Join us on Sunday June 30, 2019, for an informative meeting at the Nelson Center, 8445 Thomas Nelson Hwy (Rt. 29), Lovingston. We’ll have two excellent speakers:
Dr. Mary Finley-Brook, Associate Professor of Geography, Environmental Studies & Global Studies at University of Richmond – she’ll speak on “Dirty BIG Secrets: The Real Impact of Fossil Fuel Development” Her talk will highlight locations (termed ‘Sacrifice zones’) where air and water pollution caused by fossil fuel development has had a negative effect on the health and well being of low income communities. She will offer a detailed description of the high social costs and poor record of environmental management of these sites which include the Charles City Gas Plants, the ACP Marts Compressor station, coal dust in Norfolk and Newport News and landfill gas in Cumberland County.
Anne Witt, Geohazards Specialist at Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy – she’ll speak on “Landslides Associated with Hurricane Camille, 1969” Her talk will include a PowerPoint using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) imagery to show where and why the soil started to slide and the consequences of the storm. She has been researching landslides in this area of the country for some time and can show historically that this is one of the most landslide-prone areas of the entire United States. She has tracked more than 5,000 landslides caused by Hurricane Camille in Nelson County.
PLUS – Pipeline CSI updates and legal news/status.
The Recorder, the newspaper covering Virginia’s Bath and Highland counties, marked the fifth year of the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline with a series of articles summarizing events since May 2014:
No further work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline should occur until safety threats can be fully assessed and remedied according to a comprehensive letter sent this week to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In a June 10 letter to PHMSA Administrator Howard Elliott, William Limpert, a Bath County, VA landowner whose property would be adversely impacted by the ACP and who is a member of ABRA’s Steering Committee, warned about the “threat to public safety from the ACP from landslides and earth movement, but other public safety concerns exist as well. These include risks from flooding, karst terrain, difficult construction in extreme terrain, and degradation of the pipe exterior corrosion protection from excessive exposure to sunlight during storage.”
Continuing, Limpert wrote:
“I am aware that FERC approves the siting of interstate natural gas pipelines, and that FERC allows an operator’s hired consultant to perform a geohazard assessment. This puts PHMSA in the unenviable position of insuring public safety on a project that PHMSA neither approves nor assesses for geohazards. That, along with the current proliferation of new natural gas pipelines, and your limited staff makes your job a difficult one. Nevertheless, I believe that you have the authority to adequately protect the public safety if you act aggressively, use all of the tools at your disposal, and do not allow the industry to control your agenda.
“I appreciate the recent PHMSA Advisory Bulletin ADB-2019-02 regarding the threat to pipelines from landslides, earth movement, and other geological hazards. The bulletin lists a large number of recent pipeline failures. These failures indicate that current practices are not sufficient to protect the public safety., especially from a project as fraught with peril as the ACP. I applaud the comprehensive list of suggestions to operators in the bulletin to improve safety. Nevertheless, I believe that most operators will not act on PHMSA suggestions. I believe that PHMSA needs to require operators to make safety upgrades, or they won’t be done.”
On June 12, 2019, the Energy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a live-streamed hearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) commissioners to discuss “Oversight of FERC: Ensuring Its Actions Benefit Consumers and the Environment.” The Committee memorandum announcing the hearing is here.
In a setback for the Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has denied a key water quality permit for the proposed pipeline. The 72-mile extension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline would run through Virginia’s Pittsylvania County, and then through Rockingham and Alamance Counties in North Carolina. The permit is required under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act and would allow the pipeline company to temporarily or permanently impact multiple streams, wetlands and more than eight acres of protected riparian buffers in the Haw River watershed. Submitted in November 2018, the permit application is incomplete without information from FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is not expected until July.
On June 8, 2019, Bridging the Gap kicked off a week-long solar installation and environmental health training in Buckingham County. In this video from the kick-off event, Richard Walker, CEO of Bridging the Gap, introduces Basil Gooden, Jon Sokolow and Karen Campblin Jon Sokolow, writer, attorney, activist, fighting the Atlantic Coast & Mountain Valley Pipelines speaks about 3 Amicus Briefs filed June 7, 2019 in support of Southern Environmental Law Center’s filing on May 31 on behalf of the Union Hill Community. Karen Campblin, VA NAACP Environmental Justice Chair speaks about their recent meeting with AG Mark Herring and specifically about the woes of the Southside Connector, another environmental justice disaster.
Bridging the Gap In Virginia has received a grant from Mertz Gilmore Foundation to sponsor a solar installation and environmental health training program in the Union Hill area of Buckingham County, for the benefit of the African-American community, where Union Hill struggles economically and many leave in search of work. Their vision is to provide good jobs for the residents of Union Hill while starting a green workforce development program that mentors formerly incarcerated individuals and at-risk youth in the areas of solar installation, energy audits and conservation (i.e., weatherization, efficiency) and in-door environmental health (i.e., lead testing and encapsulation, mold remediation, and air quality monitoring).