Are You There, Ralph Northam? It’s Me, Alice

(Photo Illustration by Refinery 29/Louisa Cannell)

March 16, 2018

Dear Governor Northam,

Gov. Northam, I am deeply frustrated and disappointed, as a citizen, by your failure to act as Dominion Resources’ proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline seizes private property with eminent domain, sues private landowners, is granted easements, and is given legal permission to build a natural gas pipeline beneath 2 reservoirs- reservoirs that are the source of drinking water for my city. We have lots of alternatives to oil, but we cannot replace water. We need our water. Our water is our life.

I trusted my government, the government of my country, to be more honorable, and to uphold the integrity of environmental justice, our shared communal responsibility to each other and to human progress, that we will value, innovate, and inspire, protecting each of us the right of all of us to health, freedom, community, and access to the resources of this earth which are ours by right. I am devastated that my city’s drinking water, my water, my life, has been leased out by my own government to a gas company, for profit. Governor Northram, I ask that you withdraw your support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and that you disallow Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC. from any surveying, construction, or granting of easements, until a full and sufficient environmental impact assessment has been conducted.

And Governor Northam, there is no safe way to build a 42-inch natural gas pipeline hydraulically compressing 1.5 billion cubic feet of highly compressed, highly explosive fracked shale petroleum through a residential neighborhood. The blast zone radius of a pipeline explosion is 1,100 feet- but they want to put their pipeline 250 feet from residential homes. Governor Northam, I ask you to be the advocate we always wanted to believe you would be. We don’t know each other, I’m aware, Governor Northam, but you are one of the few people in this state that has the power to end the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, right now. So I ask you, sir, my family asks you, my city asks you, my generation asks you, to please end this now, and cut ties with Dominion Power. Let’s avoid this horrific potential accident of our beautiful region’s history.

Governor Northam, I ask you to do this through the office you hold, because we can save each other a lot of heartache, sir, you and my city.

Because there will be no Atlantic Coast Pipeline in my city, because water is life, and if my government refuses to act, if it continues to bargain away my basic human rights with the private financial interests its officers receive from oil companies, then sir, there are plenty who will try to fill your shoes.

It will not be a good 2018 for any of us, Governor Northam, if this Atlantic Coast Pipeline is even allowed to so much as break ground in my city- you remember North Dakota in 2016, the agony of its citizens, the cowardice of its governors (now etched into history as the oppressors of their people), during the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the bravery at Standing Rock. We don’t need a struggle like that here in Virginia, sir, we don’t need colossal sit-ins and tear gassing citizens in the street, citizens who put their bodies on the line to defend things bigger than ourselves or bodies, and protestors make national news more each passing day, while both sides grow tired.

But if you turn a blind eye to this theft of public resources, this crime against public health, this violation of legal consent, this blight of environmental racism that is the construction of that great black snake, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, then sir, we will get in the way. We will get in the way of those cranes and those bulldozers, but I ask that you don’t make us have to- I ask that you get in their way by passing responsible policy.

Thank you, Gov. Northam. I ask that you act quickly, Governor Northam, because for us, this is not policy, and it isn’t a business deal, and it isn’t a high-minded political cause. It’s just our water, Gov. Northam. It’s our water. It’s our life.

Sincerely,

Alice Minium

March 17, 2018

Hi Governor Northam, it’s me again.

Just wanted to touch base with you again on that whole thing we talked about with you stopping the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. I know you’re pretty busy, but I kinda really need you to do this. So if you could just shut that operation down right away- I mean, this is kind of a time-sensitive matter- I’d really appreciate it. Otherwise, we’re gonna get to know each other pretty well, cause I’m gonna have to keep writing you letters.

While I do enjoy our correspondence, it would just be really cool if you kind of, you know, acted on this immediately. It’s not a big deal, just, like, you know, my access to clean drinking water. I’ve composed several very long Homeric-style epic works of poetry on the matter, so unless you want to hear them- and they are VERY long- I suggest you act quickly. Either way, I’ll catch up with you later. Hope you’re having a good weekend and just try to remember, you know, about the whole pipeline thing. Thanks.

Sincerely,

Alice Minium

March 18, 2018

Good morning, Governor Northam!

I just wanted to say thank you so much for taking action to protect Virginia’s clean water on Saturday. Please, please make sure this is actively monitored and enforced- because, as I’m sure you know, Dominion has a well-documented history of ignoring environmental restrictions. And once our water safety is compromised, it’s too late. Based on the risk analysis research, I urge you to consider the pipeline altogether, because reports tell us that the risk of water contamination is very real, and the damage to wetlands guaranteed and irreversible. If we wait till Dominion commits these crimes, isn’t it too late?

Please don’t wait till the damage has been done, and please stop the ACP altogether from hurting the beauty & safety of our state. I am really stoked though, Governor Northam, that you took action to enforce water protections and halt construction for violations. I just wanted to say thank you for doing your job and for fighting for me and the other people in this state. Coming down hard on the ACP will make you extremely popular, sir, and please make sure these are not empty words. I believe in you. Things are getting a little better between us, Governor Northam. I still want you to stop the ACP overall- like, ASAP NO ACP- so this isn’t exactly enough, but dude, it’s a start. So please consider just nixing the whole thing altogether, but please also buy yourself an ice cream sundae or something today to reward yourself for the good job you did this weekend. Have a great day, sir!

Sincerely,

Alice Minium

March 19, 2018

Dear Governor Northam,

Hello there, Ralph Northam! Can I call you Ralph? Are we close enough yet? Anyway, I just wanted to check in with you, again, about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. I see you haven’t said anything about stopping it yet, so I can tell you’re still just sorting your feelings out, trying to figure out how to announce the fact that you’re stopping it, working on DEQ reform, and writing a historic speech for the moment or something.

Anyway, in case you need some inspiration, remember how you said you’d halt the ACP if it was going to impact water or Virginia wetlands in any way? Since you’re so committed to that- and trust me, I love it- and since you were wondering about environmental impact- I’m sure you’ll be interested in this excerpt from the FERC’s July 2017 Environmental Impact Statement:

“The FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of ACP and SHP would result in some adverse effects, such as impacts on steep slopes and adjacent waterbodies and associated aquatic resources; forested vegetation; Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed Indiana bat, northern long-eared bat, Roanoke logperch, Madison cave isopod, clubshell mussel, small whorled pogonia, and running buffalo clover; and karst, cave, subterranean habitat and the species associated with these habitats.”

Crazy, right? Anyway, there’s a lot, lot more where that came from, but since you said any adverse effects on water or wetlands, I’m sure that you’re going to shut this thing down right now after reading that.

There’s actually a lot of crazy stuff in the EIS you could totally use- they’re blowing off mountaintops, running through territory famous for its aquifers and sinkholes (?!), permanently destroying acres of the Great Dismal Swamp, running through three national parks, destroying 6,310 acres of forests, and building cancer-causing compressor stations in low-income communities, and- get this- through a Native American reservation. Crazy, right? What kind of responsible politician would let that happen while he’s in office?! No one, right? I knew you’d agree.

Anyway, thanks for all you do, Ralph. I believe in you, and thanks in advance for making this happen. Or even if you can’t make this happen immediately overnight, it would be cool if you would, like… try. Maybe just try. Just try to do even something small to stop this, as long as you can. Just do something about this issue, no matter how small, because that will be better than what you are currently doing, which is literally nothing at all.

Sorry to come down hard on you, Ralph. You’ve got a super difficult job and trust me, I get that. Take care of yourself, okay? We need you. I know you’re going to do this, because Ralph, you know what? You are a really good guy, and you are not like Tom Farrell, who is 100% definitely going to hell. But who’s better than him? That’s right, Ralph. You.

Enjoy your day, sir, and, as always, I appreciate your time.

Sincerely,

Alice Minium

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May you live in interesting times.

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Alice Minium

Alice Minium

May you live in interesting times.

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