Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

Blast Zone

Blast Zone – Natural Gas and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Causes, Consequences and Civic Action is a new report from the Rachel Carson Council. In addition to naming and exploring the economic and political systems underlying fracking and the ACP, Blast Zone highlights organizations, businesses, and campuses working in interconnected ways toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the source, restoring equity, and putting decision-making in the hands of communities.

The report discusses:

  • Natural gas: current and future trends (including the “bridge fuel” myth)
  • Fracking in the Marcellus and Utica Shale Basins
  • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (including the power behind it, industry motives, what’s paving the way, and the ACP and the environment)

And the report includes an entire set of “Toolboxes” for fighting the ACP:

  • Policy Toolbox: Our Power Plan
  • Housing Toolbox: Efficient, Affordable, Durable Investments
  • Voter’s Toolbox: Supporting Fossil-Free Leaders
  • Campus Toolbox: Research and Advocacy for the Public Interest
  • Advocacy Toolbox: Eliminating Fracking Dangers
  • Financial Toolbox: Divest and Reinvest
  • Property Rights Toolbox: Challenging Eminent Domain
  • Lobbying Toolbox: Re-envisioning FERC
  • Policy Toolbox: Water Quality Permits
  • Civil Rights Toolbox: Driving Racial and Social Justice
  • Direct Action and Advocacy Toolbox

Easily understandable graphs and charts, along with photographs (many you’ll recognize) help to make the points in this clear and thoughtful report.

Highlanders for Responsible Development

The September 18, 2017, Newsletter of Highlanders for Responsible Development (HRD) announces their annual public meeting on Sunday October 1 at 2 p.m. at The Highland Center in Monterey. The meeting will feature a review of HRD’s activities in 2017, including an in-depth discussion of the status and outlook for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Participating in the ACP potion of the meeting will be Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville, VA. The meeting will also include a discussion of new issues and activities in which HRD should become involved. A reception will follow the meeting. All citizens from Highland County and the surrounding area (Bath, Augusta, Pocahontas and Pendleton Counties) interested in HRD’s work are cordially invited to attend.

The newsletter also lists the status of the decisions about the proposed ACP that must be made by the key federal and state regulatory agencies with responsibilities relative to the project.

Sierra Club Sends Request for Supplemental ACP EIS to FERC

In light of the recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 16-1329 (August 22, 2017), the Sierra Club wrote to FERC on September 18, 2017, submitting a new authority and request for FERC to revisit its impact analysis in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The Sierra Club writes that FERC should reopen the evidentiary record for the purpose of taking additional evidence regarding greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts, and issue a Supplemental EIS. In the course of that process, FERC should also address previously identified deficiencies in the EIS, as well as new information received after the close of the comment period for the Draft EIS.

The 9-page Sierra Club letter, written on behalf of a number of organizations including Friends of Nelson, describes in detail the reasons why a Supplemental EIS is required and why it must also address new information and previously identified EIS deficiencies.

Appended to the letter is a copy of the August 22 decision issued by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read the full submission from the Sierra Club here.

Shifting Legal Terrain

A lengthy article in Blue Virginia, picked up by the Huffington Post for national distribution, discusses the way the legal terrain has shifted following the September 7, 2017, decision by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to revoke its previous approval of the proposed 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the decision on September 15, 2017 by North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to delay its decision on the proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Both the WVDEP and NCDEQ have requested additional information and say they need additional time to consider the requested approvals of Water Quality Certifications required by Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. The article is an excellent review of the issues as they stand at this moment. Words like “stunning” and “bombshell” are used to describe the effect of the WV and NC decisions.

The article notes that “if Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Department of Environmental Quality continues its present course, he and his department likely will suffer the same embarrassment as West Virginia. Here’s why: Virginia DEQ’s Draft Water Quality Certifications for both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline suffer from precisely the same defects as the certification that West Virginia has now conceded could not hold up in court – only worse.”

The full article appears in Blue Virginia, the Huffington Post, And on the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition Web page.   DPMC states, “Although Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives states the authority to block federally approved projects that threaten water resources, implementation of Section 401 for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines has been marked by state agency denial, evasion, reversal, and outright misrepresentation.” They reprint the article on their Web page with permission of the author, saying the widely cited article “brings clarity to a confusing but critical topic.”

Virginia Outdoors Foundation Will Consider Conversions

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) has scheduled a special meeting of its Board of Directors for October 16, 2017, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, 1300 East Main, Richmond. The meeting is for VOF to “complete its review of conversion applications related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

In 2016 the ACP developers told VOF that in order for their route to avoid Forest Service land, it would need to cross 10 easements in Highland, Bath, Augusta and Nelson counties. And the MVP, although it does not want to route its proposed pipeline across the property itself, does want a permanent access road on a VOF conservation easement in Roanoke County. VOF has told both ACP and MVP that such incursions are incompatible with the conservation values of the easements. There is a process in state law known as “conversion” of open space, whereby acreage under easement is swapped for other acreage elsewhere which is then put under conservation easement. Both ACP and MVP submitted conversion proposals, and at its February 2017 meeting, after hearing presentations from the developers, VOF staff, and affected landowners, and receiving comments from hundreds of citizens. VOF’s board of trustees voted to defer a decision on applications presented by Dominion to convert open space on 10 easements that lie in the path of the proposed ACP.

The special meeting will be open to the public and VOF will accept written comments on the conversion applications through October 16, 2017. To submit written comments you may use the VOF online form, you may email comments to, or you may mail them to the VOF Warrenton office at 39 Garrett St., Suite 200, Warrenton, VA 20186.

The details of the meeting are still being finalized and are subject to change through October 13, 2017. Check the VOF meeting page for details, changes, and further information.

Distraction: “Hey, look over there!”

Our colleagues near the Richmond area tell us Dominion has been hitting the TV commercial circuits pretty hard in the evenings lately. (To the point of distraction ad nauseum.) Seems you can’t even sit and peacefully watch Jeopardy without being inundated with lies about cheaper power bills and how much we need their safe gas pipeline. Thankfully, there are the ads like this one, from the hard-working folks at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This video was created by a nonpartisan partnership of clean energy, conservation, consumer and social justice organizations from around Virginia to highlight Dominion’s favorite pastime: distracting you from some of the things you might not like about them, something they do every single day to their customers and to lawmakers alike.

And while the enthusiastic Byron from Distraction Energy might not be an actual lineman, what he’s saying about Dominion is 100% true.