Clean air and water are fundamental freedoms that must be defended. How can we possibly be free to pursue our lives if poison comes from the faucet? What happened in Flint, Michigan was more than government incompetence: it was a violation of basic human freedoms. Ben will fight to keep our environment healthy, water clean, and public lands public.
No unsafe uranium mining. The National Academy of Sciences spent $1.4 million to investigate the viability of uranium mining in Virginia. They concluded that because we’re a wet climate, and uranium has never been mined in a wet climate before, then it’s impossible to know if the uranium will infiltrate our water. Mining projects can improve our economy, but they have to be safe. Clean water is a fundamental freedom. Ben is a scientist and requires overwhelming evidence that a mining project is safe. Virginia Uranium hasn’t even come close to meeting that requirement.
No seizure of private property for pipelines. Safe energy infrastructure projects can boost our economy and provide great jobs for working families. But Dominion Energy wants to use eminent domain to steal people’s property and build the Atlantic Coast gas pipeline in their place. The state doesn’t get to steal our property, especially not through crony-capitalist collusion with a corporation. Ben will oppose any energy project that relies on eminent domain. Ben signed the pledge refusing to take any money from Dominion, the crony capitalist draining the life out of our commonwealth.
No coal subsidies. My opponent voted for a $7.3 million subsidy for the coal industry. Between 1995 and 2015, Virginia has given the coal industry $500 MILLION in subsidies, propping up a dying industry with crony capitalism and taxpayer money. If Republicans keep the General Assembly and also win the Governor’s race, then these coal subsidies would resume. Coal is a dying industry and should be allowed to die a natural death, not kept alive on life support with our tax dollars.
Cap-and-trade vs. Carbon tax. When the smartest people in the world have spent the majority of their lives telling us that climate change is real, then it’s real. Clean air, water, and a healthy environment are fundamental freedoms that must be protected, right alongside freedom of speech, worship, and the right to bear arms. But as a libertarian I want the least intrusive regulations necessary to protect these freedoms. I worry that cap-and-trade is too regulatory and inefficient, that a carbon tax is too ineffective, and that both are too regressive. The ones struggling hardest in society should not be the ones taking on most of the climate change burden. The best of both worlds might be the cap-and-dividend approach proposed by Peter Barnes, where each American gets a cut of the pollution rent. But we must be open to new ideas.