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Virginians Rally for Climate Action

One year after a massive climate march in New York, thousands gathered in 170 cities across the nation – including Richmond, Roanoke, Warrenton and Charlottesville, where Sandy Hausman was listening.

After a moment of silence for people killed in flooding and other disasters that could be related to climate change, Hannah Wiegard from Appalachian voices welcomed a crowd of about 150 to Charlottesville’s downtown mall.

(cheers)  Protestors held small windmills and signs that read Dirty Power, Dirty Politics, Dominion, Protect Our Common Home, No Pipeline, and Climate Action, It’s Our Obligation.  They spent nearly an hour listening to speeches – including one from the Sierra Club’s Kirk Bowers.

“We are in trouble," he said. "In Norfolk, Virginia, the streets regularly flood now.  Norfolk ranks only behind New Orleans in threatened cities.”

And Ernie Reed, founder of Nelson County’s Wild Virginia, decried plans for natural gas pipelines that would cut across forests and streams.

“Clear cut energy corridors the width of football fields are proposed to slice the forest into ever smaller pieces  in areas of highest conservation value in the east,” he explained.

He claimed four proposed pipelines would benefit energy companies but not the public.

“Providing excessive energy supply that fax exceeds domestic demand, and since most of the gas can be sold overseas at much higher prices than here at home, market incentives locally will continue to be stifled instead of encouraged.”  

In Buckingham County, Dominion has proposed building a compressor station near the spiritual community called Yogaville.  Lakshmi Fjord was one of its founders.  She challenged public claims that gas is a clean fuel.

Why are we even calling this natural gas," she wondered, "when the extraction process, the transport process, the compression process   are all incredibly unnatural.  They act on the body in ways that nothing in the environment does.”

She questioned the decision to place a compressor near Union Hill, a poor, black community, and called on government and utilities to move away from fossil fuels.  Virginia House Minority Leader David Toscano lamented the lack of action in Richmond but predicted the state would adopt clean energy technologies.

“Because the costs of solar panels are coming down dramatically, the cost of building wind farms is coming down dramatically," he explained, "and when battery storage makes that breakthrough that allows people to generate electricity and store it, then all hell is going to break loose for the utility companies, and they will not know what hit them.”

He scolded those who disregard science by insisting climate change is not caused by humans, while Appalachian Voices’ Hannah Wiegard called for a drumbeat of citizen involvement to keep the green energy momentum growing.