This morning, I found myself voluntarily going somewhere most Americans despise: the local Department of Motor Vehicles office. Why, you ask? Virginia Governor Terry McAulliffe was speaking and I wanted to know: “Governor, will you urge Virginia Democrats to stop taking money from corporate polluters like Dominion Energy?”. He responded, “People are free to take money from wherever they want to” and “I won’t tell people what to do”. As a Virginian who voted for Governor McAuliffe, I was frustrated with his response, as it shows that he and other VA politicians side with corporations rather than the safety of their constituents. As a Virginian, I am extremely concerned with the close ties between Virginia politicians and Dominion, as I am worried that our drinking water is at risk of becoming unsafe and I am concerned for the safety of the rural communities that will be directly impacted by natural gas pipeline fracking.
My name is Stephanie Tulowetzke, and I am a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Master of Social Work program with a concentration in Social Work Administration, Planning, and Policy Practice. I am a member of VCU’s chapter of Virginia Student Environment Coalition, a multi-university student group that aims to build student power in order to address environmental issues in the state of Virginia. I came into this work after having a professor my senior year of undergrad who had done a lot of work involving environmental social justice. I have only been involved with VSEC for about a year now, but I’ve been able to get involved with multiple actions, including the Our Generation Our Choice rally/march, lobbying at the General Assembly on behalf of the Virginia Coastal Protection Act, a sit-in at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality office that highlighted the dangerous connection between major energy company Dominion and the DEQ, as well as the event I attended this morning.