Rural Virginia is vulnerable to the schemes of large, out-of-state corporations that despoil the land without a stake in the consequences. Fracked-gas pipelines crisscross the district and two more are on the drawing board. High-pressure gas pipelines are a ticking time bomb for the communities they pass through. Explosions and poisonous leaks that foul the waters are all too common. Several counties are in pitched battles at the moment over new pipelines. A report from the Southern Environmental Law Center concludes that the pipelines are completely unnecessary for Virginia’s energy needs. Leslie will ensure that on the federal level, FERC will abide by the law and address the serious concerns of The Fish and Wildlife Service about the pipelines’ effect on over a thousand waterways, forests and scenic mountains that will be scarred with mountain-top removal.
She met recently with the two generations of farmers who own the sustainable family farm, Four Corners, in Franklin County. Their highly successful operation has been adding jobs in Franklin and is a much-loved part of the community. The Mountain Valley pipeline, owned by corporations from Florida and Pennsylvania, will tear up their back field. If the pipeline is built, Four Corners Farm will close its doors. The temporary jobs of pipe fitters and excavators cannot replace the sustainable employment of a growing farm and its related businesses.
Leslie has traveled the route of the Atlantic Coast pipeline through Nelson County. Profitable new businesses that provide hundreds of jobs will be adversely affected. Cideries, breweries, a ski resort and several wedding venues will have a high-pressure pipeline in their backyard. The pipeline is also slated to go through an area that was washed away in severe flooding last century. Such an event could cause catastrophic damage. In Buckingham County, the historic freedman community of Union Hill is facing the nightmare of a pipeline compressor station that could ravage their neighborhood. Even the Monacan Indian Nation is facing the invasion of one of its most sacred sites by pipeline crews.
Land conservation must be supported in Congress. Leslie will back scenic easements to preserve family farms. She will support low taxes for farm use. She will fight to restore streams protection, so that coal ash and the five heavy metals it contains cannot poison out water. Those heavy metals can cause spontaneous abortion and severe developmental problems in children. She will vote to restore the power of the Environmental Protection Agency, under siege by Trump and his allies, to ensure clean air and water for future generations of Virginians.
Leslie will support efforts by the League of Conservation Voters to protect our land and the farmers whose livelihoods hang in the balance.