout way to get to the subject of today’s post. A new Cato Institute paper by Chris Edwards, “Why the Federal Government Fails,” struck a chord precisely because Wight’s book had sensitized me to the issue of market failure and I had begun thinking that someone needs to categorize government failure in the systematic way. Just as Wight provides a taxonomy of market failure, Edwards provides a taxonomy of government failure.

I cannot say it better than Edwards himself in his executive summary:

Most Americans think that the federal government is incompetent and wasteful. Their negative view is not surprising given the steady stream of scandals emanating from Washington. Scholarly studies support the idea that many federal activities are misguided and harmful. A recent book on federal performance by Yale University law professor Peter Schuck concluded that failure is “endemic.”

What causes all the failures?

First, federal policies rely on top-down planning and coercion. That tends to create winners and losers, which is unlike the mutually beneficial relationships of markets. It also means that federal policies are based on guesswork because there is no price system to guide decisionmaking. A further problem is that failed policies are not weeded out because they are funded by taxes, which are compulsory and not contingent on performance.

Second, the government lacks knowledge about our complex society. That ignorance is behind many unintended and harmful side effects of federal policies. While markets gather knowledge from the bottom up and are rooted in individual preferences, the government’s actions destroy knowledge and squelch diversity.

Third, legislators often act counter to the general public interest. They use debt, an opaque tax system, and other techniques to hide the full costs of programs. Furthermore, they use logrolling to pass harmful policies that do not have broad public support. Continue reading

Zoning for Solar

transmission_scale_solarby William Marsh

Want to see more solar energy in Virginia? There many ways to tackle the challenge. One that typically gets overlooked is for local governments to amend their zoning ordinances to be friendlier to larger scale (transmission scale) solar generation of electricity.

Solar power can be generated either for private use on a property, through a net metering arrangement that allows for sale of small quantities of power to be sold to the electric grid, or through a large-scale array that dispatches electricity to transmission lines. The third use, transmission scale, is best suited for locations near existing transmission lines and substations where voltage exceeds 138 kilovolts. Typically, projects require an adjacent substation that raises electrical voltage to match the transmission line’s voltage. (Transmission lines are the wires suspended from tall towers that convey power from power plants, often across state boundaries, as opposed to the shorter, more ubiquitous power lines.)

The right kind of zoning ordinance can simplify the adoption of large-scale solar projects connected to the transmission grid. When Amazon Web Services recently announced plans to build a solar farm in Accomack County, the local zoning ordinance explicitly recognized solar power generation and provided a predictable permit approval process. Accomack is one of three counties, along with Northampton and Clarke County, that has amended its zoning ordinance in the past five years to accommodate transmission-scale solar.

Whether other local jurisdictions are prepared to permit similar transmission- scale solar is less clear. For example, in Loudoun County where I reside, a transmission-scale solar project is permitted only on land that is zoned general industry or heavy industrial use, where any transmission-scale energy project like coal, natural gas, or nuclear is allowed, even though solar generation produces power with less noise, pollution and other side effects than conventional power generation. When added to non-forested open land with gentle slopes, solar power has little if any effect on neighboring parcels, because neither noise nor pollution is generated.

When transmission-scale solar power is bundled with other transmission-scale resources in zoning ordinances, less land within a jurisdiction is deemed eligible for transmission-scale solar development. Potential solar developers endure less predictable, more cumbersome political level approvals from boards of supervisors. Solar developers also must also seek permits from the State Corporation Commission and PJM regional transmission organization, so local permits are not their only hurdle. But the hurdle in Virginia often is higher than it needs to be.

North Carolina has also recognized this hurdle. In December 2013, a diverse working group sponsored by the NC Sustainable Energy Association and North Carolina Solar Center published the “Template Solar Energy Development Ordinance for North Carolina.” The model ordinance provides text to fit smaller scale, residential scale solar approvals; community/commercial solar scale; and the larger, transmission-scale projects described here. Among other details, it addresses maximum suggested height of a ground-mounted module and minimum setbacks, or distances, from neighboring properties. The ordinance template is available to all interested North Carolina jurisdictions and was published after North Carolina had already surpassed Virginia and other neighboring states in solar installations.

Virginia should develop a similar model ordinance that can draw from solar-ready ordinances already adopted in Accomack, Northampton, and Clarke Counties. I believe this would be a worthwhile effort of the newly approved Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority.

William Marsh is a civil engineer who has worked for local government in northern Virginia the last 13 years, currently at Fairfax County.  He also owns a rooftop solar array at his home.

Grid Optimization: More Software, Less Hardware

power_line

by James A. Bacon

Dominion Voltage, Inc., a subsidiary of Dominion Resources, has announced the deployment of its electric grid optimization platform to the Duck River Electric Membership Corporation served by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Duck River expects to generate energy savings of 2% to 4% annually and says the technology will accelerate the deployment of Advanced Metering Infrastructure, which should enable even greater energy conservation.

Dominion Voltage’s EDGE platform “leverages the smart grid network for Volt/VAR optimization and voltage stabilization, which leads to a more efficient grid,” stated Executive Director Todd Headlee in a press release today.

The most concise explanation of “voltage optimization” that I’ve seen comes from Dick Munson, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Midwest Clean Energy initiative, writing a week ago for the EDF blog:

Many appliances, including incandescent lighting, work just as effectively, yet consume less energy, when the flow of electricity to them is reduced. Put another way, higher voltages generally make individuals and businesses needlessly use more energy, driving up electricity bills and air pollution. Therefore, if voltage was “right-sized,” residents would get enough power to run their appliances efficiently, but not so much that they use more electricity than needed.

According to Munson, recent study by Commonwealth Edison Company (ConEd)  concluded that voltage optimization could reduce the need for almost 20,000 gigawatt hours of electricity yearly across its system, enough to power 180,000 homes, at the incredibly low cost of 2 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Bacon’s bottom line: Grid optimization technologies are a sub-set of a larger cluster of technologies including microprocessor controls, sensors and software algorithms collectively referred to as “smart grid” technologies that hold out the potential to improve energy efficiency and integrate variable power sources like wind and solar into the grid.

Richmond-based Dominion Resources is investing in some of these technologies through unregulated subsidiaries like Dominion Voltage. That makes an interesting business story. What makes it a Virginia public policy story is whether Dominion is applying these same technologies in its regulated subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power. If not, why not. What are the hold-ups? Or has the story simply gone unnoticed?

If there’s one thing that rate payers, environmentalists, electric utilities, the Commonwealth of Virginia and just about everyone else should be able to agree upon, it’s that reducing energy consumption at the cost of 2 cents per kilowatt hour is a win-win for everyone. I will pursue this line of questioning as I have time.

The New Wave of Wealth Creation: SNL

Reid Nagle, circa 2007. Photo credit: The Hook.

Reid Nagle, circa 2007. Photo credit: The Hook.

by James A. Bacon

When most Virginians hear the letters “SNL,” they think Saturday Night Live. Perhaps in the future, they’ll think SNL Financial, the Charlottesville-based market research firm just purchased by McGraw Hill Financial for $2.225 billion.

New Mountain Capital, the New York-based private equity firm that purchased 60% of the company in 2011, will grab the lion’s share of that sum. But founder Reid Nagle other senior managers will take much of the rest — about $890 million. That’s a lot of wealth creation for a company that few Virginians had ever heard of.

SNL is a new-era enterprise that deploys Big Data to create massive wealth. The company provides reports on seven key business sectors, drawing upon a global workforce of 3,000 in 23 offices in 10 companies. Four hundred employees are located in the Charlottesville headquarters and another 50 in the Innsbrook Office Park in Richmond. CEO Mike Chinn described SNL’s business model to the Wall Street Journal this way:

We’ve developed a pretty efficient machine for both gathering and selling information. How you collect that information is the same whether it’s a bank branch or a coal mine or a power plant.

Nagle founded the company in 1987 because he couldn’t get a job after working as CFO for the notorious corporate takeover artist Ivan Boesky, who was convicted for insider trading. After two years in New Jersey, Nagle moved the company to Charlottesville, according to a 2007 profile in The Hook. It was not the kind of company that would catch the attention of economic developers. Around that time Nagle nearly ran out of money. “I wasn’t going to make payroll,” he told The Hook. An unsolicited $100,000 infusion saved the day, and he was able to raise another $300,000.

SNL officials told the Daily Progress that revenues had increased every year since its founding in 1987. Launched with a focus on the Savings & Loan industry, the company branched out to other business sectors, aided by acquisitions of boutique research firms. Nagle said in 2011 he would use the cash infusion from New Mountain Capital to continue growth, product development and “provide liquidity to existing shareholders.” It’s not clear from published reports what percentage of the non-New Mountain Capital shares were owned by Nagle, Chinn and other Virginia-based SNL executives, but it was likely a significant number. In 2011 Nagle had described himself as the “second largest shareholder” after New Mountain.

Bacon’s bottom line: Much of Virginia’s wealth creation is invisible to the media and public policy makers. No one would have targeted SNL for corporate recruitment in 1989 when the company was living hand-to-mouth. When asked in 2007 why he located the business in Charlottesville, did Nagle cite Virginia’s, ports, highways, low taxes or business incentives? No. He replied: “Quality of life and access to bright people from PVCC, Eastern Mennonite, UVA, JMU, W&M, Virginia Tech, and other Virginia colleges and universities.”

Remember that: Quality of life and human capital drive SNL-style wealth creation.

So Long, Bacon’s Rebellion

Galuszka on Thom Hartmann show, 2012

Here I am discussing my book on the Thom Hartmann show in Washington in  2012

 By Peter Galuszka

For that past six (or is it seven or eight?) years, I’m been pleased to pound away posting my peculiar views on Bacons Rebellion.

My stance has typically been that of a liberal or progressive albeit one of the near and not the far left. My opinions have been honed by 41 years of experience as a journalist in Virginia, in other states and abroad.

Now it’s time to sign off, at least on Bacons Rebellion. I’ll be moving over to Style Weekly, where I have been writing for the past six years.

I have a close relationship with the Style staff whom I respect tremendously. In fact, it was a Style story on coal giant Massey Energy in 2009 that morphed into my first book, “Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal” that was published in hardback by St. Martin’s Press in 2012 and then in paperback by West Virginia University Press in 2014. In a way, it’s like going home since Style is owned by The Virginian-Pilot, where I first starting working in 1973 when I was 20 years old.

I also have tremendous respect for Jim Bacon, with whom I have been working on and off since 2000. While Jim and I share very different views on most topics, he and I share one common idea – that the free press and deeply reported and analyzed stories are essential if Virginia and the country are to protect individual liberty and have flourishing economies.

Over the years, Jim and I have chewed over such issues as land use and the environment; ethics and energy. We’ve been through such colorful figures as Ken Cuccinelli and the rise and fall of Bob McDonnell, the Confederate flag and health care.

Recently, however, Jim has accepted a sponsorship from Dominion Resources, whom I have covered and written about critically since the mid-1970s. Although Dominion has had absolutely no impact on my recent postings, I am uncomfortable with continuing on a blog that embraces stories that do seem, in some cases, to be push Dominion’s interests in ways that are far too one-sided. This is not healthy given the gravity of such issues as global warming, renewable energy, coal, natural gas, the rights of landowners who decline to let Dominion survey their property for a pipeline route and so on.

Another reason for my decision to leave is that a venomous gas seems to be suddenly choking the Rebellion. Rather than arguing my points with wit and facts, as I have been enjoying for years, some of the more recent commenters have resorted to snark and bitter personal assaults. I have donated thousands of hours of my time for free on this blog. Commenters might not agree with me, but now some seem not to respect my efforts at all. So, I say goodbye and good luck to them.

If you want to find me in the future, look for me at styleweekly.com and at The Washington Post, where I will continue to contribute to the All Opinions Are Local section and to other parts of the paper. I will still be free lancing for various outlets.

I hope you will continue to read and support Bacons Rebellion. It is fantastic resource that has served as much-needed forum for information, ideas, debate and analysis as journalism continues to undergo the tremors caused by the Internet.

All the best to Jim!

Something to Think About

Last week I was reading in the New York Times an article on Jeb Bush’s plans for the economy. One of his talking points was to reduce the federal workforce by 10%. For a state as dependent on the Feds as Virginia, this could have serious financial implications. Already, in the CNBC rankings as the best state for doing business, Virginia has dropped from at or near the top to 12th in the most recent poll.  One of the reasons given was the decrease in federal spending. We can debate whether the government spends,  but such a cut in Northern Virginia and the Norfolk area could have significant impact.

— Les Schreiber