Archives April 2018

Miles Morin, Virginia Petroleum Council


“After about five years of lease sales and ramping up activity, you got about $122 million of direct spending just in the Hampton Roads area, what we define as the Virginia Beach MSA, and that will rise to $1.3 billion in year twenty. So there is a lot of concentrated benefits for the Hampton Roads area to the tune of $1.3 billion per year and maintaining and growing in year twenty.”

Born in Norfolk and raised in Virginia Beach, Miles Morin is very familiar with the region, including its economy and natural resources. He also is an advocate of putting those resources to work by allowing oil and natural gas to be explored for and developed.

In this podcast, Morin explains why permitting Lease Sale 220 (the government’s area for offshore energy development) to progress has only an upside for Hampton Roads’ future.

Topics that we cover in this conversation include:

– The objective and history of the American Petroleum Institue and Virginia Petroleum Council
– The state of offshore gas and oil exploration post-Deepwater Horizon
– The recovery of the Gulf of Mexico following Deepwater Horizon
– Current technology of oil exploration and drilling, safety, and training
– Seismic studies, circa 1980
– Tourism and line of sight
– State and Federal Revenue Sharing
– Military concerns and involvement with the issue
– Industrial and manufacturing development in the region
– Economic opportunities and job growth afforded by permitting offshore oil and gas drilling
– The way ahead

Links of Note:

Bureau of Energy Management: Lease Sale 220
API: America’s Offshore Energy Opportunity
CNBC: Much of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has disappeared because of bacteria
Houston Chronicle: Unleash the drones!
Magnum Economics: The Economic and Fiscal Contribution that the Development of Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Resources could make to the Virginia Beach MSA
API: The Benefits of U.S. Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Development in the Atlantic
API: The Benefits of U.S. Offshore Oil and Natural Gas Development in the Atlantic – Virginia
DOD Deputy Secretary Letter to Interior Department on Interagency Working Group

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Daniel Stoddard, Chief Nuclear Officer of Dominion Energy

“We like to focus on doing our business and we don’t like to blow our own horn a lot. We come to work, we do our job, we do it well. And we provide a great public service for the commonwealth and that really is kind of the way we like it. But I think we do need to do a better job of talking about the tremendous benefits of nuclear.”

Nuclear power is an often overlooked piece of the energy puzzle yet it is second only to coal in energy production (EIA, 2015) and natural gas in electricity generation (EIA, 2017). In this podcast, Dan Stoddard, Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer for Dominion Energy stops by to talk about this critically important segment of Virginia’s energy mix.

Stoddard is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and has a Master’s degree from the University of Virginia. Following the Navy and more than a decade working in South Carolina, he began his Dominion career in 2006, serving at North Anna where he rose to the rank of Site Vice President. He became Dominion’s lead for all nuclear matters in 2016.

Topics that we cover in this conversation include:

– The influence of the nuclear navy on commercial nuclear power
– The attributes and skills needed to work in the nuclear industry and how to get started
– What is nuclear power and what does it mean when a reactor is “critical”?
– Why is nuclear overlooked in the energy conversation?
– How is Virginia’s nuclear electricity regulated/distributed/competitive in the marketplace?
– How does nuclear fit in an “all of the above” energy strategy?
– What are the benefits of nuclear power?
– How does the nuclear industry answer concerns and overcome the fears about past incidents, like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Daiichi?
– What are Dominion’s modernization plans and are there plans to expand North Anna?
– Is Dominion pursuing any digital transformation?
– How is Dominion’s relationship with communities near the power plants and Virginia at-large?
– What is the future of nuclear power?
– What should policymakers consider regarding nuclear regulation and legislation?

Links of Note:

Dan Stoddard Bio
Rickover Principles
Dominion Nuclear Stations – includes video on nuclear generation
Virginia State Profile and Energy Estimates
Institute of Nuclear Power Operations

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Matt Hamel and Susan Vitale, Chesapeake City Council Candidates

Matt Hamel and Susan Vitale are military veterans seeking to take their decades of public service to the Chesapeake City Council Chambers. In a first for the show – a video podcast – they stop by J.R.’s kitchen to introduce themselves, talk about their background, and their campaigns. Even though the interview is relaxed and informal, lots of excellent info about the city and the challenges facing the community are tackled: From transportation, growth, economic development, education, safety, regional partnerships, and more!

The election is May 1 and if you want to get to know the candidates, this is a great opportunity to do so.

Links of note:

Matt Hamel for Chesapeake
Susan Vitale for City Council
City of Chesapeake Proposed Budget and Capital Improvement Program
City of Chesapeake Comprehensive Plan 20135

Navy Training and the Environment

In order to fight and win our nation’s battles at sea, the U.S. Navy has to prepare. And they do so at sea with effective and realistic training. This means putting the ship through its paces from bow to stern, including firing its weapons and using its detection systems.

While this training is 100% required, what the Navy also does is mitigate any hazards to the environment and marine life by complying with regulation, partnering with government agencies, conducting research, recycling, and performing other measures.

Joining J.R. on the podcast to talk aobut the Navy’s proactive measures at protecting the environment are U.S. Fleet Forces Command’s (USFF) Jene Nissen, Acoustics Policy Manager, and Ted Brown, Public Affairs Officer for Installations, Environment and Energy issues. USFF is the Navy’s top command for manning, training, and equipping the fleet for naval, joint, and combined operations that are in our national security interests.

Nissen is a former Navy Surface Warfare Officer with more than twenty years of service. He has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Applied Science (underwater acoustics). Brown served in the fleet for 24 years and has 15 years of civil service along with a B.S. and MBA.

Links of note:

U.S. Fleet Forces Command
Atlantic Fleet Training and Testing
Fleet Installations and Environmental Readiness
Facebook: U.S. Navy Stewards of the Sea
Stewards of the Sea Exhibit at Nauticus in Norfolk, VA
Department of the Navy: Energy, Environment, and Climate Change – OPNAV N45

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Christopher West, Conservatives for Clean Energy – Virginia

If you were to listen to the debate on energy, you would think that conservatives are against renewable energy by the arguments made by some liberal proponents. In this podcast, Christopher West, Executive Director of Conservatives for Clean Energy – Virginia, explains why that is very much a misconception.

Chris describes what CCE is, the majority conservative opinion on clean energy, the “all of the above” strategy, ongoing renewable activities in Virginia and how the free market is demanding renewable energy product, how clean energy should be perceived as an investment and new technology, job growth through supporting clean energy initiatives, the latest legislation passed by the General Assembly, and more!

“Our group supports the ‘all of the above’ approach – we just want Republican legislators and leaders in our commonwealth to not just say that they support an ‘all of the above’ approach but when it comes to policies and legislation to really go to wind and solar and really help grow that in the commonwealth.”

Links of note:

Conservatives for Clean Energy
Virginia Energy Poll
Energy Information Administration
ROANOKE TIMES EDITORIAL: Virginia shows the changing politics of solar

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

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Value discussion, but remember reactionary gun control is not the best response to a mass shooting

Over the past month since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killed 17 innocent people, we’re learning a lot about Americans – or at least confirming reality.

In our desire to make sense of the insensible and solve the unsolvable, our gut reaction has been to oversimplify and gravitate toward majority opinion based on feeling instead of nuance and truth.

Evil clearly exists in the world. The portrait emerging of the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is not a happy one. Despite efforts by many people – including his adopted parents – to help him, Cruz progressively turned into the violent killer who walked into the school in February and opened fire.

To determine exactly at what point could have saved Cruz from a life of destruction is way too difficult to say, but what we do know is that he was seen by his family, neighbors, medical personnel, fellow students, teachers and administration as someone who was a danger to himself and others.

This is what makes the oversimplification of the debate on gun control a bit maddening.

The whole purpose of the Second Amendment is because the Founders recognized that evil exists in the world. Accepting the government as the sole authority for our natural right to protect ourselves is, in a word, naïve.

The students who have captivated the nation are showing their youthful exuberance – and their participation is good – but they have grasped onto this innocent, yet incorrect, notion that it is the law that has failed us.

I must admit that as a parent, I too have fallen for this very simplistic method of discipline and oversight: If the “blank” is causing misbehavior, then take “blank” away.

The problem, of course, is that it’s not that simple. Generally, “acting up” is not the failing of some inanimate object. It is squarely on the shoulders of the individual animating
it. In other words: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.

It’s cliché, but can it be disputed?

Restricting access to guns might make it more difficult for the deranged to inflict horror, but tell that to the Unibomber, Timothy McVeigh and, most recently, Mark Anthony Conditt of Austin, Texas.

We live in an era where Americans are all too quick to form the mob, which is incredibly easy to do with instant communications and mass media.

It is exactly for these times that the Bill of Rights was enacted.

The only difference in this instance is that the collective sympathy for the victims and the desire to see young people “win” when they’re out trying to participate in the civic discussion might just be enough to persuade the persuadable into bad policymaking.

The proof will be in the voting.

The U.S. Census Bureau studied voting patterns from 1964 to 2012 and found that voting among those aged 18 to 24 years old, while always the least among the age cohorts, has precipitously declined from nearly 51 percent to 38 percent. There was an all-time low of just over 30 percent in 1996 and 2000.

And this is not just a U.S. phenomenon. In Britain’s 2015 election, 43 percent of young voters materialized at the polls. That’s it.

As reported from The Hill:

“Sari Kaufman, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, urged fellow students and others to vote during a sister march in Parkland, Fla. ….‘With this movement, we will ensure record-breaking turnout not just in the next presidential election, not in the next midterm election, but in all elections,’ Kaufman said, according to Reuters. ‘We’re here today to give you the tools to make a change.’”

Perhaps. But will that be a change for the better or just a way to make ourselves feel like we did something?

Perhaps each of us already has the tools within us, but it means not looking for the paternalism of government but doing what is truly hard: taking personal responsibility, standing up to evil and preserving liberty.

The discussion we must have is not easy or simple. It is multifaceted and includes mental health and illness, bullying, the accessibility to and licensing of weapons, the capacity of weapons, discipline in the public schools, respect for life in society and more.

To truly solve this problem, we must be willing to engage in dialogue and understand nuance. I hope that’s what this new generation is learning. And I hope that’s what the country as a whole remembers.

This column originally appeared in The Princess Anne Independent News.

Virginia House Republicans Have A Second Chance on Medicaid Expansion

In Virginia, we ask 141 people of tremendous skill – and tremendous ego – to come to an agreement after a period of only sixty days on thousands of bills, how to collect and spend tens of billions of dollars, and how to implement major policy initiatives that will impact millions of people for decades to come.

Forgive me for being unsurprised that there was no budget deal when the time came for the scheduled adjournment of this year’s General Assembly “long session.”

Instead, as has become a familiar tune, the governor of Virginia will call a special session on April 11 to determine how the house and senate can “reconcile” something the governor wants – to expand Obamacare, or Medicaid for working adults, if you prefer that terminology.

But that agreement is not going to be easy.

In a statement announcing adjournment, Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, wrote: “I remain concerned about the long-term fiscal implications of Medicaid expansion, but with a closely-divided House, Senator [Emmett] Hanger’s clear commitment to expanding Medicaid, and the governor’s plan to send straightforward Medicaid expansion back to the legislature, I continue to believe our best option is to craft a plan that guarantees conservative reforms as part of any agreement on healthcare.”

“I recognize some disagree with this approach,” Cox added. “Taking a few weeks away from Richmond will give us the opportunity to begin a fresh discussion on the next steps.”

Perhaps. But he is more than correct that his Senate counterparts disagree and believe the house has left the conservative reservation.

“This budget impasse may prove as difficult to resolve as those that occurred in 2006 and 2014,” said Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, also in a press release. “With more than $3.3 billion separating the two budget proposals on revenues and over $840 million in differences on spending, I cannot envision how this situation could be resolved quickly.

“I agree with Speaker Cox that the ‘two budgets differ dramatically on healthcare.’ There, however, is where our agreement ends.”

The argument for passing the House version of Medicaid expansion goes a bit like this:

► It covers working adults and adds nearly 400,000 people to the program. It is in line with public opinion. One poll commissioned by the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association stated that 83 percent of Virginians favor Medicaid expansion.

► It returns federal dollars to the state that Virginia taxpayers already pay in federal taxes.

► And, for this version to be considered conservative, it receives a waiver from the federal government that the able-bodied beneficiary has to work.

The senate argument is a bit more straightforward: It argues the House version depends on the federal government continuing to fulfill its promise of returning 90-cents on the dollar to the states. They see it as fool’s gold that will cost Virginia taxpayers billions.

“The major difference between the House and Senate proposals is that the House relies on Medicaid revenues in order to produce a balanced budget,” said state Sen. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake. “Over the next weeks, the conferees have a tough task. Leaving this session, the Senate is committed to its plan to responsibly produce a budget that provides meaningful healthcare reforms.”

For the entirety of the McAuliffe administration, Republicans resisted the urge to be seduced by federal largesse, but the fright of nearly being relegated to the minority this past November in the House seems to have caused them to significantly reconsider their former opinion on federal spending and limited government.

Unfortunately, now is not the time to play the political odds: There are way too many uncertainties in the federal Medicaid debate for us to think it is responsible to spin the roulette wheel with Virginia’s fiscal future.

Let’s hope the House conferees return to their senses.

This column originally appeared in The Princess Anne Independent News.