Interview With Virginia Governor Ralph Northam Pt2
In Part One of my conversation with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, he spoke about his priorities in office, including the economy, education, health care and the opioid crisis. He continued:
“Well, you know, one of the things that we’re looking at, and, you know, hopefully we’ll have a little bit of resources to spend on this – you know, this is an off-budget year coming up in January and February. We put most of our money last year into a reserve fund, so that we could maintain our triple-A bond rating, but if we have some money this year, I’d really like to put it in broadband. You know, if you talk about our economy and helping businesses grow, attracting new businesses, even educating our children – you know, in 2018, everybody needs access to the internet, and so that’s a top priority of mine as we move forward this year.”
I also asked him about –
“A pretty hot topic here in Bath County, and Highland County, and Pocahontas County, which is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”
“On one hand, you have a company who is touting the economic benefits of this pipeline, and talking about the need for the infrastructure. On the other side, you’ve got people that are worried about the environmental impact – “
“- as well as questioning the need. What’s your thought on the project?”
“Well, first of all, you know, I’m from rural Virginia, and I have listened and talked to a lot of these folks that have concerns, and I am certainly sympathetic to their issues. I have tried to say that, if this pipeline moves forward, it will be done using the law, and using science. You know, we have agencies that are in charge of doing the permitting – the Corps of Engineers certainly at the federal level, and we have our DEQ at the state level. And I just want to assure people that, if it moves forward, these – we’re using more stringent permitting than has ever been done – looking at each stream/river crossing, to make sure that there are not sedimentation and erosion issues.
“And so, you know, I would tell you Scott, that I listen to people on both sides of this issue – there are certainly a lot of people that are against the pipeline – there are a lot of people that, you know, want the pipeline to move forward. And as Governor, I have tried to be as fair as I can, to let our agencies do their work – not try manipulate them. And that’s what we’ve done, and so, you know, the permitting is just about complete on a state level, and now we’re looking at how we comply with those permits. And so, you know, we’ll be watching very closely as this move forward, and if there are rule or regulations that are being broken, then I want our state to step in, and do what they can to keep people safe, to keep our environment safe.
“But, you know, I am, I would say, a real advocate, a real steward for our environment, and while this has been, I guess, a difficult issue, we are also doing a lot of things moving toward renewable energy. You know, at the end of my, well, three more years, but a total of four years, we’ll have 3,000 megawatts of energy that’s produced from both solar and wind. We’re getting ready to put two wind turbines off of our coast. We’ve done a lot with modernizing our grid, so we’re really moving in the direction or renewable energy, and I might add that, when we go around, not only the country, but the world, and talk to businesses that want to be in Virginia, they are very focused on renewable energy. So I think that, you know, people will see as we move forward – and you can’t flip a switch overnight – but I think we’re moving pretty aggressively toward wind and solar power, which is something that I’m an advocate for.”