Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

State Official Advises Dominion: Integrity of Permitting Process for ACP Is ‘Non-negotiable’

An article in the June 25, 2017, Roanoke Times discusses at length an April 19, 2017, letter from Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources, Molly Ward, to Ann Loomis, senior director for federal affairs and environmental policy for Dominion. The letter was received by the newspaper with hundreds of pages received in response to their open-records requests filed with both the McAuliffe administration and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The article says, “Attempts by Dominion Energy to sway regulators in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permitting process prompted a top official under Gov. Terry McAuliffe to notify the utility that state agencies would not heed those efforts,” and quotes Ward’s letter, in which she advised Dominion that state agencies involved in permitting for the proposed 600-mile line “will not base their decisions on requests or suggestions from an applicant.”

Ward added that agencies would continue to meet with Loomis and her team to discuss specific permitting issues, “but the integrity of the agencies’ independent decision-making and review process is non-negotiable.”

Pipeline opponents Rick Webb of Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition and David Sligh of Wild Virginia said they did not receive a similar letter from Ward or the DEQ. Webb said, “Maybe that’s because we’re not asking for anything beyond what is required by Virginia’s statutes and regulations.”

Sligh added that Ward’s implication that Dominion was trying to sway permitting decisions is evidence of what he described as “extraordinary arrogance.” He said it also suggests that Dominion’s past dealings with administration officials have led it to conclude it could influence permitting decisions by state agencies.

Read the full article here.

2017 Virginia Water Security Pledge

The Virginia River Healers are calling all 2017 candidates to take a pledge for Virginia water security. The pledge focuses on four key water issues that Virginia will face in 2018. Each candidate is asked to take action and stand with Virginians on the following key water issues.

  • Oppose the construction and permitting of large volume fracked-gas pipelines such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
  • Oppose hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and take action to enact a statewide fracking ban.
  • Oppose offshore drilling and seismic sound surveys.
  • Oppose current coal ash waste permits and take action to have all coal ash waste removed from Virginia’s rivers and sources of drinking water.

Click here to see which candidates have pledged to protect your water.

Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the MVP Released

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, released by FERC June 23, 2017, has been posted to the home page of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) website (, pdf version, 930 pages). [Thank you, ABRA, for saving us from negotiating the unfriendly FERC Web site!] News stories and other items of interest on the FEIS will be posted on ABRA’s Facebook page (

Those primarily interested in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline should spend some time reading portions of the MVP’s document to get an idea of what we might expect when the FEIS for the ACP is released on July 21, 2017.

Pipelines and Water Webinar, June 28, 2017

Join Appalachian Voices for a webinar exploring the significance of state-level water quality certification under the Clean Water Act § 401 and how to engage in the 401 process for the proposed interstate Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline projects

Find out how to monitor and protect our water sources from these potential projects!

Webinar speakers will share information about the upcoming state-level water certification process, how the public can engage in this process, and discuss the basics of how to do baseline water testing in wells and waterbodies potentially impacted by fracked gas infrastructure projects and why it is important. Presenters include Downstream Strategies, Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and others.

No charge, but you need to REGISTER HERE. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

SELC Files Motion Asking for FERC Hearing on Legitimacy of Gas Demand

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), on on behalf of its clients, has filed a motion asking that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hold a hearing on the legitimacy of Dominion and Duke Energy’s natural gas demand claims as a basis for building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They note that FERC repeatedly and routinely has rubber-stamped pipeline projects relying solely on contracts and never examining the actual market demand for a new natural gas supply.

SELC’s June 21, 2017 motion asks FERC to hold a hearing to ensure consumers and landowners are protected from an unnecessary pipeline and resolve the following disputed issues:

  • Agreements between Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC and its own affiliates are insufficient evidence that there is a growing demand for natural gas.
  • New forecasts from the Energy Information Administration and the regional grid manager show no growth in demand for natural gas needs in Virginia and North Carolina through 2030.
  • Already existing and planned pipeline capacity in the region is adequate to meet any demand that does exist.

SELC’s Senior Attorney Greg Buppert comments, “If you look behind the claims that this pipeline is needed, what you’ll find is that Dominion and Duke subsidiaries are contracting with each other to manufacture a need for natural gas in Virginia and North Carolina. This pipeline will provide Duke and Dominion with an exceptionally high rate of return at little to no risk. That risk falls on the shoulders of utility customers who will have higher power bills and be stuck paying for a pipeline for decades to come.”

SELC filed the motion on behalf of Shenandoah Valley Network, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Virginia Wilderness Committee, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Friends of Buckingham, and Winyah Rivers Foundation.

A story in the June 22, 2017 Richmond Times-Dispatch, Environmental groups: Justification for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline has ‘eroded,’ covers the SELC filing.

See also the Thomas Hadwin video below.

Path of the Pipeline: Tom Hadwin, Demand vs Need

Path of the Pipeline: Tom Hadwin, Demand vs Need

Dominion and Duke Energy are building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on the backs of customers. Customers don’t need this natural gas – but building pipelines is guaranteed money for these companies – so they build them anyway. Tom Hadwin, a former utility executive at Consumers Energy in Michigan and New York State Electric and Gas, explains the way Dominion and Duke Energy have manufactured a false need for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by over-estimating future demand.