Protecting our environment
In the western part of the Thirteenth District, the people of Haymarket and Gainesville have made it clear that they don’t want above-ground transmission lines anywhere close to the Interstate 66 corridor, Somerset Crossing or Carver Road, nor do they want the Bi-County Parkway. Neither do I.
Meanwhile, the people of Manassas and Manassas Park have made it clear we need to fix existing problems on Route 28 itself before creating new problems elsewhere.
The overwhelming consensus among the people of the Thirteenth District is they want to preserve the Rural Crescent while taking care of our farmers; fix Route 28 itself so traffic flows unimpeded from Manassas to Sterling; prevent environmental damage from overdevelopment; and protect property values by banning above-ground transmission lines near their homes.
Ban Above-Ground Transmission Lines Near I-66
As the lead reporter of the Gainesville Times, I was at Silver Lake in 2006 when activists floated balloons 155-feet-high in the air so we could see how a proposal from Dominion Energy to build transmission lines along the Interstate 66 corridor would affect the environment.
Eight years later, I identified Amazon as the owner of the controversial data center in Haymarket on Sept. 10, 2014 when Dominion Energy officials refused to name their corporate client when they proposed building 110-foot-high transmission lines along the I-66 corridor again.
Simply put, the people of Haymarket and Gainesville have had enough of these drawn out fights against corporate giants spanning the last 13 years.
When legislators proposed to include the hybrid route for the Haymarket Transmission Line in a large bill (SB 966/HB 1558) favored by Dominion Energy in 2018, I actually read the text and found out that the bill would actually allow above-ground transmission lines:
“§ 8. Approval of a proposed transmission line for inclusion in this program shall not preclude the placing of existing or future overhead facilities in the same area or corridor by other transmission projects.”
In Catholic school we would call this “sin by omission” as the bill simply does not mention above-ground transmission lines rather than including provisions to ban them. I called this out on the House floor (video) and voted against the bill. After the legislation passed the House, that line was stripped from the bill.
I take constituent requests very seriously. When my Haymarket and Gainesville constituents contacted my office by an overwhelming majority in opposition to the Haymarket Transmission Line project, I filed HB 2469 (2019) to ban above-ground transmission lines in perpetuity along the Interstate 66 corridor between Gainesville and Haymarket. With many of my constituents in Richmond to testify for the bill, we challenged Dominion head-on in the House Commerce and Labor Committee. I earned bipartisan support for my bill this time around and plan to build upon that in 2020 to finally pass the legislation.
I also carried HB 556 (2018) to allow citizen groups like the Coalition to Protect Prince William County to recover some of their legal fees from the State Corporation Commission to level the playing field between small constituent advocacy organizations and public service corporations like Dominion Energy.
Meanwhile, I filed HB 562 (2018) to ban public service corporations like Dominion from being able to donate to political campaigns so regulated monopolies don’t have undue influence over their regulators.
I don’t take Dominion’s money or money from any for-profit corporation, their PACs, their lobbyists or trade associations.
As your delegate, I answer to you.
As a member of the House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee, I sit on Subcommittee 2, which deals with legislation regarding residential developments. My legislative philosophy in most circumstances is that I generally try to empower localities to make their own land-use decisions as the people closest to the area know the most about their environment and property.
When those issues relate to Prince William County, the first question I ask if how will this bill affect residential development: will it make it easier for the Board of County Supervisors to bring development under control and will it be a tool the Board of County Supervisors can be counted on to use responsibly?
While other local governing bodies in Virginia are likely to use the proffer bill (HB 2342, 2019) that passed this year responsibly, I had severe concerns about whether Prince William County would fall into the same old habits that created the county’s over-development problem in the first place. We need to have adequate, existing infrastructure for roads, schools, water and first responders in place before approving new developments. We need public policy that prioritizes infrastructure development before residential development.
That’s why I’ve attended a number of MIDCO and Planning Commission meetings regarding the Kline Farm and The Reserve at Long Forest in Manassas as those developments directly affect my Signal Hill and Yates Ford constituents. As a state delegate, I only speak in front of local elected governing bodies upon invitation, so I do not try to use the heavy hand of the state government to tell local elected officials how to do their jobs. At the same time, I do speak in front of appointed bodies, citizen organizations and listen to constituent feedback so I can take their ideas and make the best, most informed decisions I can for the people of the Thirteenth District in Richmond.