‘Gas Apocalypse’ Looms Amid Power Plant Construction Boom

A May 23, 2017 Bloomberg article discusses how the glut of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale has led to a massive boom in construction of new power plants. Dozens have been built in the last two years alone, adding a huge amount of power generation to a region that alredy has more than it needs. “There isn’t nearly enough electricity demand to support all the new capacity. And as wholesale electricity prices plunge, industry experts are anticipating a fire sale of scores of plants in the region. Many, in fact, have already been sold along the PJM Interconnection LLC grid, the nation’s largest, encompassing 13 states from Virginia to Illinois.” The slowdown in closures of coal-fired power plants resulting from more favorable policies under the Trump administration makes for an even bigger glut of power plants.

Yet despite decreasing demand for power and more power plants than needed, Dominion continues to insist it needs the ACP to meet increasing demand.

Veterans Voice Concern Over Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Four veterans spoke out Thursday, May 25, about fundamental problems they see with both the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline projects.  They said they are “willing to defend their country and are going to defend their communities too.”

Retired U.S. Army officer Russell Chisholm said, “It’s really become about the control of state governments, abuse of vulnerable communities by the extraction industries.”

And retired U.S. Air Force Col. Dave Belote added,”My plea to the governor, to anyone who is elected into that role this November is stop looking backwards, let’s look forwards and let’s make the Commonwealth of Virginia a hub of clean renewable energy.”

And on May 25, 2017, members of the Veterans Service Corps sent a letter to Governor McAuliffe stating their opposition to the ACP and MVP.  “These pipelines are not in the best interest of the people and we will not allow Dominion and the fossil fuel industry to put citizens in danger for the sake of their pocketbooks.”

Friends of Nelson Press Release: McAuliffe Administration Drops Water Quality Analysis for Virginia Pipelines

Friends of Nelson Press Release, May 25, 2017
Contact: Ernie Reed, Friends of Nelson, 434-249-8330

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has reversed itself, saying that the state agency will not require specific water quality impact analysis for water crossings for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

Contrary to what was reported April 7, DEQ will not require Mountain Valley Pipeline or Atlantic Coast Pipeline to provide details to the department about individual crossings of streams and wetlands to ensure that they will all comply with state water quality standards.[1]

“DEQ is now deciding, unjustifiably, to evade its responsibility to make detailed and public reviews of all threats to water quality posed by these pipeline proposals,” said Ernie Reed, President of Friends of Nelson. “It is the only governmental defense the people have for the protection of our precious and irreplaceable water supplies.”

On April 6, 2017 the DEQ issued a press release affirming that it would conduct individual reviews of waterbody crossings by both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines in Virginia. In that press release, DEQ spokesperson Bill Hayden stated that “these certifications will ensure that Virginia water quality standards are maintained in all areas affected by the projects” and that “the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on these certifications and the conditions required to protect water quality.” In an email from Mr. Hayden that was quoted in the Roanoke Times, Mr. Hayden elaborated on the press release, saying that “[t]he certification looks at each wetland, stream crossing, etc. separately to determine specific requirements that would be necessary”.[2]

Now, James Golden, DEQ’s director of operations, says that “inadequate communication between the department’s technical and public affairs staff led to the publication of an inaccurate description of DEQ’s plans to assess the potential water quality impacts of the two natural gas pipeline projects.”

“For the past seven weeks, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Governor McAuliffe have lived a lie,” Reed said. “Without detailed water analysis, state and federal agencies, impacted localities and property owners, and the public, are left with nothing but the governor’s active suppression of critical information.”

Dozens of citizen groups have worked tirelessly to advocate for a state-level environmental analysis that is more detailed and site-specific than the blanket Federal ”nation-wide” analysis done by the Army Corps of Engineers. A letter to Governor McAuliffe from the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, which documents ongoing communication with the DEQ on this issue, states that “the (DEQ) did not analyze the suitability of (a nation-wide permit) to meet Virginia Water Quality Standards,” and asks “why has the public been misled about your administration’s intentions?”[3]

It was the conclusion and implementation of a state-level water impact analysis in New York State that blocked the construction of the Constitution Pipeline in New York. (On May 16, that decision was appealed by Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC, which proposed the project.) [4]

“The governor’s boast that the ACP would be “the most environmentally responsible pipeline . . . ever built in the history of the United States of America”[5] is “utterly baseless,” Reed said. “The governor would like to bury what a detailed analysis would reveal.”

[1] http://www.roanoke.com/business/news/deq-acknowledges-error-clarifies-approach-to-review-of-pipelines/article_2ea11f0c-1fac-5531-aaae-ba6d7f0b2e0c.html

[2] Duncan Adams, Roanoke Times, DEQ to require pipeline projects to secure state water quality certfication, April 6, 2017, http://www.roanoke.com/business/business/news/frankin_county/deq-to-require-pipeline-projects-to-secure-state-water-quality/article_b146ff9c-af82-500e-af72-eec4077062e2.html

[3] http://pipelineupdate.org/2017/05/25/governor-mcauliffe-must-act-now/

[4] http://constitutionpipeline.com/constitution-pipeline-challenges-decision-by-new-york-state-to-block-federally-approved-pipeline/

[5] Governor McAuliffe, Press Conference endorsing Atlantic Coast Pipeline, September 2, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMn16nJx7OU.  

DEQ Renegs on Commitment


Virginia’s Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced on April 6, 2017, that it would conduct full, site-specific regulatory reviews for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline under the Clean Water Act and state law. Seven weeks later, on May 24, 2017, DEQ says inaccurate information was provided to the public, and that the DEQ will instead rely on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to examine stream crossings, which will number in the hundreds for each project. Perhaps they should be renamed as the Dept. of Environmental Laxity?

Information, responses, and press coverage of this betrayal of responsibility:

Let the Governor Hear from You!

Tell Governor McAuliffe you will not accept his administration’s failure to do its duty, to protect Virginia’s water and its people – as he has repeatedly promised. Send an email to Governor McAuliffe (c/o Chief of Staff Paul Reagan at paul.reagan@governor.virginia.gov). Or call his office, at 804-786-2211.

Hearings on Trump FERC Nominees


Hearings on Trump’s nominations to FERC, Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson, will be held on Thursday May 25, 2017. Articles in PV Magazine and in Oil Change International discuss the shortcomings of both FERC and the nominees. As Oil Change International notes, “What’s urgently needed at FERC is reform of pipeline permitting processes to square with scientific and economic reality, and serve the public interest. Unfortunately, it appears that Trump’s nominees – Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee – would bring the exact opposite: more reliable rubber stamps for the gas industry.” The hearing will be webcast live here starting approximately fifteen minutes before the hearing begins, and an archived video will be available shortly after the hearing is complete.

Give McAuliffe a Compass


Save the Appalachian trail from pipelines – come to Richmond on June 2, 2017!

On the eve of National Trails Day, Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is inviting all Virginia trail hikers – and everyone else that cares about our Appalachian Trail – to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s house so we can give him a compass. We’ll take a lunchtime hike with backpacks around Capitol Square to raise awareness on the pipelines’ impacts on the Appalachian Trail. Gather on Friday June 2, 2017 at the Bell Tower at the Virginia Capitol, noon-1:30. Bring your backpack, water, and if you desire, a compass to give to Governor McAuliffe.

RSVP here.

The Governor supports two massive pipelines for fracked gas that, if built, would dramatically harm the Appalachian Trail. Terry McAuliffe, in other words, is clearly LOST, and he needs our help. Come to Richmond on June 2nd with all your backpacking gear – and bring a compass to give to the Governor.

There are three things all hikers depend on:

  • The first is access to clean, reliable water along the trail. Without water, we cannot hike. With the Governor’s support, companies like Dominion Energy, EQT & NextEra want to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) for fracked gas. These pipelines would plow through geologically fragile areas that could threaten not only water along the trail, but water for farmers and communities across 13 counties.
  • The second is our appreciation for beautiful mountain vistas. Along the Virginia AT, those vistas include places like Angel’s Rest, the Dragon Tooth, and Kelly Knob. But the ACP and MVP could harm all this, each crossing the AT with great impact. The companies want to clear cut and then blast off the tops of at least 38 miles of ridgetops – some within view of the AT — across Virginia and West Virginia to make room for the pipelines’ wide paths. They will decapitate these mountains. And the views and ecological health of places like Angel’s Rest and Dragon Tooth will be severely impacted.
  • Which is why Governor McAuliffe needs the third thing critical to hikers: a compass! He needs to chart a new course that opposes these pipelines and protects our Appalachian Trail.

Join CCAN on Friday June 2nd, in Richmond with all your backpacking gear, where we’ll give the Governor a compass and ask him to do the right thing.