Published in The Roanoke Times on August 3, 2016
Re: “Marching on Richmond,” July 19 editorial:
In that piece, you asked those in support of environmental justice to think about how we might attract jobs to the commonwealth without natural gas pipelines. Contrary to your opinion, we at Virginia Organizing do have a plan — one that is more sustainable for business, and therefore more likely to generate jobs, than natural gas will ever be.
Virginia Organizing made the business decision to switch to solar power for our office building. Over the past one-year period, we have saved more than 70 percent of our previous electrical costs — last month, we paid just $14 for our electric bill.
Businesses hoping to be in Virginia for the long haul that are not looking at solar for new construction or retrofitting existing buildings are making a mistake. Perhaps the state could take some of those tax breaks for business and make them contingent on powering their facilities through renewable energy.
Furthermore, if, as you say, businesses pass Virginia over because we don’t have natural gas pipelines, how is Governor McAuliffe currently doing so well at bringing business to our state without the pipelines (as you also say in your editorial)? We believe there’s room for even greater job growth by supporting renewable energy. For example, Southwest Virginia is a prime location for building wind farms. If we support those now, we can create jobs now, instead of sometime in the distant future.
Virginia could be a leader in renewable energy and an example for the rest of the country by putting our people over polluters and pipelines. We could show the rest of the country how to stand up to energy companies like Dominion that promote fossil fuels as “clean” even though they know the damage that fracked gas does to our land, water, climate and health.
That’s why we march — the governor refuses to listen to our ideas and continues to follow Dominion’s talking points. You can see the kind of work we do and the changes we support at www.virginia-organizing.org and the principles we march for at marchonthemansion.org.
Virginia Organizing State Governing Board