The Virginia Way

The Virginia Way is “the corporate centric philosophy by which the state government has been run since colonial times.” The text discusses the monopoly that Dominion Energy has on the entire state. The first part begins with the state government approving companies to exploit privately owned land and use it for energy purposes. The company has used government money they have received to bribe legislators to gain political influence. More recently more free market supporters have been elected and are slowly weakening the influence Dominion has on the state. However, as other companies have tried to compete for influence, the prices have drastically increased and are harming everyone from every class. There have been political upheavals that have made bipartisan economic consensus more possible, it will take a long time or something major to knock Dominion off their pedestal of influence and power.

The Virginia Way Summary

The Virginia Way starts out detailing Theresa “Red” Terry’s attempt to keep her family’s land in 2018. It talks about her being up in a tree and being refused food, drawing media attention to not just her but the pipeline issue in general, since she was going to be charged with trespassing on her own land. Pipeline construction was eventually paused in December 2018 when Attorney General Mark Herring SUED Mountain Valley Pipeline for more than 300 alleged environmental pollution violations.

The excerpts on Dominion talk about how Dominion is a monopoly in Virginia, covering 2/3 of the state’s power. They talk about some of the sketchier details of Dominion’s spending, such as their private jets and the fact that the CEO of Dominion, Tom Farrell was the highest paid utility executive in the US despite Dominion being ranked second to last in terms of energy-efficiency. These comments are compared in contrast to other public utilities like water treatment facilities. It’s also mentioned that Dominion somehow didn’t pay ANY federal income taxes in 2018 on about 3 BILLION dollars of profit. The excerpt then goes on to discuss Dominion’s control over government policies and how they are affected by them. The subject then moves to Dominion’s role in elections, and perhaps the most striking part of this reading is the mention of “Dominion’s Virginia Way”, when mentioning Dominion’s attempts to bribe legislators through campaign donations. Anti-Dominion political platforms became popular as a result, as many Virginians are sick of Dominion’s role in pollution across our state. Politicians continued to refuse money from Dominion and former Goldman Sachs executive Michael Bills even contributed money to people who agreed to go up against Dominion with the Clean Virginia Project.

As a result of all the backlash in VA, Dominion simply moved down to South Carolina. But Dominion did a poor job buying the lawmakers, and in a turn of events, a bill was passed in South Carolina to cut rates by 15%. Governor Ralph Northam pledged to put an end to corporate contributions to campaigns if he was elected, and then immediately accepted 50k from Dominion. Dominion introduced a bill that would allow them to double charge consumers, which immediately became everyone’s focus. An amendment was created to avoid this from happening, and Dominion actually lost for once.

In the end Dominion is still a monopoly. But people are starting to realize that the “Virginia Way” is really the Dominion Way.

The Virginia Way

I liked the introduction’s focus on the human story of a woman attacked by eminent domain, and the entrenched political power of Dominion being challenged because of that story—and the many lawsuits which resulted. The detailed descriptions of Dominion’s monopolistic control over state electricity and gas utility show the perversity of the state government, which has allowed the company to proliferate for decades in this manner (Dominion’s “Virginia Way,” thus the title). A stunning Democratic wave in 2017 (ending in 51–49 Republican control of the House), led by anti-Dominion challengers who refused campaign donations from the company, upset the “Way.” It was humorous reading about Dominion’s abject failure at the instance of its attempt to acquire the South Carolina state utility. Dominion’s use of rate hikes to fund charitable donations to reduce tax burdens (and also pay off politicians through charities) was also concerning. In regard to the large-scale corruption evident in the 2018 rate hike revision measures, it is interesting to see Dominion’s tactics, especially now more evident with the increasing political and public opposition to the company. Dominion’s failure to push through the “double-dipping” provision showed the first weakness the company has, perhaps ever, and certainly for a very long time, seen; and I am interested to see how the company fares in the future.

The Virginia Way Blog Post; By Nick

The Virginia Way excerpt was a really detalied and well written piece. It started off talking about the 61 year old grandma who had had this property in her family for generations. Virginia and its law makers had other plans though. When the Virginia legislatives voted for the Mountian Valley pipeline they were yanking land from all over to get it done but Theressa Red Terry was not going down without a fight so she climbed a tree and protested from above. It was really sad to read Virgina was making her out to be the bad guy even though they were witholding food unless she got down from her stand. She made the headlines as well. The article also touched on Dominions long time pupatering of Virginia by holding nearly two thirds of sale of energy in VA. There was some people like the old attourney general who wanted to stop this though. I also found out that during Trumps term he took power away from the hard working citizens of Virginia and gave it back to big corrperations like Dominon who only like Virginia for a profit but he didnt realize he was creating a movement to overthrow big cooperations like Domion. One problem for dominon has hit and thats that it has started to turn on the voters and poloticans are starting to listen. So to conclude never mess with the Virginian way.

Virginia Way Blog Post

The text The Virginia Way discusses the current issue of the pipeline project.  The Virginia Way focuses on resistance against this project by detailing stories of the pipeline going through personal property and the controversy surrounding Dominion Energy. This paper exemplifies the ethical problems the pipeline has raised. It says, “For opponents, then, stopping the pipeline was no longer a matter of legislation but of justice.” The beginning section is dedicated to the story of Red, a 61 year old woman who protested against the pipeline coming through her property by staying in a tree for 35 days. This act of defiance set off a string of other protests and activism.

The greater part of The Virginia Way details the contention regarding Dominion Energy and its relation to the pipeline project. The piece highlights Josh Stanfield’s protest against Dominion Energy’s monopoly in Virginia. Dominion Energy’s power monopoly goes against America’s capitalistic system. Additionally, the corporation is a supporter of the pipeline project. Stanfield was able to recruit politicians to stand against Dominion, and this quickly became a popular platform to adapt. However, Dominion navigated through the situation and was able to successfully manipulate legislation by providing money to candidates. As stated in this piece, there are two rules when it comes to Dominion Energy:

Rule 1: Dominion eventually gets what it wants. 

Rule 2: When someone disagrees, refer to rule 1.”

Suzanne Ferraro’s First blog September 18-20: Read The Virginia Way & US. Supreme Court’s Ruling in Mountain Valley Pipeline v. The Wilderness Society et al. (2023)

In the reading, I thought that it was interesting because it talks about the various environmental and legal challenges. First, I was unaware that you can trespass on your property. Second, I was informed that there are very careful legal decisions, such as the Virginia legislature passing laws in 2004 to help take away property from individuals for the benefit of utilities and corporations. I am surprised that gas companies can enter property without permission in Virginia. The article shows that our environmental protections depend on the involvement of people like Red Terry and environmental organizations. Without them, our natural resources will be changed for corporations’ and legislators’ greed. The number of pollution violations also stood out.

Concerning the second article on corporate power, I thought it was interesting that Dominion was a government electric company held within a private natural gas corporation. However, the government compelled more than two and a half million homes and businesses to buy electricity only from Dominion, which the government guaranteed a rate of return of about 10 percent.

Lastly, I thought the Supreme Court case between Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Wilderness Society was very complex. I don’t quite see how the Supreme Court vacated the lower court’s ruling, allowing construction to proceed. Overall, I understand that the pipeline was almost complete. Still, the decision seems political because it discusses the court appeals having no authority to issue the stay orders on constructing the Mountain Valley Pipeline challenges. After all, Congress ratified the agency’s action. I was surprised that this case happened in June and July  of this year.

Virginia Way Blog

Cameron McKeon

This week’s readings were very interesting, but something that I found that caught my eye was the section about “The Anti-Business Machine.” I thought it was crazy how Dominion overcharged Virginia 10% of their commercial customers along with 24,000 Virginia businesses for three years. The fact the company was not going to omit this and the overcharging bill ran up towards $10 million overall through the years was mind-blowing. I don’t understand why a company would do this to their customers and businesses. The idea is to help everyone out, not to try to have people fork their good money over and screw with them. There always seems to be an excuse from company’s in these situations as Dominion said that they didn’t keep records that went back more than three years. Every business and person had records somewhere, so that has to be a lie. They also wanted to raise electricity rates, so that it could be even harder for people to pay those bills. This company is doing nobody any favors and this all seems to be corrupt because the customers are not getting straight answers and they are getting bills and overcharges for no reason and Dominion is not doing a thing about it, which is startling to me. All of the money that people were paying did not go to the government, but rather into the pocket of Dominion and then the company was basically using their customers good money for their benefit, which I think is against the law. I also could not believe that politicians were supporting Dominion. That also shows that even politicians are dishonest sometimes and you can’t always trust them and what they are campaigning for.