Governor Faces Demonstrators, Explains Support for Natural Gas Pipeline

Apr 18, 2017

The governor dismissed demonstrators opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at a celebration of UVA's new solar array.
Credit University of Virginia

A half dozen students clashed with Virginia’s governor Tuesday – demanding he oppose construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline or ACP from West Virginia to North Carolina. Terry McAuliffe dismissed the demonstrators as Sandy Hausman reports.

McAuliffe was on hand to celebrate the launch of a 324-panel solar array at the University of Virginia when several students approached the stage and began shouting, “You are a disappointment! No ACP! Natural gas is not sustainable.” 

McAuliffe thanked the students and called on the audience to give them a round of applause, but as they persisted, he turned testy.

“Ma’am.  You had your turn,” he told the group’s spokesperson.“Don’t be rude. I gave you your time to talk.  You should have some manners. Now it’s my turn to talk. Ma’am,  I heard your point. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The governor suggested protesters take their case to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, insisting he had no control over whether the pipeline is built, but after the ceremony he argued natural gas is key to Virginia’s economic recovery.

“In places in Virginia where they lost coal, textile, furniture and tobacco, their only hope is to get manufacturing back,” he said. “The only way you can do that is with cheap electricity, and that’s what natural gas will allow us to do.”

Ignoring the fact that fracking releases damaging amounts of methane – and burning gas releases carbon dioxide, McAuliffe argued it was cleaner than coal, and he pledged maximum regulation of pipeline construction to protect the environment.  

Update: For those seeking more information on the impact of methane on climate, we refer you to this story by NPR's science reporter Richard Harris:  Methane Causes Vicious Cycle in Global Warming