60-70 people filled the Oakton Library meeting room on September 29 for Professor Vivian E. Thomson’s talk on her book “Climate of Capitulation: An Insider’s Account of State Power In a Coal Nation.” Prof. Thomson, an UVA Professor in the Departments of Environmental Sciences and Politics, a former Senior Analyst and Manager at the EPA, served eight years on Virginia’s State Air Pollution Control Board.
Prof. Thomson connected the dots between appointed VA State Boards, State Departments, Legislators, Dominion and other energy utilities historically empowering climates of capitulation in U.S. extraction states. In Virginia, for example, the Air Pollution Control Board is connected to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), connected to the Governor and State Legislators, connected to Dominion and other energy utilities.
These associated depth networks lead to what Prof. Thomson describes as a systemic climate of capitulation, defined as the: “deeply-rooted tendency to favoritism toward coal and electric utilities in states’ air pollution policies.” Such favoritism enables power wielding dynamics.
Her antidote to such favoritism is:
“Lobby, Lobby, Lobby.”
“Resist. Resist. Resist.”
“Persist. Persist. Persist.”
She suggested groups such as the Great Falls Sierra Club, 350.org/Loudon, and the Faith Alliance for Climate solutions – co-sponsors of the event – could be most effective by inserting “lobby, resist, persist” tactics in Virginia’s policy-making and procedural bodies.
For policy: lobby, resist, and persist at the Department of Environmental Quality, Air Pollution Control Board, Water Control Board, and Waste Control Board.
For procedures: lobby, resist, and persist in Richmond during legislative sessions.
Prof. Thomson quoted a well-known state representative who basically proclaimed: “Procedures can always trump policy.” Meaning: to sustain real change, policy plus attendant procedures are required.