Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

Groups Invite Public to Camp on Land Under Threat from Pipeline

Sept. 21, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Nellysford, VA: Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are inviting the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

“Camping on the path of the proposed pipeline – ‘camptivists’ will learn what makes the area unique through talks, conversation and first-hand encounters with the land,” says a statement by Friends of Nelson, the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, and Jill Averitt. Spruce Creek Camp, the site of the encampment, is on the Averitt’s property.

“The gatherings will be peaceful, family-friendly weekends of camping, experiencing the grandeur of the natural world,” the statement says. It will allow campers to “connect with locals and learn about what is at stake.”

According to the statement, “Local experts will share why the history, ecology, and the community of Nelson Country makes the fight to keep the pipeline out of this beautiful valley so critical, and why non-carbon sources of energy and other economic strategies are now viable alternatives to large scale fossil fuel projects.”

The sponsors believe that “recent court decisions indicate it’s not too late to stop this pipeline and save the affected property, water, public parks and forests.”

Nelson County is home to many tourist destinations such as the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wintergreen Ski Resort, the Rockfish Valley Natural History Center, the Nelson County Farmers Market, and the new Brew Ridge Trail made up of wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries.

According to the statement, “all these local attractions will be severely affected should this pipeline be constructed. We are proud to invite you to come stay with us and experience all there is to love about Nelson County and its people.”

The Camp, which is free, will be held Fridays through Sundays the first three weekends of October. Pre-registration is requested – register here.

“We feel finances should not be a barrier to enjoy the beauty of our area. Donations will be gratefully accepted for Friends of Nelson and Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice,” the statement says.

Cart Before the Horse

In her guest column in the September 21, 2018, Staunton News Leader (West Augusta pipe yard is putting the ‘cart before the horse’), Nancy Sorrells discusses Dominion’s request to the Augusta Board of Zoning Appeals for a proposed pipe yard in West Augusta. She notes that when FERC was contacted to verify Dominion’s Emmett Toms’ statement to the BZA that they had approval to “leave the thousand dump truck loads of contaminated gravel from the parking area in a pile in the field after construction, rather than take the cleaned gravel to an approved landfill as is standard procedure,” they were told by FERC that “the contractor/pipe yard you referenced below has not been proposed to FERC.”

Further, the area where Dominion proposes the pipe yard (that FERC doesn’t know about) is one that has paved roads of “less than minimum design standards” because the county agreed in 2010 that the area is not to be the target of any development, and therefore should certainly not “have the kind of traffic and heavy equipment that would occur on this road for two years or more with ACP’s proposed construction yard.”

She concludes, “So there you have it: Dominion has proposed something that both DEQ and FERC are unaware of in an area that the county has legally promised never to develop. Cart before the horse? In reality there never should have been a cart or a horse proposed here.”

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):

Dereliction of Duty: SWCB Chair Did Not Understand Authority

Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has revealed that the Chair of the State Water Control Board did not understand the authority of the Board, and therefore the votes on the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines were not properly informed by law.

DPMC reports they have learned that Robert Dunn, Chairman of the Virginia State Water Control Board, did not understand the ramifications of the Board’s actions on water quality certifications for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). This shocking information calls the Board’s process and decisions into serious question. Chairman Dunn’s failure to inform himself of the facts about the Board’s authority before taking votes on these enormously damaging and far-reaching projects is an outrageous dereliction of duty.

Dunn sent an email to the Richmond Times Dispatch saying:

Read your article in today‘s Richmond TD.  You stated someone cast a [sic] anti-pipeline vote and someone cast a pro-pipeline vote.  I do not believe the State Water Control Board has the authority to approve or disapprove the pipeline.  The vote was not for or against the pipeline. Do you understand what the SWCB voted on?  I believe the vote had to deal with permits to address water quality and standards.  Question for you:  Does or can the pipeline be built if the SWCB does not grant a permit??  If so, who has control?  In other words does SWCB action have ability to stop the pipeline??? (emphasis added by DPMC)

Of course, the legal reality is that the Clean Water Act gives the state an absolute veto authority over any federally-licensed project that might violate its water quality requirements. The information submitted for the Board’s consideration before any votes were taken contains detailed legal analyses of the state’s authorities and role in regard to the pipeline processes.  Thousands of people throughout Virginia understand that states have the power to deny approvals and thereby stop bad projects—clearly, Chairman Dunn does not.

Dunn’s question: “Does or can the pipeline be built if the SWCB does not grant a permit??” shows a failure to carry out his duty to understand the laws and regulations he’s charged with applying. If Mr. Dunn had questions about the scope of the Board’s authority, he should have sought the answer from those involved in the process and the official record upon which he was obligated to base his votes. And he should have made those inquiries before participating in the Board’s decisions, not months after taking his first vote on the pipeline certifications and after three Board meetings where these issues were discussed.

Dunn’s failure to do what was necessary to understand his proper role as a Board member and, therefore, his willingness to cast votes without learning the facts and law that should have governed him should disqualify him from continued service on the Board. We call on Mr. Dunn to resign immediately. If Dunn fails to do so, Governor Northam must act now to remove him from the Board and replace him with a person who will do his or her duty.

For more information, see DPMC’s article, Dereliction of Duty
 

SELC Challenges New Rushed Permits for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

September 19, 2018, press release from Southern Environmental Law Center:

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), on behalf of Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and Virginia Wilderness Committee, filed legal challenges today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to new permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline issued by the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week.

After the Fourth Circuit struck down its permit for the pipeline, the National Park Service quickly reissued a nearly identical permit with no changes to the project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reauthorized the pipeline despite new data confirming that it would put critically endangered species in jeopardy of extinction.

“These agencies again ignored the law in their rush to give the Atlantic Coast Pipeline the approvals it wanted,” said SELC attorney DJ Gerken. “These agencies work for the public, not the developers of an unnecessary pipeline even two FERC Commissioners concluded is not in the public interest.”

“The agencies responsible for protections should be prioritizing a real review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, not abandoning a critical process to help developers,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney at Defenders of Wildlife. “There is no justification for this unnecessary and dangerous project.”

“By turning a blind eye to the research that shows the Atlantic Coast Pipeline jeopardizes Virginia’s rivers, forests, plants, and animals, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Services are endangering our communities,” said Mark Miller, Executive Director of the Virginia Wilderness Committee. “We will fight to ensure our state’s natural resources are afforded the protections they deserve.”

“Letting polluting corporations build the ACP without considering the latest endangered species data is like letting a doctor operate without the diagnosis,” said Joan Walker, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “The National Park Service has already said in official comments that the ACP’s route is inconsistent with its objectives to preserve the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If they don’t know what the effects of this fracked gas pipeline will be, they shouldn’t be allowed to build it.” 

Court Filing NPS

Court Filing FWS