Writer: It's time to reform FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to approve both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline proposals highlights the need to reform this captured agency. FERC demonstrated once again that its primary purpose is to serve the industry it is supposed to regulate.

Nobody with experience dealing with FERC was surprised by these approvals. Given the revolving door between FERC and the industries it is supposed to regulate, coupled with the fact that FERC’s operating budget comes from industry fees, what else could be expected?

Tellingly, however, Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur dissented, asserting that the justifications for the pipelines were too weak individually, and no consideration had been given to combining the pipelines in order to limit environmental damage. In the seven years she’s been with FERC, LaFleur has dissented on a number of proposals for electric transmission and one natural gas project, but never on a pipeline certificate, according to Ellen M. Gillmer writing in the Oct. 16 issue of Environment & Energy Publishing. It should be noted that only three of the five voting positions on the commission are currently filled, and the two votes for approval were cast by new appointees in office for only a few months and lacking LaFleur’s broad perspective.

LaFleur’s dissent on the substance of the pipeline proposals joins the concerns about process expressed by former FERC chairman Norman Bay. In his retirement letter, E&E News writer Gillmer noted that Bay wrote: “As important as infrastructure is, it must also occur through processes that continue to promote public participation, transparency, and confidence.”

In its handling of the ACP and MVP reviews, FERC carried out what many participants felt was a sham of public involvement. We were buried in paperwork, and key information was not offered for public review. Instead of building confidence through the review process, any confidence we may have had at the beginning was eroded. After spending hours trying to inform ourselves and see through Dominion’s smoke screen, we came away confident only that FERC could be relied upon to do whatever the industry wants.

These two immense and destructive pipeline projects are unjustified, damaging to the environment and local economies, and abusive of property rights. They will impede the growth of the renewable energy we must have to avoid the worst consequences of global climate change. And the conduct of FERC’s review adds fuel to rising and damaging public cynicism about government competence and trustworthiness.



Shimp in the North District

Nelson North District voters, what do you want in your representative on the Board of Supervisors?

Do you want someone who will continue to stand firm with you in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (and no, the fight is not yet over)? Do you want someone who will promote true transparency in Board decisions, so that we hear about things before they’re a done deal? Do you want a licensed engineer whose experience with land use issues is both wide and deep? Do you want someone who has worked with several local governments and will bring a knowledge of other places’ best practices to Nelson? Do you want someone who will fight to prevent the Virginia 151 corridor from turning into a succession of stoplights, big-box stores, gasoline superstations and sprawling industrial sites that just don’t fit here? Do you want a successful entrepreneur committed to encouraging the small businesses that bring good jobs to our residents while blending in with our environment? Do you want someone dedicated to the protection of our area’s unique beauty for our children and grandchildren? Finally, wouldn’t you like some youthful energy and fresh ideas, as opposed to the stale representation of decades past or the intrusion of someone with no local knowledge?

If you answer “yes” to these questions, then you have a clear-cut choice on Nov. 7. I urge you to go to the polls in this year’s election and to vote for Justin Shimp for North District supervisor.



Return Harvey to office

I have been an Afton resident for 20 years. I would like to thank Supervisor Tommy Harvey for being a long-time public servant who worked to support policies in the best interests of all residents, including efforts to secure adequate funding for local emergency services and strengthening Nelson County Public Schools. He promotes the use of technology to ensure students have tools to achieve success.

I thank him and Diane and other long-time volunteers who donated many hours and years of their time to raise money to support the fire and rescue department. These are the reasons I support him as my supervisor for the North District. Let’s give him our vote on Nov. 7.



Shimp for supervisor

What has happened to Afton?

Zenith Quest is now a dominant presence on Virginia 151 as we enter our beautiful Nelson County home. An international arms dealer headquartered in Afton is questionable enough, but building a huge armaments depot — the size of an average Walmart — on our Scenic Byway is worse. Knowing that it is located a few hundred feet from a school filled with young children is so wrong we wonder who could have thought that was a good idea? We have learned that there is testing of ballistic equipment inside the building. It is a huge explosive target, and our volunteer fire department would be outmatched to say the least.

The vast majority of our residents, many of whom opposed permitting it, had no idea what was coming until the earthmovers arrived. We believe if this was exposed prior to approval citizens of the North District would have raised our voices against it.

Justin Shimp is the only one of our Board of Supervisor candidates this year who fought to keep Zenith Quest out of Nelson County from the beginning. His opponents include the site’s project manager, Ray Miles, and Tommy Harvey, the incumbent chairman of the Board of Supervisors, who ushered the whole thing through.

We don’t want more industries like Zenith Quest, so we’re voting for Shimp for North District Supervisor on Nov. 7, and we hope you will join us.



Re-elect Del. Landes

Del. Steve Landes listens to our concerns!

I live in the Afton area. After multiple accidents and increased traffic congestion at the intersection of Virginia 151 and U.S. 250, I reached out to Del. Landes and expressed my concerns. I was told he would contact the VDOT office in Culpeper and was copied on his correspondence with them. A short time later, there was another accident involving an overturned tanker truck. I contacted Del. Landes again and asked, “Does someone have to die at this intersection before something is done?” Within six months, work had started on the installation of the traffic light.

Thank you, Del. Landes; you have my vote!



Dogs a major concern

Dangerous dogs at large are a growing problem in Nelson County, one that must not be ignored any longer.

Our current ordinance provides legal protection for residents from such dogs only after a bite occurs. A dog that runs at a person in the road, chases the person, barks, growls, exposes its teeth, and lunges at the person’s body does not meet the current interpretation of “dangerous.” Therefore, the animal control officials’ ability to intervene at this point is quite limited.

As a runner, I’ve had numerous encounters with unrestrained dogs behaving in the above-described manner towards myself and my children, including one particularly frightening incident recently.

Information I’ve received after making a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed to me how pervasive the aggressive dog problem is in Nelson County. Public safety demands a revision to the ordinance to protect residents and to enable our animal control officers to take action before a Nelson resident becomes seriously harmed — or worse.

I encourage residents to contact their supervisor — and their challengers — to ask their position on an enhanced dangerous dog ordinance.



Tax ‘reform’ just a giveaway

With all the smoke and mirrors generated in Washington, it is important to keep our eyes on the reality being generated there.

A big part of that reality is now tax reform. There is no tax reform bill to presently examine and evaluate but the president has praised its goals extensively. He says it will reduce taxes for everyone, but the lowest tax rate is projected to increase from 10 percent to 12 percent and everyone should recognize this as an increase. The state and local tax deduction is also projected to be terminated, and everyone who now uses it would probably face a tax increase.

Enough of the vague particulars. Many of them will probably be changed as “King of Debt” Donald Trump seeks to give everyone a piece of the pie while dumping the costs on future generations who will have to pay for the deficits this bill generates.

It will be interesting to me to see how many “conservatives” will line up at the trough to slurp up this giveaway to the rich and powerful.

I would also argue that the meager decrease in the federal tax bill to the lower and middle classes (should they get an actual decrease) will do squat for the economy. These folks, the real generators of increases in demand and therefore economic output, need the relief that wage increases and universal health care would bring rather than a few dollars of tax relief.

If the reduction in revenues kills the food stamp program and others like it that help the lower classes, it will be a tax cut that further burdens those that need the most help.



Stick it to elites

“We the people” have created an elite establishment class, comprised of the political elite and influential donors, to rule. We have allowed this elite class to move the governing concept of our Founders from that of a self-reliant people governing themselves to a socialistic state ruled by a royalty that embodies both Republican and Democratic political representatives.

The problem for the elite establishment class is that their base electorate numbers are relatively small.

The hard core bases of the two parties are each in the low-20 percentiles. This number moves to the low 30s when the “I always vote Democratic/Republican” votes are added. For years, the electorate has either sought other avenues of representation or just did not vote. This aggregate number is larger than that of either political parties. The political battle today is not Republican vs. Democratic, it is the elite establishment class against those followers of President Trump called “deplorable.”

The 2017 gubernatorial election in Virginia is filled with conflicting currents. The Democratic Party, by actions and voice, is an advocate of the socialist state. The Republican Party wants to maintain their station in the elite establishment class, but must deal with the “deplorables” who put Trump in office.

Today, the decision placed before the residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia is this: “Do you wish to remain serfs to an elite establishment class in a socialist nation, or do you wish to reassert your responsibility for self-government?”

Because of the message this decision will send to the rest of the nation, Virginians, on Nov. 7, will seal the fate of the nation.

If you care about your country and hold that socialism is contrary to the heritage of your forefathers, you must contact all like-minded “deplorable” friends and encourage them to vote.



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