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Dominion President Among Closing Speakers at Environment Virginia

FullTextImage/img/@altThomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president, and CEO of Dominion Resources, addresses a plenary session of the Environment Virginia Symposium. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.

LEXINGTON, Va., April 10, 2014 – The 600 attendees of this year’s Environment Virginia Symposium gathered for the last time this morning to hear discussion on the creation of a coherent policy that balances Virginians’ need for energy with the need for wise use of the commonwealth’s natural resources.

“We could not be more pleased with the attendance and type of dialogue from a really diverse group of stakeholders,” said Col. David Miller, interim director of the VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics, one of the hosts of the conference.

The event began Tuesday with a speech from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“It showed great commitment from Gov. McAuliffe to take time from his pressing duties to spend a few hours at VMI to address this group,” Miller said.

In addition to the keynote and plenary speakers each day in Gillis Theatre, breakout sessions on specific topics were held throughout the three-day conference, and a gala was held last night celebrating the symposium’s 25th anniversary.

Del. William J. Howell, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, addressed those attending the gala.

“He gave a great talk celebrating 25 years of the symposium,” said Miller.

This morning, conference participants gathered in Gillis Theatre to hear from Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president, and CEO of Dominion Resources, followed by a panel session, “Priorities for the Next Four Years,” led by three directors of Virginia’s environmental and conservation departments.

“This annual event represents a long-standing and highly worthy contribution to one of the most vital public discussions of our day -- namely the intersection of energy policy and responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” said Farrell.

Farrell highlighted the progress in environmental awareness, changes in energy sources, and steps his company and others have taken to preserve natural resources since the conference’s first year.

“We must be smart and start acting like a nation with a coherent national energy policy that reflects advances in our nation’s interest,” he said. “We must all pull together in a rational discussion of our choices and the tradeoffs that always go with them.”

The panel discussion was moderated by Evan Feinman, deputy secretary of natural resources for the commonwealth, and included David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Clyde Cristman, director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and John Bull, commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

“We have to do a good job making sure we’re stewards of the commonwealth’s wildlife, both terrestrial and aquatic,” said Feinman. “We have tremendous resources; we’ve solved a couple of thorny issues in this session already.”

Yesterday, Janet Ranganathan, vice president for science and research at the World Resources Institute, addressed the conference. She discussed creating a sustainable food future for all parts of the world.

Ranganathan provided some staggering statistics about the sources, production, and storage of food, including the fact that 42 percent of available food in North America is wasted.

Among the solutions she offered that have environmental as well as economic benefits included the elimination of trays in college cafeterias.

“Trays in cafeterias increase waste,” she explained. “They also increase overconsumption. … Just removing trays from cafeterias, which has been done successfully at a number of U.S. colleges, has resulted in a 25 to 30 percent reduction in food waste.”

Participants gathered for one more breakout session late this morning, after which the conference was adjourned.

--Daniel Stinnett '07