Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

Video: Appalachian Trail and the MVP


Watch this video from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy on the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would cross the Appalachian Trail and damage views for up to 100 miles. Despite offering to work with MVP officials to minimize damage to the Trail, our attempts seem to have been ignored, and little has been done to minimize threats to the A.T. hiking experience, local jobs and drinking water quality.

While other pipelines currently cross the A.T., and the ATC has worked with companies in the past to make sure these pipelines and other infrastructure are constructed in a way that minimizes the impact on the Trail and the hiking experience. Unfortunately, Mountain Valley Pipeline is different — EQT Corporation and its partners have not listened to the guidance provided by the ATC, instead choosing a route for the MVP that would damage up to 100 miles of A.T. views, endanger water quality, and threaten local jobs dependent on tourism and outdoor recreation. The ATC supports the construction of sensibly-built, necessary energy infrastructure, and we want to work collaboratively with companies to ensure that both America’s energy needs are met and our iconic public lands are protected. We encourage you to visit AppalachianTrail.org/MVP for more details about the downsides to the proposed MVP route.

And remember, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will also cross the Appalachian Trail.

Natural Gas Development Spurs Invasive Species

A team of researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has found that invasive, non-native plants are making significant inroads in areas around hundreds of well pads, access roads and pipelines built to extract gas from the Marcellus shale. These invasive species have long-term negative consequences for forest ecosystems, timbering, wildlife habitat and ecotourism.

In findings published on July 20, 2017, in the Journal of Environmental Management, researchers show a direct correlation between the extent of non-native plant invasion and distinct aspects of shale gas development. The invasive species, including Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium), were introduced in gravel and in the mud on tires and under carriages of trucks.

Non-native plant invasion into forests can lead to the demise of native plants in surprising ways. “So if we have Microstegium filling the forest understory and deer are looking for something to eat — since they don’t feed much on Microstegium at all — the deer clip off any native plant growth that manages to get through the invasives,” Penn State’s David Mortensen said. “That allows the invasives to further dominate the plant community.

“As a result, the recruitment of economically important tree species will be curtailed. This process can be really damaging to the health of the forest in the long run, and even in the short term.”

Read the full Penn State News article here.

Three Summer Actions to Stop the ACP and MVP


The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) has outlined three summer actions you can take to help stop the ACP and the MVP:

  1. Submit a public comment to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). By submitting a public comment to the DEQ (and encouraging all of your social networks to do the same), you are adding to the resounding chorus of Virginians who emphatically demand that Governor McAuliffe and his DEQ do everything in their authority to protect Virginians from the environmental destruction that these pipelines would trigger.
  2. Pack the DEQ Public Hearings. The DEQ has announced five separate public hearings for these pipelines (two for the MVP and three for the ACP), spanning from August 7th to the 14th. Spread the word about these meetings and organize carpools in your community to show the DEQ and Virginians are united on this issue. Be sure to wear a blue shirt and bring a bottle of water collected from your property to participate in water ceremonies at each one of the hearings. If you need help organizing a ride for these hearings, please email Jamshid Bakhtiari (jamshid@chesapeakeclimate.org) for assistance ASAP.
  3. Call your State Representative. We need our legislators to stand up for Virginia waterways and communities and tell the DEQ to do the same! We have teamed up with our partners, Appalachian Voices, Bold Alliance and Oil Change International to flood Virginia’s legislators with a series of call-in days. We need you to call your legislator and encourage them to push the DEQ to protect Virginia’s water today!

Further information and background may be found on CCAN’s “Three Summer Actions” page.

Just Compensation from ACP for Wintergreen Property Owners


As a Wintergreen property owner, you may be entitled by law to receive “just compensation” for any decrease in your Wintergreen property value caused by Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).

Dominion plans to take a 4+ acre easement from the Wintergreen common area near the front gate to construct a 42-inch wide natural gas pipeline. With FERC approval, Dominion can condemn the property for the ACP project.

Dominion will use more than 4 acres of Wintergreen common area and other private property rights to drill a 4,000-foot tunnel under the mountain that supports the Blue Ridge Parkway. The drilling operation will be performed 24/7 for up to 18 months on Wintergreen common area property immediately in front of the Mountain Resort’s only entrance and exit. Construction will require the removal of thousands of trees and will further require importing 6 million gallons of water from the James River for drilling. From the drilling site in front of the Wintergreen gatehouse, the pipeline would continue up Piney Mountain, also Wintergreen property, cross through Fortune’s Point next to Fortune’s Ridge, then continue east to Nellysford and beyond. Dominion plans to utilize Wintergreen roads for access and construction purposes.

By taking Wintergreen common area owned by the Wintergreen Property Owners Association (WPOA), the ACP will take and damage each owner’s easement of use and enjoyment in those same common areas during and after construction, caused by construction and operation of a natural gas pipeline, reduction in WPOA and resort services, marketplace stigma for safety concerns and other reasons that cause a loss in property values. This issue applies to all WPOA members. Each member is entitled to “damages,” which are calculated individually as the unique decrease in value to each owner’s property rights affected by the pipeline project. Local realtors have already seen a drop of 10 percent or more in Wintergreen property values since the pipeline was announced. What does this decline mean for your property? Will it get worse?

If you are a Wintergreen property owner, more information is here.
http://www.friendsofwintergreen.com/lawsuit/

Forest Service Issues Record of Decision


On July 21, 2017, the U.S. Forest Service issued a draft Record of Decision to authorize the use and occupancy of National Forest System lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Forest Service release statement is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd551404.pdf.

The draft Decision document is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd551283.pdf.

Wild Virginia’s statement on the Forest Service release says,

This terrible decision would authorize the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to construct 21 miles of pipeline on lands managed by the George Washington (GWNF) and Monongahela National Forests (MNF). The proposed pipeline route would also cross both the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Forest Service had to issue this decision because current forest plan standards for both forests do not allow this destructive development. The Forest Service chose to change the rules for ACP and approved 14 total amendments to standards in these forest plans. Without amending these standards the ACP project would violate the forest plans for both of these forests.

“These standards were created to protect our forests and water. The Forest Service has put the integrity of our public lands at risk and goals of private profit ahead of the safety of our watersheds.

This decision is based on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)

This FEIS is drastically incomplete and in no way addresses the impacts to our lands, air, and water. Read more from our coalition press statement released today: FERC’s final Atlantic Coast Pipeline report a sham. The FEIS glosses over the “profound and permanent harm to water resources and drinking water supplies, forest ecosystems, wildlife and endangered species habitat, historic sites, agricultural resources, public lands including the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway, and local economies”.

This is an important time to make your voice heard:

You have the right to object to this decision if you:

  1. Previously submitted timely, specific written comments to the Forest Service or to FERC during comment periods. (If you’re not sure if you did, we can help you look it up).
  2. Can raise an issue that arose after the formal public comment period closed. More information on how to object Click Here

The release statement sets forth the following parameters for objections to the draft record of decision:

Quick Facts from the Draft Record of Decision:

  • 214 acres of Forest Service lands will be will be maintained and operated for long-term use by ACP.
  • The Pipeline would be installed under 17 perennial, 28 intermittent, and 11 ephemeral waterbodies on Forest Service lands.
  • ACP will cross about 2.4 miles of karst topography on Forest Service lands.
  • The Pipeline could also impact cave invertebrates and other subterranean obligate species (amphipods, isopods, copepods, flatworms, millipedes, beetles, etc.) that are endemic to only a few known locations.

Press coverage of the Forest Service release may be read here:  7-21-17 Nelson County Times/News-Advance. Forest Service issues draft decision to OK use of National Forest System lands for pipeline.