"Thank you. My name is Andrew Gantt. I own some 800 acres of land near Wingina, in the Southern part of Nelson County. I have a ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, spent my professional career as an international economist working with the International Monetary Fund. I have visited 77 countries in Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Latin America during my lifetime, given advice on economic policy to perhaps two thirds of these. These countries include dictatorships, communist and socialist countries, and a very few true democracies.
In a vast majority of countries we find situations where some combination of government and non-government interests expropriates land from unwilling citizens. Usually, the reasons are bogus—those in power simply want money or profits they derive from stealing land.
Unfortunately, that is the present case in Nelson County. Dominion wants our land, whether we wish to part with it or not. They have greased the wheels to accomplish this by paying off politicians. Our present governor has received at least $150,000 from Dominion, other politicians lesser amounts. This is not altruistic giving. Dominion expects a quid quo pro for this gift. In its essence, it’s a bribe. In return, Dominion has gotten the ability to write laws that benefit it in the energy area. These laws are rubber stamped by the Va legislature, then passed onto our happy governor for his signature. Given these bought mandates, Dominion comes to me and says in essence, “We’re coming on your land. But tell us your “sensitive” places and we’ll try to avoid them.”
Somehow, our government and Dominion doesn’t seem to understand. THIS IS MY LAND. My family has owned this land continuously since 1738. We have cared for it: run it as a conservation easement. We have managed to hold onto it through family wealth and poverty. The farm trees produce oxygen enough for 6400 people. We run it as a nature preserve: our sightings include even a cougar. There is little or no national justification for Dominion’s planned expropriation. We are awash in a sea of energy. The pipeline is not necessary. And, perhaps more importantly, there are many alternative routes which do not destroy new land. One such is the old canal bed originally called the Richmond and Kanawha Canal which follows the route that Dominion is contemplating from Covington to Richmond. This canal was built by my ancestor Joseph Carrington Cabell. There are power lines. There are median strips in interstates. There are many alternatives to my estimated 4000 households who will be disrupted by Dominion on its present route.
I DO NOT WANT DOMINION ON MY PLACE. So far, I have spent some $20,000 in my efforts to say “No.” I should be able to say “No”. But, as Churchill famously said when England was in extremis faced with its own expropriater—Germany.
“We shall go on until the end…..We shall defend our [land] whatever the cost may be….We shall fight in the fields and streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” Dominion knows that I am willing to do whatever it takes to defend my land."