Energy companies’ lobbyists assist in the writing of legislative bills that lavish corporations with billions of dollars of subsidies that are paid for by taxpayers.
A case in point appeared in The Roanoke Times on Feb. 17, titled, “Lobbyist doing legislator’s work.” A commentary had previously been published in the paper on Jan. 18 under the byline of Sen. Frank Wagner, supporting the effort to transfer permitting power from Virginia citizens to the director of the Department of Environmental Quality.
It was later learned that Sen. Wagner did not write the commentary. When asked about this, he said he did not have time to write the piece and asked the lobbyist to write the piece for him.
He said the lobbyist was familiar with the issue and knew exactly how he (Wagner) felt about it. Wagner was asked if he found it as acceptable for a lobbyist to write legislation as he did for commentary.
Wagner said, “That’s pretty much the norm around here.”
The editorial page editor said Wagner’s submissions were no longer welcome. It is indeed evident the norm needs changing.
On a quite different topic, Commissioner Morrison’s comments in the Jan. 31 edition of The Recorder seem to be internally conflicted with the SCC’s decision to grant permission to build the wind facility.
For example, Morrison said the renewable utilities will never change substantially the county’s need for large power plants, that all these things are taxpayer subsidized, that HNWD is largely symbolic and that he wished people would get real about the promise of renewables.
With that said, one could reasonably ask why the SCC granted the permit, especially since he (Morrison) expresses such pride in the independence of the SCC from legislative influence.
It is additionally puzzling when a man of seemingly unquestionable integrity and openness made the decision. In order to understand this disconnect it may perhaps be found in the nature of the milieu in which he operates.
Within the SCC he states, “Our job, under the law, is not to take steps to protect the environment, unless it cost too much.”
I presume he refers to environmental costs. The premise that the extent of cost is not knowable because there have been no wind turbines in the county; therefore, build the turbines that will provide an evidentiary basis for determining the extent of the cost to the environment. Note the circularity.
The fallacy in this premise is the experiment has already been run in West Virginia, and the denial of its relevance is as illogical as thinking a plague is prevented from entering a state by its border. Species do not understand borders.
If the pilot project is to determine “how many bats (and I do presume all kinds of birds) we can slay,” what determines the extent of carnage before the cost to the environment becomes prohibitive? Will the carnage of species be so extreme as to become obscene to even the most biophobic among us?
Maybe the SCC should just focus on corporations.
Orren LeRoyce Royal, M.D., M.S. (Biology),
DLFAPA Capt. (MC) USN (Ret.)
6 March 2008
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