Governor Terry McAuliffe officially unveiled his energy plan for Virginia at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond Tuesday - but the speech was overshadowed by protesters.
Many who supported McAuliffe on the campaign trail say they are outraged and flat out disappointed. Environmental activists celebrated the governor's promises to revolutionize energy in Virginia, but things changed with a proposed natural gas pipeline.
Tuesday, a big group - including some from Nelson, Augusta, and Albemarle counties - wanted to make sure its message was heard. Protesters opposed to the planned Atlantic Coast Natural Gas Pipeline chanted until their voices were hoarse Tuesday.
"I think he was sold a bill of goods by Dominion. And I don't think he has his facts right, and I feel betrayed by him, I do,” said Susan Hastings, a protester.
Hastings says her home, her community of 40 years, could be in danger if something goes wrong. She can't help but worry about the possibilities of disruption to her property - which crosses over Nelson and Albemarle counties - contamination of groundwater, or an explosion.
"I just don't trust that they know what they're doing or that it will be safe,” said Hastings.
Away from the shouts of protesters, inside the Science Museum of Virginia, McAuliffe said his energy plan - including the pipeline - is important to revitalize Virginia's economy.
"Our goal and what we need to do is prepare ourselves. We need to better insulate our economy from external forces like Congressional spending cuts,” said Gov. McAuliffe.
Since McAuliffe took office this year, he has planned to invest in renewable energy, conservation, and workforce training.
"I hate to say this: we are well behind our neighbors,” said McAuliffe.
Student activists, like fourth-year University of Virginia student Dyanna Jaye, applaud McAuliffe for what he has done. But she, among many other protesters, disagrees with the "all the above" strategy for his energy plan.
"It doesn't look like pipelines, it doesn't look like offshore drilling, for natural gas and oil, and that isn't how we actually act on climate,” said Dyanna Jaye, chair of VA Student Environmental Coalition “'All the above' compromises our future, and we're better than that."
"I just hope that he will listen to us and take another look at it,” said Hastings.
During his speech Tuesday, McAuliffe said Virginia urgently needs to prepare in case another sequestration or shutdown happens. He feels these energy investments would create jobs and encourage businesses to come here.
Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe Press Release:
Richmond, Va. – Governor Terry McAuliffe today formally unveiled the 2014 Virginia Energy Plan at an event co-sponsored by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. The Governor laid out his strategic vision for energy policy in Virginia in front of a mixture of members of the business and conservation communities.
The Governor's energy plan highlights his commitment to a true “all of the above” energy strategy that will promote the use and development of all available resources.
In his remarks, Governor McAuliffe said, “If we are going to build the economy Virginia families deserve, we must begin by giving them the energy plan our economy demands. The plan we are rolling out today is focused on growing our energy economy (particularly in the renewable sector), emphasizing energy conservation, strengthening our energy infrastructure and training the workforce we need for the future.
“By working together, I am confident that four years from now we will live in a stronger Commonwealth that is less dependent on external forces and is fueled by cleaner, cheaper and more abundant Virginia energy.”
Barry DuVal, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and event co-host stated, “We commend Governor McAuliffe's commitment to an all-of-the above strategy for energy and look forward to working with his administration on strengthening Virginia's energy infrastructure and growing this important sector of our economy.”
Michael Town, Executive Director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and also a co-host, added, “Governor McAuliffe campaigned on clean energy job creation. The good news is that his Energy Plan recognizes that smart pollution cuts can mean a business opportunity to create clean energy jobs and save consumers and businesses money. Neighboring states have created 290,000 clean energy jobs in recent years while Virginia stood still. He has an opportunity to change that with his response to the Clean Power Plan standards."
Key highlights of the Energy Plan include:
Strategically grow the energy sector by promoting increased development of renewable generation and supporting innovation in nuclear technology.
Reduce energy consumption by aggressively pursuing energy efficiency measures in government, businesses and residences.
Invest in reliable and resilient energy infrastructure to strengthen Virginia's already strong business climate.
Prepare Virginia's workforce to drive the future energy economy.