This letter to the Editor originally appeared in the Charlottesville The Daily Progress on August 13, 2019
Charlottesville voted to divest from fossil fuels and national defense companies. The City Council of Charlottesville seeks to disassociate itself from companies that fuel our cars, heat our schools and businesses, or support our armed forces. As a Virginian and retired Marine Corps officer, I find this outrageous.
What kind of cars do City Council members drive? What energy is used to heat their homes? It doesn’t matter, because the vast majority of energy produced in Virginia relies on nuclear, gas and coal. In fact, gas and coal account for 62% of energy production in Virginia. Over 100,000 Virginians are traditional energy or energy efficiency workers. Additionally, about 50,000 workers are involved in the motor vehicles industry — vehicles, including hybrids, primarily powered by fossil fuels.
The city treasurer recently said that divestment will have minimal effect on the city’s financial stability. So if divestment is harmless, then is this an empty political gesture or stunt?
This divestment insults every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who relies on Virginian-made defense technology to preserve, protect, and defend our country. It also insults the men and women of our state laboring in the energy field to heat (or cool) our homes, get our kids to school, and keep our country running.
Divestment is also a terrible fiduciary decision. National defense companies have been among the top-performing stocks in the past decade, including Virginia-based General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman, also headquartered in Virginia. But then, this has a “minimal effect.”
The Charlottesville City Council, rather than making empty political gestures, should determine how to make city government faster, better, and cheaper. It was a self-serving vote, and a hypocritical one to boot.