Take the Bus to March on the Mansion

get-on-the-bus-3Our buses are reserved and ready for you to join the historic “March on the Mansion” Saturday, July 23rd in Richmond.

Visit www.marchonthemansion.org, fill in your contact information, choose your desired location for pick-up, and begin counting down the days for one of the biggest environmental and social justice rallies in Virginia’s history!

We ask that folks arrive at their reserved bus location pick-up location no later than 8:45am sharp.

Reserve your bus seat soon – spaces are limited!

“…against all the odds”

JaneKleebExciting news! Jane Kleeb, a leader in defeating the Keystone XL pipeline, will join us for March to the Mansion on July 23, 2016, in Richmond as we take our fight to Governor McAuliffe’s doorstep.

Watch her special message for you – and remember what she says, “We fought Keystone XL against all the odds, against all the naysayers who said as citizens we had no power.”

Join us on July 23rd as we show the power we have as citizens – sign up here.

Sierra Club Letter on Potential ACP Antitrust Violations

On June 23, 2016, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club submitted a letter (with numerous attachments) to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) detailing the harm to consumers and competition stemming from the role of Dominion Resources, LLC and Duke Energy as partners in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The letter says its purpose “is to support a complaint filed by attorney Michael Hirrel on May 12, 2016. Mr. Hirrel stated his concern that the activities of the utility investors in the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline violate Section 2 of the Sherman Act and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. We believe Mr. Hirrel has identified potential antitrust violations that merit investigation by the FTC.”

See the June 3, 2016, Friends of Nelson post about Mr. Hirrel’s letter here.

See the full text of the Sierra Club letter and all its attachments (including Mr. Hirrel’s letter) here.

Pipeline Field Tour

WildVA-pipeline-tourSee for yourself what pipelines would do to Virginia’s land and communities.

Join Wild Virginia on Sunday July 24, 2016, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., for a full day outing to learn about proposed pipeline routes through the George Washington National Forest. Spend the day meeting landowners near the national forests who will be impacted, connect with the land during a short hike, learn about a local business’s concerns, and see some of the unique ways you can combat the pipeline using art.

Tentative itinerary:

  • 8:20 – Charlottesville carpool leaves
  • 10:30 – Landowner visit in Little Valley. Possible short walk in 140-160 year old growth forest.
  • 11:15 – Art in Your Arsenal – Learn with Amelia Williams about raising awareness about the pipeline through art.
  • 12:30-1:30 – Lunch @ Fort Lewis Lodge and talk from Wild Virginia on pipeline impacts to Virginia’s national forests.
  • 1:30- 3:00 – Short hike to limestone karst formations.
  • Carpool returns to Charlottesville, arriving around 5:00

This outing is limited to 12 people, so please reserve your spot early.

A Destructive Path: Proposed Access Roads and Pipeline Route

A Letter to the Editor of The Recorder, the Highland County newspaper, describes in detail the massive destruction the proposed ACP and the access roads Dominion would build for its construction would cause on a historic property with two conservation easements. The author writes that “Dominion has never contacted us about anything as they essentially steal our historic property, destroy the quality of our life, destroy our property values, and destroy our precious environment.”

Friends of Nelson urges everyone to review Dominion’s maps showing the planned access roads for the proposed pipeline, since it appears there are still property owners Dominion has not contacted.

Read the full letter from The Recorder here.

Review the Dominion maps here.

Eminent Domain News and Resources

atlanta-eminent-domain-confAs the number of for-profit pipelines grows, so do the battles over eminent domain. Our new Eminent Domain page (under For Landowners) includes information about eminent domain specific to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and to Virginia, as well as some more general information that will be useful in our fight if Dominion receives permission to proceed with construction. Remember, Dominion cannot take any property by eminent domain for the ACP before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues a permit for construction of the ACP. The application, comment, and review process is still ongoing as ofthis date (June 21, 2016), and no permit has been issued by FERC yet.

No governmental agency gathers data on eminent domain permits given to corporations, but experts say a new wave of pipeline investment is pitting landowners against corporations and regulators in growing numbers, and the trend will likely continue. “The conventional wisdom is that we are having more [eminent domain controversies] in recent years because of the oil and natural gas boom,” Ilya Somin, professor at the George Mason University School of Law, told ThinkProgress. With that growing tension in hand, regulators, lawmakers, and courts in various states are being pushed to probe eminent domain requests for pipeline build out like never before; in some cases, like in South Carolina, bans are being approved. Read the full ThinkProgress article, For-Profit Pipelines Are Growing And So Are Eminent Domain Battles.

How to fight eminent domain? On June 13-15, 2016, private property rights activists and environmentalists met in Atlanta to discuss strategies for fighting energy companies’ growing use of eminent domain to take private property for construction of natural gas, oil and petroleum products pipelines. (The photo above was taken during a lunch break!) The Rockefeller Family Fund, the Park Foundation, and GreenLaw were financial sponsors of the conference, and Atlanta was chosen as the site because Georgia is one of the few states that has taken the side of property owners in recent eminent domain disputes. Friends of Nelson’s Ron Enders, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Lewis Freeman, and Appalachian Mountain Advocates’ Joe Lovett attended the meeting. Read an account here:  Anti-Pipeline Activists, Eminent Domain Experts Gather in Atlanta.

Additional resources on our Eminent Domain page.

“Strong Storms Hang in Our Mountains”

DarkHollowRd-flooding-june2016Following the major flooding in Nelson County on June 2 and June 4-5, 2016, after early summer thunderstorms each dumped 5-7 inches of rain in several hours on parts of the county, flooding was swift, dramatic, and damaging. The photos above of Dark Hollow near East Branch Loop (courtesy of Regina Allen Campbell) show the results of destructive flooding. On behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and its Nelson County chapter, Protect Our Water, Sharon Ponton filed supplemental information on the flooding with FERC, pointing out that such storms are not uncommon in Nelson County, as storms tend to hang over our mountains. Those of you who attended Dominion’s open house events will recall that most of Dominions representatives had never heard of Hurricane Camille.

As the BREDL filing states, “The increased run-off created by clear cutting approximately 350 acres of forested land for the construction and permanent right-of-way (ROW) for the proposed ACP, on very steep slopes, would exacerbate the issues we currently face when strong storms hang in our mountains, dumping tremendous volumes of water in short periods of time. This estimation of acreage clear cut does not include areas for access roads and work areas.

“Forested areas allow some portion of the rain, even in heavy storms, to infiltrate the ground, seeping into springs and the ground, renewing ground water resources. Revegetation of these clear cut acres with grass is ineffective in slowing water run-off on our steep slopes and essentially urbanizes those areas of the mountains. Water bars along the ROW will do nothing to slow 5 to 7 inches of rain in two hours. In the end, the destruction caused by the proposed ACP would put current residents and their homes in danger of increased flooding and mudslides, as well as facing the new health, safety and welfare issues of air pollution, leaks and pipeline explosion. Last year, two pipeline accidents in West Virginia were credited to heavy, flooding rains.”

Dominion doesn’t see flooding as an issue. We hope FERC will.

Read the full filing (with accompanying photos) here.

March on the Mansion!

March-on-mansionOn June 15, 2016, an unprecedented alliance of groups and leaders released an open letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe challenging him to stop supporting fossil fuel projects that worsen climate change and harm communities. The letter calls on the Governor to instead join the fight for “energy justice, democratic renewal, and healthy communities” in Virginia.

More than 60 groups and leaders from mountain counties to coastal communities to the DC suburbs signed the letter, which sets July 23, 2016, as the date for March on the Mansion, a mass rally at the Governor’s mansion to demand a just transition to clean energy now.

Speakers at the June 15 tele-press conference released the letter, as well as a website to promote the July 23 rally in Richmond – www.marchonthemansion.org – during a tele-press conference on Wednesday.

Ernie Reed, representing Friends of Nelson and Wild Virginia, said, “The Governor’s promotion of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has implicated him as complicit in selling our environment and giving away our property rights for Dominion’s profit. For over two years we have attempted to bring our concerns directly to the Governor. For over two years the silence from the Governor’s office had been deafening. Virginia deserves a governor who listens, engages and acts in our best interests. This is what we are requesting today.”

In their press release, the groups said, “If our voices have gone unheard from our separate regions of the state, we have a duty to bring those voices together until we are heard. If the governor has difficulty hearing our specific concerns and our even more specific proposed solutions, we will help him hear them by bringing our voices directly to him.”

Read the Open Letter to Governor McAuliffe, A New Vision for Energy Justice, Democratic Renewal, and Healthy Communities in Virginia

Read the press release here.

More about the July 23, 2016, March on the Mansion, including details of time, place, and how to participate, is here.

Dangerous Neighbors: Pipelines, Compressor Stations and Environmental Injustice

CleanWaterNC-report-graphicClean Water for North Carolina has released a great new report, well researched and footnoted, called Dangerous Neighbors: Pipelines, Compressor Stations and Environmental Injustice. While referencing the proposed ACP route in North Carolina, the report is very relevant to Nelson and Buckingham counties. Friends of Nelson President Ernie Reed has submitted the report as a comment to FERC on behalf of Friends of Nelson.

Read the full report here.

The release from Clean Water for North Carolina about the report states, “The U.S. is currently in the midst of an expansion of the natural gas infrastructure that has far outpaced the knowledge of impacts on people and the communities in which they live. With natural gas being touted as the ‘clean’ bridge between coal and renewable energy, regulators and legislated incentives have cleared the way for fossil fuel corporations to profit from the expansion of natural gas infrastructure while communities bear the costs. Now that measures of those costs are becoming clearer, many are calling for the brakes to be applied. This report explores the risks and consequences of this expansion, and how they affect residents and communities.

Highlights from the report:

  • When pipelines and compressor stations and other gas infrastructure are built, they often deliver environmental injustice by changing the physical environment of communities and effectively removing community choice in defining the built environment or the types of energy in which they can invest.
  • Living next to compressor stations is harmful to nearby residents’ health. Proximity to these facilities is associated with nosebleeds, rashes, headaches, and exposure to cancer-causing emissions. Especially along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and near the compressor station planned for Northampton County [NC}, we see potential for disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations.
  • Incidents of pipeline accidents have actually increased, reaching highs not seen since the pre-1940 constructed pipelines, perhaps due to the sheer speed of the expansion without adequate oversight.
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has essentially acted as a rubber stamp for pipeline approvals, showing no regard for environmental justice considerations.
  • The new Atlantic Coast Pipeline being constructed by Dominion and Duke Energy is routed to go through 8 counties in North Carolina, most of which have higher than state average poverty levels, as well as high populations of African American or Indigenous residents, or both.
  • Experts are warning that pipelines may quickly become stranded assets, as gas supply or demand dwindles, leaving customers on the hook in the form of higher rates.
  • The expansion of natural gas infrastructure endangers communities worldwide, as we now know the release of methane into the atmosphere is significantly amplifying global warming. It is low income communities and communities of color who will suffer first, and most deeply.”