Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

BREDL Files VA Supreme Court Appeal Against Buckingham Supervisors and ACP

Press Release from Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, July 19, 2018:

BREDL and its Buckingham Chapter, Concern for the New Generation, File Supreme Court Appeal regarding Special Use Permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Lovingston, VA—This week the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and its chapter, Concern for the New Generation (CNG), and its members filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia regarding Buckingham County’s approval of a special use permit for a compressor station for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The suit was originally filed February 6, 2017 pro se. Circuit Court Judge William Alexander dismissed the case in January, 2018 on technicalities regarding the form used in the pro se filing.

BREDL’s Stop the Pipeline Campaign Coordinator, Sharon Ponton, stated, “We believe this case deserves to be heard on its merits. We contend that the special exception in the zoning ordinance which was used in the permitting process is for utilities…water, sewer, or even a natural gas utility company which delivers a product to residents of the community. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is not a utility. It is a natural gas transmission company.”

Kathie Mosley, chair of CNG, stated, “The Union Hill community has been ignored and marginalized throughout the approval process for the proposed pipeline and its compressor station. The County ignored the evidence we presented at the hearings and approved the permit anyway. Our plan to stop the compressor station from being constructed in our historically significant African-American community moves forward with this appeal.”

“Judge Alexander remarked during the hearing, he believed the case should be appealed, and that’s what we have done,” stated Lou Zeller, Executive Director of BREDL. Zeller continued, “The County has done everything it could to slow walk this process, but we are persistent in our support of the Union Hill community, and look forward to a positive outcome from the Supreme Court of Virginia.”

View the Appeal to Virginia Supreme Court

Pipeline Builders Abuse Eminent Domain

An article in the July 19, 2018, Wall Street Journal discusses the abuse by pipeline builders of eminent domain and the routine barriers that are part of FERC’s process, barriers that deny landowners the right to meaningful appeal. The article covers the variety of ways in which FERC heavily favors pipeline companies over landowners.

Remember comments to FERC on their process are due on July 25, 2018! (see Deadline for Comments on FERC Process: July 25)

Wild Virginia Provides Access to Comments Submitted to Water Control Board


Through a Freedom of Information Act request, David Sligh of Wild Virginia and the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has acquired almost all of the comments citizens (around 10,000 of them) submitted to State Water Control Board through the Virginia DEQ. Individuals and conservation groups explain why the Corps of Engineers’ blanket permit is not sufficiently protective of our state waters. DEQ has promised to supply the rest by today (July 20, 2018).

Here is a link to the documents: Comments to SWCB on NWP 12

Wild Virginia and DPMC are currently scouring the comments and will publish our summary of the whole body of information early next week. The vast majority we’ve seen so far are form emails and letters that contain no useful information the Board can use in making a decision whether to take new action. By contrast, the comments by landowners and technical experts contain much detailed, site-specific, and scientifically-based evidence of the dire threats to the thousands of waterbodies MVP and ACP propose to dig and blast through, under a lax Corps approval.

See our earlier story, DPMC Acts While DEQ Delays, for more information on how and why the documents were obtained from DEQ, which has not yet acted to make them available to the public.

News You May have Missed


There’s been a lot going on – here are some news items from our In the News page you may have missed (many additional interesting news articles on that page):

DPMC Acts While DEQ Delays

We received the news below from Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition on Friday morning July 20, 2018. Many thanks to DPMC for their determination and persistence!  DPMC, with the help of Wild Virginia, expects to make all comments made to DEQ, as well as a summary, available online in the next week. They are doing for the citizens of Virginia what DEQ has failed to do.  Link to the DPMC post on their Web site:  http://pipelineupdate.org/2018/07/20/citizens-will-act-where-the-state-delays/

CITIZENS WILL ACT WHERE THE STATE DELAYS

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has learned that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is just now compiling the thousands of emails and other comments citizens submitted during the comment period that ended more than a month ago.

This outrageous foot-dragging fits a pattern DEQ has set for months and heightens the likelihood of further damage to state waters by the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) before the State Water Control Board has the chance to rule on the sufficiency of waterbody crossing reviews. The Board saw a need for this information way back on April 12, based on concerns that a blanket permit from the Corps of Engineers may not be adequate to ensure Virginia’s water quality standards will be met.

On July 3, with no commitment from DEQ as to when the comments would be available to all, DPMC decided to acquire them and provide them online. We filed a records request on July 3, 2018, seeking copies of all comments sent to DEQ. The law requires the agency to provide records within five work-days or explain why it is not “practically possible” to do so in that time period.

That deadline fell on July 11 and that day DEQ told us it would not get us the emails within the required time or tell us when it would be able to do so. They said the emails had not yet been compiled so they could be provided electronically, due to technical difficulties. We then insisted we be allowed to review the emails in person on DEQ’s computers and were told this too was not possible. We reiterated that the law required better and that we would not accept DEQ’s failure to comply.

Suddenly, just two days later on July 13, DEQ gave us more than 7,000 emails. Apparently, the technical difficulties that DEQ claimed may require more than two additional weeks to solve were now solved – but only under pressure from DPMC. Why had those difficulties not been tackled and solved in the three months since the Board ordered the public notice?

We and Wild Virginia will make all of the comments available online and publish a summary within the next week. Where the Department has failed, we will pick up the slack.

We call on the Board to use this information and hold a meeting well before the currently-advertised date of August 21st and on Governor Northam to order DEQ to now move quickly to do its job. The repeated promises of transparency and sound science by administration officials have not been kept. It is now time for our officials to restore integrity to this process.

NCSA Votes Unanimously to Deny Sale of Water to ACP

At their meeting on July 19, 2018, the 5-member Nelson County Service Authority Board voted unanimously against a proposal to set a rate of more than 10 cents per gallon and a connection fee of $500,000 for the ACP, which wanted to purchase 40,000 gallons of water per day for up to two years. The water would have come from Lake Monacan, and the ACP wanted to use it for horizontal directional drilling to bore a path for the pipeline beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway, from near the Wintergreen entrance through to Augusta County.

The proposed connection fee of $500,000 and the per gallon connection rate were more than 10 times the regular rate and would have resulted in about $3.5 million in revenue over two years for the service authority. Several NCSA Board members said they did not see the need for a rate scale that would accommodate huge construction or industrial projects that did not fit the vision of the county, and that approving the rate could bring risks and liabilities to the county.

The Board’s legal counsel noted that, although the special rate and permit had been denied, the ACP could come back to the service authority asking to become a regular customer and pay the regular rate and connection fee. The Board then unanimously approved a new requirement that starting July 19, 2018, any applicant wishing to purchase more than 100,000 gallons of water per month would have to petition the Board for approval.

According to ACP spokesperson Aaron Ruby, the company now has another source to meet their water needs, with about 10 tankers making 10 round trips daily to the construction site.

ACP construction has not yet started in Virginia because the required permits have not yet been received from the Department of Environmental Quality and the State Water Control Board.