April 2018 News

April 2018

4-30-18 Roanoke TImes. ATV traffic on the Appalachian Trail is the latest Mountain Valley Pipeline controversy. “Although motorized traffic is generally prohibited, Mountain Valley security crews and U.S. Forest Service officials have been driving all-terrain vehicles on the trail to reach an area where pipeline protesters are stationed at the top of Peters Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest. ‘Motorized use is antithetical to the wilderness experience of the Appalachian Trial,’ said Andrew Downs, regional director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. After receiving a complaint Sunday about ATV traffic on an approximately quarter-mile section of the trail that runs along the edge of Giles County, Downs contacted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is overseeing construction of the natural gas pipeline. A FERC official looked into the matter and was told that the Forest Service authorized the use of ATVs, according to FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen. Forest Service officials have also been four-wheeling on the trail, she said. Joby Timm, the Roanoke-based supervisor of the Jefferson National Forest, said through a spokeswoman only that his agency was looking into the matter.”

4-30-18 Washington Post. A fight for power in rural Virginia. Opinion piece by Tom Perriello and Tom Cormons. “The Terrys’ stand is more than one family’s battle to save its homeplace. It is emblematic of the conflict between powerfully connected energy companies and the people Bruce McKay, an executive at the energy behemoth and pipeline developer Dominion Energy, derided in a Post interview last fall as the ‘general citizenry,’ bemoaning their increasing influence on energy issues. …. Northam has embraced ‘the Virginia way’ for his leadership style. At its best, the Virginia way is about different sides working together for common-sense solutions. At its worst, critics deride it as a pay-to-play system of backroom deals advancing the interests of the biggest companies with the most powerful lobbyists. Sometimes moral leadership is not about choosing between yes and no, but hitting pause until one has both the facts and the trust of affected citizens. How his administration handles this tense situation will say much about Northam’s vision of the way forward.”

4-29-18 News Virginian. Opinion: We must be ‘The Man in the Arena’  “Thomas Jefferson worried that as elected representatives became physically separated from their constituents they would care less about serving the folks back home and more about serving themselves. ‘Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must from the circumstances of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens; the same circumstances, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite public agents to corruption, plunder and waste.’ Take a minute to just savor this assessment and how prescient it was to the political condition of today.

4-29-18 Roanoke Times. Pipeline will probably kill people. “The Mountain Valley Pipeline will probably kill people. I don’t mean from the explosions and leaks that occur along natural gas pipelines. And I don’t mean from the construction accidents that may well occur along the MVP’s insanely steep route through our mountains. I mean from the forcible use of privately-owned land to build the pipeline. During the years since the pipeline began roaring its insistence that it be built from West Virginia through six Virginia counties, a coterie of knowledgeable Roanokers has been watching the news with painful familiarity. They know what it does to people when private enterprise takes property against their will. …. We are now witnessing yet another health threat emanating from the abandonment of Virginians’ private property rights. The MVP aims to plow through Giles, Craig, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties. Farmers and homeowners whose rural land often has been in their families for generations are being forced to allow easements for the 42-inch pipeline to be buried across their acreage, often within sight of their homes. Water sources will be threatened; 125-feet paths must be cleared; property values likely will dive. The same drama is playing out a few counties north and east of here, where other investors are also pushing their will through state and federal agencies to build yet another conveyor of natural gas, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

4-28-18 Blue Virginia. Attempt to Provide Medical Care to Bent Mountain Treesitters Blocked. After visiting Red and Minor Terry to provide medical care, Physician Paige Perriello writes, “We asked law enforcement on the ground if we could go up to her treehouse to do this – they deferred to other law enforcement who were not present. We later sought out those police officers in the parking lot to ask and they deferred – to their public information officer. Not surprisingly, that person did not answer the phone when we called. We did the best job we could taking a history from her by shouting across the police tape up to her tree, but sadly we were not allowed to cross over to check her face to face. When we asked if we could send medical supplies up to her they wouldn’t even let us send up skin creams and vitamins. To see this woman putting her life at risk not able to even access a basic physical exam – to be denied this basic medical care – was horrifying. I won’t soon forget Red’s parting words to us ‘My health is just fine, I just have a broken heart.’ Looking out on her pristine mountain and bubbling clear stream, with trees cut down all around her, my heart broke also.”

4-28-18 Blue Virginia. A Visit to “Red,” “Nutty” and Two NFS Officers: My Name Is Henry Howell, Bar Number 22274, Write That Down! “Our government’s torture of a non-violent United States citizen who is exercising her First Amendment rights and its agents’ attack on the First Amendment of all citizens is at the behest of Mountain Valley Pipeline for it to make profits. Our government has sold our First Amendment rights to the highest corporate bidder. They must know how much faster and more effective business and government can work if we simply eliminate the First Amendment. Everyone was going to see ‘Red’ Terry in Roanoke County on her family land, but no one was going to see ‘Nutty’ sitting in a tree in our National Forest. Why? In Red’s case, the extended family and friends who sit vigil 24 hours a day have the path to Red made easy with little foot bridges built over a stream and a creek. Thanks to Delegate Sam Rasoul, the corporate media, citizen journalists, activists and others, Red started getting jail food from her guards on Sunday last. In Nutty’s case, the National Forest Service has made reaching Nutty impossible for all but the fit and hearty with great quads and joints. That’s not me, but I did not know it until 45 minutes into the hour and a half cross-county hike through some of the steepest terrain up on the mountain.” Henry Howell thells the story of his visit to “Nutty.

4-28 18 Blue Virginia. Video: Almost a Year Ago, Ralph Northam PROMISED to Hold Focus Groups on the Pipelines. Since Then…Crickets? “It’s been almost a year since Ralph Northam PROMISED – in response to a question (see video below) about the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines: ‘Pam, my wife, and I are going to go around, we want to sit down, we want to have focus groups and talk about how we an protect our environment as best we can, how we can use what leverage we have to make it safe, to make it scientific, to make it transparent, to protect people’s property rights…let’s sit down, put our heads together and talk about as a group how we can move forward…we’re trying to set up times.’ OK, so have I missed something here? Has Ralph Northam held a single ‘focus group’ with concerned citizens on these pipelines? Let alone, has he gone out to visit the tree and ‘monopod’ sitters first hand? If not, why not?”

4-27-18 WDBJ7. Battle over pipeline protest headed to federal court next week. “The Mountain Valley Pipeline is asking a federal judge to hold members of the Terry family in contempt of court, as two tree-sitters continue their protests on Bent Mountain. A hearing is scheduled next week in Roanoke federal court. In a recent statement, MVP said the individuals who are obstructing construction activities are in clear violation of court orders. A spokesperson said it’s unfortunate the company has had to take additional steps to enforce existing injunctions. Justin Lugar is one of the attorneys who represents Red Terry. ‘Our position is we’re not in violation of the court order,’ Lugar told WDBJ7 on Friday afternoon, ‘and we look forward to having the court hear that.’ And Lugar said it’s important to recognize that constitutional questions are at the root of this dispute. ‘The idea or the notion that a private company can obtain the power of the federal government to condemn property for a private use, and for a private gain is fundamentally at odds with our constitutional rights,’ he said.”

4-27-18 Medium. Pipeline Heroes Targeted For Exercising Constitutional Right to Peaceful Protest. “Across the country, protestors are standing against pipelines large and small. In almost every instance, they find themselves facing local law enforcement, often armed, siding with industry over people, an industry that is seeking to strip protestors of their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly. …. In addition to the actions of law enforcement, states are proposing and passing laws intended to silence communities, strip them of their constitutional right to speak out in the face of injustice, and prevent their non-violent protests against pipelines and other social justice issues.”

4-27-18 ProPubica. The Coal Industry Extracted a Steep Price From West Virginia. Now Natural Gas Is Leading the State Down the Same Path. “Today, West Virginia’s headlong race into the gas rush is taking the state down the same path that it’s been on for generations with coal. Elected officials have sided with natural gas companies on tax proposals and property rights legislation. Industry lobbyists have convinced regulators to soften new rules aimed at protecting residents and their communities from drilling damage …. ‘It’s déjà vu for the people who sat here 130 years ago and gave away our coal wealth to big out-of-state companies,’ one state senator said. ‘That’s what we’re about to do again.'”

4-26-18 Medium. Police Powers and Red Terry. “I think it’s time to examine the role the police assume when they go to extremes to protect the interests of a private corporation. …. In the Terry family case, our police powers are being wielded as a special favor to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. An ordinary citizen would not be able to get constant police presence. The police would not give around the clock protection to a battered woman no matter how legitimate her need or fear. …. Anyone who believes that law and morality are parallel lines is naïve. Law and the people who enforce and interpret it have a tendency to veer off into the tangent necessary to protect the powerful and the connected. Once in a while it takes people like Theresa Red Terry and her daughter to remind us that the lines need to be set right.”

4-26-18 Brit.co. From Tree-Sitters to Water Protectors: Meet the Women On the Front Lines of Eco-Activism. ” “‘Well, I’m currently based in a tree.’ That’s how one anonymous 22-year-old eco-activist with the group Appalachians Against Pipelines answered when we asked where she’s working. The activist is a member of a pipeline resistance group called Appalachians Against Pipelines, and she’s camped out high up in a tree in the Peters Mountain area of Jefferson National Forest in West Virginia. She’s one of a handful of activists who have been camping out in located within the National Forest since February, part of an effort to stop a pipeline from being constructed there. There are many other activists on the front lines of direct action eco-activism projects, and a great number of them happen to be women. These activists are dedicated to not only protecting the environment but also empowering themselves to keep environmentally destructive pipelines out of their communities.”

4-26-18 Blue Virginia. Citizens call outside attention to plight of landowners and communities affected by pipelines. “Concerned citizens protested outside of Governor Northam’s office and at the Capitol Grounds in opposition to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines and in opposition to the harmful effects these projects have on communities along their proposed paths. From 10:00 to 10:30am, fifteen activists chanted, sang and spoke about the threats raised by the MVP and ACP. At 10:30, members of the group, some who had traveled from their homes in Nelson and Buckingham Counties, delivered a letter and two gifts to the Governor. This was followed by a rally at the Bell Tower from 11:15am to 12:00pm. These actions, which will next occur on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, continue the weekly protests addressing issues related to the two fracked-gas pipelines.” Includes videos and photos.

4-25-18 Washington Post. Va. governor says tree sitters’ pipeline protest is ‘unlawful,’ cites health concern. “Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that it’s ‘unlawful’ for a mother and daughter to sit in trees and block a natural gas pipeline across their property outside Roanoke, and that he’s particularly worried about the older woman’s health. But Northam (D) stopped short of saying he would order state police to do anything to resolve the standoff. …. Northam had not previously criticized the women for their stand but on Wednesday called it ‘unfortunate.'”

4-25-18 Sierra Club Press Release. Atlantic Coast Pipeline Opponents Rally Outside Bank of America Shareholder Meeting in Charlotte. “A crowd of activists rallied today outside of a meeting of Bank of America’s shareholders and executives to call on the Charlotte-based bank to drop its financing of dirty and destructive fossil fuel projects. Bank of America is one of the leading banks on a multibillion-dollar loan covering half the construction cost of Duke and Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP),with Bank of America committing $225 million to the credit facility.”

4-25-18 Roanoke Times. Editorial: The forest and the trees. “Why do the conservative arguments for business and fossil fuels trump the conservative arguments for property rights? Once again, the question comes back to the law, which says the pipeline company’s rights to perform work on court-ordered easements override those of the individual landowners along the route. That’d hardly a new concept; it’s rooted in a U.S. Constitution that allows eminent domain for projects deemed to be in the public interest. That begs the question of whether the MVP is in the public interest, but federal regulators have said that is. Everything flows from that. Many conservatives drive with license plates that proclaim “don’t tread on me.” Why don’t more conservatives see those landowners as the ones being trod upon? Instead of defending inanimate Confederate statues, why aren’t they rallying around a flesh-and-blood property owner standing up to the federal government? These seem good philosophical questions, perhaps even ones to ponder while sitting up in a tree. But none of them seem likely to change things.”

4-25-18 Roanoke Times. Attorneys warn that Giles pipeline protester could die if denied sustenance. “A protester could die if authorities continue to deny her food and water as she nears one month atop a pole blocking construction of a natural gas pipeline, two attorneys say in a letter to the U.S. Forest Service. Since March 28, the woman has been living on a small platform suspended from a 50-foot pole. The barricade was erected in the middle of an access road needed to build a segment of the Mountain Valley Pipeline through the Jefferson National Forest in Giles County. Forest Service law enforcement officers have cordoned off the so-called monopod sitter and are preventing supporters in a nearby camp from supplying her with food and water, according to court documents. ‘The Forest Service’s actions in continuing to starve her out are tantamount to torture and contrary to human rights and international law,’ Floyd County attorneys Alan Graf and Tammy Belinsky wrote in a letter faxed Wednesday to Roanoke-based Forest Supervisor Joby Timm. ‘Mr. Timm, you have a duty to protect the health and welfare of a United States citizen,’ the letter stated. ‘The death or significant injury to the pod-sitter will be on your shoulders should that transpire.'”

4-25-18 CBS19. Kaine criticizes federal approval for ACP. “U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is criticizing how a federal agency gave approval to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. He says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission did not do a good enough job getting public feedback about the project. Kaine says there was not enough notice for residents about public hearings and some of the hearing were held far from the landowners’ properties. He also said some of the comments that were submitted were not transcribed accurately. Kaine raised further concerns over how the project to trying to take land through eminent domain.”

4-25-18 Cision. Jury Sides with Property Owners in Eminent Domain Suit with Sabal Trail Pipeline. “The first jury trial involving landowners who had easement rights taken by Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, under the power of eminent domain proceeded in federal court two weeks ago before U.S. District Court Judge James S. Moody, Jr. in Ocala, Florida. …. As reflected in the court’s docket, the jury rendered a verdict in the amount of $309,500. This, of course, is over five-times the amount offered by Sabal and $500 less than Ray’s estimate. After trial, Brigham stated, ‘The virtue and value of property rights is protected when we allow juries to measure the compensation when property is taken without the consent of the owner. This is true in takings by government and, perhaps, even more so when the power of eminent domain is borrowed by a for-profit company, like Sabal Trail.'”

4-24-2018 WDBJ7. Governor defends oversight of pipeline projects. “Governor Ralph Northam says he has confidence in the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the state’s ability to monitor and regulate construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. ‘Are you confident that DEQ is up to the challenge,’ we asked?. ‘Absolutely, the DEQ is doing good work,’ the Governor responded. …. His comments about two natural gas pipeline projects came one week after a group of state lawmakers said the state isn’t doing enough to protect water quality. He defended the state’s handling of the projects, and said the Department of Environmental Quality will hold the pipeline companies to high standards.”

4-24-18 WDBJ7. Mountain Valley Watch to monitor pipeline construction. “The app that Jason Shelton demonstrated Tuesday afternoon includes examples of potential problems. ‘So here we’ve got the sediment plume, discolored stream water,’ he said as he scrolled down the page. It also has a user-friendly interface that will make it easy for landowners and other volunteers to identify potential problems with construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, snap pictures and report issues to the Department of Environmental Quality. Shelton is the co-owner of New River Geographics, the Blacksburg startup that created the app with funding from the Sierra Club. ‘Over the last three years, the landowners have really held this battle on their own,’ Shelton said. ‘And it’s time now, now that this is imminent, it’s time for the local community to step up. And be it professionals, be it neighbors that just want to help out we need to help these people out.’ Rick Shingles is the Coordinator of the group Preserve Giles. ‘And so our job if you will is to be an early warning system,’ Shingles said, ‘get this information to DEQ with its limited staff so they can bring them to locations as quickly as possible so we can possibly forestall really serious damage to water.'”

4-24-18 Blue Virginia. Sen. Tim Kaine: “I have serious concerns about the situation in Southwest Virginia along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route.” “I’m really glad to see the following from Sen. Tim Kaine – this is called leadership! I have serious concerns about the situation in Southwest Virginia along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route. Pipeline opponents, both landowners and advocates, are rallying to #StandwithRed, frustrated about having their land seized through eminent domain at the end of what they rightly see as a flawed FERC process. And now local law enforcement is thrust into the middle of it. We need to make sure protesters are all treated humanely and we must work to ensure the situation doesn’t escalate. I’ve spoken out about how FERC didn’t handle the process for these pipelines the right way. They didn’t give the public enough opportunity for input and then they jammed through the approval with an unusual split decision when two of the commissioner slots were vacant. I have called for FERC to rehear both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline applications, and I also have bipartisan legislation waiting for action in Congress to reform FERC’s flawed process for reviewing projects like these, especially when eminent domain is involved. We need to listen to local voices and make sure communities have a real say in these decisions.”

4-24-18 Farmville Herald. Dominion’s ACP continuing problems. “Dominion is fearful of investors peering behind the curtain on this mammoth project. The truth is that the ACP is over a year behind schedule and is facing more delays. The project is rife with scheduling problems with sub-contractors and incomplete filings at FERC and with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The quality control on their paper filings is clearly not up to the standards of their Six Sigma certification, with lack of proper routing maps, lack of adequate mitigation plans, and last minute changes.”

4-23-18 WHSV3. Dominion Energy says opposition to pipeline is costing taxpayers. “Dominion Energy is slamming what it calls ‘delay tactics’ by those against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Aaron Ruby, a Dominion Energy spokesperson, said these tactics are costing taxpayers money. The spokesperson said after an exhaustive review, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers concluded all necessary protections have been adopted for Virginia’s waterways. He now says opponents calling on state agencies to, ‘perform the exact same analysis,’ are delaying the project. Ruby said this analysis will waste taxpayer dollars by costing consumers hundreds of millions in higher energy costs. Opponents disagree on that point. Nancy Sorrells, a co-chairman of the Augusta County Alliance, said Dominion’s statement was ludicrous. She said it is a tactic by Dominion trying to move the project closer to its end. ‘That statement is based on the fact that they’re panicking a little bit,’ Sorrells said. ‘Their pipeline has been delayed and there’s plenty of obstacles, as there should be. It’s a bad news project for everybody but Dominion stockholders.'”

4-23-18 WVTF. WVTF Honored at Virginia’s Associated Press Broadcasters Awards. “WVTF and RADIO IQ won four first-place awards from this year’s Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters competition. …. Charlottesville Bureau Chief Sandy Hausman went home with two plaques. The Virginias AP named her Best Reporter in a large, metro market, adding, ‘You can see her stories unfolding through great use of sound and description.’ The judges also praised her investigation reporting for a five-part series on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ‘Authoritative reporting delivers urgent concerns about this pipeline project, with a nice mix of history and context,’ the judges said.”

4-23-18 News Leader. Letter to Editor: Virginians will save billions without the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Dominion claims that properly following state regulations will cost Virginia residents millions of dollars. The opposite is true. Using the ACP will cost Virginia ratepayers billions more for no benefit. All of the major gas-fired power plants in Virginia have long-term capacity contracts to transport gas using existing pipelines, including the Greensville plant that is under construction. According to documents that Dominion has filed with the State Corporation Commission (SCC), the existing pipelines can transport gas 3-8 times more cheaply than will the ACP, based on rates published with the federal government. It will be 2025 at the earliest when a new plant might be built in Virginia that could require new gas supply. During the five years between the time the pipeline is completed and the time more gas might be needed, Dominion intends to ask the SCC to charge ratepayers for the $200 million per year contract with the ACP. Virginians will pay $1 billion and receive no value at all. A gas industry expert has testified to the SCC that Dominion’s ratepayers will pay $1.6 to $2.3 billion more to use the ACP than they would to use the abundant gas supplies delivered by existing pipelines over the first 20-year contract with the ACP. Virginians will save billions without the ACP.”

4-23-18 Blue Virginia. Fracking Dominion’s Plans: Virginia’s Earth Day Heroes. “Climate justice is one of the civil rights issues of our time, but the majority of us still don’t see it. Thankfully, there are people who do and yesterday, on Earth Day, I met some amazing people standing up for our environment.”

4-23-18 National Post. Rivals see opening in Dominion Energy’s political success. “Dominion Energy has long had unrivaled success at getting friendly legislation through the Virginia General Assembly, a political advantage that by some counts has been worth billions of dollars in profits. The parent company of the state’s largest electric utility has massive sway in crafting Virginia’s energy laws, including legislation passed earlier this year that likely eliminated any chance of the company having to lower electric rates that regulators have routinely found to be too high. But that political prowess is now being cheered by unlikely sources: Dominion’s would-be competitors. …. Retail giant Walmart recently informed state regulators that it wants to buy electricity from someone besides Dominion and Appalachian Power, the state’s second largest utility. And several other large companies, including Target, Microsoft and Home Depot, indicated during this year’s legislative session that they’d like state laws changed to make shopping around easier. The companies want to shorten the five-year notice they would have to give utilities if they leave and then wish to come back.”

4-23-18 Roanoke Times. Roanoke County police deliver pizza, sandwiches to pipeline protesters in tree stands. “After provisions ran low in two tree stands occupied by pipeline protesters, Roanoke County police used plastic buckets on a rope to send up pizza and bologna sandwiches to the two women. The police officers, who have been keeping a close watch on the mother-and-daughter team of tree-sitters, were told for the first time Sunday that they needed food.”

4-22-18 USNews. Developers Seek Federal Action Against Pipeline Protesters. “Developers of a controversial pipeline project are asking a federal judge to find members of a western Virginia family in contempt of court and to order U.S. Marshals to remove them from tree stands where they are protesting to prevent access to their land.”

4-22-18 Roanoke Times. Rasoul: Pipelines: The local injustice of our generation. “There is a reason that local governments — conservative Republican Boards of Supervisors — have opposed these pipelines since their announcement. They are not good for the places they cross. Our valleys are trying to build a brand based on our natural beauty, but by allowing the construction of these pipelines we are just giving that away. Shame on any interest selling us this fool’s gold. As a teenager, I remember cheering for Julia Roberts in the true story of Erin Brockovich as she took on profit-driven cronies. Today, I cheer for Red Terry and the hundreds of thousands of Virginians whose water is threatened, including my own. This is our fight now and our Commonwealth should step in and fulfill its legal obligation to protect our water. Virginia has a moral obligation to preserve and defend what we owe to the next generation.”

4-22-18 Blue Virginia. 3 Arrested Attempting to Resupply Monopod Blockade. “This afternoon, 3 supporters were arrested at the monopod blockade in Giles County, VA while attempting a humanitarian delivery of food and water to the sitter perched atop the structure. Today marks Day 26 of the monopod, which continues to block Pocahontas Rd, a Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) access road leading to the construction site where MVP intends to bore horizontally through Peters Mountain under the Appalachian Trail. This road is a Forest Service road which has been closed to the public on behalf of MVP by Jefferson National Forest Supervisor Joby Timm. …. On the scene today were heavily armed personnel from the US Forest Service, Virginia State Police, and Giles County Sheriff’s Office. These agencies and officials have shown once again that they are committed to protecting the interests of MVP — a private, for-profit company set on destroying the land and ravaging communities. In addition to the 3 arrests, a 4th supporter was cited for allegedly being within the closure. Despite the food and water deprivation and harassment, the monopod occupant has held firm for an astounding 26 days and counting.”

4-22-18 NBC29. Yogaville Celebrates Earth Day, Weighs Risks of Atlantic Coast Pipleline. “People gathered in Buckingham County on Sunday to celebrate Earth Day and tour a yoga oasis known as Yogaville. Those who live near Buckingham are concerned about the potential impact that the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline may have on central Virginian communities and Yogaville’s future. ‘We’re celebrating the wonderful beautiful land here in Virginia, the rural nature of it, and it’s that very nature celebrating on Earth Day that we need to defend and protect,’ said Joseph Abbate, manager of Yogaville Environmental Solutions. The people of Yogaville are celebrating earth day by giving tours of their home to others who they hope will join their peaceful fight against the pipeline.”

4-21-18 WKTV2 [NY]  NY nixes natural gas pipeline expansion permit. “New York regulators have denied a permit for a pipeline expansion designed to increase natural gas deliveries to New York City. The Northeast Supply Enhancement project proposes to expand the Transco pipeline, which extends from Texas to the Northeast coast. It would include installation of 17 miles of 26-inch-diameter underwater pipeline from New Jersey to Queens. The Department of Environmental Conservation says Friday the application for a state water quality permit shows ‘potentially significant environmental impacts.'”

4-21-18 Washington Post. Perched on a platform high in a tree, a 61-year-old woman fights a gas pipeline. A balanced review current situation at the Terry family tree sit on Bent Mountain.

4-21-18 Blue Virginia. Chesterfield Activist Group That Knocked 80,000+ Doors Asks Northam to Stop MVP and ACP. “The Liberal Women of Chesterfield County is a grassroots community of mostly women who have come together since the 2016 presidential election. They ‘hope to make Chesterfield County an example of how concerned citizens can help shape the way politicians listen and engage with their constituents’ and ‘strive to be a support force for our local candidates and advocacy organizations and a true voice for our communities to be represented in Virginia.’ After Chesterfield County flipped blue for the first time since the 1960s, this group of activists — and their leader, Kim Drew Wright — have been widely heralded for their efforts, in the Washington Post, the Richmond Times, on CNN and elsewhere. They’ve raised money, they’ve organized events, they’ve phone banked, and they’ve canvassed over 80,000 voters, in support of their local Delegate races as well as to help elect Governor Ralph Northam last November. And now, they have a simple request of their governor, which they hand-delivered to his office today, signed by 170 of their members: stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

4-20-18 Blue Virginia. Statement from Roanoke County on Treatment of Pipeline Protesters “Completely Untrue”   “Yesterday, in response to the enormous public outcry from citizens and Democratic legislators at the inhumane treatment of peaceful protesters, who are living in trees on their own property in a desperate attempt to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline builders from chopping them down, Roanoke County issued a public statement, claiming that they have conducted ‘routine wellness checks,’ and that the protesters ‘have indicated that they have all necessary supplies.’ Despite the rosy picture, family and friends of the protesters have a very different story to tell.”

4-20-18 Blue Virginia. Henry Howell III: Why aren’t the Governor and the Attorney General stepping up to help Red and the other tree sitters? “MVP and ACP have not obtained a single property right from any owner through their federal condemnations. In addition, the federal court has no power to transfer property rights from the private owners to the pipeline companies, unless and until those companies pay just compensation pursuant to a final condemnation order (that the court will enter only after the court determines just compensation and awards it to the owner). Which means, of course, that the state and local officers and their governments are exposing themselves continuously to civil rights lawsuits. The state and local police are trespassing on Red’s private property. The pipeline’s private security agents are trespassing on Red’s property. In appears as though they are all acting under color of state law which makes the state liable for their actions. The harassment of Red and the other tree sitters could have been completely avoided if the Governor and the Attorney General had simply done their jobs looking out for these brave, inspiring tree sitters. The Governor says that hundreds of thousands of dollars from Dominion and APCO and his ownership of Dominion stock do not influence his decisions as Governor AT ALL. OK, Governor, we’re all ears: prove it.”

4-20-18 Roanoke Times. Tree-sit protests of the Mountain Valley Pipeline pose a new challenge for police. “Since tree-cutting began for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, local police have been faced with a new question: What to do when a protester climbs up a tree destined for a chainsaw and refuses to come down? There seems to be no established protocol for such a situation in Southwest Virginia, where the closest thing has been the occasional call for a cat up a tree. But according to law enforcement officials involved in similar standoffs elsewhere, the best response is the one being used here: avoid the use of force and wait the tree-sitters out.”

4-20-18 Richmond Times Dispatch. A mother and daughter are holed up in trees to block a natural gas pipeline from crossing their Virginia land. Facing charges, they refuse to come down. “Roanoke County police have filed criminal charges against a mother and daughter holed up in trees to block a natural gas pipeline from crossing their family land. But the women remained beyond the reach of the law Thursday from their perches. Theresa Ellen Terry — a blunt-talking 61-year-old who goes by the nickname Red — was charged with trespassing, obstruction of justice and interfering with the property rights of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Similar charges were brought against her daughter, Theresa Minor Terry, 30, as a standoff that has captured statewide attention neared the end of its third week. ‘They’re not taking my property without a fight,’ Theresa ‘Red’ Terry said by telephone Thursday from her tree stand in the woods off Poor Mountain Road. After obtaining the charges from a magistrate on Wednesday, Roanoke County police made no effort to arrest the two women, holding out hope they will come down on their own.”

4-20-18 Toronto Globe and Mail. HSBC to stop funding most new fossil fuel developments. “Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, said on Friday it would mostly stop funding new coal power plants, oil sands and arctic drilling, becoming the latest in a long line of investors to shun the fossil fuels. Other large banks such as ING and BNP Paribas have made similar pledges in recent months as investors have mounted pressure to make sure bank’s actions align with the Paris agreement, a global pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curb rising temperatures. ‘We recognise the need to reduce emissions rapidly to achieve the target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement … and our responsibility to support the communities in which we operate,’ Daniel Klier, group head of strategy and global head of sustainable finance, said in a statement.”

4-19-18 Oil Change International. Bank of America Leads Finance for Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The abuses, risks and climate pollution of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have a clear set of financiers, led by the nation’s largest commercial bank, Bank of America.”

4-19-18 Roanoke Times. Roanoke County police charge 2 women in trees blocking the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Roanoke County police have filed criminal charges against a mother and daughter holed up in trees to block a natural gas pipeline from crossing their family land. But the women remained beyond the reach of the law Thursday from their perches.”

4-19-18 WDBJ7. Roanoke County defends handling of Bent Mountain pipeline protest. “Folllowing is the text of a written statement Roanoke County released Thursday afternoon: ‘(Roanoke County, VA—April 19, 2018) With regard to recent comments by several legislative representatives regarding the manner in which the Roanoke County Police Department is addressing ongoing protests of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, statements suggesting inhumane treatment of individuals is factually wrong and needlessly disparaging of our public safety staff. While protesters occupying tree stands in defiance of the federal court order have been denied supplies from their supporters, Roanoke County will ensure their physical needs are being met. In addition, routine wellness checks of protesters have been initiated by qualified emergency medical staff. To date, the protesters have indicated they have all necessary supplies and they have reported no medical concerns to our staff. Interactions with those protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been cordial and well‐received. County public safety staff will remain diligent in ensuring enforcement of the federal court order while protecting the health and safety of all concerned. Roanoke County has consistently and publicly stated that it will follow the direction determined by the court system as it applies to the MVP project. The federal and state courts have ruled consistently in favor of MVP. The Roanoke County Police Department is not taking sides in this matter. As a local law enforcement agency, the Roanoke County Police Department is required to follow the instructions ordered by the federal court as well as the laws of the Commonwealth which have been determined to permit the use of eminent domain for this project.'”

4-19-18 Blue Virginia. Resistance Against Mountain Valley Pipeline Grows: Tree Sits Launched on Family Farm in Franklin County, Virginia. ” In the farmlands of Franklin County, a new stand against the Mountain Valley Pipeline has begun. Three tree sits loom directly in the path of the pipeline’s destruction, making it impossible to clear the way without severely injuring the inhabitants of those trees. The sits tower over 75 feet off the ground of a small family farm’s livestock pasture, overlooking Little and Teel creeks, home to the endangered Roanoke Log Perch. The tree sits build upon two other blockades to construction- a stand one hundred miles West, on Peters Mountain, and twenty miles West, in Bent Mountain, VA. One tree sitter stated, ‘The other tree sits show us that there are still effective ways to interrupt the violence of this proposed pipeline. We are celebrating their spirit of resistance in the mountains and bringing it down to the farmlands, where so much remains at stake. The fire truly is catching.'”

4-19-18 Altdaily.com. Op-ed: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and How it Got to this Point. “The need for these projects has never been adequately established, and in fact its need has been refuted by industry insiders. The cost of this project is one that will be borne by Dominion and Duke ratepayers and it is estimated to be 6.5 billion dollars. The Virginia State Corporation Commission is guaranteeing a 14 percent profit for the shareholders even if no gas ever goes through it. This is a lose-lose for the citizens of the Commonwealth. It really makes you wonder, how did we get here? The answer will likely surprise you.”

4-19-18 News Leader. Guest columnist Nancy Sorrells: Dominion says it wants to answer Atlantic Coast Pipeline questions; I have plenty. “So Dominion is having a “Construction Open House and Job Fair” at Augusta Expo Tuesday evening in order to enlighten us about “construction activities, including safety measures.” Further, “local unions and inspection companies will be on hand to talk about training and job opportunities.” I can’t wait. I have a lot of questions to ask. Here are some ideas just to get the ball rolling.”

4-19-18 Pilot Online. Arrest warrants issued for pipeline protesters in trees. “Authorities have issued arrest warrants for a Roanoke County woman and her daughter who have been perched in trees on family property in an attempt to block the Mountain Valley Pipeline. A news release issued by Roanoke County on Thursday says the women face charges of trespassing after having been forbidden to do so, interfering with property rights and obstruction of justice. The Roanoke Times reported Thursday that police hadn’t tried to arrest the two women.”

4-19-18 Bloomberg. U.S. to Review Gas Pipeline Policy for First Time Since 1999. “U.S. energy regulators embarked upon a wide-ranging review of how interstate natural-gas pipelines are approved, amid concerns that current guidelines have become outdated following the shale boom. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will examine the use of eminent domain, how the need for a pipeline is assessed and the extent to which greenhouse gas emissions should be taken into account in pipeline approvals. ‘Given the changes in landscape since it was first put into place, reviewing our certificate policy statement for any possible improvement is good regulatory practice,’ Republican Commissioner Neil Chatterjee said at a commission meeting Thursday.”

4-18-18 Washington Post. Lawmakers call out treatment of pipeline protester in trees. “A Virginia woman who has spent weeks camped in trees protesting a natural gas pipeline that would cross her property is being treated inhumanely by authorities, who have cut off her deliveries of food and water, Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday. Around a dozen Democratic members of the Virginia House and Senate held a news conference in Richmond to protest authorities’ response to the 61-year-old Mountain Valley Pipeline protester. They also raised a host of other concerns about that multistate project as well as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and called on Gov. Ralph Northam to impose further regulatory conditions on both. …. [Roanoke] county said in a statement Friday that police had advised the ‘individuals sitting in two trees’ that they were in the right of way granted to the pipeline company through a court order. ‘They will no longer be allowed to receive supplies from supporters. Anything the individuals need will be available to them when they come down from the trees,’ it said. Sen. John Edwards, whose district includes the city of Roanoke and several surrounding counties, said Virginia prison inmates are treated better than Red. ‘She hasn’t been convicted of anything, and she’s being treated in an inhumane fashion. I think it’s outrageous,’ said Edwards.”

4-18-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Anger over pipelines spills into General Assembly. “Intensifying public anger over the pending construction of two massive natural gas pipelines through Virginia boiled over into the General Assembly on Wednesday, when more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers asked Gov. Ralph Northam for more oversight of stream crossings and tree cutting and to protect the rights of landowners protesting the projects. Organized by Del. Mark Keam, D-Fairfax, a news conference conducted before the assembly reconvened in its annual veto session brought lawmakers into the fight from other parts of the state that aren’t affected directly by construction of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. Del. Danica Roem, D-Prince William, was among a group of Northern Virginia Democrats who joined the protest, dismissing what she called ‘NOVA versus ROVA (Rest of Virginia) BS. It is our obligation to stand with them,’ Roem said.”

4-18-18 Free Times. Critics Warn SC Legislators Against Dominion, Citing Actions in Virginia. “Energy experts and ratepayer advocates gathered in the State House April 17 with a message about Dominion Energy’s proposed purchase of SCE&G. Their message: Dominion Energy isn’t much better and could in fact be worse than SCE&G. ‘[Dominion’s] Virginia experience aptly demonstrates that they can’t be trusted,’ said Bob Guild of the South Carolina Sierra Club. ‘They’ll manipulate our legislature the same way they did the legislature in Virginia.’ The Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, two organizations advocating for ratepayer rights and renewable energy, brought in Glen Besa and Thomas Hadwin to testify about Dominion’s dominance of Virginia’s energy legislation. Hadwin worked for electric and gas utilities in Michigan and New York, while Besa is the former director of Virginia’s Sierra Club. Both have been involved for years in regulatory and legislative issues related to Dominion. ‘What they’ve done in Virginia, because of their incredible influence over the legislature and the governor, too, [Dominion] actually writes legislation in ways that benefit them,’ Besa said.”

4-16-18 Roanoke Times. As tree-cutting continues for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, so do the protests. “For three years, Coffey had fought the natural gas pipeline. She spoke against it at a public hearing. She marched against it at a rally on Capitol Square in Richmond. She argued against it when Mountain Valley took her to federal court, where the company obtained an easement through her property by eminent domain. On the day the tree-cutters arrived unannounced, Coffey did the only thing left within her power. She stood as close as she could to the pipeline’s right of way, marked by blue-and-white flagged stakes, and dared the men with chainsaws to keep coming. ‘I’m on my property,’ she told a Roanoke County police officer who was called to the scene. ‘And the trees they are felling are landing on my property. And if they fall on me they are in big-ass trouble.’ …. Since Mountain Valley began cutting trees along the path of the 303-mile pipeline through West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, more and more people like Coffey have been standing in the way. …. In an April 12 letter to FERC, Mountain Valley attorney Matthew Eggerding wrote that the company had felled all the trees identified as bat habitats by the deadline, but that it could continue to cut others along the pipeline’s right of way. For the remaining trees, Mountain Valley is required to check to see if they contain nests or other evidence of migratory birds. If the surveys find no such signs, chainsaw crews have seven days to fell the trees. If the trees are still standing after seven days, new surveys must be conducted. Mountain Valley has until May 31 to complete tree-cutting, a FERC spokeswoman said last week. The deadline is different for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a similar project that will run through Central Virginia. More than a year ago, when Atlantic Coast sought FERC’s permission to build its pipeline, it agreed to have all trees cut by March 31, according to Luckett. Mountain Valley made no such promise, and instead sought an exception that would allow the felling through the spring of trees not identified as bat habitats. FERC signed off on that plan, even as it later denied a request by Atlantic Coast to continue tree-cutting beyond the end of March.”

4-16-18 Blue Virginia. Gov. Northam, Your Oath to “Do No Harm” Applies to the Virginians You Swore to Protect. Where Are You? “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be holding job fairs along the proposed pipeline route this week. Does anyone dare apply? Three of the four construction firms that comprise Spring Ridge Constructors LLC have less-than-stellar histories, despite Dominion Energy (the utility monopoly/behemoth behind the pipeline) spokesman Aaron Ruby’s reassurance that ‘We selected the best of the best.’ In fact, the companies set to build the largest possible diameter pipeline in the least hospitable terrain with yet unproven techniques have a highly checkered past. [article lists various contractor issues, including violations and fines, sorting on overtime pay, fatalities] …. Given this evidence, combined with the damage that pipeline construction is already doing, Governor Ralph Northam’s silence speaks volumes. Citizens along both the ACP and Mountain Valley Pipeline routes have pleaded for him to visit historic and ecologically sensitive areas that are targeted for destruction – yet he hasn’t done so. Although a medical professional, Gov. Northam’s silence appears to indicate disinterest in the science or understanding of the dangers inherent in fracked-gas pipeline infrastructure. Dare we hope that Gov. Northam acts to add scrutiny and controls on these construction companies? Gov. Northam has the power and the responsibility to order an investigation into these businesses. However, if his stony silence and lack of action continues, this duty must be assumed by the press and by citizens. Governor, your oath to ‘do no harm’ applies to the Virginians you swore to protect. Where are you?”

4-13-18 WDTV5 [WV]. Local project approved for ACP developers. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave Dominion Energy approval Thursday to build pipe yards in Upshur County [WV] in anticipation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. According to reports, the location is off Route 33 about one mile up Brushy Fork. A similar plan was approved for North Carolina. The approval came after a targeted filing by Dominion earlier this week. They’re expected to file more as the company gets closer to making a request to start construction on the pipeline itself.”

4-13-18 Roanoke Times. Roanoke County cuts off supplies to tree-sitters blocking pipeline crews. “In an effort to persuade two pipeline protesters to come down from their trees, Roanoke County police on Friday cut off their supply of food and water. The two women are camped out in tree stands in the woods off Poor Mountain Road, hoping to protect their family land from tree-cutting for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. ‘They will no longer be allowed to receive supplies from supporters,’ county spokeswoman Amy Whittaker said in a news release. ‘Anything the individuals need will be available to them when they come down from the trees.’ ‘It’s totally cruel,’ said Alan Graf, a legal observer who has been monitoring the tree-sit protests on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. ‘You don’t starve a 61-year-old woman who is on her own property and is an inspiration to people who have been fighting a mega-corporation,’ Graf said. If the goal is for the tree-sitters to come down on their own, he said, that could be complicated by their weakened conditions after going without food and water.”

4-13-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Regulatory board cracks open door for more review of pipeline projects. “Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality decided a year ago to cede its authority to review the hundreds of spots where two controversial natural gas pipelines will cross state waterways to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Opponents of the projects have hounded the agency about that decision ever since. However, with the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines advancing rapidly toward construction, the State Water Control Board cracked open the door for more review of those water crossings. The board on Thursday [April 12, 2018] approved a 30-day period to solicit comment on whether the approvals the corps granted for the projects under Nationwide Permit 12 are adequate to protect Virginia waterways from the blasting, drilling and trenching that crossing them could entail.

4-13-18 WHSV3. Regulators want to hear from public on pipeline reviews.  “A panel of Virginia regulators wants to hear from the public about whether they believe the water quality approvals granted for two natural gas pipelines are adequate to protect the state’s waterways. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the State Water Control Board on Thursday approved a 30-day period to solicit comment on the approvals granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. …. Asked how the public can weigh in and what will happen at the end of the comment period, DEQ spokeswoman Ann Regn told The Associated Press Friday that additional information will be available ‘in the near future.'”

4-13-18 WSLS10. Pipeline expansion would add southern route. “The controversial natural gas pipeline coming through southwest Virginia may expand. A Mountain Valley spokesperson said Wednesday that it wants to lengthen the route, taking it farther south in Pittsylvania County. The already approved route from northern West Virginia to Chatham would add a 70-mile section, heading into North Carolina toward Eden, then going to Rockingham and Alamance counties. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to approve the project for it to move forward. The exact route of the expansion is unknown, but people in the Tunstall community, which is about a 30-minute drive southwest of Chatham, may be in the pipeline’s path. ‘Surely around here it’s going to be shocking because no one wants to give up their land unexpectedly,’ Pittsylvania County resident James Thompson said.”

4-13-18 Blue Virginia. Pipelines Bombshell: Terry McAuliffe Held Secret Meetings for 18 Months or More to Negotiate $58 Million Liability Waiver Agreement with Dominion and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “For at least eighteen months, and perhaps longer, the office of former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe engaged in secret discussions to absolve Dominion Energy and its partners of liabilities associated with their $7 billion, 600-mile-long Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). According to documents obtained exclusively by this writer, negotiations over the $58 million agreement started long before the ACP had received a single approval from state or federal authorities. In fact, Governor McAuliffe’s office participated in these discussions while permit applications were pending, and state officials deliberately kept those discussions secret.”

4-13-18 Washington Post. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline threatens Virginia’s economy and clean-energy jobs. “Dominion Energy’s effort to undermine economic findings that raise fundamental questions about its proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline ran into a major snag. And for good reason. The State Corporation Commission quashed the utility’s attempt to suppress analysis showing that its pipeline venture would add as much as $2.3 billion to Virginians’ electricity bills — an analysis that used the company’s own data. Now that we have a clearer picture at the SCC of the pipeline’s cost to electricity ratepayers, Virginia is faced with a fundamental economic choice: Are we going to invest more in the cost-increasing fossil fuels of the past century? Or are we going to make Virginia a more business-friendly place for lower-cost, cleaner renewable energy? The answer is critical. Cost increases from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would not only kill jobs but also stifle the kind of clean-energy growth Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and others are working hard to get moving in Virginia. Here are some numbers to help us decide.”

4-13-18 Roanoke Times. Denham, et al: Faith demands action on pipeline. “We trust you have both seen accounts of two prayer vigils held recently in southwestern Virginia — in Newport and Bent Mountain — to allow landowners already experiencing the devastating effects of the Mountain Valley Pipeline on their land, their communities, and our shared environment to come together to express their heartfelt grief and yet renew their commitment. In addition to the emotional impact of seeing great swaths of trees felled quickly — not competently logged — with the destruction of trenching and blasting soon to come, our communities are suffering from the cognitive dissonance of knowing that we know better. Environmental science knows better. Regulatory agencies know better. …. For persons of faith, this situation is even more tragic. Many religious traditions share a concern for the Earth as God’s creation and affirm the God-given responsibility of humans to care for the Earth. …. Saddest of all, for persons of faith and others, is the realization that our own Virginia regulatory agency, the Department of Environmental Quality, has not done the job its name implies — and Virginia’s future demands. …. And, apparently, this willingness to make the way smooth for MVP has not only been condoned but encouraged from the top down. This is your inheritance, Gov. and First Lady Northam. But it need not be your legacy. You can still act. You can take seriously the need of the state to protect its environment, its water, its attraction to tourists, its commitment not to exacerbate global warming. You can make it clear to the DEQ that you mean for them to take their responsibility seriously — because both of you take seriously the health and welfare of ALL Virginians.” This letter was signed by 8 religious leaders from Roanoke, Blacksburg, and Newport.

4-12-18 Farmville Herald. ACP to hold open house. “Those following the progress of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) may find an opportunity to learn more about the project and compressor station currently under construction in Buckingham County, and potential job and training opportunities during an event the ACP will hold at Buckingham County Middle School on April 25. The event, taking place from 5-7:30 p.m., will feature representatives of the project who will be on-site to discuss the progress of the project, a notice from the ACP cited. …. Ruby encouraged members of the community to attend the open house. ‘We thought this was a good opportunity to inform the community and landowners about what construction is going to look like in your area, and when we’re going to be doing different types of activity in different areas,’ Ruby said about the open house. Buckingham County Middle School is located on 1184 High School Road.”

4-12-18 WSLS10. Mountain Valley Pipeline tension rises. “Yellow tape and workers with nothing to do surround the makeshift treehouse of a 61-year-old protester called Red. She and her supporters continue to fight against the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. ‘These county policemen here, I pay taxes and I am paying for them to stand around here and protect these guys cutting trees. That’s not right,’ said protester Carl Bagby. Just a couple of feet below Red, Mountain Valley Pipeline crews began to cut smaller branches while protesters stood in their campout, in disbelief. Local farmer and wetland scientist David Treble said the greatest concern is that could contaminate groundwater since everyone on the mountain relies on well water. …. Tensions began to rise as the crews moved closer to Red. Protesters were forced to move from their sit-in for safety reasons and were advised to stay at least 160 feet away from the cutting.”

4-11-18 Blue Virginia. 2 Arrested “attempting to stop illegal logging on the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Bent Mountain, VA”  “This afternoon, Roanoke County police arrested 2 people who were monitoring and attempting to stop illegal logging on the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Bent Mountain, VA. The police have extended the boundaries of the MVP easement to include arresting people who are within 2 tree lengths of the limit of disturbance. By arbitrarily extending the easement, they forced the landowner (not in this video) to leave her own property.”

4-11-18 Washington Post. Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes expansion into N. Carolina. “Developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline announced plans Wednesday to extend the project currently proposed to carry natural gas through West Virginia and Virginia into North Carolina. A news release Wednesday laid out plans for an extension called MVP Southgate. The new segment would receive gas from the Mountain Valley Pipeline mainline in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and extend approximately 70 miles (113 kilometers) south to new delivery points in Rockingham and Alamance counties in North Carolina.”

4-11-18 Washington Post. This environmental group is launching its own satellite to learn more about greenhouse gas leaks. “When the Environmental Defense Fund told commercial space guru Tom Ingersoll that it wanted to launch a satellite to measure methane from oil and gas operations, he says his reaction was ‘Whoa! You guys want to do what?’ …. The satellite will enable EDF to more accurately measure methane emissions, which account for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. The results could be sobering. In February, EDF estimated methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s shale oil and gas sites may be more than five times higher than what oil and gas companies reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The EDF analysis estimates Pennsylvania’s oil and gas operators emit more than 520,000 tons of methane a year, primarily from leaky, outdated and malfunctioning equipment. This wasted gas causes the same near-term climate pollution as 11 coal-fired power plants and results in nearly $68 million worth of wasted energy resources, the environmental group said.”

4-11-18 C-Ville. ‘Tuesday Chainsaw Massacre’: Wintergreen residents fired up about ACP damage. “A ‘jumbled mess’ of hundreds of clear-cut trees still lie at the entrance to Wintergreen, across Route 664 and up the side of Piney Mountain. Dominion Energy started knocking them down to make way for its Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Nelson County on March 6, a day the locals now refer to as the ‘Tuesday Chainsaw Massacre.'”

4-10-18 Blue Virginia. Preserve Floyd Charges Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC with “officially engaging in illegal tree-cutting” “This is a more comprehensive view of what happened yesterday when the MVP’s tree-cutting crew, Northern, tried to cut trees on Poor Mountain. Deepest of appreciation for the courageous protectors on the ground in the snow facing the intimidation of chainsaws, security teams and police in order to give witness to this illegal and immoral act. The MVP LLC is in direct violation of their own argument to Federal Judge Elizabeth Dillon who awarded them immediate possession of property to cut trees based on testimony that the deadline for cutting was March 31 and they would suffer ‘irreparable harm’ if they were not allowed early entry. What does that mean? They do not have all the permits necessary to cut and the restrictions on cutting are fairly clear in terms of protections of endangered species and protected waterways. They were ‘allowed’ to cut BUT ONLY UNTIL MARCH 31. …. As documented in the attached video and observed by a certified legal observer, the notice of violation was clearly stated to the security official and the crew. They chose to proceed regardless. They are now officially engaging in illegal tree-cutting after being issued a warning based on legal evidence provided in a necessary and appropriate Citizen’s Notice of Violation and should be held accountable to the law.”

4-10-18 Suffolk News-Herald. Letter to Editor: Pipelines deserve attention. “The Virginia Water Control Board will be meeting on APril 12. Neither the Mountain Valley Pipeline nor the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is on the agenda. They should be. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued a water quality certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and will likely issue the same for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the near future. The DEQ should not approve these certifications. Neither pipeline can be built without very serious water quality violations, due to their massive size and the extreme conditions in which they would be built. Drinking water from wells and springs in the large areas of karst terrain that these pipelines would pass through are particularly vulnerable. Residents in these areas could lose their water. …. The Water Control Board should assert its authority, allow further public review and comments on the new information, review those comments directly, without those comments being filtered by DEQ, and then vote on the water quality certification. Fifteen government officials in Michigan have been indicted on criminal charges for their involvement in the Flint drinking water debacle. The same could happen in Virginia.”

4-9-18 WDBJ7. Tree cutting for Mountain Valley Pipeline continues despite March deadline. “The crews taking down trees along Mount Tabor Road in Montgomery County were back on Saturday, felling large trees along the edges of the pipeline corridor. Pipeline opponents say they were surprised that the work continued after a March 31st deadline designed to protect endangered species, in part because caves in the area are home to hibernating bats. Lynda Majors is a pipeline opponent who lives in Montgomery County. ‘That was the whole legal push for early entry, that they had to get this done by March 31st,’ Majors told WDBJ7. ‘And what do we see here? They’re still cutting. They’re still cutting hundred-year-old trees.'”

4-9-18 WSLS10News. Police respond as pipeline protests continue. “Some opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline continued efforts Monday to protest construction in Roanoke County. Around a dozen people traveled through private property to a site on Bent Mountain, near Poor Mountain Road, where they said crews holding chainsaws were getting ready to start working. They said their goal was to ask for proof of permits and identification and obstruct crews in whatever way they could. …. The pipeline opponents said they don’t believe MVP can legally cut down trees right now in this area. ‘They are in direct violation of the law right now,’ Mara Robbins said. They have three main objections. They said the snowy conditions Monday broke federal working regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They believe MVP didn’t follow all the federal regulations under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notices. And they believe the company can’t cut down trees after the March 31 deadline set in a January court decision, due to endangered bats.”

4-9-18 Blue Virginia. Unanswered Pipeline Letters to Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, and DEQ Highlight Growing Legacy of Inaction, Broken Promises, and Corporate Profit Over People. “Each week at our pipeline protests, we deliver a letter (see [article] for an example) to Governor Northam urging him to acknowledge the well-documented harms of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Each week, he ignores us. We have also delivered several letters to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office (see [article] for an example) and to the Department of Environmental Quality (see [article] for an example) – we have yet to receive a response to these as well. The Virginia government’s lack of response echoes what has happened to the innumerable people who have been fighting these pipelines for years now, with factual and science-based arguments — the same science that Governor Northam has called for, yet willfully ignored time and time again.”

4-9-18 LittleSis.org. FERC Revolving Door Continues as Top Lawyer Leaves for Fossil Fuel Lobbying Firm. “FERC has also been a regular stopping point in the revolving door between the fossil fuel industry and the regulatory apparatus that overseas that industry. This trend continues, now, with the appointment of a top FERC attorney to McGuireWoods, a major lobbying firm.”

4-8-19 Blue Virginia. Video: US Forest Service Threatens Legal Action, Denies Danger to Anti-Mountain Valley Pipeline “Monopod” Sitter. “See below for video of the US Forest Service guy threatening legal action, the anti-Mountain Valley Pipeline activist pointing out potential danger to the ‘monopod’ sitter, and a note from the monopod sitter on “harassment from [the] Forest Service” and how “The presence of more people here means that the Forest Service knows their actions are being carefully watched, and that many, many people care about whether they endanger my safety or harass me and and my friends.” Great job to all the protesters! Meanwhile, where’s Gov. Northam on this? To date, his silence has been deafening…”

4-7-18 Fayetteville Observer. Will the Atlantic Coast Pipeline bring prosperity or peril to eastern North Carolina? “At the far end of a farm field east of Fayetteville, piles of branches, trunks and sawdust on the ground are the first tangible signs of a $6 billion project that could reshape eastern North Carolina. Construction of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is expected to begin in a matter of months. A 3-foot-diameter pipe will carry natural gas under the land where those trees once grew, and on through miles of farmland along the Interstate 95 corridor. For some, the pipeline carries a promise of economic prosperity. For others, it portends danger and environmental disaster. Though the long-anticipated pipeline is on the verge of construction, it still has vocal opponents who have fought it since the project was announced in 2014. They don’t intend to stop.”

4-7-18 Fayetteville Observer. Opinion – Rev. Mac Legerton: Clean energy, the pipeline predicament and a viable solution. “As I speak with public officials, university professors and civic organizations regarding the proposed pipeline, few have any idea that what is touted as ‘natural’ gas is at least 90 percent methane, that methane is a carbon, and that it is the No. 1 producer of global warming among all fossil fuels. And when I explain that methane gas is not cleaner, greener or cheaper than coal when all its costs and harmful impacts are included, they are shocked and embarrassed. Why has this information been kept from the public and our public officials? The answer is simple. If it were widely known, no responsible public or business leader would claim they seriously care about the environment while supporting the pipeline. We have allowed the unfounded claim of ‘jobs’ and misrepresentation of this methane gas product as cheap, clean and green to dominate our politics and the political will of elected officials in both of our major political parties.”

4-6-18 News & Advance. Editorial: Dominion and Pipeline Oversight. “From the day the pipeline was announced, Dominion has issued carved-in-stone promises that it would build the project with the strongest possible commitment to environmental safety, and supporters of the pipeline have touted those assurances as evidence Dominion could safely pull off this project. Now, even before the final OKs have been given, there are 15 violations on the books, albeit small ones that still play into the fears of pipeline opponents. Tensions that were already high among pipeline foes are higher now as a result. Our advice to Dominion is simple: Continue to emphasize environmental protection and do everything you can to work with and be transparent with the residents who will be living alongside the pipeline for decades to come. …. A suspension and moratorium on all work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for one year will provide the space and time we need, as a state, to consider our energy future.”

4-5-18 Roanoke Times. DEQ is open to citizen pipeline monitors, director says. “State environmental regulators will accept help from citizen monitors now being trained to watch construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline for violations of erosion, sedimentation and stormwater laws, a state official said. David Paylor, who directs the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said Thursday his agency is ‘absolutely’ interested in coordinating with the citizen effort, Mountain Valley Watch, which has begun training sessions for volunteers and lighted up a report tracking website, newrivergeographics.com. ‘We’ve only got so many eyes on the ground,’ Paylor said after meeting with Mountain Valley Watch leaders and pipeline opponents at the Gainsboro Library in Roanoke.”

4-5-18 CBS19. More protests against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “‘We are nowhere finished'” is what a spokesperson for the Friends of Nelson County says regarding efforts to stop the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Connie Brennan is talking about opposition to the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will run through Nelson County. Despite the preliminary go ahead, Dominion Energy still faces lots of pipeline opposition with groups saying the project remains a major threat to the environment. Brennan, a former Nelson County supervisor, says there are more protests planned against the pipeline. ‘There are many more, there are lots of requests for rehearings, on challenging some of the issues that are still out there, there are lawsuits coming fast and furious,’ she said. She also says eminent domain is going to generate a lot of lawsuits, because people are not just going to hand over their land to a private corporation for its own greed.”

4-4-18 Public News Service. VA Faith Leaders Honor King’s Legacy in Pipeline Fight. “Faith leaders in Virginia say they’re continuing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by fighting for environmental justice for the communities affected by the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. King was killed in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., while supporting people protesting decades of discrimination against African-American sanitation workers. Faith leaders say the current goal is to raise concerns about two fracked-gas pipelines with paths directly through low-income communities. The Rev. Morris Fleischer, pastor of Newport-Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, said they’ll deliver a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam as a voice for those who can’t speak out. ‘We’re looking at environmental justice, because it’s talking about pipelines that are going to affect some of the poorest communities in the state,’ he said. ‘Specifically, the Atlantic Coast pipeline is going to affect significant African-American community, a community that’s been in existence for many, many years.’ Fleischer and other faith leaders will meet today at the state Capitol to pray, sing and deliver their message of justice to Northam.”

4-4-18 The Recorder. Letter to editor: Don’t rush decision on pipeline camp. The writer urges to Highland County planning commission to consider the requirements set by neighboring Bath on approval of a pipeline workers cRV camp. “It turns out Bath County set several conditions on the permit for that camp. For a 28-acre property, Bath allowed only nine RVs. Additional conditions also apply: Generators are prohibited; The RVs must be screened from view; Mud can’t flow onto the roads; Occupants must spend the night inside RVs, not in tents; Occupancy is limited to one construction worker per RV; A registry of campers’ names and their license plates must be kept. This permit is good for no more than three years. It will terminate sooner if there is a lapse of six months without any pipeline campers. The permit was granted only after the completion of an engineering study and receipt of approval of the camp’s septic system from the Virginia Department of Health.”

4-4-18 The Recorder. Letter to editor: Planners urged to stay course, protect natural resources. The writer notes unanswered questions from a recent Highland County meeting with Dominion: who is responsible for wear and tear on county roads, and who will be responsible for emergency services when Dominion’s emergency response center is 2.5-3 hours away – does the emergency center functions non-stop in power failures, and is the state-of-the-art center is Internet dependent and hackable. “Production from the Marcellus shale bed in West Virginia was slated to run out by 2030, according to paperwork handed out at that meeting, and production may have already peaked. Isn’t a 42-inch pipeline through even part of our county a bit of overkill, especially in light of studies that show existing pipelines will easily meet future demand? …. If this project were a national necessity, if it served the public good, I’d grit my teeth and campaign for it to be done as safely as possible. It is neither. Please, planning commission, stay the course with Highland County. Protect our water, air, safety, roads, land values and undisturbed rural nature a little longer. The end of this industry really is in sight.”

4-4-18 The Recorder. Volunteers, citizens deserve information. In an editorial, The Recorder reminds us of something we all know already: “Openness and transparency are not Dominion Energy’s strong suits, as we’ve learned over the last four years. It just doesn’t seem to share well with others.” The editorial discusses The Recorder’s efforts to have a reporter attend a meeting to discuss the how-to details of responding to emergencies related to Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction and operation, first by closing the March 20, 2018, meeting to the public, then (after the finally agreeing a reporter could attend) cancelling the meeting, then rescheduling a hush-hush meeting in a venue over which Dominion had control of attendees.  “It’s not like these are state secrets, folks. Open up.”

4-4-18 AltDaily.com The Treetop Movement: Watching Dominion’s Every Move as They Construct their Pipeline in the Virginias. “The biggest regional land-clearing project since the federal highway program of the 1960s is now underway in Virginia and West Virginia. Fracked-gas companies Dominion Energy and EQT have been chain-sawing wide swaths of forests to make room for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines (MVP and ACP). In the process, the companies are destroying ecosystems, ruining human livelihoods, and shocking the public’s conscience. And they’re just getting started. Young people have bravely tied themselves to treetops to stop the MVP chainsaws in parts of Virginia and West Virginia. (You gotta, gotta, gotta watch this video). And a sympathetic local judge has made a surprise ruling in their favor, as you’ll see below. And just yesterday, a 61-year-old mother of three took to a tree on Virginia’s Poor Mountain to protest the pipeline for ‘as long as it takes.”

4-4-18 Roanoke Times. Northam orders upgrade of DEQ amid criticism from pipeline opponents. “Gov. Ralph Northam moved Wednesday to strengthen a state agency dealing with the construction of two natural gas pipelines, a cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and other environmental challenges. In his sixth executive order since taking office in January, Northam called for a ‘revitalization’ of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The initiative is threefold: updating and better enforcing existing regulations, guarding against the rollback of environmental protections under President Donald Trump, and improving transparency at a time when DEQ has come under withering criticism from pipeline opponents. …. The order requires DEQ, in consultation with the secretary of natural resources, to review the agency’s permitting, monitoring and enforcement activities and submit a report to the governor with recommendations by April 30, 2019.”

4-4-18 Roanoke Times. Opinion: Sokolow: North Carolina document dump proves McAuliffe’s pipeline immunity deals are McAwful. “When your attorney writes you a lousy contract, there’s only one thing worse: another attorney telling you that your attorney screwed up. If you are former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the lousy contract concerned Dominion Energy and its now $7 billion and growing fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline, you might feel embarrassed when Virginians learn — after the secret deal becomes public — that you agreed to cap Dominion’s liability for damages before the pipeline was even built. And the only thing worse than that? When the attorney for the Governor of North Carolina realizes just how awful Terry McAuliffe’s deal was — and that also becomes public.”

4-4-18 ABC8. Environmentalists urge Governor to oust DEQ Director. “An environmental group reiterated its call Wednesday for Gov. Ralph Northam to fire the head of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, saying David Paylor ‘has regularly sided with polluters over the environment.’ The Chesapeake Climate Action Network made that statement after Northam signed an executive order instructing the DEQ to conduct an internal review. Northam said the review would include updating regulations, strengthening enforcement of environmental standards, identifying the causes of permitting delays and improving transparency. ‘We agree with Gov. Northam that the Department of Environmental Quality needs to be seriously reformed, so we commend him for that,’ said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. ‘However, we are highly skeptical that DEQ Director David Paylor can oversee this internal review in a fair and comprehensive manner. The DEQ is a broken agency, and Director David Paylor is the one that broke it.'”

4-3-18 WVTF. Virginia Flood Risk Far Higher Than FEMA Thought. “Federal maps of flood plains in the U.S. are dated and incomplete, so the Nature Conservancy has launched a massive study to determine the real risks of flooding in this country. More than a million Virginians could face damage or destruction by 2050 if planners don’t stop putting people in harm’s way. Working with scientists in Britain and sophisticated computer models, the Nature Conservancy set out to study the big picture – how river systems, wetlands and flood plains work together in the event of a storm. They also considered new maps from the EPA showing where people actually live and concluded that 650,000 Virginians are at risk in the event of a hundred year flood. By 2050 that number could exceed a million, but the Nature Conservancy’s Chris Johnson says we can avert disaster through better planning.”

4-3-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. A tree-sit protest of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has spread to Roanoke County. “Another pipeline protester has taken to the trees. The latest person to climb up a tree in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline — hoping to prevent tree cutting as construction of the project begins — got off the ground Monday on private land in Roanoke County.” This story was also reported by WSLS10.

4-2-18 Blue Virginia. Raised Middle Finger from Ralph Northam to Virginia’s Environment. Article listing the wide range of reasons why Paylor’s reappointment is distressing. Includes press releases on the reappointment from Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

4-2-18 Roanoke Times. As Virginia pipeline battles continue, Northam reappoints head of state environmental agency. “Gov. Ralph Northam will reappoint David K. Paylor as director as of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the state agency at the center of the impassioned debate over the state’s handling of a pair of natural-gas pipeline projects. Northam is expected to make the announcement today at an internal staff event marking the 25th anniversary of the DEQ, according to the governor’s office. …. The DEQ was created in 1993 by merging four agencies into a new entity with a comprehensive mission to protect Virginia’s air, water and land. With his reappointment, Paylor will serve as DEQ’s director under a fourth straight governor. Then-Gov. Tim Kaine appointed him to the job in 2006, making Paylor the state’s top anti-pollution official and capping a career in state government that dates back to the 1970s.”

4-2-18 WVNews. [WV] Department of Environmental Protection launches pipeline information webpage. “In an effort to help inform the public about ongoing pipeline projects in the state, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection launched a new webpage Monday. The page is designed to be an easy to use resource to help residents learn about five major pipeline projects that are either proposed or currently under construction, according to department officials. Those pipeline projects are: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Mountaineer Gas Company Eastern Panhandle Expansion Project, Mountaineer Xpress Pipeline and Rover Pipeline. A variety of project information is available on the page, including maps of the proposed pipeline routes, public hearing transcripts, responses to comments received at public hearings and press releases, as well as a link to the department’s searchable online database and a section to report possible permit violations.

4-2-18 WDBJ7.  Treesitters on Bent Mountain protest against pipeline. “There was a standoff between landowners and the people who want to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline on Bent Mountain. A woman who lives there says pipeline surveyors called the police to her property after she climbed in a tree and refused to come down. The landowner who goes by the name Red says she’s been here since noon today. She says she plans to stay here to keep pipeline crews from tearing down trees on her property.”

4-1-18 Blue Virginia. Witnessing the Proposed Devastation of Dominion Energy’s Noxious Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “On Saturday, I joined a group of about 20 hikers organized by the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter to tour one of the many areas targeted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We hiked trails in the George Washington National Forest near the Braley Pond Day Use Area in Augusta County, just over two hours from Northern Virginia. It is an area of great beauty, frequented by hikers, bicyclists and people who want to fish in the trout stocked waters of Braley Pond. We were struck not only by the natural beauty of the area, but by the many rivers and streams that seem to run everywhere, and which Dominion wants to cross with their buried 42 inch pipeline filled with pressurized methane gas. …. Dominion and the state officials who support it are hoping that people in Northern Virginia don’t make the drive to areas such as Braley Pond to witness the coming devastation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They hope no one is paying attention. It is no wonder. Anyone who visits these areas can immediately see the insanity of running an unnecessary $7 billion methane gas pipeline through a beautiful scenic area in the middle of a national forest. Wake up Virginia!”

4-1-18 Sierra. Trees Score a Victory Against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied a request by Dominion Energy, the lead builder of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, for more time to cut trees on the pipeline route this spring. The company had to stop cutting by the end of March in order to protect migratory birds and endangered bats in the path of the project, which will run from West Virginia to terminals in Virginia and North Carolina.”