2015: How Many Pipeline Accidents?

How many pipeline accidents have there been in just the three months of 2015? Here’s the list. None of them were 42-inch pipelines.

January 14: large gasline explosion in Rankin County near Jackson, Mississippi
January 26: large gasline explosion in Brooke County, West Virginia (just a 1-year-old pipeline)
February 5: large gasline explosion in Atlantic, Iowa, 2 dead
February 12: minor gasline explosion in Water Mill, NY, house leveled, 2 critically injured
February 26: massive gasline explosion in Stafford, NJ, 15 injured including 7 utility workers, two critically
March 11: minor gasline explosion in Lennox, Minn., 2 injured
March 22: large gasline explosion in Upper Arlington, Ohio, 1 home obliterated, 5 structurally damaged
March 24: minor gasline explosion in Tontitown, Ark.
March 27: enormous gasline explosion in New York’s East Village, leveling residential area with 20 injured, four critically, and two dead

Updates, Actions, Activities: Letter from Friends of Nelson, March 29, 2015

The FERC Scoping Meeting held at Nelson High School on Mar. 18 was frustrating and disappointing for many of us. If you weren’t able to attend or are interested in further details, please read our press release about it.

We found out after we wrote our press release that Nelson County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Thursday to ask FERC to extend the scoping period and to provide a second scoping meeting in the County. It is safe to say that the word is getting out.

Friends of Nelson continues to urge everyone to file comments with FERC to request both an extension of the Scoping Period until June 27, and an additional Scoping Meeting, so that all of us have a chance to speak. Click this link to FERC’s “ecomment” feature. It’s super easy!  Just be sure to include the docket number, docket #PF15-6!

We also strongly encourage you to contact your legislators to ask them to weigh in with FERC on our behalf on these matters. If you feel “tongue–tied” or don’t have time to write a letter on your own, you can download letters here (scroll down to the second bullet under “WRITE LETTERS”) to Senators Warner, and Kaine, Representative Hurt, and Governor McAuliffe.

After downloading, you can print each letter “as is,” or personalize by adding your own stories. Just make sure you fill in the date, your name and address, and add a stamp before mailing! Please consider spreading the word by emailing the link to friends throughout the state. The more letters we can generate, the better!

But remember-as it now stands, the Scoping Period ends April 28, so the deadline is fast approaching. Time to get serious about sending FERC your comments! Please see our website for suggestions of what to include in your comments, and how to submit them. And no need to write a novel! Feel free to submit as many comments at whatever length to FERC as you would like.  This Friends of Nelson flyer about sending comments to FERC explains the points “in a nutshell.”

Other opportunities to get involved and help stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

  • Volunteers needed! The weekly Farmers’ Market in Nellysford, starting Saturday, April 11, has been an important venue to inform people in Nelson and neighboring counties about the pipeline’s negative impact. Materials provided and no experience necessary-Just friendliness and listening skills. Please contact Sarah Ray at rayatshale@aol.com to sign up.
  • Do you own even a single share of Dominion stock? If so, please consider attending Dominion’s annual shareholder meeting on May 6 in Glen Allen, VA to listen in (or speak your mind!) Attendees are allowed to “ask questions” (which could be turned into short statements). If you would like to coordinate with other NO PIPELINE shareholders planning to attend, please email Karen Grecus, k.grecus@gmail.com. Dominion’s entire board and top executives usually attend. (Fun to imagine a large block sitting together wearing blue NO PIPELINE shirts…)
  • A description of the meeting and how to get tickets (deadline Apr. 30, but the sooner the better as seating is limited) is here. Whether you attend or not, if you own shares you can vote on the “Shareholder Initiatives”- which, for some reason, the board recommends you vote AGAINST (Pique your interest?)
  • If you wish to make an economic case against the ACP, we highly recommend you take a look at “Economics of the ACP Considered.”
  • If you don’t own any Dominion stock, it’s too late to buy any for attendance this year, but save the morning of Wednesday, May 6 anyway, as FON will be joining other groups outside the meeting venue!
  • Buy a raffle ticket from Rockfish Valley Community Center to help fund Friends of Nelson’s Pipeline Impact Study. FON’s Impact Study will receive a portion of the raffle profits, and winners of the raffle will receive up to $5000.00! Details at rockfishcc.org
  • The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition plans to ride through Nelson on May 11 and 12 as part of their Atlantic Coast Pipeline Resistance Ride. If you would like to help with publicity, housing, community events, or other support for them for the Nelson portion of their ride, please contact Diana Malsky, djmalsky@gmail.com, 826-9472.
  • You’ve probably noticed the new signs up all over Nelson: All Pain No Gain! These were brought to you by a new campaign. You can learn more about them at AllPainNoGain.com.
  • The National Forest Service is once again soliciting public comments – until April 15 – regarding whether they should allow surveying in portions of the George Washington National Forest, due to a new request by Dominion to survey in additional areas. Let’s use this invitation to comment to help solidify NO PIPELINE sentiment within the Forest Service. Click here for further details.
  • Love birds? Love Nelson? Do you know about Natural Nelson? They are a group working to document the biological, cultural, and historical wealth in Nelson County. Please check out their webpage. They have just issued materials to help landowners on the proposed route survey for birds of prey that may nest on their property. Carefully documenting these protected birds may help us declare, with proof, that Nelson is ESSENTIAL raptor habitat – a nice feather in our cap. Natural Nelson needs both volunteers and landowners.

Finally, some thoughts…

Landowners along all the potential routes have more power to stop the pipeline than most other parties because we are recognized as stakeholders. We can speak and write passionately to FERC, our legislators, and the press about how the ACP would directly and tangibly affect us.

We should recognize the importance of advocating strongly for our own interests-because if we don’t, the power that comes from being directly affected will just dissolve, unused.

That said, we must not allow advocating for ourselves to morph into advocating against others on different alternative paths through Nelson. This would be falling into Dominion’s “divide and conquer” trap, and would defeat the purpose of all the community work Friends of Nelson has achieved thus far.

Friends of Nelson volunteers have been working incessantly since last May, reaching out and coordinating our resistance as a whole community. To retain our advocacy for all of us, Friends of Nelson will not weigh pros and cons of any alternatives through Nelson. We also choose to identify within-County region-specific impacts by neighborhood or street names, never grouped nor categorized as particular alternatives through Nelson. Yes, each landowner has a vital story to fight the ACP, but we will be a stronger force if we retain a broader perspective and fight this as an entire united community.

It’s hard to put into words how beautiful and special Nelson County is-but one thing that has become clear in this battle, the community standing up to defend it matches that beauty and “specialness.”

Let’s keep on working together to keep Nelson pipeline free!
Joanna Salidis,
President, Friends of Nelson

National Forest Service Again Accepting Comments

The National Forest is once again accepting comments on whether they should allow surveying in the National Forest. This is a new comment period ending April 15 because Dominion is studying alternative routes through the forest. Although the Forest Service specifically requests comments regarding surveying, we can use this opportunity to voice our objections to the pipeline in the National Forest, anywhere. Except for soliciting comments regarding surveying, the Forest Service has no other official commenting period. Please spend a moment and send them an email to say NO SURVEYING, NO PIPELINE.

Talking points:
– A pipeline in the Forest negatively affects the scenery and recreation opportunities that bring people to the forest and our region
– Pipeline construction and ongoing sedimentation and erosion will harm the wetlands and headwaters that clean and provide water for millions of people downstream
-Pipeline construction will scare away important game like turkeys and bear that will not come back for up to a decade
– Pipeline construction will destroy habitat for important plant and animal species

Email: comments-southern-georgewashington-jefferson@fs.fed.us

FAX: (540) 265-5145

USDA Forest Service
Atlantic Coast Pipeline Survey Comments
5162 Valleypointe Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019

For more information, including maps of the three sections of the forest under consideration, see:

Natural Nelson’s Raptor Project

red-shouldered_hawk_taking_flightNatural Nelson‘s mission is to research and catalog those aspects of the natural world which have the greatest degree of federal legal protection, with a mind towards utilizing the data collected to prevent attempts to devastate the countryside. To that end, they are currently focusing their attention on the great diversity and abundance of raptors (hawks, eagles, and falcons) who call Nelson County home. This document about the Nelson County Raptor Project details the actions necessary for interested landowners and concerned citizen volunteers to effectively monitor and collect data on raptors living on land potentially affected by the ACP. There is an accompanying Raptor Project field data sheet.

Press Release: Regulators Fail to Protect Public Interest in Pipeline Process

Read the full press release here.  “FERC’s scoping meeting in Nelson illustrates exactly what so many affected communities around the country have been saying: FERC is an independent governmental agency, funded by the industry it regulates, with no accountability – nor, in their eyes, responsibility to the public,” says Joanna Salidis, President of Friends of Nelson, a group working to oppose Dominion’s pipeline. ….

Friends of Nelson continues to call on FERC and legislators to support a fair, thorough, transparent public process by extending the scoping period, offering another scoping meeting, and rigorously analyzing both the proposed pipeline’s need and alternatives. Friends of Nelson had filed comments with FERC in early March asking for an extension of the period and a postponement of the meeting due to the fact that over 100 property owners in Nelson had been put on the route a few days before the period and meeting were announced. They have also sent letters to legislators asking that they weigh in with FERC to support these requests. “We hear a lot from FERC about their role in ‘mitigating’ impacts – but what we want is a process that honestly weighs public benefit against harm. Nelson and Augusta’s scoping meetings are a perfect example of why we cannot assume this will happen,” says Ernie Reed, of Friends of Nelson. “Legislators have the responsibility to hold FERC accountable.”

Augusta Supervisors Request Second Scoping Meeting

Augusta County Alliance reports that after the shenanigans of the Augusta Scoping Meeting on March 19 in which even the Augusta County Board of Supervisors and the Augusta County Service Authority were cut off in mid-sentence by FERC and not allowed to fully represent the 73,000 citizens of the county, the board voted UNANIMOUSLY to ask FERC to hold another Scoping Meeting in the county – this time with clear rules in place in regard to sign-ups, speaking time, etc. In the same motion they also voted to request that FERC extend the Scoping period 30 days in light of the need to fully research all the new pipeline routes that have recently appeared. We urge Nelson Supervisors to do the same!