SB 614 Dies in Committee

The VA Senate Commerce and Labor committee once again failed to vote out of committee a bill that would have repealed the “Survey without Permission” statute. They “passed by indefinitely” SB 614, the repeal bill. Senator Edwards argued well for SB 614. We thank Friends of Nelson’s Ernie Reed, VA Sierra Club’s Kirk Bowers, Appalachian Voices’ Hannah Wiegard and the property owners from Nelson and Buckingham who made the trip and spoke for SB 614’s passage.  Of course, many energy company lobbyists argued against the bill.

Tomorrow (February 9, 2016) the house version, HB1118, will be heard in the House subcommittee on Energy meeting starting around 4. There is still time to call and email the subcommittee members – or even better to attend the meeting. Talking points and contact info here.

It Sounds Good at First, But Not When You Read Carefully

ModernOrDinosaurU.S. Senators need to hear from the grass roots to defeat this bill. Tell them now to VOTE NO on the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S 2012)! Sec. 3103 undermines the environmental law (NEPA, National Environmental Policy Act) critical for pipeline review by mandating timelines (90 days from “completed” application to approval) and increasing FERC authority to determine the scope of the environmental review.  See here for text of Sec. 3103.

The bill also expedites fracked gas exporting, which induces demand and takes private property for profit for the pipelines that feed it.

Senator contact info is here.

This bill is being promoted as “bipartisan” by a congress desperate to appear functional. Democratic senators are also trying to attach aid for Flint’s water poisoning on to this bill. Whether the latter makes the passage more likely or dooms it is debatable but it increases the pressure to vote yes on a bad bill.

Furthermore….

WarnerKaineSenators Kaine and Warner proposed an amendment to S 2012, the Senate Energy Policy Modernization Act, that would require FERC to address cumulative impacts of pipelines that are in the same state and within 100 miles of each other. FERC is actually required to do this now, but simply declares the absence of all cumulative impacts. The Kaine/Warner amendment would not improve this situation.  We have asked our Senators clearly for a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), which is a regional analysis of all related pipelines’ need, impact and alternatives in a single document — which would be impossible to complete within 90 days and that, as we know, FERC deems outside the scope of the environmental review.

We hope that our Senators will try again and this time get it right – by voting NO on S 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act.

Wintergreen (and the Rest of Us) vs ACP

Read this excellent article from the Richmond Times Dispatch about Dominion’s continued attempts to mislead with their PR about the lack of damage they say the ACP would do to the Blue Ridge, to Wintergreen, to the Rockfish Valley – indeed, to the entire route. The ACP is continuing to answer pertinent questions with platitudes, hoping to sidestep their legal obligation to address these issues. Wintergreen has valid concerns that are not being addressed, just as the valid concerns of residents all along the route are not being addressed.

Meanwhile, says the article, “McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said the governor ‘has been very active’ in trying to bring Wintergreen and Dominion officials to the table.” (That activity must be during the governor’s short breaks between selling the pipeline to anyone who will listen …) How many other property owners receive this type of deference, when it is not their vacation home, nor investments, but their largest and only asset, their home, that is at risk?

Vern Greco, CEO, Pacific Group Resorts and operator of Wintergreen, also quoted in the article on the disastrous effect ot the ACP, says it best: ” ‘Dominion has been … tone-deaf to this. I don’t believe they are looking in earnest at alternative routes right now. I’m not sure the governor is forceful enough in finding a better solution.’ “

Protect Our Environment: Stop the Fracked Gas Pipelines

Join the Piedmont Group, Sierra Club to learn about recent developments and updates on the opposition to natural gas pipelines in Virginia.  Wednesday February 17, 2016, at 7 p.m. at St Mark’s Lutheran Church, 100 Alderman Rd., Charlottesville.   Our panelists include:

  • Joe Lovett, Appalachian Mountain Advocates. A founder of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Joe graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and has litigated many precedent-setting cases against polluters and the agencies that regulate them. APPALMAD is representing the Sierra Club in the pipelines intervention proceedings.
  • Kirk Bowers, Virginia Chapter, Sierra Club. Pipelines campaign manager for 13 Counties in VA and WV organizing and supporting efforts to stop the pipelines in Virginia. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech and is a retired Civil Engineer.

Refreshments provided by the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club. For more information please contact Suzanne at (434) 245-9898 or suzemichels@gmail.com

Refuse Easement Offers!

easement-offersDominion has been making easement offers throughout the route, including in Nelson County, even to people who have denied permission to survey. These offers are NOT the last step before dragging landowners into court to take their property – Dominion cannot use eminent domain until and unless FERC grants them permission at the end of the regulatory process – still at least months away and never if we have anything to say about it! Perhaps Dominion wants to undermine our ability to claim denying survey demonstrates opposition. Perhaps they want to gain leverage with FERC and the courts to lock in their preferred route, a common industry tactic to preclude meaningful consideration of alternatives.

Property owners need to know that they are under no obligation whatsoever to sign these documents and that they can obtain legal counsel with no obligations by speaking to lawyers at Appalachian Mountain Advocates ((304) 645-9006) or with no out of pocket costs by signing with an eminent domain attorney. See this document for eminent domain attorney contact info and other important information for landowners.

PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION TO HELP US REACH LANDOWNERS THROUGHOUT THE ROUTE!

Email and Call Senators Today – Urge Support for SB 726

SB726-call-to-actionThe Virginia Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee will vote on or kill SB 726 this Thursday, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m.

SB 726 would amend a current erosion and sediment control law so that Dominion and other companies would have to submit project specific erosion and sediment control plans to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). This amendment is necessary to force Dominion to create these plans rather than rely on Annual Standards, which do not comply with current VA regulations, and for the public to gain access to them.

If you would like more information, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has lots of information on the DEQ’s lax oversight of gas transmission lines and on the importance of this issue.

Link to a good DPMC article is here.

Here are facts to share with legislators:

  1. The existing law does not require the preparation of erosion and sediment control plans for large utility projects. DEQ has the discretion to require an erosion control plan, but rarely uses the option to require preparation and review of erosion control plans.
  2. The environmental impacts for large utility projects are significant. Existing law does not provide a requirement to verify that erosion control devices are adequate during construction. DEQ does not review plans for large utility projects.
  3. The public has no access to erosion control plans for large utility projects. This revision to the existing law would provide an opportunity for public disclosure through FOIA requests for erosion control plans.
  4. The amendment to existing Code closes a loophole in the law by providing a limit to when erosion control plans are required for large utility projects. Current law gives DEQ the discretion to require erosion control plans, which is never exercised.

These are the Committee members to contact:

Richard Stuart (Chairman) (804) 698-7528 district28@senate.virginia.gov
Emmett Hanger (R) (804) 698-7524 district24@senate.virginia.gov
Frank Ruff (R) (804) 698-7515 district15@senate.virginia.gov
Mark Obenshain (R) (804) 698-7526 district26@senate.virginia.gov
Donald McEachin (D) (804) 698-7509 district09@senate.virginia.gov
Chap Petersen (D) (804) 698-7534 district34@senate.virginia.gov
David Marsden (D) (804) 698-7537 district37@senate.virginia.gov
William Stanley (R) (804) 698-7520 district20@senate.virginia.gov
Richard Black (R) (804) 698-7513 district13@senate.virginia.gov
John Miller (D) (804) 698-7501 district01@senate.virginia.gov
Adam Ebbin (D) (804) 698-7530 district30@senate.virginia.gov
Lynwood Lewis (D) (804) 698-7506 district06@senate.virginia.gov
Ben Chafin (R) (804) 698-7538 district38@senate.virginia.gov
Rosalyn Dance (D) (804) 698-7516 district16@senate.virginia.gov
David Suetterlein (R) (804) 698-7519 district19@senate.virginia.gov

Or email the whole Committee at once! Here are all the email addresses formatted so you can copy and past into the “To” line of your email message:

district28@senate.virginia.gov,district24@senate.virginia.gov,
district15@senate.virginia.gov,district26@senate.virginia.gov,
district09@senate.virginia.gov,district34@senate.virginia.gov,
district37@senate.virginia.gov,district20@senate.virginia.gov,
district13@senate.virginia.gov,district01@senate.virginia.gov,
district30@senate.virginia.gov,district06@senate.virginia.gov,
district38@senate.virginia.gov,district16@senate.virginia.gov,
district19@senate.virginia.gov

Tax Credits for Renewables = Bad Deal for Natural Gas (and ACP)

CPPgas1-16These two graphs show the impact on Clean Power Plan compliance of Congress’s recent decision to extend tax credits for renewables. The left side shows projections of fuel types use without the credits, and the right, with the credits. Green is renewables and orange is ‘natural’ gas. There are lots of other gems in this article, too – like totally flat electricity demands. Note that if Dominion has its way, it doesn’t matter how cheap alternative sources of energy become, Virginians and North Carolinians will be stuck paying the bill for Dominion’s new ‘natural’ gas generation power plants and the ACP. Dominion decides how our state meets the Clean Power Plan through its control of our legislature. Dominion and other ACP partners have sold gas transmission services for profit to their own subsidiaries and defines these contracts as demonstration of ‘customer demand’!

Read the full article here.

High(er) Pollution Levels from Pipelines

A press release from the Virginia Sierra Club discusses a new report finding that “greenhouse gas pollution from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would be almost twice the total climate-changing emissions from existing power plants and other stationary sources in Virginia.”

Read the press release here.

Read the White Paper report here.

Get Up, Stand Up, Join Us – Dinner, Dance, Fundraiser

dance-27feb2016Get Up, Stand Up, Join Us!  Mark your calendars for this positive community event, 7-10 pm at RVCC on February 27, 2016, to raise money to help fight the proposed pipeline and preserve the Nelson County we know and love!

Advance tickets available online here, or at the February 6th Indoor Market at RVCC – at the ‘Pipeline Education Group’ table. Also available at Trager Brothers (RVCC location) and Basic Necessities in Nellysford.

We still need the following items to make this event a success:

  • Someone to oversee tickets; pre-sales and the night of the event
  • More chili with meat brought in a crock pot (already heated)
  • Several 9×12 pans of macaroni and cheese
  • Folks to oversee the food tables the night of
  • About 225 bowls and or small plates for chili and desserts
  • Cups for drinks – about 350
  • Home-made desserts for the bake sale
  • Cakes for the cake walk

Please contact Jean McConkey: (home phone) 434-361-1750 or (cell) 434-989-7931 if you can help out with any of these items, and/or if anyone can help the day of the event with set up or clean up.

Tell your friends and family!  Bring your friends and family!

Help Repeal 56-49.01 (Survey without Permission)

Currently, Dominion is awaiting the outcome of at least 53 suits in Nelson County against property owners who have refused permission to survey. Dominion sued these people to force access to their properties for surveying under VA code 56-49.01, the “Survey without Permission” statute. For the second year in a row, bills have been introduced in the VA House (HB 1118) and Senate (SB 614) to repeal 56-49.01. If 56-49.01 were repealed this session, these Nelson property owners and others on the route in the same position would be able to continue to fight the pipeline on their property.

We have a good sense from experience last year what the legislators will say to each other to kill the repeal bills before they ever get out of committee.

PLEASE CONTACT THE LEGISLATORS BELOW, GIVE THEM SOME FACTS and URGE THEM TO PASS HB 1118/SB 614
Facts to share with legislators:
  1. VA 56-49.01, which HB1118/SB614 repeals – deals ONLY with natural gas pipelines. See 56-49.01 here.
  2. Repealing VA 56-49.01 will not affect surveying for other types of utilities.
  3. VA 56-49.01 was enacted in 2004. It did not replace any other type of legislation that forced people to allow access. Gas pipelines WERE built in VA before 2004. Therefore, there IS a way to survey without forcing people.
  4. Repealing 56-49.01 would provide an incentive, now wholly absent, to companies to propose only responsible, necessary projects that are in the public interest, and to treat property owners fairly.
  5. The Federal Natural Gas Act grants companies the right to force people to allow survey, IF FERC grants the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity at the end of the regulatory process. A judge would determine the terms of access.
  6. WV’s gas pipeline survey law only allows force if the pipeline is deemed in the public interest. 56-49.01 has no such clause.
WHO TO CONTACT:
We’ve provided names, phone numbers, and emails if you want to contact Delegates and Senators individually.  If you want to write one email and send to all, use the grouped email addresses to copy and paste into your email utility.
Special subcommittee on Energy – Subcommittee of the House Commerce and Labor committee – Ask them to support HB 1118!
Del. Terry G. Kilgore (804) 698-1001 DelTKilgore@house.virginia.gov
Del. Kathy J. Byron (804) 698-1022 DelKByron@house.virginia.gov
Del. R. Lee Ware (804) 698-1065 DelLWare@house.virginia.gov
Del. Timothy D. Hugo (804) 698-1040 DelTHugo@house.virginia.gov
Del. Daniel W. Marshall, III (804) 698-1014 DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov
Del. Benjamin L. Cline (804) 698-1024 DelBCline@house.virginia.gov
Del. Jackson H. Miller (804) 698-1050 DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov
Del. G. Manoli Loupassi (804) 698-1068 DelMLoupassi@house.virginia.gov
Del. Gregory D. Habeeb (804) 698-1008 DelGHabeeb@house.virginia.gov
Del. Ronald A. Villanueva (804) 698-1021 DelRVillanueva@house.virginia.gov
Del. Roslyn C. Tyler (804) 698-1075 DelRTyler@house.virginia.gov
Del. Lionell Spruill, Sr. (804) 698-1077 DelLSpruill@house.virginia.gov
Del. Mark L. Keam (804) 698-1035 DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov
Delegates’ emails for copying and pasting in a batch
DelTKilgore@house.virginia.gov, DelKByron@house.virginia.gov, DelLWare@house.virginia.gov, DelTHugo@house.virginia.gov, DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov, DelBCline@house.virginia.gov, DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov, DelMLoupassi@house.virginia.gov, DelGHabeeb@house.virginia.gov, DelRVillanueva@house.virginia.gov, DelRTyler@house.virginia.gov , DelLSpruill@house.virginia.gov, DelMKeam@house.virginia.gov
Senate Commerce and Labor Committee – Ask them to support SB 614!
Senator Frank Wagner (804) 698-7507 district07@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Richard Saslaw (804) 698-7535 district35@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Thomas Norment (804) 698-7503 district03@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Steven Newman (804) 698-7523 district23@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Mark Obenshain (804) 698-7526 district26@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Richard Stuart (804) 698-7528 district28@senate.virginia.gov
Senator William Stanley (804) 698-7520 district20@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Kenneth Alexander (804) 698-7505 district05@senate.virginia.gov
Senator John Cosgrove (804) 698-7514 district14@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Ben Chafin (804) 698-7538 district38@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Rosalyn Dance (804) 698-7516 district16@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Louise Lucas (804) 698-7518 district18@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Ryan McDougle (804) 698-7504 district04@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Richard Black (804) 698-7513 district13@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Glen Sturteyvant (804) 698-7510 district10@senate.virginia.gov
Senators’ emails for copying and pasting in a batch
district07@senate.virginia.gov, district35@senate.virginia.gov, district03@senate.virginia.gov, district23@senate.virginia.gov, district26@senate.virginia.gov, district28@senate.virginia.gov, district20@senate.virginia.gov, district05@senate.virginia.gov, district14@senate.virginia.gov, district38@senate.virginia.gov, district16@senate.virginia.gov, district18@senate.virginia.gov, district04@senate.virginia.gov, district13@senate.virginia.gov, district10@senate.virginia.gov