ABRA-CSI Seeks Help with Aerial Photo Review

Pipeline construction at Grassy Run in Upshur County, West Virginia. An example of the kind of photos that photo reviewers would be examining.

A request from Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA):

ABRA’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance (CSI) program is seeking assistance from knowledgeable individuals who can participate as CSI Aerial Photo Reviewers. Although we especially seek the help of professionals with erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, and other water-resource backgrounds, the involvement of others is welcomed and encouraged. Aerial Photo Reviewers will perform the important task of reviewing aerial imagery and other information related to Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction in order to evaluate both compliance with regulatory requirements and the effectiveness of runoff control measures.

The Pipeline Air Force is currently obtaining hundreds of aerial photos of the 200-mile western mountainous section of the ACP construction route every one-to-two weeks. The photos, along with approved project construction plans and information concerning environmental requirements, can be accessed using the online CSI Mapping System and through the CSI website. Aerial Photo Reviewers will be able to work from any location with access to the internet. See the CSI Aerial Photo Reviewer Guidebook for an overview.

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, please click here.

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):

Air Control Board Defers ACP Permit Vote

The Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board deferred until its December 10, 2018, meeting a decision on a needed air permit for the proposed compressor station in Buckingham County for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The vote was 6-0.

A major reason cited by board members for the deferred vote centered upon concerns over the disproportionate impact the compressor station would have on the minority community of Union Hill and the unsatisfactory response by the Department of Environmental Quality staff to those concerns.

Among the vast array of witnesses who presented testimony before the Board was Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. After pointing out the technical deficiencies in the proposed permit, Buppert reminded the Board that it also had the authority to deny the permit based on environmental justice considerations. He concluded his remarks:

We wouldn’t put this compressor station next to an elementary school. We wouldn’t put it next to the University of Virginia. And we wouldn’t put it next to Monticello. The Board has to decide, if we won’t put it in these places, should Dominion be allowed to put it in the historic African American community in Union Hill.

The Board will be compelled to vote on the permit application at its next meeting in order to comply with a statutory requirement that action on the permit application occur within 90 days of the end of the public comment period, which would be December 20, 2018.

Thanks to ABRA for this article.

Divide and Conquer?

A November 7, 2018, Richmond Times-Dispatch article by Michael Martz, which also appeared in the Daily Progress on November 8, reports that Dominion offers $5.1 million in plan to aid Buckingham community next to pipeline compressor station. Dominion is offering a $5.1 million improvement package to the African-American community that is the site of the proposed compressor station in Buckingham County. The package would include expanded emergency services and a new community center. According to Dominion, the package is “not something that is directly tied to the compressor station air permit. It’s a community need that we want to address.” But the improvement package is contingent on the successful completion of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, whose estimated construction cost has now reached $7 billion (up from the original estimate of $4.5 billion).

Some in the community welcome the package, others deride it. The Rev. Paul Wilson, pastor of the Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches near the proposed compressor station’s 58-acre site, says, “They’re using it as a divide-and-conquer technique.” According to the article, “Wilson said he was part of some discussions with Dominion in its attempt to engage the community, but contends the company deliberately left the church out of the discussions that led to the agreement it reached with other residents.”

Live Stream from Thursday Air Pollution Control Board Meeting

Live from Richmond at the Air Pollution Control Board meeting on Thursday November 8, 2018, as the Board hears testimony on the air pollution permit for the proposed fracked-gas Buckingham Compressor Station.

4th Circuit Court Stays ACP Permit in WV

On Wednesday November 7, 2018, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a temporary halt to the water-crossing permit allowing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to build through streams and rivers in West Virginia. Although the Army Corps of Engineers had issued a “Nationwide Permit 12,” the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection inserted two stipulations, requiring that stream crossings must be completed in 72 hours, and that structures authorized by the permit could not impede fish from swimming upstream or downstream. ACP then changed its construction method for crossing the Greenbrier River to a method environmental lawyers say violates the WV DEP conditions.

The Corps reinstated their permit in October, and last week Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of the Sierra Cub, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Appalachian Voices, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, asked the 4th Circuit Court for a stay to pause the construction. The Court issued the two-page order from Chief Judge Roger Gregory, with the concurrence of Judge James Wynn and Judge Stephanie Thacker.

Read the Court’s order here.

Charleston Gazette-Mail press coverage is here.