Gov. Northam names new members to state air, water boards as pipeline opponents fume
Gov. Ralph Northam named new members for the state’s air and water boards a day after he ignited the ire of environmental groups by removing air board members whose terms expired months ago just as the panel weighs a crucial permit for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
“We hope these new board members are qualified, but, frankly, we have no idea who they are,” said Mike Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, in a statement.
“What we do know is that they are replacing two highly respected, well-qualified board members who dared to ask the hard questions about Dominion’s unnecessary and destructive pipeline, and that their appointments come just weeks before an important final vote on this project and on the heels of a contentious hearing where they raised serious concerns.”
The only explanation from Northam’s office for the timing of the move — the replaced members’ terms all expired in June — has been that he is “exercising his statutory authority to appoint members of his choosing to these board seats,” his spokeswoman, Ofirah Yheskel, said in a statement.
“The governor’s decision is not because of anything pending before the air board,” she added Friday.
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