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Virginia Green Groups Plan March on Mansion Protest

Saturday march targets governor's policies

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A broad coalition of environmental groups will march from Brown’s Island to the Executive Mansion on Saturday to protest what they claim are Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s anti-green policies.

About 650 people from Richmond, Nelson County, Norfolk, Roanoke and Northern Virginia are expected to gather on Brown’s Island at noon and then march to the Capitol grounds for speeches at 2:30 p.m.

Among the criticisms of McAuliffe is that he supports two new pipelines that will take natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, drilling from West Virginia through Virginia and on to points south.

A key target is the $5 billion proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline made up of a consortium of energy companies led by Richmond-based Dominion Resources. Protesters in places such as Nelson County say that pipeline promoters have used hardball tactics to gain access to their land for surveying and that a pipeline would destroy their property values.

“Our constitutional rights to our private property and our rights to a clean and safe environment for our children’s future are being threatened by the fossil fuel industry,” said Heidi Cochran, a Nelson County landowner in a news release.

Dominion has said that it has worked steadfastly with property owners to try to figure out acceptable routes.

The demonstration also targets McAuliffe’s support of Dominion’s plans to dewater coal ash ponds at four power stations, treat the wastewater, pump it into rivers such as the James and then cover the tops of the coal ash pits but leave the bottoms unsealed.

The state has given permits to do this at Dominion’s Bremo and Possum Point power stations. It is seeking similar permits for its Chesterfield and Chesapeake plants.

The coalition also wants McAuliffe to commit more solidly to a plan to reduce climate pollution, such as carbon dioxide, from power plants in the state.

Organizers of the protest include the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and Virginia Organizing.

They plan to use humor in the demonstration including a 40-foot-long, mock pipeline and a large puppet acting out a divorce between the governor and fossil fuel companies.

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