March 2018 News

March 2018

3-31-18 NBC29. Activists Using Ribbons to Protest Proposed Path of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Hundreds of orange ribbons mark part of the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) through central Virginia. A group of anti-pipeline activists tied the ribbons to trees in protest of the natural gas pipeline. The pipeline could cuts right through Nancy Kassam-Adams’ land in Nelson County: ‘Everywhere you see an orange ribbon would be clear cut, cut the width of an eight-lane highway. These trees would be clear cut to put in this really unneeded and unnecessary pipeline,’ said the landowner. …. ‘It’s called the signal to noise, and what it involves is surrounding the orange, plastic surveying tape of the direct path of the pipeline with our own art installation,’ said [Virginia artist Amelia] Williams. The goal is to show how much land would be affected by the pipeline.”

3-30-18 News-Leader. Dominion’s pipeline story doesn’t add up. “A recent News Leader article described Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission investigate findings from aerial surveillance of Dominion’s work near the foot of the Blue Ridge in Augusta County. In response to statements by Dominion spokesperson Aaron Ruby concerning our submission,” David Sligh offers comments on behalf of Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA). See post describing the ABRA comments in detail.

3-29-18 NBC29. Virginia Supreme Court Rules Against Dominion in Solar Case. “The Virginia Supreme Court has upheld a case that makes it easier for big electric users to shop around for renewable energy. The court upheld an earlier decision by state regulators allowing large customers to purchase 100 percent renewable energy from an independent producer without restrictions. Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, had argued that big customers who go elsewhere for power should have to give five years’ notice before they could return to the utility. Dominion said it needs that time to properly plan for its power generation needs, while critics said the company is trying to squeeze out independent competitors unfairly.”

3-29-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Freeda Cathcart column: All risks and no benefits for Virginians. “he Department of Environmental Quality should revoke permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. New information makes it clear that Virginians are being asked to bear all of the risks and receive none of the benefits from the natural gas infrastructure. …. It would be as foolish to build more natural gas infrastructure now (when there is no need) as it would have been to have built new stables when the automobile replaced horses and buggies. Natural gas is no longer the cheapest form of energy, and it’s no longer considered a clean energy source. …. During the [December DEQ] hearing, the MVP lawyers mentioned they had to quickly bury the pipes they had purchased months before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved their project. MVP’s engineer, Robert Cooper, stated in court testimony that they were having to rotate the pipe in their storage yards to try to protect the epoxy coating from degrading in the sun. The pipes, exposed to the elements for almost a year now, may have begun to corrode. MVP’s poor planning doesn’t mean the public and environment aren’t entitled to a rigorous review and thoughtful due process before their project can continue to proceed. The DEQ’s Water Control Board must consider new information regarding the MVP and ACP pipelines. It needs to know if the pipes planned for the projects have been compromised.”

3-29-18 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley Pipeline protester charged with blocking Forest Service road. “After spending the night in jail, a protester was released Thursday to await trial on charges of blocking a U.S. Forest Service road that leads to a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site. Rafael Snell-Feikema, 22, of Williamsburg was among a crowd of about 20 people who gathered on Pocahontas Road in Giles County Wednesday as part of a growing demonstration against construction of the natural gas pipeline. Most of the protesters left when told to disperse by Forest Service law enforcement officers; Snell-Feikema ‘made no attempt to move from the area,’ according to a misdemeanor complaint filed against him in U.S. District Court in Roanoke. During the arrest, the defendant told the officers that a 50-foot pole was rigged with Snell-Feikema’s help to stand in the middle of the gravel road, supporting a platform where an anonymous protester was sitting about 30 feet off the ground, the complaint stated. …. Protesters have said that the pole and its human occupant are intended to block Mountain Valley construction crews from reaching the top of Peters Mountain, where the 303-mile buried pipeline will pass through the Jefferson National Forest. The barricade was also meant to prevent large Forest Service vehicles from using the road in an attempt to remove two protesters who have been sitting in trees along the pipeline’s route at the top of the mountain since Feb. 26 in an effort to prevent tree-cutting.”

Washington Post 3-28-18. Agency denies pipeline’s request for more time to cut trees. “A federal commission denied a request Wednesday from developers of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline to continue cutting down trees along the project’s route beyond an initial deadline designed to protect birds and bats. Dominion Energy, leading percentage owner of the natural gas pipeline, told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this month that it appeared workers couldn’t complete tree felling in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina on time and asked for an extension. …. Dominion agreed to the tree-felling restrictions as part of the project’s environmental review process. The windows vary from state to state but generally prohibit tree cutting from mid-March or early April through mid-September or mid-November. Virginia’s restriction began March 15. Dominion, in a letter seeking an extension, wrote that the proposed modification would be at least as environmentally protective as the initially agreed-to limits. FERC Disagreed. …. ‘Those restrictions were put in place for an important purpose, which was to protect migratory birds and bats,’ said Greg Buppert, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. ‘And we think FERC made the right decision and held Dominion to its promise to implement those restrictions for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.’”  This story was reported in many other outlets, including The Recorder.

3-28-18 Register-Herald. Tree-sit protest that spilled over into Virginia broken up by authorities. “A second protest site that had sprung up on the Virginia side of Peters Mountain was broken up Wednesday afternoon, leaving only a single protestor high up a wooden pole in the middle of a Jefferson National Forest access road. According to the Appalachian Against Pipelines Facebook page, a large contingent of law enforcement, including Virginia State Police, U.S Forest Service officials and U.S Marshals, arrived at the protest location at approximately 3:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and arrested protest ground support members, as well as making the general protest supporters gathered at the location disperse. Earlier in the day, protestors had installed a blockade across the access road. …. The tree-sitters on the West Virginia slope of Peters Mountain remain in place.”

3-28-18 State Impact NPR. FERC’s critics, and two commissioners, say new comment policy will hurt landowners. “FERC says it will limit public interventions in its pipeline review process if they are submitted outside the prescribed time, in a new policy that’s being attacked by the agency’s critics as an attempt to stifle comment. …. Critics said the policy on intervention is the agency’s latest move to limit comment on pipeline projects at a time of rising public concern about risks to public safety and environmental quality from proliferating pipeline projects in Pennsylvania and many other states.”

3-28-18 WVNSTV.  Pipeline protests continue amid tree removal.  “Deep in the snowcaps lie the blue ridges of Peters Mountain, which has become a construction zone for the Mountain Valley Pipeline as of March 28, 2018. It is a project that has met with protestors, who believe not a penny from its proposed $17 billion profit will be reinvested to the people. “This is going to shareholders and out-of-state corporations,” said Maury Johnson of Preserve Monroe. “We’re getting nothing.” …. Johnson fully believes in his actions and those of the protestors because it is morally the right thing to do. “Martin Luther King did a lot of illegal things,” Johnson said. “The people that threw the tea in the Boston Harbor, that was illegal. It’s not whether it’s illegal, it’s whether it is right. This is right. It may be illegal, but it is definitely right.”

3-28-28 EcoWatch. Boston Judge Acquits 13 Pipeline Protesters in Groundbreaking Decision. “A Boston judge on Tuesday sided with 13 climate activists who were arrested for protesting the West Roxbury Mass Lateral Pipeline. Judge Mary Ann Driscoll of West Roxbury District Court decided it was necessary for the protestors to engage in civil disobedience to block the construction of Spectra Energy’s high-pressure fracked gas pipeline and acquitted the activists of civil infractions, according to media reports. The judge made the decision after hearing each defendant’s testimony. They argued the threat of climate change necessitated their civil disobedience.”

3-27-18 The Tribune [San Luis Obisbo CA]. Over 70,000 sign petitions protesting pipelines in Virginia. “Environmentalists on Tuesday dropped on Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk petitions signed by more than 70,000 people supporting stricter rules for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines that energy companies plan to build across Virginia. One petition, signed by 10,000 Virginian residents, demands that the Northam administration immediately halt the tree-felling along the pipeline routes and let the public comment on the companies’ plans to control erosion and stormwater before they are finalized by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Activists also gave Northam an online petition signed by more than 62,000 citizens from around the country calling on Northam to stop the pipelines, which they said would threaten the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail and miles of national forest land. By late Tuesday, the number of signatures on the Change.org petition had topped 65,500.”

3-27-18 Washington Post. Gas pipeline forges ahead as environmentalists call on Northam to slow process. “Environmental groups had planned an event here Tuesday to call on Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to slow the permitting process for two major natural gas pipelines, only to learn that one of the projects got its permits the night before. The state Department of Environmental Quality announced that it had issued approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline after 7 p.m. Monday. Workers on the project have begun clearing trees along its path, but this sign-off from the state will let full construction get underway.”

3-27-18 WVTF. As MVP Gets Approval, Activists Continue Push Against Pipelines. “Environmentalists dropped off 10,000 petition signatures to the Governor’s office Tuesday, demanding he call for a more stringent environmental review for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. The petition comes just a day after state regulators signed off on construction plans for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Similar regulations for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are still in the works.”

3-27-18 Roanoke Times. DEQ approves Mountain Valley Pipeline’s plan to control erosion and sediment. “A plan to stem the dirty water that will flow from building a natural gas pipeline through Southwest Virginia was approved Monday by state environmental regulators, marking a key step forward for the controversial project. Erosion, sediment and storm water control plans for the Mountain Valley Pipeline ‘will protect water quality in all areas of Virginia,’ the state’s Department of Environmental Quality announced in a 7:02 p.m. news release. Until now, work on the 303-mile buried pipeline has been limited to cutting trees along its path and leaving them where they fell. With DEQ’s approval of “land disturbing activities” — one of the last remaining regulatory reviews — Mountain Valley is now authorized to begin full-scale construction. Pipeline opponents have said for years that digging trenches for the pipeline along steep mountain slopes will produce sediment-laden runoff, contaminating pristine streams and infiltrating private wells and public water supplies. …. ‘Today, the Virginia DEQ betrayed the public and doomed our streams, wetlands, and groundwater to dire threats and certain damages that should never be accepted,’ David Sligh [a former DEQ employee, now conservation director for Wild Virginia] wrote in an email.”

3-26-18 NRDC.  FERC May Stifle Public Voice on New Gas Pipelines. “Three of the five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—which oversees the siting and approval of America’s interstate natural gas pipelines—recently suggested a new policy that will hamper public participation in FERC’s review of applications for new natural gas pipelines, including those that directly affect their land and communities. It could box out people who, through no fault of their own, don’t learn about a proposal to build a new pipeline before the formal deadline for entering the case.”

3-26-18 News 5 [Cleveland OH]. Residents near Wooster awoken by terrifying noise coming from nearby gas compressor station. “Residents in two Northeast Ohio counties were startled out of sleep early Sunday morning by a scary, loud noise that lasted about an hour. ‘It was a huge, tremendous sound, as in a jet plane in my front yard or 100 Huey helicopters,’ said Debbie Bliss who lives on Bell Road in rural Ashland County. ‘I didn’t know if I should pack and leave or stay and see what happened, but you obviously can’t pack up farm animals and be gone in ten minutes.’ The sound started after 4 a.m. and continued until after 5 a.m. It could be heard by people a few miles away from the Wayne/Ashland County line and many of then dialed 911. …. The noise came from a compressor station run by Texas company Energy Transfer. …. In a statement to News 5, Energy Transfer confirmed a change in pressure was detected at its compressor station, which resulted in the opening of a relief valve. ‘This is what resulted in the noise. The sensors responded and operated as designed. Additionally, our personnel responded to monitor and assess the situation. We apologize for the inconvenience,’ said company spokesperson Alexis Daniel.”

3-26-18 WUNC. Tree Cutting Is Underway For The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, But Opposition In NC Is Staunch. “Crews are already cutting trees in Northampton and Robeson counties to make way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the 600-mile-long delivery system that will carry natural gas from West Virginia, across Virginia, and through North Carolina. The pipeline will cut an eight-county, 200-mile-long path across the Tar Heel State with supporters and opponents all along the route.”

3-26-18 Rocky Mount Telegram [NC]. Battles still rage over gas pipeline. “The fight over an interstate natural gas pipeline though Nash County has moved from the state capital to federal court. Republican lawmakers and Gov. Roy Cooper have been feuding over control of a multimillion-dollar fund promised by Atlantic Coast Pipeline builders meant to mitigate environmental impacts and improve economies in affected counties. Pipeline builders and landowners were in U.S. District Court last week in Elizabeth City. The builders’ complaint alleged immediate access is needed to 15 properties in order to meet a tree-felling deadline to protect migratory birds.”

3-26-18 WVMetroNews. Opinion: Tree protesters blocking Mountain Valley Pipeline are engaged in peaceful, but unlawful action. “The authorities need to step up their efforts to get the protesters out of the trees so the permitted work to build the pipeline can continue. The First Amendment protects the rights of individuals to protest, but it does not insulate those engaged in unlawful behavior from the consequences of their actions.”

3-25-18 Atlanta Black Star. How a Historically Black Virginia Community is Taking On a Pipeline and Rebuking the Gospel of Fossil Fuels. “God wants to build a pipeline. More specifically, he wants the Koch brothers, the controversial right-wing billionaires and petrochemical moguls, to shepherd this divine intervention of natural gas along a 600-mile path from West Virginia to North Carolina, cutting through rural Buckingham County, Virginia, south of Richmond. This was the largely veiled message behind a well-attended December 2016 gospel event held at a community center in Richmond’s East Highland Park neighborhood where hundreds of mostly African-American area residents praised the skies above while celebrity musical acts commanded the stage. Unbeknownst to many attendees, the mission of the event itself was anything but holy. Part of a well-funded propaganda campaign, the concert was sponsored by Fueling US Forward, a fossil fuel advocacy group supported by Koch Industries, and included an intermission panel with industry lobbyists promoting an increased reliance on fossil fuels and such giveaways as the paying-off of attendees’ power bills. …. But some area residents know a false prophet when they see one. ‘We’re dealing with environmental injustice because here in the Union Hill communities it’s predominantly Black,’ said John Laury, a native of Buckingham who raises cattle on his scenic 98-acre farm. ‘They anticipated choosing us here in a predominantly Black area because they anticipated the least resistance. But they have received more resistance than they had anticipated.’”

3-24-28 News Virginian. Citizens group alleges unauthorized pipeline work. “The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance submitted its complaint to FERC on Thursday, saying aerial surveillance conducted by the group found a new section of access road, existing road improvements, construction of timber matting and timber bridges over water bodies or drainage ways. The area is located in Augusta County near where the pipeline would bore through the Blue Ridge Mountains. However, a spokesman for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said the citizens group is in error, insisting that the work only involves a geotechnical survey that the property owner has already approved. The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance submitted aerial photos it took earlier this month as part of its complaint with FERC, which has ultimate authority over the pipeline approval process. Rick Webb, a scientist with the alliance, said the activities ‘do not appear to have been authorized under any of the limited notices to proceed [that] FERC has issued.’ The complaint asks that an investigation to ‘discover the nature and extent of possible violations of requirements by ACP in the areas addressed here.’”

3-23-18 EnergyWire. Is FERC bent on approving pipelines? Judges weigh claim. “Federal judges seemed doubtful yesterday of environmentalists’ claims that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is fundamentally biased in favor of pipelines.”

3-23-18 News Leader. Pipeline prep area allegedly being constructed, citizen group files against FERC. “A citizen group has filed a formal complaint with a federal commission over what they’ve found with a citizen air force. The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) has filed a formal request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over an alleged unauthorized staging area for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. According to the Pipeline CSI, its citizen air force took aerial photos earlier this month, which showed what appears to be substantial construction work in an area of Augusta County, near the site from which Dominion proposes to bore through the Blue Ridge Mountains, a release said.

3-23-18 Reuters. New Jersey AG opposes eminent domain for PennEast natgas pipeline. “New Jersey’s attorney general on Friday asked a U.S. District Court in the state to reject a request by PennEast Pipeline Co to condemn state property interests in preserved land for its proposed natural gas pipeline. PennEast needs the land to build its roughly $1 billion pipeline that will deliver gas from the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania to customers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The state said in its court filing that PennEast’s condemnation actions should be dismissed because the court lacks jurisdiction over New Jersey. If the court decides it has jurisdiction, the state said PennEast’s action should still be dismissed because the company ‘failed to even attempt to contract with the state in order to acquire the property interests.’ …. PennEast is seeking to seize 149 of the 211 properties in the path of the proposed pipeline in New Jersey. Out of the 149 properties, about 50 are preserved lands, more than 20 of which the state owns in whole or in part, according to a statement from conservation groups opposed to the project. ‘PennEast is asking the Court to put private interests over the public interest, but these non-profits and the State of New Jersey have spent significant funds preserving these lands for their critical environmental values, not to create a green path for a dirty pipeline,’ Jennifer Danis, senior staff attorney at the Eastern Environmental Law Center, said in a statement.”

3-23-18 Roanoke Times. As a tree-sit protest of the Mountain Valley Pipeline continues, a crowd is gathering. “A tree-top protest of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is drawing so much public attention that the U.S. Forest Service has designated a spot for supporters to gather. The Caldwell Fields Campground in the Jefferson National Forest has been established as a ‘safe location … for people to exercise their First Amendment rights’ about protesters who are sitting in two trees along the pipeline’s route in an attempt to block its construction, the Forest Service said Friday. The campground is in Montgomery County, miles from the spot where the tree-sit protest will soon enter a second month on national forest land atop Peters Mountain in West Virginia. …. On Thursday, when word spread that the Forest Service might be starting an attempt to remove the tree-sitters, a crowd of about 20 supporters gathered on Pocahontas Road in Giles County, where a gate closing the road prevented them from getting any closer to the tree-sit site. …. Becky Crabtree, a Monroe County resident who is fighting plans for a natural gas pipeline that would pass through her family farm, was one of the people who gathered on Pocahontas Road with signs showing their support for the tree-sitters. ‘It’s public property,’ Crabtree said of the spot. ‘They don’t want us there, it seems obvious.’ It was not clear Friday if that part of the national forest and other areas would be off-limits for gatherings like the one the day before. …. ‘I don’t have any intention of going to Caldwell Fields to raise objections about something that is happening in my backyard,’ she said.”

3-23-18 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: ACP’s effects are poorly addressed. “Many thanks to The Daily Progress for its comprehensive coverage of the many facets of the pipeline controversy, and in particular for the recent letter (“Pipeline mitigation inadequate,” March 18) pointing out the shortcomings of past state governments and our current legislators in protecting Virginia’s environment and natural beauty from the depredations of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline consortium in particular and big energy donators in general. I would urge readers to add our Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to the list of recalcitrants in this regard, for their blanket approval of ACP plans to cross multiple wetlands and streams along its intended path. Regarding the proposed wetlands and river crossings, it seems quite clear that no one, DEQ or otherwise in state officialdom, has bothered to ground-study or even survey the implications of pipeline trenching across marsh or under the Rockfish River — both of which are within view of my home. …. A more serious effort to address its environmental responsibilities to the public, rather than the profits of big energy, should be demanded by all of us.”

3-23-18 Natural Gas Intelligence. Court Dismisses Enviros Proposed Stay of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ” A request filed by a coalition of environmental groups seeking a stay to suspend construction of the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline (ACP) has been dismissed by a federal court. In an order issued Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit sided with FERC and Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, which argued that the court lacked jurisdiction in the case. …. A month after FERC authorized ACP and MVP, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of a coalition including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and others, filed rehearing requests and hundreds of pages detailing FERC’s alleged failures in certificating the two projects. The issues raised in the rehearing requests generally track closely with those brought up throughout the certification process, with the groups claiming, among other things, that FERC failed to properly assess the market need for the pipes and failed to evaluate alternatives. In filings with the Fourth Circuit, FERC and ACP argued — successfully, ultimately — that the court did not have jurisdiction because their rehearing application for ACP remains pending before the Commission. Beyond that, they said, Appalachian Mountain Advocates’ arguments against the project were meritless. Courts generally will not entertain appeals to engage in a case until the rehearing process at FERC has been completed.”

3-23-18 NBC12. Records: State police spent nearly $50K on pipeline hearings. “Documents show Virginia State Police spent nearly $50,000 on personnel and equipment during public meetings on state permits for two controversial natural gas pipelines. The documents, obtained through a public records request and provided to The Associated Press, outline the agency’s spending during four days of State Water Control Board meetings about the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. The board met at a Richmond community center in December to consider whether to grant water permits for the projects.”

3-22-18 WDBJ7. More pipeline conflicts play out in Giles County Thursday. “Law enforcement officers from the U.S. Forest Service traveled to the top of Peters Mountain Thursday, where tree sitters were camping in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The officers posted additional notices closing the area, but they did not attempt to remove the activists Thursday afternoon. …. The day also brought a confrontation between a Giles County landowner and a crew cutting trees for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The land at the heart of that dispute is located between Pembroke and the Cascade waterfall, the point at which plans call for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross Little Stony Creek. The landowner said he didn’t fight the tree cutting on other parts of his property, but said he was expecting MVP to tunnel beneath the creek and not disturb trees above. ‘If I went in there and cut I would be breaking DEQ law,’ Shawn Hash said of the wetlands near his home, ‘but for some reason they have a blanket permit from the Army Corps which allows them to do it. And that’s really the frustrating part. We have really felt that we have not had an advocate at any level to help us in this. We’ve been kind of on our own.’”

3-22-18 Register-Herald [WV]. Regional University Students Teaming Up to Cover Pipeline. “Students of West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media and George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs will be teaming up to cover the impact of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on the Mountain State. The coverage will be in-depth from locations from throughout West Virginia and Washington, D.C. In the nation’s capital, students will focus on politics and policy surrounding the pipeline, while students in the field will focus on the people on the ground at or near the pipeline. …. ‘This collaboration gives students the freedom to experiment with different mediums, tell underreported stories and break down borders by covering stories from both D.C. and West Virginia,’ said Jonathan Ebinger, a lecturer at the GW School of Media and Public Affairs, and one of the faculty advisers on the project in the release. Participating students hail from West Virginia, New York, Illinois and California.”  For additional information see WVUToday.

3-22-18 WDTV [WV]. Atlantic Coast Pipeline plans moving along, environmental concerns remain. “The Atlantic coast pipeline project is set to be in full effect at the end of March, but some people are hoping that it won’t come at all. ‘I still hold out hope that we could turn ourselves around,’ says President of the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance April Pierson-Keating. Pierson-Keating says that the location of the pipeline is a concern. ‘12,000 ft from our state police barracks and less than half a mile from our high school. So if it blew right there, it would take out the water tower, there’s a house right there, the state police barracks, those would be incinerated totally’ says Pierson-Keating.”

3-21-18 Energy News Network. North Carolina tribes fear impact of Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction. “American Indian tribes in the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are making an eleventh-hour plea to stop construction until regulators can ensure ancient artifacts and their ancestral lands won’t be damaged. The largest tribe east of the Mississippi, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina has rarely weighed in on environmental permits. But its recent resolution, along with one from the state’s Commission of Indian Affairs, reflects growing concern among tribes that the pipeline could destroy swamps and forests that have long sustained their culture. …. American Indians comprise just over 1 percent of North Carolina residents, but they make up 13 percent of those living within a mile of the gas pipeline’s route. In Robeson County, where the Lumbee Tribe is concentrated, indigenous people are the largest ethnic group, accounting for more than 40 percent of the population.”

3-20-18 UtilityDive. EIA: Gas generation dropped 7.7% in 2017 while coal declined 2.5%. “-Changes to the United States’ power generation mix last year reflected fuel price fluctuations and the growth of renewable energy, though overall demand fell. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. net generation fell by 1.5% in 2017, compared with the year before.
-Natural gas generation fell most steeply by 105,443 Gwh, or 7.7%, and coal generation declined 31,248 GWh, or 2.5%. More than 11 GW of capacity retired last year, with most of that being coal.
-Both wind and utility-scale solar cracked new records, according to EIA’s Electric Power Monthly. Wind accounted for 6.3% of total net generation, and utility-scale solar made up 1.3%.”

3-20-18 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Court denies environmental groups’ request for preliminary relief in MVP case. “A request for preliminary relief in a pipeline case filed by a coalition of environmental groups has been shut down in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The pipeline, which will run from Wetzel County, West Virginia to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, will require nearly 600 water crossings in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Huntington District in West Virginia, court documents state. The motion for preliminary relief was filed in a case in which environmental groups argue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers erroneously granted the Mountain Valley Pipeline project a streamlined construction permit that required another certificate the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection previously waived. The motion, filed Feb. 23, asks that the 303-mile-long pipeline stay out of stream and water crossings until a judge hears the entire case. But Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond denied that motion.”

3-20-18 Register-Herald. A morning with the pipeline protesters (with VIDEO). “Since Feb. 26, Crabtree and other residents of the Peters Mountain area have been joined by visitors who have also learned the sounds and sights of the mountain. Those visitors are protesters who have installed themselves high up in the trees near the summit of the mountain in order to place themselves in front of a swath of downed trees that makes it way up the mountain. The trees have been cut for the installation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) up the side of the mountain before it is planned to run through a borehole to be drilled just below the ridge and the Appalachian Trail and down the Virginia side. The protesters’ aim is prevent MVP from cutting any more trees. From their high perch, those protesters have a panoramic view of the limestone-rich valley below and of Crabtree’s home, barn and pastures. ‘We have a sheep field there where the red barn is, and the pipeline will be bisecting our sheep field,’ Crabtree said from the top of the mountain Monday morning as she was there to share her support with the protesters. ‘They are standing up for us when our own government is letting us down,’ Crabtree said. ‘FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has let us down; the governor let us down. We have no sanity when it comes to protecting the land.’”

3-20-18 Roanoke Times. W.Va. judge denies injunction to remove pipeline protestors from trees. “An attempt to flush pipeline protesters from their stands in trees atop Peters Mountain fell short Tuesday. Monroe County Circuit Judge Robert Irons denied a preliminary injunction requested by Mountain Valley Pipeline, which sought the court’s intervention to remove what has become a troublesome obstacle to its plans to build a natural gas pipeline through West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. Although Irons said last week that he was inclined to grant the injunction, his view changed during a hearing Tuesday when William DePaulo, an attorney for the tree-sitters, argued that Mountain Valley has failed to prove they are actually in the route of the proposed pipeline.”

3-19-18 WVTF. Bird Lovers Protest Dominion’s Tree Cutting Plan. “Dominion is still waiting for state permission to start work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but it got the green light to start taking down trees along the proposed route in January. Federal regulators considered the likely environmental impact and said the company should stop from mid-March through August to protect migrating birds, but Dominion says it needs to keep cutting. ‘Biological monitors are going to survey all the work sites before we begin any tree felling, and if we find any bird nests we’ll place a protective buffer around those nests,’ Ruby explains. ‘We’re not going to damage the nests, we’re not going to cut down the trees where we observe inhabited nests.’ That promise does not impress ornithologists like Ashley Peele. She’s coordinating production of the Breeding Bird Atlas at Virginia Tech. ‘Once the leaves are out it becomes really difficult to spot nests, and even prior to that time, if we’re talking about small species,’ she says. ‘They build pretty small nests and they tend to build them very high in trees.’ And even if trees are saved there’s no guarantee that birds will stick around as crews work nearby. Everything from a hawk to a small songbird is going to be potentially very disturbed by that type of activity, especially if it’s near the nesting site,’ Peele explains. ‘Research has shown that a number of declining migratory species nest within the interior of forests, and they’re very sensitive to how close the edge of that forest is to their nesting site.’”

3-19-18 WDBJ. Bent Mountain dig raises new concerns from pipeline opponents. “A crew working for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is now conducting an archaeological dig on Bent Mountain. The work has raised fresh concerns from landowners in the area who object to the operation and want to know more about what’s happening there.”

3-19-18 WVTF. Monitors Mobilize Along ACP Route. “State regulators have not yet approved construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, although they have signed off on removal of trees along its proposed path. More than 160 people have volunteered to keep an eye on crews, and those monitors are already mobilizing and calling attention to possible violations in three counties.”

3-18-18 WSET. Grassroots groups mourn tree fall, commit to continuing fight against pipeline. “The demonstration comes after the company building the pipeline, Dominion Energy, was issued 15 violations by DEQ for cutting trees in areas they were not permitted to. ‘We need to make sure that things like these get noticed and that we don’t let DEQ or anybody else turn the other way,’ said Burton. She said that violations like these will be what helps the grassroots groups slow down and eventually stop the pipeline’s construction. ”

3-18-18 Roanoke Times. The imminent pipeline danger to the Greater Newport Historic District. “The Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens the Greater Newport Rural District (and seven other historic sites/districts as well) with irreparable harm by its very construction and, more seriously, it endangers human life by placing our homes, our churches and community centers within the blast and evacuation zones. This is an issue that MVP has refused to discuss when I or someone else has brought the subject up. …. My/our very real concerns are not being heard or not taken seriously. I hope that our legislators will hear us and you will take us seriously. Our historic district is located in the middle of a seismic area, our mountains and valleys are karst in nature, both of which are detrimental to safe placement of a 42 inch pipeline carrying natural gas at 1,400 psi. This pipeline, the MVP, will place many of our historic building, as well as other buildings, and many of us within them in the blast zone, or the evacuation zone. It is unethical for our government to allow this to happen, and it defies all logic as well. We ask that our legislators please freeze further permitting actions until there have been thorough assessments of both the threats the MVP is imposing on our community, as well as an assessment of an alternative route, such as Hybrid Alternative 1A.”

3-18-18 Daily Progress. Commentary: Restore funding for Virginia conservation. “During the recent regular session of the General Assembly, Virginia citizens from all across our commonwealth called their legislators and asked them to increase funding for land conservation. But instead of heeding these well-reasoned pleas from constituents, on Feb. 18 legislators proposed cutting funding for statewide conservation programs. Official documents indicate that this decision was based on a flawed rationale regarding recent mitigation agreements. Our legislature is making a terrible miscalculation in trying to substitute these agreements, which the commonwealth negotiated with companies building natural gas pipelines, for statewide conservation funding. The mitigation agreements are intended to provide financial compensation to the state for forests that will be affected by pipeline construction. They are absolutely not a replacement for statewide conservation funding. …. Rather than honoring the purpose of pipeline mitigation funds, the General Assembly is mistakenly attempting to use their existence as a justification to cut funding for statewide conservation programs.”

3-18-18 Daily Progress. Letter: Pipeline mitigation inadequate. “Now we learn that on Dec. 28 of last year, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s secretary of natural resources signed an agreement that basically lets Dominion off the hook for the environmental damage the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is going to cause. Specifically, Dominion pledges $38.65 million to remedy forest impacts and a pitiful $19.2 million to cover damage to our precious water resources. The agreement states that these two potential payments discharge “any and all mitigation responsibilities” for “direct or indirect forest-related impacts of the Project” and “any and all … water quality impacts.” Not just during construction, but for the full life of the pipeline, which is projected to be around 40 years. And McAuliffe did this before the ACP has even gained full approval. Think about this. A paltry $58 million could easily get eaten up by a single explosive incident, or over time by the steady trickle of chemicals into our groundwater. After that, Dominion walks and we bear the burden of further costs. In perpetuity. If this were such a good deal, then McAuliffe, never shy about self-promotion, would have praised it to high heaven, not hidden it from the public for over a month.”

3-16-18 WV Public Broadcasting. ‘Somebody’s Up There Sittin’ in a Tree’ – A Look at the Ongoing Pipeline Protest on Peters Mountain. “Since late February, a small group of people have been quietly perched in two trees atop Peters Mountain in Monroe County. They are so remote, few have seen or heard directly from the protesters, but still there’s plenty of people noticing. It’s not known exactly who or how many people are in the trees, protesting a planned pipeline in the area. Two trees have wooden platforms suspended by ropes and covered in plastic. They creak in the wind. Five-gallon plastic buckets and some bottles dangle on the sides. Signs, made from sheets hanging down like sails from the tree limbs, state ‘Water is our Future,’ ‘Stop MVP,’ and ‘Fight back against frack pipelines.’ A notice from the Mountain Valley Pipeline is taped to the trunk of one tree. It claims the right to cut trees and build a pipeline and notifies the sitters that court papers have been filed.”

3-16-18 Progressive Pulse. BREAKING: Federal judge rules in favor of two landowners in Atlantic Coast Pipeline case. “US District Court Judge Terence Boyle ruled today that Winstead and fellow defendant Ron Locke do not have to allow Atlantic Coast Pipeline contractors on their property to begin tree-cutting — at least for now. Earlier this week in Elizabeth City, Judge Boyle heard arguments from both attorneys for Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, a company formed by co-owners Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, and lawyers for the landowners over tree-cutting and access to land. ACP, LLC had asked Boyle to force Winstead and Locke to allow them access to their properties, even though they had not yet negotiated payment for the condemned land. ACP wants to exercise eminent domain on 2.27 acres of Locke’s farm and more than 11 on Winstead’s — including the family’s 100-year-old pine tree that lies in the pipeline’s path. In his 14-page ruling, Boyle, a George H.W. Bush nominee, determined that neither Winstead nor Locke had not been given a reasonable opportunity to negotiate with ACP, LLC. In Winstead’s case, surveyors allegedly trespassed on his property. Although Winstead did receive an offer from ACP, LLC in January 2016, he testified Wednesday that a surveyor’s crew chief subsequently told him his land wasn’t even on the pipeline route. Locke testified that he had tried to communicate with ACP, LLC about compensation, but that the company had failed to contact him.”

3-16-18 NC Policy Watch. Two days after contentious court hearing, Dominion asks FERC for more time to cut trees for pipeline. “The trees had to be cut down immediately. In fact, it should have been done yesterday. There was no wiggle room, attorneys for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline argued to a federal judge on Wednesday, and delays would cause “irreparable harm” to the utilities. But now Dominion and Duke Energy, co-owners of the ACP, have decided that, well, maybe the issue isn’t so urgent after all. According to documents filed today, ACP, LLC has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a deadline extension to cut trees that are on private property in the path of the pipeline. This is a major about-face, because earlier this week, ACP, LLC had taken several landowners to court, asking a federal judge to force them to provide access to their property for tree-cutting.”  This story was also reported in the Herald Sun and the Washington Post.

3-16-18 Roanoke Star. DEQ Takes Enforcement Action Against Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP) on March 16, 2018, for failing to maintain adequate limits of disturbance during tree felling operations in violation of Virginia’s State Water Control Law. These limits forbid work within buffer zones to protect stream and wetland crossings during pipeline development, and are instrumental to the protection of Virginia’s environment and natural resources. The NOV identifies violations on 15 separate sites resulting in an estimated 0.84 acres in impact to wetlands and streams.” This story was also reported by The Recorder and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

3-16-18 NBC12. Virginians rally statewide against pipeline construction. “A coalition of activist groups throughout Virginia rallied Thursday against natural gas pipelines scheduled for construction across the western part of the state, North Carolina and West Virginia. While rallies were held in Blacksburg, Floyd, Roanoke and Franklin County, 10 members of the coalition made their presence known outside the gates of the Executive Mansion on Capitol Square, singing songs and chanting.”

3-15-18 Pipeline News. Atlantic Coast, Supply Header Construction in West Virginia Approved. “FERC has approved Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC’s and Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc.’s request to commence the following construction activities associated with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Supply Header Project in West Virginia: Full construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Marts Compressor Station and the Kincheloe Meter and Regulating (M&R) Station in Lewis County; Mechanized tree clearing and site grading at the Supply Header Project’s Mockingbird Hill Compressor Station in Wetzel County.”

3-15-18 LittleSis. Scandal-Ridden Wells Fargo Rips Off Customers While Funding the Gun Industry & Carceral State. “According to a recent Oil Change International report, Wells Fargo has been the world’s 20th biggest financier of fossil fuels from 2014 to 2016. In that time, the bank gave access a total of $4.82 billion in funds to fossil fuel companies and projects, including $3.21 billion for coal power, $449 million for LNG, $307 million for Arctic oil, and $81 million related tied to Canadian Tar Sands. Wells Fargo is also part of the credit arrangements to the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines – with $120 million to the latter – and to Dominion Energy, the driving force in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It should also be noted that Warren Buffet, the bank’s largest beneficial owner, owns the BNSF Railway Company – a major transporter of coal and crude oil – and Berkshire Hathaway Energy – whose utilities are huge sources of coal emissions.”

3-15-18 Nelson County Times. Crews begin cutting trees near Wintergreen Resort to make way for Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline took another step toward construction Tuesday, when crews began cutting down trees in Nelson County to make way for the interstate natural gas project. Tuesday marked the first time pre-construction activities took place in Nelson County, though tree-felling has been happening for several weeks elsewhere along the 600-mile route that runs through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, including about 27 miles in Nelson. Crews from ACP began felling trees with non-mechanized equipment Tuesday morning near Wintergreen Resort on property owned by Wintergreen Property Owners Association.”

3-15-18 Bloomberg. Pipeline Stocks Plunge After FERC Kills Key Income-Tax Allowance.
“Dominion Energy Midstream Partners LP dropped as much as 11 percent to $22.70, the most in more than two years, while Dominion Energy Inc., parent of the publicly traded partnership, dropped as much as 3.5 percent. Company spokesman Ryan Frazier declined comment on the FERC announcement.”

3-15-18 Greenwire. FERC splits on climate review, reapproves Sabal Trail. “Federal regulators last night reinstated permits for a major Southeast natural gas network at the center of an unprecedented climate battle that almost shut the project down. In a late-night order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reinstated a certificate for the Sabal Trail pipeline and a broader network known as the Southeast Market Pipelines Project. The network delivers gas through Alabama and Georgia to Florida power plants. The reauthorization comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year ruled that FERC failed to adequately consider climate impacts before approving the project. The court’s August 2017 decision would have required the project to shut down until the agency supplemented its analysis, but government and industry lawyers successfully maneuvered for more time. …. wo FERC commissioners — Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick — say the agency’s climate analysis is insufficient. In dissenting statements, the Democratic appointees argue that FERC’s approach to analyzing downstream greenhouse gas emissions falls short of the National Environmental Policy Act. Glick’s dissent was particularly biting, slamming FERC for failing to ‘provide a reasoned answer’ to the D.C. Circuit’s order.”

3-15-18 NC Policy Watch. Landowners in the path of proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline look to federal judge for relief. “‘What is the harm in giving us access now or later?’ Richard D. Holzheimer, Jr., an attorney with McGuireWoods, the firm representing the ACP, asked the court. He acknowledged the project would inflict ‘irreparable harm’ but ‘not from early access.’ Landowners say harm has already been done, and there’s more in store. Unlicensed land agents and surveyors working on behalf of ACP have allegedly tried to hoodwink them, changing the amount of acreage to be condemned and low-balling them on the price. Their contractors have allegedly trespassed on private property. The pipeline would cross Winstead’s field, making part of it unable to grow robust crops. The ACP has failed to communicate with them for months at a time, they say, and now wants to rush the process. This purported crisis, the landowners and their attorneys argue, is of ACP’s own making. …. Lawyers for the landowners noted that there could be more delays because 10 cases are pending against the ACP in various federal courts. If the ACP loses any of those cases, the route changes, or in the unlikely event that the project were scrapped altogether, ‘landowners would be irreparably harmed if the trees are felled and [FERC’s] order is reversed,’ said attorney Catherine W. Cralle-Jones, who is representing Winstead. Every day that Winstead can hold off the ACP from building the pipeline, which will run 275 feet from his house and affect 11 acres of his farm, is another day his tree can stand, his fields can be fully planted and his property will retain its value.”

3-14-18 50 States of Blue. Pipeline fight escalates along Virginia/West Virginia border. “Earlier this month, the company attempting to construct the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline began cutting trees along the route in the Jefferson National Forest — and in response, landowners and activists are ratcheting up efforts to block or delay construction.”

3-14-18 Marcellus Drilling News. Big Green Makes Desperate Attempt to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipe. “Big Green groups opposed to Dominion Energy’s $6.5 billion (up from $5 billion due to delays) Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina are about out of options in their holy mission to stop the project. They’ve tried multiple lawsuits, protests, bullying state environmental agencies–the whole bag of nasty tricks. And yet ACP is now under construction. What’s left to try to stop it? The Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of a mishmash of second tier radical groups, have filed a “hail Mary” request with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop construction of ACP until a lawsuit sitting before the Fourth Circuit questioning the validity of the permits granted for the project is played out. In other words, back to the tried-and-true playbook: delay, delay, delay–until eventually you deny….”

3-13-18 Daily Progress. Charlottesville releases Aug. 12 police plan to journalists; judge to rule on state police document. Why is this relevant to the ACP?  Because “State police 1st Sgt. Christopher Clark helped author the police plan and said it contained a lot of sensitive information about tactical plans and a roster of the names and contact information for state troopers. Clark said the document is being used as a framework to create a plan in case protests pop up after construction begins on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. He said that during the protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline, protesters learned the last names of police officers and were able to find out personal information, including addresses and bank information.”

3-13-18 NRDC.  Are Appalachian Pipelines Being Built to Increase Exports? “There are at least 15 massive new fracked gas pipelines planned or under development in the Appalachian region, with more proposed for other regions. These new pipelines are expected to lead to enormous increases in fracking and new threats to clean air, clean water, and the climate. They would also increase consumer costs and the use of eminent domain, whereby pipeline companies are allowed to seize private property from individual Americans. Even if a pipeline has not been proven necessary, and even if it ends up transporting gas for export rather than domestic use, the owners can make a guaranteed 14% profit, pass on their on their costs to consumers, and take land from families and farms. The owners of most of these new proposed pipelines claim they will provide natural gas to domestic customers, but there’s no proven need for them….  Some pipelines have attempted to prove they have domestic customers by producing contracts with corporate affiliates–but such contracts don’t offer that proof. And once these pipelines are in operation, it’s impossible for the public to determine how much of the gas is ending up at LNG export terminals. While pipeline companies have to post their flow data, it’s very arcane and companies can post the data in different formats. Only industry number crunchers with sophisticated proprietary models can figure out where gas is flowing. An industry executive recently summed this issue up, stating that, when it comes to where future natural gas production will end up, ‘…exports are key for everything…’”

3-13-18 Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk approves gas pipeline construction beneath drinking water reservoirs. “The [Norfolk] City Council approved an easement Tuesday night that will allow Dominion Energy and its partners to build a natural gas pipeline underneath two of Norfolk’s drinking water reservoirs in Suffolk. The 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is expected to run between West Virginia and North Carolina, would include a spur through Hampton Roads to a terminal in Chesapeake. To get there, the pipeline would run beneath the Lake Prince and Western Branch reservoirs in Suffolk, which are on property owned by Norfolk and supply much of the city’s drinking water. …. Opponents of the plan, from activists to the city’s own environmental commission, have criticized the pipeline. They argue the project could leak toxic chemicals into the reservoirs or further increase dependence on fossil fuels, which contribute to the climate change and sea level rise affecting Norfolk.”

3-13-18 Roanoke Times. W.Va. judge to grant injunction to prevent protesters from sitting in trees. “A judge said Tuesday he will grant an injunction to prevent two protesters from sitting in trees, where for the past two weeks they have complicated plans to build a natural gas pipeline. But after half a day of testimony in Monroe County Circuit Court, there was no clear picture of how the tree-sitters will be removed. ‘We don’t have the resources to do anything to get these people out of the trees,’ Judge Robert Irons told attorneys for Mountain Valley Pipeline, who sought the preliminary injunction. ‘That’s on you.’ Irons said he was reluctant to have the county sheriff’s office get involved in what is a civil matter. However, he agreed to set a bond of $10,000, which Mountain Valley will post to cover the expenses incurred by the tricky question of how to extract two pipeline protesters from their perches in tree stands about 60 feet off the ground. The tree-sitters occupy a spot along the pipeline’s planned route across Peters Mountain, preventing tree cutting in what would be the first phase of building a 303-mile pipeline through West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

3-13-18 Roanoke Times. Majors, Chisholm and Bondurant: A dispatch from the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “The abuses of federal eminent domain for private pipeline profit coupled with ‘environmental mitigation’ schemes set frightening precedent for our commonwealth and nation. Since the Mountain Valley Pipeline appeared in 2014, Virginia state and federal courts have avoided decisions against the gas industry, including the question of ‘public need,’ rationalizing it as administratively determined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).”

3-13-18 Charleston Gazette-Mail. WV DEP orders Rover Pipeline to stop construction, citing multiple violations. “State regulators have slapped a cease and desist order on a natural gas pipeline, citing multiple water pollution violations, according to a letter made public by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The 713-mile-long Rover Pipeline, which would transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from processing plants in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania per day, received a cease-and-desist order March 5 from Scott Mandirola, director of the Division of Water and Waste Management, documents show. According to the order, DEP officials conducted inspections on four different days in February, during which they cited 14 violations in Doddridge, Tyler and Wetzel counties. The offenses include leaving trash and construction debris partially buried on site, improperly installing perimeter control and failing to inspect or clean public and private roads around the construction site. The pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners, has been ordered to halt construction until state regulators inspect the site and determine Rover Pipeline LLC is complying with the Water Pollution Control Permit, issued Dec. 15, 2016. Rover is also tasked with submitting a plan of ‘corrective action’ due March 25 and installing devices to control erosion and sediment water release.”

3-13-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Dominion fails in attempt to bar testimony on pipeline’s potential $2.3 billion hit for ratepayers. “Utility regulators at the State Corporation Commission have refused Dominion Energy’s request to strike expert testimony that claims its contentious Atlantic Coast Pipeline will cost its Virginia ratepayers as much as $2.3 billion extra on their bills. In an order released Monday on Dominion’s integrated resource plan, the long-range forecast on how the company will meet customer needs between 2018 and 2032, the commission allowed testimony by natural gas industry analyst Gregory Lander to remain part of the record. Lander, retained by environmental groups opposed to the 600-mile project, which Dominion has said will cut utility bills and boost employment, used the company’s own data to predict the pipeline will increase bills for Dominion’s nearly 2.5 million ratepayers between $1.6 billion and $2.3 billion. ‘We deny any objections we took under advisement and admit all evidence, including the testimony of … Lander,’ the commission said. ‘We have given this evidence the weight due when making our finding herein.’”  See also NBC29 coverage.

3-12-18 S&P Global. Court backs FERC on Millennium project, finds New York review exceeds a year. “A court Monday let stand a US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision that booted New York out of the permitting process for a Millennium Pipeline natural gas lateral to a CPV Valley power plant in New York, affirming rulings that allowed the gas project to move past a delay at the state level and into the construction phase. A decision Monday by the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that had asked the court to vacate two FERC orders that allowed Millennium to start building the 127,200 Dt/d Valley Lateral project. The court agreed with FERC that the state agency had waived its authority to review Millennium’s request for a Clean Water Act Section 401 certificate by failing to act on the company’s application within one year.”

3-12-18 Technician. Controversial pipeline brings economic promises, environmental justice concerns. “Ryan Emanuel, an associate professor within the College of Natural Resources and a member of the Lumbee Tribe, talks about the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline while in his office in Jordan Hall Addition on Thursday Feb. 18. If completely approved, the natural gas pipeline will start in West Virginia and run through Virginia and into eastern North Carolina. According to Emanuel, the addition of the pipeline would adversely affect nearby low-income residents, especially people of color and Native Americans.”

3-12-18 Roanoke Times. Letter: Natural gas is bad for Virginia. “A ruinous public policy is described in the Jan. 26 commentary ‘Expanding access to natural gas is smart public policy.’ Instead of carbon, liquid natural gas (LNG) emits methane, a dangerous heat-producing greenhouse gas. The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) would produce Instead of carbon, liquid natural gas (LNG) emits methane, a dangerous heat-producing greenhouse gas. The fracked ‘natural’ gas that would flow in the proposed MVP and ACP will not be available to the 20 counties along their paths. It will be used for existing and new export contracts. …. Natural gas is not ‘safe, clean, reliable, affordable and abundant.’ …. You need only look to the coffers of any politician that support these projects: you will find Dominion and EQT as donors. No, it is not a good public policy to introduce 1,000 miles of sediment dumps and herbicides into waterways, miles of mountaintop removal, abuse of eminent domain, loss of tourism revenue and pollution-emitting compressor stations into our Commonwealth.”

3-11-18 Roanoke Times. Forest service imposes emergency closure along Mountain Valley Pipeline route. “In what it described as an emergency, the U.S. Forest Service said Saturday it was closing parts of the Jefferson National Forest where a natural gas pipeline is planned. The order ‘was enacted to protect public safety due to hazards associated with constructing the Mountain Valley Pipeline,’ according to a news release issued late Saturday afternoon. With the exception of authorized personnel, the order prohibits anyone from being within 200 feet of either side of a right-of-way established for the pipeline to pass through the national forest in Monroe County, West Virginia, and Giles and Montgomery counties. Also off-limits to the public are access roads that Mountain Valley will use during construction of the pipeline.”

3-10-18 Augusta Free Press.  Conservation groups file request to stay construction on Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “The Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of their client conservation and environmental groups asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to halt construction by Atlantic Coast Pipeline developers until it decides whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s permit is valid.  ‘We know this pipeline is unneeded by customers along its path. If construction is allowed to go forward and the Court later decides this permit is invalid, it will be impossible to undo the damage to mountain ridges, mature forests, and sensitive rivers and streams,’ said Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. ‘The damage will be done.’”

3-10-18 News Virginian. Waiting in the wings: ACP pipe ready to roll. “While regulatory hurdles remain for the construction start of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, production of the needed pipe was completed months ago — and stands ready to be installed as soon as the ACP earns a final stamp of approval from regulators. Aaron Ruby, a spokesman for Dominion Energy, noted that the pipe production for the 600-mile natural gas pipeline was finished last fall. All of the pipe was manufactured at American mills in Pennsylvania and Alabama. An agreement was reached in 2015 with Dura-Bond, a Pennsylvania steel mill, on a $400 million contract to produce the pipe. The company hired additional employees to meet the pipe construction schedule. Dura-Bond manufactured the large-diameter pipe of 36 and 42 inches in Steelton, Pennsylvania. American Steel produced the smaller-diameter pipe of 16 and 20 inches at its mill in Birmingham, Ala. In a 2016 video for the pipeline project, Dura-Bond President Jason Norris said the pipeline created 250 jobs for his company, and also added work for machine and welding shops. ‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is bringing manufacturing back to the United States,’ said Norris, who speaks of the historic nature of the pipeline. Ruby said half of the steel plate for the project was purchased from American suppliers, and the remaining half came from South Korean producers. The larger diameter, thicker-walled steel plate was not domestically available, the spokesman said.”

3-9-18 WVNSTV-CBS59. Parts of Monongahela Forest to close during Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction. “The USDA Forest Service has issued a closure order for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project right of way and access roads on National Forest System lands in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, on the Marlinton Ranger District. The closure order is in place due to public safety hazards associated with constructing the ACP Project. The order prohibits going into or to be upon National Forest System lands within 200 feet of the centerline of the pipeline right of way. The order also prohibits nonmotorized and motorized use of the following roads due to hazards associated with the ACP Project during construction and when closed by a sign, gate or barricade. …. More information on the ACP Project on National Forest System lands can be viewed at www.fs.usda.gov/gwj/.”

3-9-18 CNBC. Pipeline CEOs vow to fight back against environmental activism and sabotage. “Executives from major pipeline companies say environmental activists have become more intense, coordinated and sophisticated in their campaigns against energy infrastructure. The industry needs to anticipate challenges from activists and leave no room for projects to be appealed in courts or in the halls of regulatory agencies, one CEO said. Pipeline companies are also losing the battle of public opinion on social media, according to another executive.”

3-9-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Governor signs sweeping utility overhaul affecting 3 million Virginia ratepayers. “Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday signed into law a dramatic overhaul of regulations for Virginia’s two large electric utilities, a change that includes big boosts for grid modernization, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs but also one that opponents contend will make it difficult for state regulators to police billions in utility spending and issue customer refunds. ‘Today I signed legislation ending the freeze on energy utility rates, returning money to customers, and investing in clean energy and a modern grid,’ Northam said on Twitter. ‘I am proud that my team and I improved this bill significantly and thank the General Assembly for its continued work on the measure.’ The law was spearheaded by Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest utility with about 2.5 million residential and commercial customers. With increased focus on its lobbying clout this session, the company shepherded the law through a series of committee and floor debates and assembled a wide coalition of business and environmental advocates. …. The bill was pitched as a crucial mechanism to move Virginia to a modern grid and more renewable energy while keeping base rates stable. But critics blasted it as another end run around regulation that was more about preserving the base rates and regulatory model that make Dominion’s Wall Street analysts swoon. …. Opponents, including a pair of state senators who unsuccessfully urged Northam to amend the bill, said it would lock in base rates that are already too high and make it practically impossible for the commission to lower rates and issue refunds by sanctioning utility spending that would keep that from happening. The commission and others, including Attorney General Mark Herring’s office, argued that the law would erode protections for ratepayers even as it encouraged big spending from the utilities.”

3-9-18 Popular Resistance.org. The Lives Destroyed By The Mountain Valley Pipeline. “It’s a frightening thing to realize that despite spending years in one place, despite working hard over decades to make your house a home, despite being dutifully on time with property taxes and mortgage payments, someone could rip your home away to build a pipeline. RVA Mag traveled to Giles County, Virginia to document the lives and stories of some of the people most affected by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

3-9-18 Moneyweb. Batteries will kill fossil fuels – it’s only a matter of time. “Three weeks ago, a US agency sent the clearest signal yet that fossil fuels’ days are numbered. True enough, the carbon-burning economy has been declared to be on its death bed umpteenth times before. But this came with a time frame related to the ultimate killer: the battery. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that so-called energy-storage companies such as Tesla and AES can compete against traditional power plants in US wholesale markets by the end of 2020. ‘This is a watershed event,’ said Joel Eisen, an energy law professor at the University of Richmond, not unlike the time when regulators opened up the telecommunications market in the 1970s with rulings that ushered in the digital age by giving computers fair access to phone lines.

3-8-18 E&E News.  Shutdown averted for Sabal Trail pipeline.  “Yesterday’s decision is a major blow to environmentalists whose legal challenge to Sabal Trail was set to make history by shutting down a major gas pipeline for climate concerns.”

3-8-18 E&E News. Pipeline builders, gas drillers fret about protesters. “Along with the normal delays in permitting pipelines, the gas industry is facing pushback from environmentalists, landowners and a handful of state governments. The opposition has blocked some projects and slowed down others dramatically, and it’s getting more traction in the federal courts. …. Coping with the pushback to new infrastructure has been a key theme at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference, a gathering of oil, gas and utility executives held in Houston each year. It comes at a time when the industry is recovering from price shocks that led to bankruptcies and layoffs across the energy.”

3-8-18 US News. The South’s Pipe Dreams. “Appalachia’s buried treasure in natural gas means pipelines, and the controversy that comes with them, are headed south. The largest gas field in the world lies deep below the shimmering Persian Gulf, surrounded on all sides by wealthy OPEC nations. The second-largest sits largely beneath rural Appalachia. And as political opposition to fracking and pipelines builds in the Northeast, that gas glut is increasingly heading one direction: south. …. Outside of the official process, however, the project has faced fierce opposition. Environmental groups have criticized the project’s reliance on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, whereby underground shale is blasted with a combination of water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas. Then there’s the pipeline itself: Building an underground pipeline over steep mountainous terrain, within porous limestone formations, under protected forests and through productive valleys presents another set of environmental concerns, according to critics. …. ‘I’ve been around long enough to see these things don’t work out in process as they are on paper. A lot of times the communities are on the receiving end on the failed promises,’ says Emanuel, the professor. ‘These arguments about meeting the needs of energy customers during cold snaps or energy independence, these are ancillary arguments to the main reason to build these things which is to make as much money as they can.’”

3-8-18 Washington Post. The giant company that could: How Dominion turned scorn into a big payday.  “A new generation of Virginia lawmakers won office last year in part on promises to reduce the influence of the state’s most powerful corporation, Dominion Energy. Now the legislature is poised to recalibrate the relationship between consumers and the electric utility by subjecting Dominion to new state regulation and returning $200 million in overcharges to ratepayers. But the force driving this turnabout is not populism; it’s Dominion itself, in an exercise of raw power that both acknowledges the new political landscape and demonstrates the company’s ability to maneuver through it. …. There’s an old line in Richmond that Dominion writes everything but the law of gravity. In fact, the company was so instrumental in shaping the utility legislation that its top lobbyist, the former delegate Jack Rust, testified during a hearing alongside the patron of the bill, instead of during the time set aside for supporters and opponents. …. Petersen said he’s already planning a strategy for next year: A constitutional amendment that would require a supermajority vote before the General Assembly could restrict the powers of the SCC. ‘I’ll be happy to go to the voters to say you cannot trust the people in this building on this issue,’ he said.” [When will the oath made by our Governor and our elected officials to serve the people override their allegiance to Dominion?]

3-8-18 APnews. Documents reveal immense outreach on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Civic leaders in town after town along the 600-mile (966-kilometer) route of a proposed natural gas project have posed for similar photographs, smiling and accepting poster-sized checks from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion Energy says it’s being a good neighbor by handing out $2 million in grants of around $5,000 to $10,000 in communities affected by its joint venture with fellow energy giants Duke Energy and Southern Co. But critics say Dominion is buying support on the cheap to outflank opponents of the project, which would carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia into Virginia, North Carolina, and potentially further south at a cost that’s swelling to as much as $6.5 billion. ‘It continues to astonish me how tiny these grants are and how ready people are to sell their souls,’ said Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina, a nonprofit fighting the pipeline. Documents obtained by The Associated Press as well interviews with company officials, supporters and opponents, show the considerable lengths Dominion has gone to as it builds support for its largest capital project. The company says its grant program is charity, and not part of what it calls its largest outreach program in Dominion history.” Bruce McKay, senior energy policy director for Richmond-based Dominion, who oversees the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s public affairs said, “If you want fair media coverage you need to pay for it.”

3-7-18 C-Ville. Dominion’s win: Bills reduce refunds, thwart SCC regulation. “It was a bill that had its own meme. ‘When Dominion writes the law: We pay twice. They get richer,’ said a post that swept the web…. ‘SB966 requires Dominion to refund ratepayers just pennies to the dollar of what we are owed,’ says Elaine Colligan, director of the Clean Virginia Project…. As for future overcharges, Colligan says the bill postpones SCC review of base electricity rates until 2021, and if the organization finds that consumers have been overcharged, it can only order refunds up to $50 million. In 2016 alone, Dominion overcharged customers an estimated $395 million, she adds. ‘This is simply a bad deal,’ she says. ‘Consumers should be refunded 100 percent of what we are owed.’ Dominion Energy, a private corporation, owns the publicly regulated electric monopoly in Virginia and, according to Colligan, it is permitted to spend unlimited amounts in campaign contributions and political gifts. ‘The passage of SB966 is symptomatic of Virginia’s unique style of political corruption,’ she says. ‘In the absence of publicly financed elections, a full-time and well-funded state legislature and checks and balances on Dominion’s influence on our representatives, we can only expect that the company would try to ram a utility bill through the General Assembly that is a windfall for their profits.’”

3-7-18 Blue Virginia. North Carolina Document Dump Proves Terry 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 Governor 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 the agreement – which was signed in secret – becomes public and Virginians learn 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. …. North Carolina, while negotiating its own $58 million pay-to-play deal with Dominion, could not stomach agreeing to the same liability waivers to which Virginia agreed. In fact, the General Counsel for Roy Cooper, the Governor of North Carolina, insisted on including language specifically to prevent the very waivers that now bind Virginia. We now know this because those drafts – and the handwritten notes of Governor Cooper’s attorney – have just been released publicly. …. All of these protections for future claims against Dominion were included in the final agreement signed by Governor Cooper in North Carolina on January 25, 2018. None of those protections are in Virginia’s deal with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline companies. Nor are they included in the Mountain Valley Pipeline agreements.”

3-7-18 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sinkholes prompt Pa. regulators’ move to stop gas flow on Sunoco pipeline. “After a series of sinkholes made the ground in a Philadelphia suburb feel like a waterbed, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission granted an emergency order Wednesday to stop the flow of natural gas liquids on the Mariner East 1 pipeline. The agency believes that Sunoco’s construction of two sister pipelines, Mariner East 2 and 2X, is to blame and that keeping the 87-year-old Mariner East 1 pipeline active while Sunoco and regulators assess its integrity creates a serious public safety hazard. ‘Permitting the continued flow of hazardous liquid through the (active) pipeline without the proper steps to ensure the integrity of the pipeline could have catastrophic results impacting the public near or adjacent to the path of (the pipelines),’ the agency’s inspectors wrote in a petition for an emergency order on Wednesday. Sunoco will be required to perform a series of tests on a two-mile portion of the line and submit the results to the PUC. It is expected to stay off-line for up to two weeks, the agency said, and cannot be restarted without the PUC’s approval.”  [It’s shameful it had to come to this, but we’re glad to see regulators taking action to stop dangerous pipelines. Governor Ralph Northam, is this what’s in store for VA?]

3-7-18 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: Pipeline may be a boondoggle. “Dominion Energy and its partners are going down. For years, they have been promising to deliver cheap energy to the region. Duke Energy, Dominion’s partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, recently said that the cost of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline could rise by as much as $1.5 billion. The final cost of the energy produced therefore would go up. This is just an estimate before the fact. Projects of this scope are known to be plagued with building snags and huge cost overruns. One can only guess the final price tag. It’s time for smart investors to pull out. If this abomination is ever started, it will be plagued by court orders, close monitoring and heavy protesting and hopefully will be stopped by a new group of politicians who see the pipeline for the mistake that it really is. If this pipeline is ever completed, the name Dominion Energy will go down in history as the land-stealing, environment-destroying, polluting money-grabber that they are. They will rank up there with the Ford Edsel, a popular symbol for a commercial mistake. Dominion Energy stock will be worthless. The names Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are already perceived as evil by a growing portion of this region’s population. The smart money is on renewable energy. Investors, you have been warned.”

3-7-18 WSET. Hearing scheduled for pipeline protestors believed to be up in a tree. “A temporary restraining order has been granted against a group of people believed to be sitting in a tree soon to be cut down. The group Appalachians Against Pipelines has said they’re doing it to save the trees in the Jefferson National Forest from being cut down by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Despite the temporary restraining order, the group says they are going to stay in the trees regardless. In a statement, a member said ‘From the beginning, MVP has tried to strong arm people all along the route to get their way. They’ve intimidated people with constant letters, surveyors, and private security. When that hasn’t worked they threaten and pursue law suits against people who don’t want this pipeline.’ The statement continued, saying ‘MVP issues letters and notices to intimidate and scare people. However, this notice tells us that MVP is scared. MVP is scared because they are learning that people are tired of their intimidation all across the region. We remain unwilling to stand down in the face of their destruction.’”

3-6-18 Style Weekly [Richmond]. More Details Emerge on Dominion’s $6.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Here’s the latest on where things stand with the project, whose partners include utilities Duke Energy and the Southern Co., and that starts in northern West Virginia and is set, at least for now, to terminate near the North and South Carolina border.” The review article covers the current status of legal trench warfare, whether Dominion customers need the project, what’s doing in South Carolina, the increase in ACP size and price, and whether Virginia ratepayers will get stuck with the bill for the ACP.

3-6-18 NBC29. Tree-Felling for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Begins on Property in Wintergreen. “Crews are taking down trees by the entrance to Wintergreen Resort in the first sign of work for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The work began the morning of Tuesday, March 6, on land belonging to the Wintergreen Property Owners Association.”

3-6-18 News & Advance. Update: Trees begin to fall, making way for pipeline through Nelson County. “Tuesday marked the first time pre-construction activities took place in Nelson County, though tree-felling has been happening for several weeks elsewhere along the 600-mile route that runs through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, including about 27 miles in Nelson. Crews from ACP began felling trees with non-mechanized equipment Tuesday morning near Wintergreen Resort on property owned by Wintergreen Property Owners Association.”

3-6-18 Daily Progress. PVCC to offer training on pipeline construction. “Piedmont Virginia Community College is partnering with the Laborers’ International Union of North America to train Virginians to work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The union and the Virginia Community College System signed a memorandum in January. As many as 2,400 pipeline workers will train at six community colleges, including PVCC, that are near the pipeline. They will have guaranteed wages of $20 per hour, a $5 per diem and free family health care, according to a news release. Training will provide local residents with skills necessary for a range of pipeline work and construction careers, officials said.

3-5-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Judge allows Mountain Valley Pipeline work to proceed on private property. “Work on a natural gas pipeline through Southwest Virginia could soon encroach upon private property owned by people who want nothing to do with the project. A federal judge on Friday granted Mountain Valley Pipeline immediate possession of the parcels, which it gained through the laws of eminent domain after nearly 300 landowners refused the company’s offers to purchase easements through which the pipeline will pass. Although U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon ruled Jan. 31 that Mountain Valley had the right to use eminent domain, she effectively put the company’s plans on hold by requiring it to present more information on the value of the properties it sought to condemn. Based on appraisals and other data submitted since then, Dillon ruled the company can use land it does not own — as long as it posts a bond and makes deposits to ensure that property owners will be compensated for their losses in future proceedings.”

3-5-18 Roanoke Times. Letter to Editor: The Mountain Valley Pipeline disaster. “Despite numerous efforts to stop this unnecessary project, Mountain Valley Pipeline will be built. This was a forgone conclusion – proposed by wealthy energy companies, supported by bought-off elected officials, and approved by the corrupt agency FERC. MVP already knew the outcome. They paid in advance for property rights, stockpiled massive amounts of pipe and hired hundreds of workers all before various agencies gave approval. It was a fraudulent process from the start. If we look back five years from now, what are possible outcomes besides MVP owners getting rich? Here are some likely scenarios: US and international gas prices continue to fall due to oversupply. MVP (already unstable financially) begins building but goes bankrupt. The land is ravaged yet the pipeline remains unfinished. Workers and neighbors are accidentally killed or injured due to massive equipment, rugged terrain and inexperienced builders. Women are molested and drug use rampant near ‘man camps’ filled with out-of-state workers. While crossing 300 springs, creeks and rivers, many are fouled with chemicals or silted thereby destroying water quality and wildlife. Heavy rains cause landslides on steep slopes eroding the right-of-way and destroying the properties below. Blasting in karst terrain uncovers unknown caves containing endangered species so the pipeline path must be moved. Chemicals and drilling lubricants spill into groundwater and pollute municipal water systems used by thousands. Landowner’s wells are destroyed or polluted and their property becomes worthless. The pipeline shifts due to sinkholes and repeated repairs must be made. One of the tens of thousands of welds fails on a rugged mountain crossing. Invisible odorless gas escapes and fills the air. A hunter lights a cigarette and a massive explosion ensues. Every tree for 2000 feet is flattened and a raging wildfire burns down nearby homes and kills dozens of people. MVP, an LLC shell company, files for bankruptcy. Victims never see a dime in compensation. The pipeline is forever shut down. Similar scenarios have already happened elsewhere. How many will we see repeated here? Virginians will soon suffer massive pain for very little gain.” [The same things are true for the Atantic Coast Pipeline.]

3-5-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. As Atlantic Coast Pipeline moves to construction, groups urge Northam to act. “More than a year ago, as he was attempting to fend off a primary challenge from an opponent dead set against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, then-Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam called for the contentious projects to ‘be held to the highest environmental standards’ in a letter to the state’s environmental agency. Last week, armed with a new report warning of the hazards the pipelines’ construction poses to drinking water, trout streams and wetlands, a trio of environmental groups sought to hold Northam to that pledge. …. ‘There is a limited window in which you must exercise the state’s right to conduct the evaluations you’ve called for,’ the groups wrote in the letter to Northam. ‘Only in this way can you ensure that Virginia’s authority over its waters is not ceded to a flawed federal blanket permitting process and that our clean water will be protected.’”

3-3-18 WHSV3. Group plans to keep watchful eye on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “As the Atlantic Coast Pipeline inches closer to final approval, people concerned with its development are looking at ways to keep track of it. A meeting of Pipeline CSI on Saturday in Staunton drew more than 100 people. The group discussed the possibility of members of the community serving as whistleblowers if the pipeline does get built, using drones and planes to monitor construction.”

3-2-18 Franklin News-Post. Boones Mill residents weigh in on pipeline. Article about landowners in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline – but what they say about the MVP and how they have been treated by its builders could be said by anyone on the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as well. “‘The more that you know about this, and we have been going to meetings for three-and-a-half years, the more frightening it is,’ she said. ‘And it’s all negative. Every single bit of it is negative.’” Another landowner said, “‘They said they had the right to do anything they wanted any time they wanted and tried to make it out like they were our friends and they were working in the best interest of everybody,’ he said. He said the letters were full of legal jargon and that ‘it takes a lawyer to figure out what they were talking about and to understand it.’ He and his wife got so fed up that they told MVP any further correspondence has to go through their attorney.”

3-2-18 Facing South. Atlantic Coast Pipeline faces Native American resistance. “Two American Indian tribes in North Carolina are among the groups seeking to join a court challenge to federal regulators’ decision to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $5 billion project proposed by utility giants Dominion and Duke Energy. The 600-mile pipeline would carry fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia to eastern North Carolina, which is home to many Native Americans. On Feb. 23, the state-recognized Haliwa-Saponi and Lumbee tribes along with 17 public-interest groups led by climate watchdog NC WARN formally asked to join an appeal of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of the pipeline issued last fall. The appeal was originally filed in January with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, by the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of 11 conservation nonprofits. The tribes’ move came one day after the Lumbee Tribal Council held an emergency meeting where it unanimously passed a resolution calling on FERC to formally consult with it about the pipeline’s impacts. ‘North Carolina tribes have been left out of the Environmental Impact Study,’ said Jan Lowery, chair of the Lumbee Tribe’s Health Committee. ‘The study did not include the concerns of tribes, and the goal is to get a structured consultation.’”

3-2-18 News Leader. The only good byproduct of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Citizen activism in our region. “In the nearly four years since we began reporting and writing about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, never did it seem unlikely that Dominion Resources would eventually get its way, ripping up our mountainsides, sawing through forests, bulldozing across streams and digging its way through the Shenandoah Valley. Perhaps Dominion has its own version of the state seal, with a motto beneath a vanquished opponent that’s edited to read, ‘Thus always to those who oppose Dominion.’ If they do, it’s because they bought it and paid for it, along with the rest of our state government. …. But they’ve created something else, unintentionally. Their project has given rise to a group of citizen activists who are not likely to stand down any time soon. …. And there’s no sign they’re going away, which is a good thing as Dominion’s plans move forward. Someone needs to be watching, and we have no confidence that the state agencies will assure that Dominion’s promises, as weak as they have been, actually line up with their actions.”

3-2-18 Franklin News-Post. Pipeline causes major concerns. “Some unintended impacts of the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline are coalescing into sharp and jagged relief: The temporary wave of workers and traffic into Franklin County will cause serious problems for local law enforcement and put a worrisome strain on emergency services. County leaders need to put an emphasis quickly on finding more resources for the public safety agencies.”

3-2-18 Power for the People VA. Grid Transformation for the 21st Century: why Virginia needs to get this right (by Thomas Hadwin). “Instead of putting us on the path to an effective modern grid, the legislators have given the utilities permission to spend billions over the next 10 years with diminished regulatory involvement. This will add significantly to utility bills in Virginia that are already the 10th highest in the nation. There are no specifics in the bill that identify how this money will be spent or whether the money paid by customers will actually result in a modern grid similar to what is being developed in other states. Virginia can do much better than this. We should immediately embark on a program to get this right in the next legislative session in a way that is fair to the regulated utilities and their customers. Bringing in objective outside specialists could guide us toward an innovative, lower cost, clean, efficient and reliable energy future.”

3-1-18 News & Advance. Atlantic Coast Pipeline granted ‘immediate access’ for tree-felling on 16 Virginia properties. “Thanks to a federal court opinion issued Thursday, tree-felling along the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline now will begin on more than a dozen properties in Virginia. Following two days of arguments in the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Virginia Lynchburg court Monday and Tuesday, Judge Norman K. Moon issued an opinion Thursday allowing the 600-mile, interstate natural gas project “immediate access” to 16 properties in Buckingham, Bath, Augusta and Highland counties. …. A total of 27 cases were considered by Moon this week. ACP was not granted immediate access to 11 properties because of notice issues, meaning parties were not served the lawsuits or did not have adequate time to respond. Moon said in the opinion he will defer ruling on those cases, which include some properties in Cumberland County, until proper notice is achieved, which could happen in the next two weeks. …. Landowners represented during this wave of suits still have not signed easement agreements, and just compensation for the land still must be determined in court. …. In response to landowner testimony Monday and Tuesday from property owners in Buckingham and Bath counties, Moon wrote, ‘These harms, and the harms that the unrepresented Landowners will face, are real. … The Landowners’ harms must be balanced with the equally real harms that ACP will face if its construction is delayed. I find the balance of the equities tips in ACP’s favor.’

3-1-18 News Leader. Zoning board nixes permit request for Dominion storage yard. “After three months of discussion, the Augusta County Board of Zoning voted down a special permit request from Dominion for its pipeline storage yard. Thursday afternoon marked the third meeting brought before the Augusta County Board of Zoning regarding a potential Dominion storage yard. The board voted 4-1 to deny the request on the basis that it is incompatible with the neighborhood and there is a potential for traffic hazard and damage to water quality.”

3-1-18 News Observer. Lumbees tell their side in Atlantic Coast Pipeline documentary. “Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are deploying an increasingly common weapon in advocacy campaigns: a documentary film. Their 19-minute production, “Robeson Rises,” features Lumbee Indians and an African American who live near the route of the planned 600-mile natural gas pipeline that is set to run through eight North Carolina counties. At times resolute and tearful, the local residents are shown organizing against the interstate energy project that they say threatens their ancestral land and their cultural identity.”  Watch the trailer.