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Virginia Veterans Speak Out Against Fracked-Gas Pipelines
Military veterans from across Virginia released a letter Thursday opposing two proposed fracked-gas pipelines: Dominion Energy's Atlantic Coast Pipeline and EQT's Mountain Valley Pipeline. These pipelines would cross through pristine areas of Virginia, taking private property by use of eminent domain, removing mountain ridgetops and threatening valuable drinking water resources. The veterans view this as contrary to their service to protect and defend the freedom and security of American citizens.
The letter, signed by 13 veterans from all five military branches, states:
"We stand together to support our citizens and our Constitution. We stand against [the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline] because we stand against the seizure of private property for corporate gain. Both of these proposed pipelines would create new sacrifice zones and abuse eminent domain to strip property owners of land that, in many cases, has been in their families for generations. This direct attack on the constitutional rights of landowners goes against the oath we all took when we volunteered to serve this great country."
The letter discusses the battle between indigenous communities and police forces at Standing Rock, when thousands of military veterans showed up to form a human shield around the water protectors when their communities were under threat from the Dakota Access Pipeline. The signatories state, "We will continue to embody that spirit to protect our communities against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines."
The letter, released on behalf of Veterans Service Corps, criticized the pipeline projects for keeping Virginia "shackled to fossil fuel extraction for another generation." They call for action on climate change, noting the future should be "powered by clean energy and innovation."
The joint letter will be sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe as well as each of the five Virginia gubernatorial candidates: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Tom Perriello, Ed Gillespie, Virginia Sen. Frank Wagner and Corey Stewart.
Several veterans discussed the letter during a phone briefing.
Dave Belote, retired U.S. Air Force colonel, said:
"It's time we stopped looking backwards at dirty energy technologies of the past and started creating jobs in energy efficiency, solar and wind energy. Hampton Roads should be the center of a mid-Atlantic offshore wind industry that can employ thousands, maximize the use of our port facilities and point the way to a clean, resilient future."
Adam Fischbach, U.S. Navy hospital corpsman, 2nd class, concurred:
"As veterans we took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. The Constitution was written to protect the rights of American citizens. Now, when we allow a private corporation such as Dominion to overpower individual rights in the name of unjustified business profits, we have lost what it means to be American and to our right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We, as veterans must take a stand to ensure that individual rights are not stepped on in the name of economic advancement for the fossil fuel industry."
Russell Chisholm, retired U.S. Army officer and Newport resident, concluded:
"Pipeline companies target communities like Newport, Virginia because they think we won't make trouble for them due to our rural values. They ignore the fact that people of faith live here. Veterans and active duty service members live here and we take our oath to 'support and defend' as a life-long promise. We stand up when Americans are threatened. You better believe we are going to stand up when fellow veterans are threatened."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
The climate crisis has become a driving and dividing factor in the political arena in recent years. According to the survey, almost three-quarters of respondents think global warming is happening (though that number varies across party lines) with more than half of registered voters agreeing that it is driven by human activities. As such, six-in-ten voters are worried about the current state of the climate — a marked increase from the last survey conducted in March 2018.
When asked how much they would support different strategies the government could use to reduce air pollution, more than three-quarters agreed that investing in renewable energy research and infrastructure and regulating pollution was a priority, as well as taxing pollution (requiring companies to pay a tax on pollution they emit to encourage a reduction in emissions). A majority of respondents also support more specific policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a fee on carbon pollution that distributes money to U.S. citizens through monthly dividend checks. Furthermore, many support a Clean Power Plan that implements strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants. A majority of voters also say they want policies that address the pollution that causes global warming and reduces pollution investments, regulations and taxes.
Climate change ranks as the 17th most important voting issue and is a more polarizing topic than abortion. So much so, that almost half of registered voters say they would support a president who declared global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
A handful of 2020 presidential candidates have put climate change at the forefront of their campaign platform as part of ongoing pressure to combat the effects of climate change. The Green New Deal, unveiled in part by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) earlier this year is a decade-long plan that will "mobilize every aspect of American society ... to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all," according to a section of the resolution from her office posted by NPR.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who introduced a plan just a few days ago to combat climate change. In it, Bennet calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank" to use federal spending to incentivize the private sector to transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. His opponent, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, similarly announced a clean energy plan earlier this month dubbed the "100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan" that would aim to phase out coal over the next decade and require all power production to be emissions-free by 2035.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also threw his name into the running hat but didn't mention climate change in his announcement. His overall stand on the Green New Deal and fossil fuel infrastructure is hazy. His campaign website promises environmental action but does not go into further detail. If elected president, Senator Elizabeth Warren has promised an executive order to ban new fossil fuel extraction leases in federal lands and waters.
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President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.