APV Responds to Governor Northam


Before the Thanksgiving holidays, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam sought to remove two members from the State Air Pollution Control Board, a move that came less than a week after they raised concerns about a natural gas compressor station planned for a historic black community in Buckingham County and ahead of the board’s vote on the project.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, on Thursday, November 15th, Northam informed Rebecca Rubin and Samuel Bleicher that they would be removed from the seven-member board. A news release from the environmental groups noted that both Rubin and Bleicher had raised concerns at an  earlier meeting about environmental justice and pollution from the compressor station.

Their terms expired in June, but they were to remain on the board until they either resigned or the governor removed them. The air board will meet again Dec. 10 to deliberate and vote on a permit for the compressor station. Environmental groups said they were stunned Northam would make such a move just weeks before the controversial vote and called on him to reverse the decision.

The following is an open letter from the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia’s President in response.

November 23, 2018

The Honorable
Ralph S. Northam
Governor of Virginia

Dear Governor Northam,

I am writing to you in my capacity as the president of the Alliance for a Progressive Virginia, on behalf of our membership in the Commonwealth, many of whom, myself included, were proud to vote to make you the governor of our beautiful state.

While we deeply appreciate your strong stances on women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and the expansion of Medicaid amongst other issues, we continue to be deeply concerned with your administration’s policies regarding the two pipeline projects being forced through the heart of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valleys.

APV strongly opposes the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines in Virginia for reasons that become clearer almost daily. The negligible job creation and economic growth potential that the pipelines represent: compared to the damage done to vulnerable rural communities, the confiscation of private property and the immense danger posed to our environment, water table, and tourist industry make a strong case for denying the energy industry the opportunity to exploit our most precious resources both human and natural. APV members as well as our Public Policy team have spoken out consistently at every juncture against these pipelines only to watch in alarm as they are pushed through various boards and commissions by a powerful, often apparently unaccountable industry.

At a moment when we simply cannot trust the current administration in Washington to protect our environment and natural heritage, it is incumbent upon individual state leaders such as yourself to work overtime to protect our environment! Once in place, these shortsighted, careless environmental decisions can result in irreversible harm. This is why I feel I must write you personally.

During your campaign and since you took office, I have watched with growing dismay as you defer to the state boards and commissions for decisions regarding the pipelines, rather than take a stand to protect the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of the Commonwealth. We understand that processes and procedures are important but from the start it has appeared as if your administration has been an active partner with energy extraction concerns rather than the protector of our natural birthright. We demand a leader who stands up for all of us not just the wealthy and the privileged.

To be clear, the pipelines will not deliver energy to our own state. They will not provide any usable, necessary service to the people of Virginia, and even if they did, they are not worth the risks they pose or the hardships they will inflict. Fracking in itself is a desperate, massively destructive, last ditch attempt to extract as much profit as possible from remaining fossil fuels at whatever cost to the future. The transportation of fracked materials in high-pressure pipelines that would snake their way through some of the most scenic parts of our state, in order to reach a destination outside of Virginia is a game we’ve seen all too often, where the public takes the risk and a lucky few share the profits. This is not acceptable.

For the last year we have needed you to take a strong public stand in favor of people over profits, but instead we got a hands-off approach to the state-appointed boards that bordered on indifference. Now we have come to a moment of truth where you have chosen to fire several Air Pollution Control board members who have had the temerity to stand up against a pattern of lies and obfuscation by industry. To so blatantly pick sides at this point by removing legitimate obstacles to ACP and MVP has deeply shaken our trust in your administration.

I am asking you, Governor Northam, to rethink your decisions regarding these projects. We need a full explanation of your actions and inactions and we need to see your administration actively standing up to protect our environment, water quality and communities. We are watching what you do.


Rhonda Hening Davis
Alliance for a Progressive Virginia

Scott Price
Public Policy Director
Alliance for a Progressive Virginia
PO Box 14664
Richmond Virginia, 23221


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