Dominion Resources has been on a tear recently.
It’s been muscling through a dubious law in the General Assembly that would allow it to avoid State Corporation Commission rate audits for six years.
And, it has been throwing its weight around in less populated sections of the state. It is suing to force its way on the land of private property owners to survey its $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline project that would take fracked natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in West Virginia and Pennsylvania on new routes to the southeast.
Property owners, particularly those in Nelson and Augusta Counties, are fighting in federal court in Harrisonburg.
What’s most interesting about this case is how the Commonwealth of Virginia, which swaddles itself in the ideals of the American Revolution of individual rights , somehow ignores the rights of small property owners when a big utility with deep pockets for political donations is involved. One wonders where all the conservatives are who were huffing and puffing over the Kelo case a few years back
And (bonus question) what do the two situations have in common? Republican State Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach, that’s who. He introduced the bill for Dominion to sidestep SCC oversight with the excuse that Dominion has deal with the impacts of a yet-to-be-finalized set of new federal carbon emission rules.
In 2004, Wagner also carried water for Dominion and other power companies by getting a law passed that would allow a “public service company” to survey private property without getting permission.
This is the basis of several hundred lawsuits Dominion has filed against small landowners. In the pipeline case, it will be interesting to see whether the natural gas is used for the common good of American customers or will end up being exported to foreign countries. Dominion insists it won’t, but time will tell.
Another oddity is that Dominion is demanding access to survey a pipeline route when it hasn’t formally applied for the project with the Federal Energy Energy Commission. Imagine if some private landowners showed up at the front door of Dominion’s downtown Richmond headquarters and demanded access to the building because they were thinking about building a natural gas pipeline? (Somebody call security!)
Here’s an opinion piece I wrote for this morning’s Washington Post.There are currently no comments highlighted.