Potential Flooding – Take Photos!

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Automated phone messages to our region from the National Weather Service on September 28, 2016, warn that Nelson County may be getting 3-6 inches of rain with localized spots getting up to a foot. There is a flash flood warning that will extend until Friday morning, September 30, 2016.

If flooding does indeed occur, please send any ‘high water’ photos via Facebook, which could then be submitted to FERC as proof of the potential flooding risks our area experiences with heavy rains. Before and after photos would be even better, though we realize this isn’t always possible.  (If you don’t use Facebook, send photos to friendsofnelsonweb@gmail.com.)

Be safe!

Win a 4-Pack Festy Experience Package!

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Always wanted to go to Festy?

Want to help Friends of Nelson continue fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline?

We know how you can combine the two!

Make an online donation here to Friends of Nelson of over $100 or more by next Monday October 3rd and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a coveted “Festy Family 4-Pack Experience” – a package including a 4-pack of weekend tickets + camping, valued at $650.00, held at The Preserve in beautiful Nelson County.

Winner will be notified by Wednesday, October 5th.

Good luck!

The Perils of Rushed Construction

Because the proposed construction schedule for the ACP has been significantly delayed (at least a year behind at this point), Dominion expects to accelerate the construction process when it does begin; some of the construction work, e.g. timbering, will be conducted at totally inappropriate times (see our earlier post). A recent article discusses dangerous flaws in the construction of Spectra’s pipeline expansion project, the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline – part of the same pipeline system that exploded in Salem Township PA in April 2016.

Two former inspectors on the AIM project have described in detail a variety of serious problems during construction that put workers at risk and have long-term dangerous consequences for the pipeline itself and the communities along its route. Among the problems revealed: burying pipes before the weld inspection results can be viewed (normally companies wait until x-ray films are developed and inspected before burying welded pipes), burying pipeline sections with faulty coating, and improper hydrostatic testing. It costs time and money to dig up buried pipe and inspect (or reinspect) it properly, something companies simply don’t want to do.

Pipeline leaks not only pose the risk of catastrophic explosions, they also carry climate changing consequences because of the methane released. Between 2010 and 2015, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, 12.8 billion cubic feet of methane leaked from the nation’s natural gas gathering and transmission lines in nearly 700 incidents, incidents which killed 70 people and injured 300. But since companies can simply pass the cost of leaked gas on to consumers, there is little incentive to proactively hunt for leaks once potentially faulty gas lines are buried.

Worker safety is another thing that is compromised when construction is pushed. “In the rush to build out pipelines nationwide over the last several years, the pipeline accident rate has skyrocketed, according to watchdog groups. Gas pipelines built between 2000 and 2010 had an accident rate of 1.289 per 10,000 miles; pipes laid since then have a rate of 6.64 per 10,000 miles, according to the Pipeline Safety Trust.”

Read the full DeSmog article here.

Events Before Compressor Station Hearing

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The Buckingham County Planning Commission public hearing on the ACP compressor station in Buckingham County will be at 7:00 pm on Monday September 26, 2016, at the County Administration Building, Rt 60, 13380 West James Anderson Hwy, Buckingham.

Come to oppose the compressor station with your comments or simply your presence.

Here is the schedule of pre-meeting events:

  • 4:30 pm Physicians for Social Responsibility slideshow of compressor station health impacts. In the Buckingham Arts Center, 2 buildings west of the Administration Building. (Also, to be shown on Sunday, 2pm at Yogaville, Sivananda Hall, Multi Purpose Room)
  • 5:30-6:30 pm Circle of Prayer and Song, led by PAUSE (Positive Action Uniting Stewards of the Earth) PAUSE-Peaceful Action Uniting Stewards of the Earth is sponsoring a Circle of Prayer and Song prior to the hearing, with the purpose of creating and holding a space for positive interaction and peaceful intention during the hearing. All are invited to join the circle. If you can’t attend in person, we invite you to hold the space wherever you may be.
  • 5:45 pm Press Conference
  • 6:30 pm Sign up for public comments begins. Please sign up to comment before 6:55 pm. You have 3 minutes. You may want to submit a hard copy of your comments. Thank you for showing up with or without comments! Let them know you care!
  • 7 pm Planning Commission Meeting begins

Food will be available in the Arts Building; quasi potluck.

More from the Forest Service

ForestServiceOn July 22, 2016, The U.S. Forest Service submitted yet another letter to FERC listing missing information and improper procedures needing remediation in the ACP’s Soil Service Report for the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests. Their comments “address deficiencies, outstanding components, and corrections to the data needed to inform decisions related the proposed ACP Project on NFS lands,” and ask that the ACP revise their Order 1 Soil Survey Report, submitted to FERC on August 2, 2016, to address the Forest Service comments.

Click here for the Forest Service letter, including their 11 page documentation of items needing remediation.

Hearing on Buckingham Compressor Station on September 26, 2016

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The graphic above is Dominion’s conceptual rendering of the 53,515 horsepower compressor station proposed for Buckingham County. Dominion says it includes many changes from a previous graphic, including additional buffers along Route 56, the relocation of some buildings and a communications tower. The proposed compressor station would be located on property along Route 56 between Shelton Store and Union Hill roads. What you can’t see in the idealized graphic: air pollution (emissions released from gas compressor stations have been shown to increase the chance of deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as increasing the rate of premature births and low birth rates) and 24/7 noise (which can cause “vibro-acoustic disease,” with many symptoms including depression and decreased cognitive skills).

On Monday September 26, 2016, at 7 pm, the Buckingham County Planning Commission will hold a hearing regarding Dominion’s requested special use permit to build the compressor station in the County. The hearing will be in the Peter Francisco Auditorium in the County Administration Complex on Route 60 just east of the courthouse. Speakers representing themselves will be allowed three minutes, those representing groups will be allowed five minutes. [Will Dominion stack the speaker roster as it has in previous public hearings?]

Friends of Buckingham continues to oppose both the ACP and the compressor station. A new opposition group, Concern for the New Generation (CNG) is made up of concerned citizens from the Union Hill and Union Grove areas of Buckingham, near the proposed location of the compressor station. CNG will work with Friends of Buckingham to oppose both the ACP and the compressor station, raising their concerns about ongoing air pollution and noise.

We urge Nelson residents to attend the hearing in Buckingham. The proposed compressor station in Buckingham is the only one Dominion (currently) plans to build in Virginia.

Friends of Nelson Joins Call for Congressional Review of FERC

With a press release issued on September 22, 2016, Friends of Nelson has joined more than 180 organizations representing communities across America calling on leaders in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold congressional hearings into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) extensive history of bias and abuse. The groups are also requesting reform of the Natural Gas Act, which the groups say, gives too much power to FERC and too little to state and local officials.

A letter to Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairwoman Lisa Murkoski (R-AK), Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), signed by 182 community organizations representing communities in 35 states argues that FERC’s review and approval process for jurisdictional pipeline projects is infected by bias; and that it is resulting in uncontrolled and irresponsible proliferation of unneeded natural gas pipelines. Finally, the letter charges the agency with misusing provisions in the law to strip people and states of their legal rights, to prevent fair public participation in the pipeline review process, and to improperly use the power of eminent domain to take private property and public lands in a way that inflicts unforgivable harm to rights, jobs, and communities.

The letter details how FERC has implemented the Natural Gas Act in ways that deliberately undermine public input. FERC has prevented communities from challenging projects before the exercise of eminent domain and pipeline construction, made decisions to benefit its Commissioners, and used conflicted consultants to handle much of the review process.

Other regional groups endorsing the letter include the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance, Friends of Buckingham, Wild Virginia, Free Nelson, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, the Augusta County Alliance, Appalachian Voices, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, the Pipeline Education Group of Nelson County, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and Southern Shenandoah Chapter of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Read the full press release here.

Read the letter to Senate and House leaders here.   Includes full list of supporting organizations.

ACP Submits Updated Schedule for Proposed Construction

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On September 21, 2016, the ACP submitted to FERC an updated schedule for construction of their proposed pipeline. Our highlighted pdf of the schedule shows construction beginning on the compressor station in Buckingham in November 2017, construction on miles 183-239 (Nelson, Buckingham, and east) beginning in February 2018, and construction on miles 125-183 (Augusta and Nelson) in February 2019. According to this proposed schedule, the Horizontal Direct Drilling under the Blue Ridge Parkway/Appalachian Trail and under the James River would begin in 2018.

Poll Results: Virginia Voters Oppose McAuliffe on Pipelines

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In a press release on September 21, 2016, Chesapeake Climate Action Network announced the results of a new poll showing that, “on the hot-button issues of fracked-gas pipelines and coal ash disposal, Virginia voters disagree with the approach being taken by Governor Terry McAuliffe by significant, bipartisan margins.

“The results of the poll, conducted by the nonpartisan firm The Cromer Group, indicate that:

  • Only 28% of Virginia voters support Governor McAuliffe’s efforts to build two major fracked-gas pipelines, while 55% oppose the Governor’s efforts, a nearly 2-to-1 margin of opposition.
  • Opposition to Governor McAuliffe on pipelines was especially strong in rural Virginia, among Independents, and among women.”

The poll also shows that 71% of voters believe McAuliffe should follow the approach of other southern states on coal ash removal, which require removal to modern lined landfills instead of allowing burial in place by rivers.  Across every party, regional, and demographic group surveyed, the coal ash results show a 5-to-1 margin against Dominion’s approach.

Read the full press release here.

Read a PDF summary of the poll results and methodology here.

Join CCAN’s protest at the Governor’s Mansion, October 3-5, 2016 – more information here.

Virginia Supreme Court Will Hear Survey Suit

 

scv_justicesThe Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of an Augusta Circuit Court judge’s ruling that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC has the right to enter private property.

The appeal states that:

  • The trial court erroneously ruled that Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC can use Virginia Code § 56-49.01 to enter private property even if it is not a Virginia public service company.
  • The trial court erroneously ruled that Virginia Code § 56-49.01 does not infringe the fundamental right to private property in violation of Article I, § 11 of the Virginia Constitution.

Henry E. Howell, III and Benjamin L. Perdue (The Eminent Domain Litigation Group, P.L.C.) will argue the case for the property owner and appellant, Hazel Palmer. Howell notes that the decision will affect all property owners who have not given permission for the ACP to survey.

The case will be heard before all seven justices of the Virginia Supreme Court, probably in January 2017.