Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kids Today: An Open Letter to W&M SEAC

This is something I just posted on Facebook about the students at the College of William & Mary who worked on this coal plant fight.  But it needs to be given more permanence and circulation. So I'm putting it here, too.

I don't presume to speak for our community generally, but I'm going to on this.

We are ALL so impressed and grateful for the help of the William and Marys.

Truly, y'all went above and beyond...

You restored our faith in "young people."
You volunteered to help in ways that were the least glamorous.
You stood in the heat and cold for us to save us the best seats--and then you took the bad seats or stood or waited outside.
You watched our kids.
You let us take over your email listserv as our own.
You carried our messaging--even when it might not have been your first choice.
You went door to door.
You raised money so we could make signs.
You circulated petitions.
You got your college and your community aware and organized. Shoot, you even got a guy on your city council.
You videotaped hearings (which were instrumental in showing the world how we were being treated by the utility).
You spent hours traveling back and forth on the ferry doing this work FOR YEARS. While your peers used the time to study, party, sleep, etc. While many of you wanted to do "real activism" like direct action.
I feel like we didn't say "thank you" enough at the time. Partially because we were so preoccupied with the crisis at hand, but mostly because you did all this work in the quietest, least assuming way imaginable.
My heart bursts to really remember the way you all sacrificed to be our allies...when you could have easily gone about your studies, lives, and activism in much more interesting and glamorous ways.
We came to count on you...for your service, advice, ideas, and inspiration. You will always be in our hearts in Surry. We love seeing you grow up. You are asked about regularly and thru the wonders of fb I can let everyone know how you are. Just how families do.
We love you and will never forget.

Friday, August 17, 2012

"I want my two dollars!"

In reading all these news articles about ODEC potentially scrapping this plant for.ev.errrrr. (trademark Squints Palledorous) something has been rolling in around in my brain as not quite right.

So I finally went through my stuff and checked it out.

Here's what's been bugging me:

In a recent Daily Press article, found HERE, my boyfriend, David Hudgins (who apparently isn't that into me) addressed the issue of proffers:

"Old Dominion's proffers to Dendron, including water system repairs, a new playground and new sidewalks, depend on whether the facility is built, Hudgins said. With the exception of a $50,000 advance that Old Dominion paid the town two years ago, the rest of the proffers are in limbo, he added."

See, that doesn't jive with the proffers that I saw and blogged about HERE:

The proffers I'm looking at (dated Jan. 21, 2010) seem to say that $100,000 is to be given within 90 days of zoning approval (pending, of course, challenge), and the remaining $500,000 for water to be given upon obtaining a "building permit for construction of any buildings associated with the power plant" or upon the "Town obtaining a sufficient grant to make all necessary repairs to the Town water system"--whichever occurs first.
ODEC gave Dendron an "advance" of $50,000, but they should have given them another $50,000 after this latest zoning approval, which occurred in early March--over 5 months ago.
That shouldn't be "in limbo." No lawsuit this time. Ninety days, over and out.
That should be paid, check cashed, and probably already spent by now.
So, what happened?
Did ODEC "misspeak" in the paper (again ::cough::)?
Did ODEC have a "miscommunication" (again ::cough::)?
Does ODEC think this is a "novel interpretation" of the proffers (again ::cough::)?
Did ODEC, knowing they would get unanimous votes this last round, modify their proffers before reapplying?
Given the enthusiasm Dendron's Mayor exhibited at the last check for $50,000 ("Look at all those ZEROS!!"), one would think she'd be knocking down ODEC's door:
"I want my $50,000!"
So, wassup, ODEC? You gonna pay these people who broke the law for you? Who did exactly what you asked them to do? Who held up their end of the bargain and rezoned 3/4 of their town to heavy industry? Who trusted you time and time again despite all the evidence to the contrary?
Or do they not rate, either?

Monday, August 13, 2012

We're not all laughing...

You know what's a bitch?

"Reply to All."

Yeah, buddy. Who among us hasn't hit that bad boy when we shouldn't have?

There's that email from your pal. A whole bunch of folks cc'd. And pure snark just waiting for you to share with your friend--the original sender. You type up your snazzy ol' comment and go to send it to your buddy and always right at the moment you hit "Send" you realize, "Oh no. 'Reply to ALL'"


Hey, these are the things that make us human, right?

* * * * * * *


Last week my friends over at ODEC sent out an email.

Subject: We're proud to be part of this community!

Content: Eh...who knows...a bunch of crap per usual. BUT, there was one little piece that spurred a few emails from my friends (who, by the way, did NOT hit "Reply to All") pointing out a little piece of irony:

"In coming months, you may notice construction activity around the Cypress Creek site off Route 10 in the Town of Dendron, as our contractors relocate existing utilities and construct an access road."
Heh heh...for folks who are such a "part of this community" I guess they forgot their own address. Their property, and all the property in the Town of Dendron, is off Route 31....not Route 10.


So, you know, a couple days ago I dropped them a note to remind them where they own millions of dollars worth of acreage:


That's Rt. 31 that runs through Dendron. Kind of an unfortunate slip for an email talking about how you're a part of this community.

Anywho, glad to hear you all have dropped this project....for now. Would really like it if you dropped it forever.


Here's the response I got:
From: Howell, Mary
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 9:33 AM
To: Betsy

Cc: Sherrod, Bill; Hudgins, David

Subject: Location of Dendron

Hello Mrs. Shepard –

I just wanted to introduce myself – I recently joined the staff of the electric cooperatives’ association and will be assisting with communications about ODEC power supply projects. 

Thank you for correcting my mental lapse about the location of Dendron, since the town is actually located on Route 31, a better description than “off Route 10.”  Your geographic clarification especially hits home since I grew up in Surry Courthouse, although my family moved back to Williamsburg when I was a senior in high school.

Best Wishes,
Mary Howell
Manager of Member and Public Relations
Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives
4201 Dominion Boulevard
Glen Allen, VA 23060

# # #

Bless her heart. She's even from here. But points for being polite and professional.

And THEN.....

A moment later another email.......

From someone on the cc list.............

David Hudgins..............

"Evil Santa" if you have to know................

"Colonel Sanders" if you're nasty...........

A man we know all too well..............

ODEC's Director of Internal and External Affairs.............

Here's his email:

From: Hudgins, David
To: Howell, Mary ; Betsy
Cc: Sherrod, Bill
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 9:40 AM
Subject: RE: Location of Dendron

Too nice by far, she doesn’t even rate a thank you…

# # #

Oh, snap!

I don't even rate a thank you.

Day-um, Dave....I thought we was tight.

Guess not.

My reply:

From: Betsy
To: Hudgins, David ; Howell, Mary
Cc: Sherrod, Bill
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 9:42 AM
Subject: Re: Location of Dendron

Oh, that darn cc.....



Which just made me laugh and laugh and laugh.....

And do PR people fuck up PR this bad?

And will I hear back?

I mean, I know they hate me and all. But, technically I am the public.

Fifteen minutes later I got this reply (note, Davey got left off the cc this time....):

From: Howell, Mary
To: Betsy
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 9:57 AM
Subject: RE: Location of Dendron

We’re all laughing now! 

On another note, growing up in the Town Surry from 1971-1985, I recall the regularly scheduled siren drills for the nuclear power plant. Do they still have those drills and do you hear them out where you live in the county? 

Best Wishes,
Mary Howell

Bwahahahaaaa.....Really? "Look! Something shiny!" LOL.....Holy shit, where do they find these people?

Oh,'re not laughing, don't even fib.

Given the recent headlines, Old Dominion suspends permitting for coal plant, and the fact that y'all spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million to generate less electricity than you could have with a 20 cent potato and some alligator clips, I'd say no one over at ODEC is laughing at all these days.

Oh, bother.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Believe! I mean, sort of...Well, not really...

When I first heard about the coal plant, I was fairly indifferent. I didn't know much about coal or electricity generation.

What I did know was that coal had cleaned up their act significantly.

How did I know that?

Easy. I watched ad after ad telling me so during the presidential debates and election news.

The ads were the work of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) - some sort of lobby/marketing group for the coal industry.

They were pretty convincing. All mom and apple pie and American ingenuity and welcoming and meeting any challenge.

Here's Steve Miller, their president, talking about the launch of their 2008 campaign--the "I Believe" ads:

CO2 emissions? No problem! he says. "We'll meet that challenge!" Boo-ya!

Here's the actual "I Believe" ad:

Golly! Doesn't that feel good? "We can. We will!"

I kind of believe, too, after watching that.

Even our local coal plant guys told us how the plant proposed here (the Cypress Creek Power Station) would be all clean coal feel-good goodness:

"Cypress Creek will also include space to house carbon capture equipment when this technology becomes readily available."

- David Smith, ODEC, Sussex Surry Dispatch, Jan. 2010

Again...No problem!

So, last week when the EPA announced that they would begin the process of limiting carbon emissions (or CO2 or greenhouse gas), who would have expected these same "We can. We will!" folks to lose their minds?

But lose them, they did!

The ACCCE released a press statement saying this:

"This latest rule will make it impossible to build any new coal-fueled power plants, and could cause the premature closure of many more coal-fueled power plants operating today."


What happened to "meet any challenge?" "American technology?"

What happened to "I Believe?"

Even our local coal guys lost their minds over the ruling.

From an article in a local paper New Regulations Could Doom Proposed Surry Coal Plant:

Billions of tons of CO2 have been stored underground using Carbon Capture and Sequestration, but Hudgins [ODEC rep] said the technology is far from refined and not practical for Dendron. Not only does the equipment cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but local geology isn't suitable for storage.

"We'd have to transport it all the way to the Appalachians," he said. "Or to a place that's 30 miles offshore. The sheer volume of material... how would we ever get it there?"

He's also concerned about liability: "What if something terrible happens some day - say an earthquake - and the stuff releases and kills thousands of people? Who's responsible? The utility that put it down there."

From "No problem," to, "There's no way in God's green earth," in one short proposed ruling?

Good gravy.

My kids were less freaked out than this when they figured out there was no Tooth Fairy.

Which begs the question, did the coal industry really believe? Or did they just say all that in attempt to throw the public off their scent?

Either way, they might provide reliable electricity, but their reliability seems to end there.

Poor dears....I hope the Easter Bunny brings them something extra special this weekend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

And the WINNER of the Caption Contest is . . .

ODEC attn'y

"Oh my God! I think I touched a local!"
Thanks to everyone who entered and voted! No prize will be given out, because the winner lives in my house. LOL. Congratulations, honey!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Judge the Caption!

OK, y'all seriously brought it for the Caption Contest HERE!

I don't remember the last time I laughed so hard....and it was darn good (and much needed) medicine.

Here are all the entries for your enjoyment....and tough decision.

Let me know which comment (numbered for your ease) is your favorite, and I will announce the winner this Wednesday.


ODEC attn'y

1.  GAH! I'm allergic to democracy!!

2.  Wahhhhh!!! Someone called me a mean name! 

3.  Steve Blaine pauses during the meeting to have a mild and brief Fly Ash Stroke.

4.  Ewwww! Get it off, get it off, get it off!

 5.  I only want to spoil Dendron, not wear it.

6.  Has this ever happened to you? Avoid those embarrassing public hearing accidents with Depends for lawyers.

 7.  Crap, that better not be coal ash again.

 8.  I got called a mean name!! I wish someone would apologize to me!! waaaaaahhhhh.

 9.  The guy behind me must have had beans for dinner!

10. Good, let the hate flow through you.

 11. Oh, Mr. Smithers!

 12. BEGONE, Satan-uh! Begone!

 13. So much smaller than I remember.

14. Give yourself to the dark side. It is the only way you can save your friends.

15. You cursive brat, look what you've done! I'm melting, melting.

16. I'm covered in hog wash, hog wash!

17. To ease my public speaking fears I just picture the town council in their underwear....

18. My pants really ARE on fire.

19. Oh my god! I think I touched a local!

20. Oh God! Not the ants again!

21. Oh God, I really hope this strange feeling is just acid reflux... I can't afford to develop a conscience at this point...

22. Dam! They're telling all our secrets!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

See! Are you dying?

OK, pick your fave, let me know in the comments or email me: You have until tomorrow night....winner will be announced Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Caption Contest

OK, people...let's blow off a little steam, shall we?

After two weeks of back-to-back hearings and seeing how broken our democratic process is, I believe we need a little good-natured fun.

So let's have contest!

Below is an incredibly unfortunate shot of one of ODEC's attorneys from last night's public hearing--Steve Blaine. You might recognize him from the Steal This Video post HERE. He's the same lawyer who (wrongly) advised Dendron to vote last time.

Give me your best caption for this shot.

Keep it clean. Leave it in the comment section or email me at I'll post all the entries Monday and y'all can vote on your favorite. There might even be a prize! Woohoo.

ODEC attn'y

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