Governor McAuliffe pleads with us to believe he’s impotent to protect Virginians and our natural treasures from the harms that would accompany the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

We know better.

Why has the Governor claimed for so many months that only federal officials could affect the fates of these destructive proposals?  Has he been unaware of his legal duties to ensure our air and water are protected and his power to veto federally-licensed developments if protections are not provided?  Did he assume it was acceptable for his administration to simply give “rubber stamp” approvals, as his top environmental officials have intimated they may?

Perhaps. And though it is discouraging to believe that these explanations could be true, the alternative is worse – that the Governor has intended to mislead the public.  I resist this conclusion and, for now, assume Governor McAuliffe has been confused or misinformed.  Maybe he could have taken some of the time he spent in the many, many meetings he’s had with Dominion, to talk to citizens.

Maybe he has heard some of our messages, read some of his mail.  We have explained at length and in detail how the law compels Virginia to do fair and thorough analyses of environmental threats these pipelines pose – and Mr. McAuliffe has altered his statements slightly in recent weeks.  He now admits state regulators have a role to play in these cases but still says he has no power or duty to determine how the statutory protections are to be applied.

We know better.

If the State of Virginia has no real authority to reject these pipelines if the damage would be too great, as it would, then why has the Governor’s Office been so intimately involved in controlling public information from state government scientists and regulatory experts?  The fact is that Governor McAuliffe has had his thumb on the regulatory scales that should weight these projects objectively and publicly, since he made the political decision to lock arms with the companies – before he talked to land owners and other citizens whose lives would be so profoundly impacted; before the regulatory processes of data-gathering and analysis had even begun, let along concluded.

With all due respect, Governor, you should be ashamed.  The only way you can atone is to say clearly and consistently from this time forward that detailed, individual analyses are required for each of the pipeline applications.  And you must show by your actions that these are not mere words.

Do not tell us you are powerless to stop bad, harmful pipelines.

We know better.