New Study on Pipeline Expansion Risks

A new study – “Risks Associated With Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion in Appalachia” – was released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) on April 27th. The study addresses pipeline safety issues, the “push to build new pipelines,” the subsequent high failure rate, and the shouldering of costs by ratepayers. The study concludes that the push to fast-track the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines are tell-tale signs of infrastructure overbuilding and are a threat to both ratepayers and property owners along the proposed route.

A few of the study’s key points:

bullet-pts-ieefa-1
Read the full study here.

Dominion Double-Speak

There is a big difference between what Dominion says in PR mode and what they say to (for example) the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). You decide which to believe….

On Dominion’s ACP Facebook page, everything sounds just wonderful in two recent Q&A posts:

  • April 22, 2016 Q&A: How has community input and engagement helped shape the ACPipeline?
    The project team has held over 30 Open Houses and met with thousands of landowners, elected officials and others to share information, identify concerns and solicit feedback.  We’ve also reviewed more than 3,000 miles of potential routes and considered input from landowners and stakeholders before determining the proposed route. Hundreds of alterations have been made based on public input, field surveys, and other data — in an effort to continuously improve the project and minimize impact.
  • April 27, 2016 Q&A: Are there any public or private water wells that would be impacted by the alternative route?We are required by FERC to document all public and private water wells within 150 ft. of the route, so we will gather that information as we perform surveys on the alternative route in the coming months. In areas with karst and shallow bedrock, we will identify all wells within 500 ft. of the route. We take a number of precautions to avoid impacting water sources during construction, but the first step is performing the surveys so we can identify where those resources are located. Because we are looking for wells as far as 500 ft. away from the route, we will be contacting landowners who may not have heard from us previously. Again, this is a voluntary program to identify and record the existence and performance of the wells today, so we can understand if or how the construction may have any impact in the future. [150 feet? 500 feet? never mind that the blast area for the ACP is hugely more that either figure]

Contrast those rose-colored glasses statements to landowners and the general public with information Dominion has filed with the SEC, quoted in the must-read article in the Staunton News Leader.

“But Dominion has warned investors there are ‘many risks associated with the Companies’ operations and the transportation, storage and processing of natural gas.’ Some of those risks include ‘fires, explosions, uncontrolled release of natural gas and other environmental hazards.  Such incidents could result in loss of human life or injuries among employees, customers or the public in general, environmental pollution, damage or destruction of facilities or business interruptions and associated public or employee safety impacts, loss of revenues, increased liabilities, heightened regulatory scrutiny and reputational risk,’ the company states in SEC filings.”

Natural Gas Pipelines in Appalachia

Two good things from Appalachian Voices:

An excellent and comprehensive article on the question of need: What’s Coming Down the Natural Gas Pipeline, by Elizabeth E. Payne

A Webinar on Tuesday May 3 at 2 pm on Paying for the Pipelines: The high cost of switching to natural gas. Join the webinar, featuring a panel of experts, and find out more about the proposed expansion natural gas infrastructure in Appalachia. The speakers will provide information about the expected costs of these projects, both financial and environmental, and discuss the impact they would have on local communities and landscapes. They will also be available to answer your questions in this live presentation!  Register here (no charge, but you need to register so the organizers can give you details of how to participate).

Solarize Nelson Information Seminar

solar-panelsOn Tuesday May 3, 2016, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Rockfish Community Center, the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) will be hosting an informative workshop. Come learn about solar energy technology and today’s opportunities to turn solar into savings. LEAP will introduce you to the Solarize Nelson campaign which was created to provide you with great prices on a superior solar installation from quality contractors. The campaign is open to residents and businesses in the County of Nelson through June 15. This workshop will help you determine whether solar panels are a smart choice for your home or business and provide information on equipment, potential cost savings, tax incentives, and special financing. Presented by the non-profit Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) with help from local solar installation experts. Please r.s.v.p. by calling 434-282-2390, or email info@solarizeva.org.

A Pipeline Defeated: Lessons to Learn

This excellent essay about the defeat of the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline validates and amplifies our concerns about the ACP. Far too many local governments along the proposed ACP route have believed the ACP’s propaganda, rather than listened to and worked for their citizens the way leaders in this New Hampshire town did. Why? How can we increase this type of unified action? “This [NED] pipeline project brought together a truly remarkable confederation of anti-pipeline activists and groups that are usually at each other’s throats: libertarian Free Staters, Greens, conservatives, liberals, because the pipeline cut through all their concerns like a septic artery carrying poisoned blood.”

Horizons Village Blocks Dominion Access to Roads

As you can see from our previous post, Dominion is now planning access roads for construction and maintenance of the ACP. Horizons Village Property Owners Association (HVPOA) has written to ACP/Dominion, with a copy to FERC, noting that

  • Va. Code 56-49.01 provides that Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (“ACP”) may use motor vehicles, self-propelled machinery, and power equipment on private property only after receiving the permission of the landowner or his agent
  • On March 16, 2016, ACP filed a route adjustment with FERC showing the pipeline route crossing Bobcat Trail, which is private property owned by HVPOA
  • ACP has failed to notify the HVPOA of its plan to use HVPOA property
  • ACP filed a route adjustment with FERC prior to notifying the owner of the affected land

HVPOA in their letter specifically denies ACP permission to use their private roads for any purpose. Those of you who live on private roads or in subdivisions with private roads might consider writing similar letters. Full text of the letter is here.

Will Dominion Build Access Roads on Your Property?

ACP-temp-roads-15apr2016Thanks to Free Nelson for the alert about this important information for landowners in the path of the ACP. Supplemental ACP information filed with the FERC includes topographic maps for temporary access roads to be built and used during construction. Recent FERC submittals and information from local landowners indicate that in some cases private property owners have not been notified of these access roads. The file is large, but the Nelson route, moving west to east, is on pages 51-57. Notice the length, number, and locations of the temporary access roads, and check to see if your property is affected. Also included are water impoundments which may indicate areas where they plan to drain our rivers and streams for hydrostatic testing and manual shut-off valves. Temporary work spaces are noted in light green, but difficult to spot in some cases. Free Nelson counted 25 temporary access roads in Nelson.

Knit-In for Clean Water

knit-in-clean-water-27apr2016The Knitting Nannas of Virginia are organizing a protest, but you don’t need to knit! The release of contaminated water from Dominion’s Bremo Bluff coal ash ponds into the James begins Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Join the protest from 10 am to noon, by land near the Dominion plant and by water in front of the plant. Don’t knit? No problem–YOU are needed to join the protest. Bring signs, chairs…and your knitting, if you like. Gather at the Grace Episcopal Church parking lot in Bremo Bluff. Or, bring your kayaks/canoes/boats and gather at the New Canton public boat launch. Questions? Email Marion Kanour: mkanour@gmail.com

Appalmad Challenges Lax Pipeline Survey Practice

fields-forests-riversOn April 18, 2016, Appalachian Mountain Advocates (APPALMAD) appealed and moved the Supreme Court of Virginia for an emergency stay of a ruling allowing Atlantic Coast Pipeline surveyors to enter private property in Buckingham County without giving landowners notice of the specific date of entry, despite the fact that the pipeline builder has not been granted the right of eminent domain.

Va. Code Ann. 56-49.01(C)(ii) requires that the notice “set forth the date of the intended entry.” But ACP’s notice told landowners only that survey crews would enter their property after a particular date – leaving landowners to guess when surveyors would actually show up. Appalachian Mountain Advocates is asking the Virginia Supreme Court to reverse this ruling and clarify that the statute requires notice of the precise entry date so that, since the surveys are very intrusive and will last several days, landowners can be home when the surveys actually occur.

Read Appalmad’s full announcement of their motion to the Court.