Dominion Energy Cancels Atlantic Coast Pipeline

In a statement released over the weekend, Dominion Energy “announced the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) due to ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.” They added that “recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated delays for ACP.”

For those who are wondering what the “recent developments” are, it’s the prolonged campaign against the pipeline by people who were outraged over the environmental impact the unnecessary project would have and the resulting economic consequences that would largely impact on communities that are predominately made up of people of color.

As the news came out, there were several elected officials expressed support for the grassroots activists who secured the victory. Delegate Elizabeth Guzman said we shouldn’t “discount the magic of activism” while adding it’s time to “invest in more clean energy and green union jobs,” for instance, and Danica Roem pointed out that “all y’all who helped change the House of Delegates made a *huge* difference” and gave “our veteran colleagues [in the General Assembly] the reinforcements they needed to successfully fight.”

Perhaps one of the best comments about the announcement came from a “translation” Prince William County Supervisor Kenny Boddye posted on twitter. Kenny suggested Dominion’s press release essentially said “we would’ve gotten away with our money-making, planet-killing gas export scheme if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!” Kenny’s remarks not only hit the nail on the head, but also helped to highlight just how many people representing Prince William County really stepped up on this issue.

In addition to the obvious environmental victory this decision represents, it’s also a huge deal because it shows how Dominion’s power in slowly fading. The state regulated monopoly has long gotten its way as it poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of politicians on both sides of the aisle. This has meant any real progress was going to difficult because even elected officials who were supposedly environmentally friendly owed their election in part to receiving funds from Dominion.

As Del. Roem hinted at in her comments, however, the recent changes in the House of Delegates helped to address this. Not only were there more people in the General Assembly advocating for environmental justice, but many folks had pledged not to take campaign donations from Dominion and therefore had stronger footing to truly take a stance against some of the utility company’s horrible policies.

While there is obviously still more work to be done to ensure the natural resources Virginia has to offer are protected, this is indeed a great reminder of how grassroots activists standing up for what’s right can have a positive impact on the community.

Labor Dispute Disrupts Bus Service in Prince William

trafficTransportation related issues are one of the biggest concerns facing residents of Prince William County. Looking back to the 2017 election, her almost obsession with figuring out a way to “fix 28 and innovate” is one of the main reasons Danica Roem was elected to the House of Delegates. As her laser like focus on transportation has continued now that she’s in office, her dedication to it has earned praise her from people on both sides of the aisle. That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising that other local candidates are weighing in on disruption to bus service in Prince William due to a contract dispute between First Transit and the union representing bus drivers.

The buses usually take about 7,000 trips everyday up and down 95 and 66 as folks make their way into downtown DC and locations like closer to the city like the Pentagon. OmniRide officials had hoped for an extension of the current contract for bus drivers from the end of July to the end of September, but they found out on Tuesday that members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) rejected the proposal and have gone on strike.

OmniRide has attempted to minimize the impact on commuters by continuing service, but on a modified schedule. Anybody who’s used public transportation in Northern Virginia during rush hour, however, knows the commute can be hectic even in the best conditions imaginable. Decreased service will therefore add an extra layer of complications for people simply trying to deal with the horrible commute times facing the region.

Kenny Boddye, the Democratic nominee for the Prince William County Board of Supervisors in the Occoquan district, seems to understand this as he said it’s a “serious problem” considering “two-thirds of our county’s working population commuting elsewhere for work.”

But this is an issue that’s larger than just the commute and Boddye says we not only have to make sure the bus drivers are paid fairly, but that he’ll “ensure that we seek alternatives to First Transit so our bus drivers are treated fairly” if he’s elected to the county board. One idea he hinted at for solving the issue was bringing the bus drivers onto the “county staff so we have better oversight into how they are treated.”

This is clearly a different approach then the Republican leadership in Prince William County has been taking on the issue and Kenny was quick to highlight this. After joining the bus drivers demonstrating outside OmniRide headquarters early yesterday morning, he made it clear he disapproves how things have been run in recent years.

“It’s important to talk about how we got into this situation in the first place. Our current and past County Supervisors have only sought to pave our way out of our traffic crisis, refusing to make real investments in transit,” Kenny said in a statement this morning. “That forces us to use sub-par contractors like First Transit. Contractors that obviously do not value our bus drivers.”

“On top of that – due to lack of leadership by the current Chairwoman of the Omniride Commission – we have been blindsided by a contract dispute which has been brewing for months. She has been asleep at the wheel, and Prince William families are paying the price.”

This is an issue that will likely be receiving a lot of attention if the strike continues. Not only does it impact the general public’s commute, but it also represents the struggle for Prince William residents to earn a respectable wage that allows them to live in a county with such a high cost of living. Housing costs has been a frequent topic of conversation in Northern Virginia and one of the reasons traffic is so bad in NoVA is folks keep moving westward to places like Prince William and beyond so they can find an affordable place to live. In other words, this labor dispute ties into two of the major issues facing Prince William and it’ll be hard for local officials to ignore what’s going on.

So far, the labor dispute has only impacted one day during the “normal” work week so it’s hard to say how much the modified bus schedule is inconveniencing commuters. Especially since it was a Friday commute that was impacted, commuters haven’t had to deal with the limited service for multiple days in a row and now have the weekend to forget about it. If the bus drivers stay on strike through the weekend and people have to seek alternative weighs to get into work, however, it will be interesting to see how the greater community feels about the negotiations.

Kenny Boddye Dominates Democratic Primary for Occoquan District Supervisor

Kenny BoddyeThere’s an old saying that “showing up is half the battle.” If that’s indeed the case, then Kenny Boddye winning yesterday’s Democratic primary for the Occoquan District seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone because he’s simply a force to be reckoned with.

It often feels like Kenny is at every single community event in Prince William and I’ve also run into him at various events in Fairfax, Loudoun, and other parts of Virginia. And if he’s not out at an event, he’s knocking on doors no matter what the weather. If you follow him online, you’ve probably seen photos and/or videos of him out canvassing in everything from freezing cold temperatures in the middle of January to mid-summer downpours that most people wouldn’t even dream of venturing out in.

These efforts have allowed Kenny to build relationships with a variety of people across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Even at an election night party in Fairfax County I attended last night, for instance, people were excited when the results showed Kenny had won his primary. That’s because most of the activists there had seen him in action and knew he’d be a supervisor who’d truly strive to engage the public.

It’s also noteworthy that Delegate Danica Roem lives in the Occoquan District and she’s garnered a lot of support across party lines because her office is good at constituent outreach. She’s held at least 20 town halls since being sworn in and, like Kenny, is constantly attending events out in the community. Even Republican leaders will openly admit they believe she’s one of the most responsive members of the House of Delegates. This goes to show voters in this specific district reward elected officials who work hard at engaging the community, even if they don’t agree with them on all the issues.

Now that Kenny won the Democratic primary by almost a two to one margin (he defeated his opponent 64% to 36%), he’ll be going up against incumbent Supervisor Ruth Anderson in the general election. Anderson is currently serving in her first term on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and is a retired nurse and Air Force officer. She defeated Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta back in 2015 to win her seat on the board.

Taking on an incumbent obviously brings about some challenges as they often have a name recognition advantage and Anderson does currently have a slight edge in terms of cash on hand. This is where Kenny’s constant efforts to be out in the community engaging voters could truly become beneficial if they cut into any advantage Anderson’s incumbency gives her.