At Virginia’s second 2017 gubernatorial debate, pipeline problems came back to haunt Ralph Northam as he tried to play both sides of the fence on an issue that has left his party’s base voters deeply divided. While this time he was spared any interruptions from protesters like he experienced in the first debate, NBC moderator Chuck Todd wasn’t satisfied with Northam’s attempts to avoid facing the topic of pipeline construction, and pressed him for an answer, with Northam finally admitting, “I do support them, yes:”
CHUCK TODD: “I’m still not clear do you support this pipeline or not, is the DEQ now a new hurdle, that you want to put – I’m just following up on this because I don’t – I’m not clear. Do you support this pipeline?”
RALPH NORTHAM: “I have been as clear as I can Chuck and that is – that the pipelines, if they move forward if they’re done environmentally responsibly, if they’re done with transparency, if there done with people’s – with property rights in mind, then I do support them, yes.”
CHUCK TODD: “Is the federal – so what FERC did, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is that enough or not enough for you?”
RALPH NORTHAM: “Well again as I explained earlier, we are working with the DEQ on the permitting, working with the corps of engineers, and at the end of the day yes FERC will have the final decision because it is a federal decision…”
With less than seven weeks to go until Election Day and Democrats already showing serious signs of division over pipeline issues, Northam’s support for these projects continues to draw anger from his left wing base, threatening his chances this November.