I was not able to attend the recent town hall held by state Sen. Creigh Deeds and Del. David Toscano, but, assuming press coverage was accurate, my senator’s performance was embarrassing.

Deeds refused to take a position on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the one issue on which thousands of his constituents are looking for leadership. His reluctance to stand up to Dominion Resources, on behalf of those he allegedly represents, is an egregious betrayal of trust. It raises the ugly question of whether his voice — like so many of his fellow legislators’ — has been silenced by Dominion’s campaign donations.

Sen. Deeds surely knows that residents of Highland, Bath and Nelson counties are overwhelmingly opposed to this project, which will threaten their lives and livelihoods, cause the loss of property rights to the legalized theft of eminent domain, and inflict untold damage on our beautiful environment.

In a statewide poll commissioned last year by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 55 percent of respondents were against the two natural gas pipelines being planned to run through Virginia [the other: the Mountain Valley Pipeline] and only 28 percent were for them. Virginians as a whole disapprove by a margin of nearly 2-1.

Does Sen. Deeds not care?

The experts all agree — including the U.S. Department of Energy, which in a 2015 report found a reduced need for new pipeline infrastructure. We already have enough natural gas pipelines to supply our needs for decades to come.

The ACP is about one thing only: an annual return on investment of up to 14 percent for Dominion, guaranteed by, yes, us — the taxpayers. But our legislators never talk about that.

Deeds’ contention that he has no power over the ultimate outcome rings hollow. All political voices raised publicly on our behalf matter. Moreover, Deeds can and should work with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to pressure it to simply do its job and refuse to permit the pipeline if it can’t meet the most stringent water quality standards.

Further, he could support Tom Perriello for governor — the only candidate pledged to stop the pipeline and accept no Dominion money — then work with Gov. Perriello on the issue.

Despite Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s disingenuous protestations that he’s powerless, our governor, working through the DEQ, can halt this ill-considered project. Given constituents’ opposition to this harmful, totally unnecessary pipeline, Sen. Deeds’ inaction is irresponsible, cowardly and shameful.

Doug N. Hornig, Nelson County

References:

» “At town hall, Toscano, Deeds discuss health care, pipeline,” The Daily Progress, March 28 online

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