VA Sec Natural Resources Tells Dominion to Back Off re AC Pipeline

A lot of communication (letters, phone calls, meetings) fly back and forth between a midstream (pipeline) company and regulatory agencies when an application is filed for a project. Particularly a project like the Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Companies like Dominion send letters, make phone calls and meet with federal and state regulators, attempting to anticipate and answer questions and concerns. It’s a natural part of the process. So we found it interesting, indeed strange, that the Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, Molly Ward, sent a letter to Dominion back in April (just now coming to light) in which she tells Dominion to back off and that people in the agencies that work for her “will not base their decisions on requests or suggestions from an applicant.” The Roanoke Times, “reporting” on the letter, opens their article with this sentence: “Attempts by Dominion Energy to sway regulators in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permitting process prompted a top official under Gov. Terry McAuliffe to notify the utility that state agencies would not heed those efforts.” So now, when a company attempts to provide information, perhaps anticipating issues and concerns for regulators, and reaches out to contact them proactively, that’s called an attempt at “swaying” and is somehow nefarious and underhanded. Should Dominion contact regulators to ask them to NOT approve the project? Ridiculous! Of course Dominion is going to try and convince regulators that the project is worthy/sound/needed/safe/etc. That’s their job! Why would Ward not want her people to hear directly from Dominion? Her people hear plenty from the other side, anti-fossil fuel nutters opposed to the project…

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