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Friends of Nelson Public Meeting: FERC into FREC Road Show


Sunday October 20, 2019 – The Nelson Center, gather at 5:30, meeting begins at 6:00. Ted Glick, from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), will be our featured speaker, and will show a short film followed by discussion. We’ll also have announcements and updates. This is a kid-friendly event, and there will be an art station run by BXE’s Maple Osterbrink.

Join activists from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) on their FERC Into FREC roadshow! BXE is traveling from the shalefields of Pennsylvania down through the path of the MVP and ACP pipelines in West Virginia and Virginia. BXE members will screen their short film “FERC Doesn’t Work” and hold a community discussion on the fight to turn the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC). FERC is the federal agency responsible for the regulation of all fossil fuel infrastructure and pipelines that cross state lines. As such FERC is a lynchpin in the nationwide movement against fossil fuels and for climate justice!

Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. He has prioritized the climate crisis issue since 2004 and was one of the founders of Beyond Extreme Energy in 2014. Following retirement after nine years as the National Campaign Coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, he has worked since as a volunteer with BXE and several local and state organizations in New Jersey fighting climate disruption and the expansion of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Since 2000 he has written a nationally-distributed Future Hope column of political, social and cultural commentary.

Maple Osterbrink has volunteered for peace, justice and earth conservation since the 1960’s. She “took the earth-conservation pledge as a young girl scout and has held to it.” She retired from several “almost-careers” to North Carolina and is helping out many organizations including BXE, APPPL, Workers’ Assembly and the Raging Grannies. She worked to preserve wetlands in New Hampshire in the mid-90’s as a town conservation commissioner. She is “sick of the corruption, theft and poisoning of democracy, peace, water, food and sustainability.” As an artist she will have mini-projects to do with children, or adults, during events.

Virginia’s History of Displacemment


An article in the Washington Post on October 11, 2019, asks, Will Virginians be able to resist the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? It points out that backers of the ACP see the Supreme Court’s consideration of the ACP’s effort to cross the Appalachian Trail as one of getting government regulations out of the way of a private industry (supposedly) operating for the public good.

“But for people in central Virginia, the push for a pipeline is a story of government interference, part of a century of struggle between government authorities and vulnerable populations that have been displaced from the land. …. Urban and rural communities alike have their own collective memories of the encroachment of government-backed industry. Those memories are reflected in the diverse coalition that has come together to fight the pipeline.”

The article describes how “One of the largest land seizures in the history of the state took place in the same forest that Dominion now contests” when Virginia, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, used eminent domain to acquire 190,000 acres in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains, seizing or condemning the homes and farms of about 465 families, removing 2,000 people from land they had tended for generations. Virginia then donated the land to the federal government for Shenandoah National Park.

In 1964, under the guise of “slum-cleansing,” the city of Charlottesville razed Vinegar Hill, home to a thriving community of African American residents and black-owned businesses, Charlottesville’s center of black economic life and culture. The city destroyed 29 businesses and forced 500 residents into public housing – and then for 20 years the land sat unused.

And now in rural Buckingham County, the ACP’s compressor station threatens Union Hill, a historically black community. Residents there have spoken out against the pipeline – as have residents in Nelson County whose planned and established businesses would also be destroyed by the ACP.

The unusual coalition fighting the pipeline reveals “a surprising alignment of interests across traditional social, racial, economic and political boundaries. In Buckingham, Va., Baptists and yogis have joined to fight the pipeline. That unusual coalition is up against powerful forces: the Trump administration, a big energy company and a Supreme Court dominated by conservative justices. But for more than a century, the people of central Virginia have been battling the government over their right to control their land, farms, parks and city neighborhoods. Whatever happens in the Supreme Court this term, they’ll keep fighting.”

Both Fine and Stay for MVP

On Friday October 11, 2019, in a consent issued by Henrico Circuit Court, Mountain Valley Pipeline agreed to pay $2.15 million to resolve the lawsuit by Virginia regulators that accused it of repeatedly violating environmental standards during MVP construction. The suit was filed in December 2018 for “violations of the commonwealth’s environmental laws and regulations at sites in Craig, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, and Roanoke Counties.”

The agreement requires the company to submit to court-ordered and supervised compliance with regulations meant to curb sediment and erosion and stipulates automatic fines for further violations. It further stipulates that “MVP, at its expense, shall retain a third-party Environmental Auditor to provide on-site monitoring of instream invertebrate and fisheries resources during all construction activity related to waterbody and wetland crossings and document instream conditions and any impacts to the resources.” Depending on the event, fines of anywhere from $500/day to $26,000 may be levied immediately for future violations.

Later the same day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit put a hold on two permits, the Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement, permits the MVP needs to proceed with construction activities. According to the Sierra Club press release, the Court’s announcement effectively means construction must stop on the 300-mile project.  On October 15, FERC wrote to MVP, saying in part, “While next steps are determined, Mountain Valley is hereby notified that construction activity along all portions of the Project and in all work areas much cease immediately, with the exception of restoration and stabilization of the right-of-way and work areas, which Commission staff believes will be more protective of the environment, including listed species, than leaving these areas in an unstable condition.”

Speaking of the FERC order, David Sligh, Conservation Director for Wild Virginia said:  “The command that Mountain Valley cease all construction immediately is appropriate and necessary to meet the law. However, FERC has previously allowed work that is clearly construction to be done under the guise that it is ‘stabilization.’ The Commission must now act responsibly and clearly prohibit all activities that are not absolutely necessary to protect the environment. FERC must no longer play deceptive games that allow further destruction from a project that cannot protect our resources and may never be completed.”

News You May Have Missed


There’s been a lot going on – here are some news items from our In the News page you may have missed (many additional interesting news articles on that page).

Legal Challenge to FERC Certificate Put on Hold

From The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #248, October 10, 2019

Consideration of legal challenges to the certificate issued in December 2017 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), which was to be argued before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals on October 16, has been deferred. The case before the Court consolidates several cases, including the challenge brought by several ABRA members asking that the FERC certificate for the ACP be invalidated. The Order deferring the argument of the case, issued by the DC Circuit late on October 4, explained that the reason for delaying the scheduled argument was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision announced earlier that day to accept for argument United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association case, in which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the Forest Service did not have the authority to grant the ACP the right to cross the Appalachian Scenic National Trail.

The DC Circuit will decide when to reschedule consideration of the FERC challenge after the Supreme Court hands down a decision on the Cowpasture case. No date has yet been set by the Supreme Court for the Cowpasture case to be argued, but it is believed that will occur sometime in February or March 2020, with a decision being made before the end of June. Initial briefs by parties in the Cowpasture case are to be filed with the Supreme Court by December 19.

In the meantime, construction on the ACP is still suspended as the company awaits issuance by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) of a new biological opinion for the project, which is expected to occur sometime in coming weeks. The Southern Environmental Law Center submitted to FWS on October 1 an 88-page submission to the agency on how it should consider rewriting the new biological opinion, noting:

  • As the agency well knows, this is the second time its approvals for this project have been vacated. Both vacaturs followed rushed, incomplete analysis unsupported by best available science. We urge the agency to resist pressure from the pipeline companies to fast-track yet another approval for this unnecessary project and to instead heed its mandate under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species and their habitats. That requires avoiding inflicting further harm on species where that injury may jeopardize the species, as it would here for rusty-patched bumble bee, clubshell, and Roanoke logperch.
  • In the year since the agency issued its last biological opinion and incidental take statement, facts regarding the impact of constructing this pipeline on protected species have changed. The agency must take these changes into account to issue a valid approval for this project. If the agency again seeks to expedite approvals, we are concerned these changes will be ignored. Therefore, on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and the Virginia Wilderness Committee, we request that the agency consider the following in its re-evaluation of the pipeline.

Dominion Buys Pipeline Support at Supreme Court

Dominion buys pipeline support at Supreme Court through GOP Attorneys General – that was the headline for an article posted by the Energy and Policy Institute on October 3, 2019, the day before the Supreme Court announced that it would hear the appeal of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Forest Service could not authorize the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail. The article was reposted on DeSmog Blog on October 5, the day after the announcement.

The article points out that “Dominion Energy has received support in its case from Republican state Attorneys General and the US Department of Justice. Both US Attorney General William Barr and the state Attorneys General have close financial ties to the utility – including through a GOP group that funneled millions to one key proponent.”

Barr was on Dominion’s Board of Directors from 2009 until February 2019 when he resigned and was confirmed as US Attorney General. US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who reports to Barr, asked the SCOTUS to hear the appeal of the 4th Circuit ruling. Worth noting: “Between 2009 and 2018, Barr received $2.3 million from Dominion in cash and stock awards, according to a Forbes report based on SEC filings. Upon his resignation from the Board, he received 2,000 shares of common stock, as outlined in his Ethics Agreement, worth about $150,000 at Dominion’s stock price this past spring. Barr was supposed to divest that stock within three months, according to his Ethics Agreement. Barr has yet to recuse himself publicly from activities relating to the ACP Supreme Court appeal….”

In addition to the support from the US Attorney General, 16 State Attorneys General, backed by a Dominion-funded group, also supported Dominion’s appeal. “West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a group of 16 state attorneys general – all Republicans – in a filing this July urging the Supreme Court to take up the ACP appeal. The utility has given $60,725 to a key supporter of Morrisey and other signatories – the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) – since 2014, according to Dominion’s political spending disclosures.” RAGA poured $6.8 million into Morrisey’s 2016 re-election campaign, and RAGA or Dominion may have channeled additional resources to Morrisey through other intermediaries not legally required to disclose all donors or recipients.

Follow the money….