The DPMC has filed a request with Governor Terry McAuliffe for documents held by his office that relate to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. The request, filed under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), asks for all pipeline-related documents in the Governor’s Office that have been sent between Virginia state agencies and the Governor’s office and any sent between companies associated with the two pipeline proposals and the Governor. (see DPMC FOIA Request, 11/9/15)
The Roanoke Times recently reported that Governor McAuliffe “wants state agencies to brief his office before department employees comment publicly” about the natural gas pipeline projects (see November 2015 article). That report sparked citizen concerns that essential findings and opinions from scientific and regulatory experts in Virginia government may not reach the public or may be changed before release. The fact that the Governor joined Dominion Power officials to tout the Atlantic Coast Pipeline before any State environmental or safety reviews could be begun, let alone be completed, heightened these citizen concerns.
David Sligh, a Senior Regulatory Systems Investigator with DPMC, who filed the request with Governor McAuliffe wrote “[w]e and the many thousands of individuals, along with numerous organizations and local government bodies who have serious concerns about the ways these pipelines would affect communities and the environment depend on you to protect our interests but also accept the responsibility to be vigilant and involved actors in public decisional processes. We know that you support our rights to do so and trust you will act to allow us to exercise those rights.”
The Virginia General Assembly, in enacting the FOIA, wrote that “[t]he affairs of government are not intended to be conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy since at all times the public is to be the beneficiary of any action taken at any level of government” and they stated a goal “to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities and afford every opportunity to citizens to witness the operations of government.”
If provided the information requested, DPMC will use it to play our proper role in our government and will make it available to our fellow Virginians. We ask now that the Governor work with us to “promote an increased awareness” in the State’s activities related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
We ask the Governor to provide access to all of the requested information, and to live up to commitments he made before taking office. As Governor-elect, Mr. McAuliffe pledged to set “a new standard of ‘transparent, accountable, state government that is beholden only to the taxpayers who fund it . . . . Virginians should never have to question who their leaders are putting first.” (see December 2013 article)