Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

FERC Hearing in Nelson, February 22, 2017


The FERC hearing in Nelson on the DEIS will be Wednesday February 22, 2017. Be there!

This is our chance to speak up in opposition about the seriously flawed and unacceptably inadequate Draft Environmental Impact Statement. We need as many people as possible to attend – flooding FERC – showing and voicing our disapproval and aversion towards this grossly unnecessary and dangerous pipeline.

Come early to sign up for a number to speak! Comments will NOT be taken in public. Speakers’ comments will be taken in a private room with a stenographer. (This is FERC’s idea of a “public hearing.”) It is therefore crucially important that everyone who gives comments brings a paper copy to give to the stenographer and that everyone ALSO submits their comments to FERC – online or via USPS – so that there is an irrefutable paper trail.

See our Events page for details on other FERC hearings in our area:  Farmville on February 21, Staunton on February 23, and Monterey on February 28.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is not needed, and we don’t want this 42″, 600-mile fracked gas pipeline. We want clean water, healthy air, our precious lands to stay intact, and a safe future.

New Analysis: MVP and ACP Are Climate Disasters


Two studies released on February 15, 2017, find that if built, the controversial Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines would together contribute as much greenhouse gas pollution as 45 coal-fired power plants — some 158 million metric tons a year. The studies, released by Oil Change International, build upon a new methodology, also released today, for calculating the climate impacts of natural gas pipelines in the Appalachian Basin based on the evolving science of methane leakage and its impact on our climate.

The studies show that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is out of date on measuring climate impacts, and is failing to protect communities and citizens around the country.

“Our analysis shows that both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline are climate disasters. They threaten communities along the route and they would cause massive increases in climate pollution,” said report author and Oil Change International Senior Research Analyst Lorne Stockman, who is also a resident of Staunton, Virginia, close to the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “We don’t need these pipelines and we don’t want them. We need to move away from fossil fuels, not double down on the increased climate pollution they would cause.”

The pipelines studies can be found at the following links:

Read the full press release from Oil Change International.

Inspection of Buildings, Water Supplies


Some Nelson landowners with property either on or close to the route have been contacted by Dominion’s contractors to ask for permission to inspect their buildings and/or wells. Friends of Nelson believes Dominion is trying to amass pre-construction data so that if landowners later complain that their foundations have cracked or their well is no longer producing as much good water, there will be a basis for comparison.

Although we recommend that people consult with their own lawyers about whether to allow these inspections (which are separate from the pipeline surveys authorized under VA Code 56-49.01), attorneys at Appalachian Mountain Advocates have said that they see little downside to allowing the inspections: if Dominion has a record from their own contractors that the water supply was good before the pipeline, it will be harder for them to shirk responsibility if wells go bad during/after construction.

However, we are also recommending that people INSIST on getting a copy of the report. That way, if there is anything that indicates existing problems, or somehow seems incorrect, they can arrange for re-testing with a different contractor on their own in order to confirm/refute the results.

Indeed, Friends of Nelson recommends that folks who are concerned about potential impacts to their water source get well-documented, baseline water data NOW. Then, if the pipeline is actually built, they should continue to monitor during construction and for a period afterwards.

With the support of Friends of Nelson and a number of other organizations, an excellent guide to water supply monitoring has been produced by Downstream Strategies. The guide is nearly 50 pages; note that the actual “How To” of monitoring starts on p.22, and there is also list of independent consultants that landowners can hire to do the work starting on p. 36.

If you have questions or want further information, please email friendsofnelson@gmail.com; give us your phone number so we can call you back.

No Significant Concerns?

In 2005, state and federal regulators dismissed warnings from environmental groups and local officials about the risk of catastrophic flooding below a major Northern California dam. Instead, the regulators at the time said they were confident that the hillside at the Oroville Dam that helps hold back hundreds of billions of gallons of water was stable and did not need to be reinforced with concrete. FERC, the agency that oversees the dam’s re-licensing and received the request for armoring, agreed that paving was not needed. State water resources department officials wrote in a final environmental impact report dated June 2008 that no “significant concerns” about the hillside’s stability had been raised in any government or independent review.

In FERC’s DEIS for the ACP, they also say they see no significant concerns. Hmmmm….

Read a February 14, 2017, article about the current problems with the Oroville Dam resulting from the superficial analysis that FERC habitually conducts of projects for which it has responsibility.

“The ACP in a Nutshell”


Thomas Hadwin, who spoke on February 12, 2017, in both Buckingham and Nelson Counties, has kindly shared his PowerPoint presentation from the workshop in Buckingham, “New Pipelines:  Do We Need Them?” (the answer is no!), as well as two other documents he has written, “Purpose and Need for the ACP,” and “The ACP in a Nutshell.” In “The ACP in a Nutshell” he carefully refutes Dominion’s inflated claims of local economic benefits, reminds us that, “The Department of Energy states that adequate capacity exists in the existing pipeline system to serve this region throughout the multi-decade planning horizon of their studies,” notes that, if built, “ratepayers would pay higher transport fees for the ACP compared to existing pipelines,” and concludes that eminent domain requires landowners “to sacrifice their individual interest in order to serve the greater public good. In this case, the greater public good is better served both economically and environmentally by using existing pipelines.”

For additional information and resources by Thomas Hadwin, see “Atlantic Coast Pipeline: A Question of Need.”  This story map posted by Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition includes detailed charts and information.

In the Pipeline’s Path

An article by William H. Funk, a freelance journalist and environmental attorney based in the Shenandoah Valley, about the proposed ACP appeared in the Winter 2016 Utne Reader, a nationally distributed magazine, where it was reprinted from Earth Island Journal. “In the Pipeline’s Path” describes the ACP as one among several projects threatening rural Appalachian landscapes and communities.

The Friends of Nelson Web page has an archive including this and other news stories and media coverage about the ACP – local, regional, and national – going back to May 2014. Check out our In the News page. It’s a wonderful record of our ongoing battle.