PRESS RELEASE: 600 Virginians ‘March on the Mansion’ to Tell Gov. McAuliffe: Put People Over Polluters on Pipelines, Coal Ash, and Climate Action

PRESS RELEASE: 600 Virginians ‘March on the Mansion’ to Tell Gov. McAuliffe: Put People Over Polluters on Pipelines, Coal Ash, and Climate Action

For Immediate Release: Saturday, July 23, 2016

Photos will be available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chesapeakeclimate/albums/72157670679870341

Contact:
Kelly Trout, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 717-439-0346 (cell), kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Amanda Pohl, Virginia Organizing, 804-337-1912, amanda@virginia-organizing.org
Sharon Ponton, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, 434-420-1874, ponton913@msn.com

Six Hundred Virginians Join ‘March on the Mansion’ to Tell Gov. McAuliffe: Put People Over Polluters on Pipelines, Coal Ash, and Climate Action

As record warm temperatures strike the U.S., Virginians call for clean energy instead of fracked-gas pipelines, polluted water, and flooded homes

First-of-its-kind climate justice rally in Va. unites people on the front lines of fossil fuel harm and social justice, faith, landowner, student, conservation, and climate movements

RICHMOND, Va.—As record warm temperatures strike the U.S., 600 activists marched to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s house on Saturday to demand that he put the welfare of people ahead of the interests of polluters. Waving banners that included “McAuliffe: Climate Justice Can’t Wait,” the protesters demanded that the Governor become a full-time champion of renewable energy solutions, and stop supporting fossil fuels that harm communities and worsen global warming.

The “March on the Mansion” brought together people from Norfolk to Northern Virginia to the New River Valley who face first-hand effects from dirty energy policies that Gov. McAuliffe supports. Farmers whose land is threatened by the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline marched shoulder-to-shoulder with Virginians whose drinking water is polluted by coal ash and coastal residents whose homes are being flooded by rising seas.

With colorful signs, chants, songs, and a 40-foot-long mock pipeline, rally-goers paraded from Brown’s Island Park along the James River to Capitol Square, calling on the Governor to listen to their voices and stand up to polluters like Dominion Resources and EQT/NextEra.

Rally speakers included Pastor Paul Williams, a minister in a primarily African American community in Buckingham County, the proposed site of a massive compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; Carolyn Reilly, whose family farm in Franklin County would be divided by the Mountain Valley Pipeline; and Dan Marrow, whose family lives near Dominion’s Possum Point coal ash ponds and is forced to drink bottled water due to trace contaminants in his well water.

Nebraskan Jane Kleeb, a key leader of the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance” that defeated the Keystone XL pipeline, also joined Saturday’s rally in solidarity. The event came on the heels of a new report showing that the surge of fracked-gas pipelines proposed in Virginia and across the Appalachian basin are incompatible with a safe climate future, and fail the “climate test” applied to Keystone XL.

More than 60 landowner, social justice, faith, student, riverkeeper, and climate groups organized and endorsed the rally, demonstrating the growing movement across Virginia calling for swift and serious action to transition to sustainable and just energy. The groups will continue working together to challenge the stranglehold that polluting companies have over energy policy in Richmond.

In an open letter to Gov. McAuliffe in June, the groups laid out a vision for affordable, clean energy development that matches the scale of the climate crisis, gives local communities a voice, and advances social, racial and environmental justice. To put Virginia on a path to tackle climate change and protect community health, the organizing groups Saturday called on Governor McAuliffe to:

  1. Oppose gas and oil projects that hurt Virginians and our economy, including using state authority to deny Clean Water Act permits for proposed fracked-gas pipelines. The proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, related compressor stations and gas plants, and offshore oil rigs will worsen the climate crisis and create racial, rural, and economic sacrifice zones when affordable clean energy alternatives are available.
  2. Stop supporting reckless coal ash disposal plans that pollute rivers and drinking water. The Governor and the Department of Environmental Quality must reject utility company plans to dump millions more gallons of coal ash wastewater (containing toxic heavy metals) into our rivers and to bury the ash in unlined pits. Coal ash must be properly isolated and stored in a way that permanently protects our water.
  3. Explicitly commit to reducing total climate pollution from Virginia power plants through federal and state clean power rules. The Governor must reject Dominion’s plan to increase climate pollution from power plants. Instead, take positive action to protect public health and natural resources, and ensure a transition to renewable energy.

Speakers on Saturday echoed this call for clean energy and polluter-free politics:

Janice “Jay” Johnson, Newport News resident and board member of Virginia Organizing: “Our grassroots environmental movement is about putting the people of Virginia over the polluters destroying our environment, which is what the governor was elected to do. The problems caused by climate change are literally coming to our back yards in floods, potential fracked-gas pipelines, and the erosion of our land, air, and water quality — we’re taking these problems to Governor McAuliffe’s back yard so he will finally pay attention.”

Pastor Paul Wilson, who ministers to the Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches in Buckingham County: “Our churches and seventy-five percent of our membership make up the ground-zero zone of the proposed compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion’s real message to us is that 200-plus lives don’t matter.”

Lewis Freeman, Chair and Executive Director of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 50 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia that oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: “We call on Governor McAuliffe to live up to the promise of his own words and insist that his Administration do its job to assure that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline or any other similar major project meets the environmental standards Virginians have every right to expect will be enforced.”

Carolyn Reilly, Franklin County farmer whose land would be crossed by the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Virginia Community Organizer with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League: “Throughout this tough and messy pipeline fight, one of the key lessons I’ve learned is this: your voice matters. My voice matters. Our kids’ voices matters. And it is for our children and grandchildren that we press forward in perseverance to protect our homes, our land, and our communities. We, the People, must unite our voices and demand that the Governor take heed and listen.”

Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network: “During this extreme heat wave, it is increasingly shocking that Governor McAuliffe supports more extreme fossil fuels. Virginians marched in record numbers to the Governor’s house to demand change. Affordable, clean energy is wholly within our grasp if our leaders stand up to Dominion and short-sighted polluters.”

Dan Marrow, resident of Quantico, Virginia, whose family lives near Dominion’s Possum Point coal ash ponds and now drinks bottled water: “Water is life. Dominion and McAuliffe should clean up their coal ash!”

The Rev. Weston Mathews, Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Virginia: “Remembering the account we must one day give, may we be faithful stewards of God’s creation, for it does not belong to us. Climate justice is what love looks like in public.”

Heidi Cochran, a Nelson County landowner who has been a leading voice in the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: “Our constitutional rights to our private property and our rights to a clean and safe environment for our children’s future are being threatened by the fossil fuel industry. It is time for our Governor to become informed and live up to his promises to protect Virginians and our environment from the impacts of climate change.”

Rick Shingles, direct action coordinator for Protect Our Water, Heritage, and Rights (POWHR), a group that opposes the Mountain Valley Pipeline: “Governor McAuliffe has misled the public, claiming Virginia will be dependent on ‘natural’ gas for the foreseeable future. Not True! He’s simply promoting an unnecessary and undesirable monopoly on the part of Dominion Resources.”

Lauren Malhotra, a student organizer with the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition: “All other liberation struggles are tied into this one. Climate change is the global threat multiplier of our time and will exacerbate the problems of inequality, conflict, and suffering that already seem too great to solve. Climate justice means striving for a fair future that supports all communities.”

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Visit MarchontheMansion.org and follow the hashtag #ReachTerry for more information.

Final updates: The game plan for Saturday

Final updates: The game plan for Saturday

We can’t wait to see you in Richmond this Saturday at noon to raise our voices together for climate justice and clean energy. You’ve been filling up bus seats, painting beautiful banners, and — I hope — exercising your chanting voices.

And now you’re even attracting the attention of famous actor Mark Ruffalo. For real. He released a video message to urge Virginians to join you at Governor McAuliffe’s house. Click here to watch on Facebook and share!

Now, here’s everything you need to know about the plan for Saturday:

THE BASICS: Our rally begins on Saturday at 12 noon on Brown’s Island in downtown Richmond. Click here for a Google map. The island is accessible via pedestrian entrances at Tredegar Street & South 5th and South 7th Streets respectively, and by Richmond’s Canal Walk. (Note: a bag check is required to enter Brown’s Island, so make sure to leave knives or glass bottles at home.) The island has restrooms.

BUSES:
If you signed up for a bus seat, you will have received (or will shortly get) an email, call or text directly from your bus captain. Find bus pick-up details and contact info for bus captains on the transportation page: http://marchonthemansion.org/transportation.

PARKING: If you’re driving, we have a list and map of parking garages located within a few blocks of Brown’s Island on the transportation page: http://marchonthemansion.org/transportation. (The garages are also just a few blocks from our march end-point at the Capitol.)

OUR AGENDA: Our official rally program begins at 12 noon, but the activity on Brown’s Island will kick-off earlier. Here’s a run-down of the full agenda:

  • Pre-rally: Interfaith leaders are holding a prayer service at 11:15 a.m. — all are welcome! Local musicians will begin playing around 11:30 a.m.
  • Rally: We’ll get fired up with great speeches from fellow Virginians on the front lines of fossil fuel impacts, and from student, faith, social justice, and climate leaders. ASL interpretation will be available!
  • The march: We’ll start marching toward Capitol Square by 1 p.m., guided by marshals, and we’ll wrap up around 2:30 p.m. at the Capitol Bell Tower. If you need help making this walk, we’ll have bus shuttles to take you from the island to the Capitol.
  • After the march: Buses will depart from the same block where our march will end. For those not departing on buses, join us for a post-rally debrief and issue session at St. Paul’s church at 815 E Grace St.

SPREAD THE WORD: Throughout the day, post and share updates, photos and video on social media using our march hashtag: #ReachTerry.

THE WEATHER: It will be hot on Saturday — and we’re prepared for it. We’ll have tents to provide shade, water, ice, and mister bottles — plus cooling spots along the march route. Make sure to bring: a water bottle, hat, sunscreen, umbrella, snacks, and anything else that helps keep you cool. St. Paul’s church at 815 E Grace St. (across from the Capitol) will be open from 12 noon – 4 p.m. for marchers as a cooling spot with AC and restrooms. You can also duck into air-conditioned restaurants and shops along the march route as needed.

BRING YOUR OWN DRUMS, SIGNS AND BANNERS: Let’s make this not only the biggest rally for climate justice Virginia has ever seen, but the most beautiful! Do you have a snare drum? Conga? Bass drum? Bring it! And bring your best signs and banners that show why you’re marching.

QUESTIONS? Please check out the FAQ page on our rally website: http://marchonthemansion.org/faq-details. And don’t hesitate to email us at: info@marchonthemansion.org.

We are going to have a fun, peaceful, creative and POWERFUL event this Saturday. We’re going to come together in bigger numbers than ever before to make sure our Governor puts the welfare of citizens over the profits of polluters.

As our friend Mark Ruffalo said, “We can win these fights if we choose to fight.”

Let’s hit the streets together on Saturday!

Transportation & Parking

Transportation & Parking

The March on the Mansion will begin on historic Brown’s Island, along the beautiful James River in downtown Richmond. Brown’s Island is accessible via pedestrian entrances at Tredegar Street & South 5th and South 7th Streets respectively, and by Richmond’s Canal Walk. (See a Google map of Brown’s Island.)

Buses are available from across Virginia!

When you sign up for the march, select the bus that is nearest to you to reserve your seat. Seats on buses are free of charge, but you will need to reserve in advance.

  • To reserve a seat, select your bus location when signing up, and then look out for a confirmation email.
  • If you do not see the bus you want below available on the sign up form, that means it is full. Email the bus captain listed below to get your name on the wait-list.

You can send general bus questions to info@marchonthemansion.org. Please contact the bus captains below with questions about your pick-up details by location.

All buses will depart Richmond by 3:30 p.m. from the corner of N 9th St. and Bank St., which is adjacent to the Capitol Grounds where the march will conclude.

Buses will include:

Blacksburg – Meet at 7:00 AM at the Blacksburg Unitarian Universalist Congregation – 1301 Gladewood Drive, Blacksburg, VA. Departs at 7:15 AM.
Questions? Contact bus captain Sam Scates at Rss3555@vt.edu.

Charlottesville – Meet at 8:45 AM at the Animal Medical Center – 388 Pantops Center, Pantops Shopping Center, Charlottesville, VA (please park in middle of lot between the Vet & Tuesday Morning store).
Questions? Contact Friends of Nelson bus coordinator Deirdre Skogen at deirdre.skogen@gmail.com.

Harrisonburg – Departs at 9:00 AM from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Corner of E Wolf St & N Main St, Downtown Harrisonburg, VA.
Questions? Contact bus captain Lara Mack at lara@appvoices.org.

Hampton Roads (Peninsula) – Departs at 10:00 AM from Newsome House, 2803 Oak Ave, Newport News, VA.
Questions? Contact bus captain Harrison Wallace at harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org.

Hampton Roads (Southside) – Departs at 10:00 AM from the K-Mart parking lot at 6101 N. Military Highway, Norfolk, VA.
Questions? Contact bus captain Teresa Stanley at tstanley@virginia-organizing.org.

Nelson County – Meet at 8:45 AM at Nelson County High School – 6919 Thomas Nelson Hwy, Lovingston, VA.
Questions? Contact Friends of Nelson bus coordinator Deirdre Skogen at deirdre.skogen@gmail.com.

Northern Virginia – Departs at 8:30 AM from the Vienna Metro Station (South Kiss & Ride Lot), 9550 Saintsbury Drive, Vienna, VA.
Questions? Contact bus captain Chris Tandy at chris@christandy.net.

Roanoke – Meet at 8:15 AM at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke, 2015 Grandin Rd SW, Roanoke, VA. Departs at 8:30 AM.
Questions? Contact bus captain Carolyn Reilly at carolynreilly3@gmail.com.

Staunton – Meet at 8:45 AM in the Wal-Mart parking lot – Exit 222 off I-81 – 1028 Richmond Ave., Staunton, VA.
Questions? Contact Friends of Nelson bus coordinator Deirdre Skogen at deirdre.skogen@gmail.com.

Parking

March map annotated 7-01If you are driving to the March, you will need to park your car in one of the lots or garages within a short walking distance to Brown’s Island:

Ride-sharing

Want to carpool? Do you need a ride or can you offer an extra seat or two on your car? Use the message board below to connect with other people headed to the march. Participants are advised in advance that the event organizers do not assume responsibility or maintain coverage for rideshares.
marchonthemansion

F.A.Q. and details

F.A.Q. and details

1. Why march?
2. How can I help spread the word?
3. Is transportation available?
4. When and where is the march?
5. What’s the full agenda?
6. Will there be ASL interpretation?
7. What’s the route of the march?
8. What should I bring?

1. Why a March on the Mansion?

Read the open letter to Governor McAuliffe signed by over 60 groups for the full background on the vision and principles behind the March.

Here’s the short story: In 2016, we can have energy development that doesn’t harm communities. It is possible to spur our economy with clean, renewable energy production, and give communities the power to control their own future.

Yet, right now, neighbors all across Virginia are being harmed by dirty, extractive energy policies. From pipelines and compressor stations across our land, to toxic coal ash in our rivers, to dirty gas plants wreaking havoc on our climate — this doesn’t need to happen.

Terry McAuliffe ran for Governor telling us he would champion renewable energy, and bring transparency to the Capitol. Yet — he’s chosen time and time again to stand lockstep with corporate polluters, putting their profits over our health, and refusing to stand up for our citizens.

We need real leadership, and we don’t have time to waste!

2. How can I help spread the word?

If you’re on Facebook, RSVP to the March on the Mansion event and then invite your friends to join in. Click “Going” to RSVP yourself, and then click “Invite” to get the word out.

On Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, we’ll be using the hashtag #ReachTerry to share updates before, during, and after the march. Use #ReachTerry in your posts, so we can track and share each others’ updates. #ReachTerry symbolizes what we’re doing — bringing our voices straight to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s doorstep to break through the influence of fossil fuel polluters.

2. Is transportation available to Richmond?

Yes, buses are headed to Richmond on July 23rd from across Virginia. Even better, seats on the bus are free of charge. To find the list of available buses and pick-up locations, go to http://marchonthemansion.org/transportation. To reserve your seat on a bus, select your bus from the drop-down menu on the main March sign-up form.

If a bus is not convenient to your area, we encourage you to carpool! The March transportation page has a ride-sharing board to help marchers find and offer rides.

3. When and where is the March?

The March is on Saturday, July 23rd from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. — rain or shine!

The March will begin with a rally on historic Brown’s Island, along the beautiful James River in downtown Richmond. Brown’s Island is accessible via pedestrian entrances at Tredegar Street & South 5th and South 7th Streets respectively, and by Richmond’s Canal Walk. (See a map of Brown’s Island Park here.)

Brown's Island Map_update-01

4. What’s the agenda for the March?

Pre-program activities:

11:15 a.m. — Interfaith prayer service on the West end of Brown’s Island. Join faith, meditation, and other spiritual leaders for a moment of song, prayer, mediation, and healing before the rally. All are welcome.

11:30 a.m. — Local musicians will take the stage and gear us up to rally.

Rally & march:

12 noon to 1 p.m. — Rally, featuring speakers across the state fighting dirty energy projects in their community and fighting for climate justice. American Sign Language interpretation will be available.

1 p.m. — March to the Governor’s mansion sets off.

2:30 p.m. — Closing remarks from community members and students, chants and singing at the Bell Tower on the Capitol Grounds.

Post-event:

3:00 p.m. — For those not getting on buses, there will be a debrief and next steps session at nearby St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (815 E Grace St.).

3:00 – 3:30 p.m. — Buses depart from 900 Bank Street, adjacent to the Capitol Grounds. Look out for an email from your bus captains ahead of time to confirm your final departure details.

5. Will there be sign language interpretation for the program?

Yes! American Sign Language interpretation will be available.

6. What’s the route of the March?

We’ll march from Brown’s Island through downtown Richmond to the Capitol Square, ending at the Bell Tower — a route of approximately 1 mile.

A bus shuttle will be available for anyone who needs a lift from the park to the Capitol grounds. Approximately the first quarter-mile of the march route is uphill.

Restrooms and a cool spot to rest along the march route are available at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 815 E. Grace St., corner of Grace and 9th streets, across from the Capitol. St. Paul’s will be open to ralliers from 12-4:00 p.m. (Use the Grace Street entrance.) This is the same spot where we’ll host a debrief and issue workshop directly after the march.

March map annotated 7-01

7. What should I bring to the March?

First, bring a friend — or 10 friends! And bring your kids. This is a peaceful, family-friendly event.

Be ready for summer weather. Check the weather beforehand: you’ll want to bring water, sunscreen, an umbrella, and maybe a poncho or rain jacket. We’ll have some shade for you at the rally site on Brown’s Island and we’ll have water tables. But you should bring all the things you would take on a summer outing to the beach: hat, sunscreen, water, and maybe a fan.

HOT TIP: Bring an umbrella either way! It’ll keep you dry if it rains, and cool if it’s hot.

Bring a sign or banner. Why you are coming to the rally and march to the Governor’s mansion. Are you most concerned about climate change? Coal ash dumping in our rivers? Fracked-gas pipelines? The need for the Governor to promote solar? Just make a poster or cloth/canvass/plastic banner that expresses YOU.

Bring the BEAT. A good march needs lots of drums. Do you have a snare drum? Conga? Bass drum? Do you know someone else who’s a drummer? Please round up all you can.

Finally, bring your chanting and singing voices, your energy, and your passion for a just, democratic energy future that works for everyone!

Press Release: Va. Alliance Challenges Gov. McAuliffe; Calls for a ‘March on the Mansion’ to Demand Clean Power

Press Release: Va. Alliance Challenges Gov. McAuliffe; Calls for a ‘March on the Mansion’ to Demand Clean Power

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2016

Va. Grassroots Alliance Challenges Governor McAuliffe Over Gas Pipelines, Offshore Oil, and Coal Ash; Calls for a ‘March on the Mansion’ in July to Demand Clean Power

Open letter to Governor McAuliffe on energy justice unites pipeline fighters, faith and social justice leaders, farmers, students, climate activists, and riverkeepers

RICHMOND, Va. – An unprecedented alliance of groups and leaders released an open letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe today challenging him to stop supporting fossil fuel projects that worsen climate change and harm communities. The letter calls on the Governor to instead join the fight for “energy justice, democratic renewal, and healthy communities” in Virginia.

More than 60 groups and leaders from mountain counties to coastal communities to the DC suburbs signed the letter, which sets July 23 as the date for a mass rally at the Governor’s mansion to demand a just transition to clean energy now.

The alliance outlines how Governor McAuliffe, after running on a platform of clean energy, has yet to act with the urgency the climate crisis demands or protect communities on the front lines of fossil fuel pollution threats. McAuliffe’s support for offshore oil drilling, for example, threatened to expose the state’s coast to an oil spill on the scale of the BP disaster. The Governor’s support for major fracked-gas pipelines would destroy farms, drinking water, and property rights while triggering nearly twice as much greenhouse gas pollution as all of Virginia’s current power plants combined.

“On the biggest, most polluting issues of our time, the Governor simply has not shown he has heard the voices of affected communities or joined the growing statewide call for justice,” the letter states. “For too long, the powerful few have made energy decisions that adversely affect the vulnerable many. Now the historic moment is before us – and the duty is ours – to change that forever.”

Speakers released the letter, as well as a website to promote the July 23 rally in Richmond – www.marchonthemansion.org – during a tele-press conference on Wednesday.

Signers range from faith groups like Virginia Interfaith Power and Light to regional coalitions like the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, and Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR) to environmental and justice groups like Appalachian Voices and Virginia Organizing to clean water groups like the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and New River Conservancy to Mothers Out Front in Hampton Roads and the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition.

The groups lay out their own vision for energy policy in Virginia that would match the scale of the climate crisis, give local communities a voice, and advance social and environmental justice, calling for “a state where energy development means prosperity and health for everyone, without pain and harm for sacrificed regions, without property rights denied and whole regions left behind.”

“If our voices have gone unheard from our separate regions of the state, we have a duty to bring those voices together until we are heard,” the groups state. “If the governor has difficulty hearing our specific concerns and our even more specific proposed solutions, we will help him hear them by bringing our voices directly to him.”

The letter outlines a series of steps Governor McAuliffe can take – wholly within his authority and not dependent on Congress or the Virginia General Assembly – to lead Virginia unequivocally toward a clean energy future.

These solutions include using state authority to challenge water permits for proposed fracked-gas pipelines under the Clean Water Act, dropping support for offshore drilling, and intervening to protect communities from reckless coal-ash disposal plans. They also include committing to regulations under the federal Clean Power Plan that would put a strong cap on total, aggregate greenhouse gas pollution from Virginia power plants now and into the future.

View the full letter released today to Governor McAuliffe at: http://marchonthemansion.org/letter-to-mcauliffe

Listen to the audio recording of the tele-press conference:

Loading the player …

CONTACT:
Kelly Trout, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Amanda Pohl, Virginia Organizing, 804-337-1912, amanda@virginia-organizing.org
Cat McCue, Appalachian Voices, 434-293-6373, cat@appvoices.org

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Our Open Letter to Governor McAuliffe

Our Open Letter to Governor McAuliffe

A New Vision for Energy Justice, Democratic Renewal, and Healthy Communities in Virginia

An open letter to Governor Terry McAuliffe and the people of the Commonwealth

June 15, 2016

We speak today with a unified voice dedicated to energy justice, democratic renewal, and healthy communities in Virginia.  We believe it’s within our grasp to achieve clean and affordable energy for all Virginians, without leaving anyone behind. We believe in the basic moral right to clean water, clean air, healthy communities, and safe ecosystems for all living things. We believe there is no contradiction between keeping the lights on and preserving swimmable rivers, pristine shorelines, protected mountains, prosperous farms, livable cities, and a stable climate.

We envision a state where energy development means prosperity and health for everyone, without pain and harm for sacrificed regions, without property rights denied and whole regions left behind. We reject the notion that energy choices should be made by the powerful few, far removed from affected communities. We believe that local citizens can and should determine their own energy destiny – and that given a full and democratic process, communities can and will choose a path that is clean over dirty, safe over dangerous, transparent over secretive.

We believe that 21st century energy is better derived from the sun and from ocean winds. We believe in energy efficiency and innovative grid technology that is distributed, locally driven, and resilient.

And yet, today, this vision of democracy and sustainability is under siege in Virginia. From our western and southwestern mountains all the way to the sea, from Northern Virginia all the way to the James and New Rivers, we face unprecedented challenges. Offshore drilling for oil could one day ruin our beaches. Massive pipelines and compressor stations for fracked gas could rip a thousand-mile swath across our state.  Toxic coal ash waste is being dumped into our rivers while regulators and utility companies cut corners and reject safer disposal methods required by neighboring states. And even as solar power investments outpace fossil fuels in parts of America, and as the rest of the world commits to dramatic reductions in climate pollution, energy companies in Virginia – led by the state’s largest, Dominion Virginia Power, along with companies like EQT/NextEra – are pushing massive new fossil fuel plans that would lock in rising pollution.

These energy projects, and the top-down power dynamics that sustain them, must stop. Our vision is for something better, where people and natural systems matter. We are unified today because we know that positive social change comes from people standing together, speaking up and taking action.

We are farmers and landowners who believe property should not be confiscated – with eminent domain for private gain – from families and used for dangerous and unnecessary gas pipelines or other harmful fossil fuel energy infrastructure. We believe in the inherent right of communities to say no to protect their air, water, heritage, rights, and children.

We are students who believe that energy policies directly intersect with key issues of race, poverty, and exclusion. We believe that transitioning away from fossil fuels must involve transitioning towards justice.

We are faith leaders who are called to care for our neighbors and for all Creation. We seek love and energy justice for all – and the protection of our world’s sacred gifts. We have an ethical duty, as stewards of the common good, to power our faith sanctuaries with clean energy and to move our Commonwealth away from the dirty energy that harms our neighborhoods, our farms, our mountains, and our climate. Energy issues are moral issues.

We are climate advocates who believe the recent Paris Accord and the moral appeal of Pope Francis mean that greenhouse gas pollution in our state must go down, not keep going up as per the business models of companies like Dominion and EQT/NextEra.

We are river advocates who believe in fishable, drinkable, swimmable waters where fossil fuel waste is never permitted to poison our waterways or drinking water supplies, and polluters pay to clean up their messes using the safest and best available technology.

We are conservationists who recognize that Virginia’s 2 million-plus acres of public forests – national and state – comprise the largest terrestrial carbon storage function in the state. These forests actively mitigate climate change and its effects on soils, water, wildlife and urban areas. These amenities simply cannot be replicated on private lands. Proposed gas pipelines or any other extraction-related fragmentation or harm to these forests are not in the public interest.

Finally, we are social justice groups who believe that economic, social and environmental policies should be developed with maximum input from the communities they are meant to serve.  We believe energy injustice anywhere in Virginia is energy injustice everywhere – and that the continued treatment of people and the environment as disposable commodities must end. We dedicate ourselves to acknowledging and reversing the environmental racism and energy racism that have for centuries harmed indigenous nations and people of color all across Virginia.

We acknowledge that many institutions share responsibility for our current situation, including our General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, multiple federal agencies, and utility companies.

But most immediately, we appeal to our Governor, Terry McAuliffe, who has the power to shape every major energy fight now before us. The Governor has taken much-appreciated small steps toward funding flood resiliency in Hampton Roads, and increasing energy efficiency and the use of solar power, while opposing some subsidies for dirty energy. But on the biggest, most polluting issues of our time, the Governor simply has not shown he has heard the voices of affected communities or joined the growing statewide call for justice.

Along the Virginia coast, our communities have asked for permanent protection from offshore oil drilling – and won a five-year reprieve from the U.S. Department of the Interior. We cannot afford a BP-type spill here or the greenhouse gas equivalent of 24 million new cars added to our roads annually if our Atlantic oil and gas is extracted and burned. We cannot afford more sea-level rise. We’ve asked the Governor to discontinue his support for offshore oil drilling, and defend our coast, but our voices have not been heard.

Along vast stretches of our Appalachian Mountains, our communities have asked for protection from companies who want to build unprecedented pipelines for fracked gas from West Virginia. These pipelines would trigger erosion, deforestation, and direct harm to drinking water as they cross 500-plus rivers, lakes, and wetlands. We have asked the Governor to reconsider his blanket support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, and to use his legal authority to closely review and challenge water permits under the Clean Water Act. We have warned him that these pipelines and the fracking wells they support could trigger nearly DOUBLE the total greenhouse gas pollution currently emitted by all existing Virginia power plants combined. But our voices have not been heard.

Our communities along the Potomac, James, and New Rivers and their tributaries have asked the Governor to immediately stop the plans of Dominion and other companies to dump millions of additional tons of toxic coal ash liquid into our rivers or to otherwise improperly store the ash. The Governor should support a federal investigation into potentially illegal dumping last May by Dominion. To permanently protect our drinking water, we’ve asked that the coal ash be properly isolated and stored in a way that does not harm any communities via contaminated drinking wells and the leaching of toxins into our rivers for decades to come. Instead Governor McAuliffe supports Dominion’s dangerous coal ash plans. Again, our voices have not been heard.

Finally, our communities across the Commonwealth witness strong new evidence of extreme weather and a climate spiraling out of control. Some of our most vulnerable frontline communities suffer from rising seas in Hampton Roads, where flooding routinely forces schools to close and makes hospitals inaccessible. We have asked the Governor to support strong policy solutions to combat coastal flooding while capping carbon pollution, but our voices have not been heard. We have asked the Governor, under the federal Clean Power Plan, to immediately commit to a “mass-based” state plan that would create thousands of new renewable energy jobs and lower greenhouse gas pollution from all existing and future power plants. But our voices have not been heard.

As the seas and the stakes rise higher and the clock runs short, our commitment to a rational, fair, democratic, and abundant energy future is undaunted. If our voices have gone unheard from our separate regions of the state, we have a duty to bring those voices together until we are heard. If the governor has difficulty hearing our specific concerns and our even more specific proposed solutions, we will help him hear them by bringing our voices directly to him.

In the great tradition of social change movements across our nation, our groups will come together this summer, on July 23, in Richmond to proudly display our collective strength, and our multi-generational, multi-racial, multi-regional coalition for change. We will bring our friends, our families, and our colleagues to the Governor’s Mansion to peacefully elevate our needs and concerns. Most of all, we invite you, Governor McAuliffe, to join us in embracing an energy future that respects human health and our invaluable natural heritage.

And we invite all people who share our vital concerns, to join us. For too long, the powerful few have made energy decisions that adversely affect the vulnerable many. Now the historic moment is before us – and the duty is ours – to change that forever.

Sincerely,

Initiating Groups and Leaders
Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA)
Appalachian Voices
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
Center for Biological Diversity (Norfolk office)
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Robert Dilday, Baptist News Global
The Rev. Weston Mathews, Richmond
Potomac Riverkeeper Network
Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR)
Virginia Interfaith Power and Light
Virginia Organizing
Virginia Student Environmental Coalition
Wild Virginia

Local, State & Regional Groups
350 Central Virginia
350 Loudoun
Appalachian Mountain Advocates
Augusta County Alliance
Casa Alma
Climate Action Alliance of the Valley
Concerned Citizens for Animal Protection
Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition
Drive Electric RVA
Earth Allies
EcoVillage Charlottesville
eNRG – Energizing Renewable Growth in Holston Valley
Fort Valley Voices for Action
Free Nelson
Friends of Augusta
Friends of Buckingham
Friends of Nelson
Friends of the Middle River
Green Grannies of Charlottesville
Knitting Nannas of Virginia
Lynnhaven River Now
Moms Clean Air Force Va.
Mothers Out Front, Hampton Roads
Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance
New River Conservancy
No ACP
Pipeline Education Group
Pipe Up Virginia
Post Environmental Center
POW! (Protect Our Water)
Preserve Bent Mountain
Preserve Floyd
Preserve Franklin
Preserve Montgomery County, Va.
Preserve Roanoke
Preserve the New River Valley
Sierra Club Capital Group, North Carolina Chapter
Southeast CARE Coalition
Sustainable Loudoun
The Oracle Institute & Peace Pentagon HUB
Transition Charlottesville Albemarle
Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun
Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs
Virginia Native Plant Society
Voices from Bath
Waterkeepers Chesapeake
Yogaville Environmental Solutions (YES)

National Groups
350.org
Bold Alliance
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
Environmental Action
Global Alliance Interfaith Networks
Oil Change International

Individuals & Businesses
Advanced Racking Solutions
Blue Ridge Wellness
Callahan Vineyard Properties LLC
Powermark Electrical, LLC
The Rev. Marion E. Kanour, Nelson County, Va.
RER Energy Group, LLC
Solarfour LLC

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Keystone XL fighter Jane Kleeb invites you to march with us 7/23

Keystone XL fighter Jane Kleeb invites you to march with us 7/23

Keystone XL fighter Jane Kleeb of the Bold Alliance invites you to join us in the streets July 23rd for the March on the Mansion.

Jane worked hand-in-hand with Nebraska landowners, farmers, and indigenous leaders to protect their land and our climate from the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Six years ago, Nebraskans were in the same shoes that many Virginia landowners and citizens are in today, fighting an uphill battle against well-funded fossil fuel companies. Check out her video below and take this message to heart:

“We fought Keystone XL against all odds — against all the naysayers telling us that, as citizens, we had no power. But we took our fight to the streets. And that’s exactly what people are doing on July 23rd as we surround Governor McAuliffe’s mansion.”