Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

Forest Service Approves Amendments to Forest Plans for ACP


On November 17, 2017, the US Forest Service released a final Record of Decision (ROD) approving amendments to the Forest Plans for the Monongahela National Forest and the George Washington National Forest to accommodate the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Although this action had been anticipated after the Forest Service’s recent rejection of objections to the draft ROD, the November 17 decision provides the basis of the USFS issuing a Special Use Permit for the ACP.

An overview of and link to the 63-page decision is here.

Both Wild Virginia and Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) released statements condemning the decision.

Lew Freeman, ABRA Executive Director, said, “We firmly disagree with the decision announced today by the U.S. Forest Service to allow construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through publicly owned forest lands – valued by millions of visitors and the source of drinking water for thousands of people. We believe this decision is based on seriously deficient and incorrect information. The action imperils some of the nation’s most treasured natural resources and reflects a rush to judgment that is contrary to the standards of deliberation that we have a right to expect from the Forest Service. The decision should be strongly challenged.”

“One of the most egregious aspects of this action is that high-ranking officials in Atlanta and Milwaukee clearly yielded to pressure from industry and their bosses in Washington and disregarded the opinions of those who know these lands best, the Forest Service scientists who work every day to protect and preserve these precious areas,” said Misty Boos, Director of Wild Virginia. “Throughout the last three years, these locally-based experts have raised alarms about the wide range of threats and the certain damages that would result – many of them long-term, some permanent and irreparable.”

During its evaluation of the proposal, the Forest Service repeatedly either asked Dominion for additional information or said it did not have enough information to make a decision – but has now approved it despite the many unanswered questions, allowing Dominion to submit many of its environmental protection plans after the fact. “They’re letting the company basically make up a lot of it after the approval happened,” said David Sligh, an environmental attorney. “There’s way too much latitude for the agencies and the companies themselves that should be open to public involvement and public comment.”

“For the last two years, the Forest Service has been clear that ACP developers did not provide the agency with enough information to make a decision on this project. Serious questions remain about whether or not the pipeline can be built safely through the steep, unforgiving terrain of the Appalachians, but the agency abruptly changed course and approved the project,” said SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “The Forest Service now joins the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in approving a project that isn’t needed and that is designed to enrich developers at the expense of landowners, utility customers, and natural resources. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will strip people of their private property, raise their energy bills, and put thousands of waterways and forests in harm’s way – for the sole benefit of utility companies.”

Richmond Times Dispatch coverage of the story is here, and NBC29 coverage, including the releases from the Forest Service, from Dominion Energy, and from Southern Environmental Law Center, is here.

Legal Representation

On November 16, 2017, the Charlotte Observer reported that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is ready to start seizing private property early next year to start construction on the 600-mile ACP, beginning legal condemnation proceedings against holdout property owners as soon as it has received all state and federal permits.

In late October, the Mountain Valley Pipeline sued landowners to gain pipeline easements through eminent domain.  On November 16, 2017, a federal judge slowed MVP’s effort to fast-track one of two lawsuits against hundreds of landowners seeking to use eminent domain to gain easements for construction over the more than 300-mile route across West Virginia and Virginia.  Judge  John Copenhaver indicated “he is going to press MVP attorneys to personally serve all of the landowners with the lawsuits against them, and demand detailed explanations if the company ultimately says it couldn’t find all of the owners and wanted to rely on a public notice in the newspaper instead. ‘The court wants these people located,’ Copenhaver said. ‘The court is expecting due process.'”

Most of the landowners on the ACP route in Nelson County have legal representation. If you do not, email us at friendsofnelson@gmail.com and we will give you the information you need to protect yourself and your land.  (And please take a look at our Eminent Domain page.)  We will continue to stand up and support and back up landowners threatened by the ACP. This is not a done deal. We are still here and ready to help!

Keystone Pipeline Leaks 210,000 Gallons

The Washington Post reports that on Thursday morning November 16, 2017, the Keystone Pipeline leaked, spilling 210,000 gallons of oil southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota. “The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada. The spill on the first Keystone pipeline is the latest in a series of leaks that critics of the new pipeline say shows that TransCanada should not receive another permit.”

Imagine this from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline into Virginia waters and wetlands. We hope DEQ is paying attention!

Read the full Washington Post article here.

Water Is Life: Rally and Concert to Stop the Pipelines


Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is spearheading the December 2, 2017, The Water Is Life: Rally and Concert to Stop the Pipelines in Richmond, starting at 1:00 pm.

The proposed pipelines need their last approval from Virginia’s State Water Control Board, which will be holding hearings on December 6-7 and 11-12, 2017.  This Rally is an important protest before those meetings.  Bring banners, bring signs,bring your children, bring your voice. 

CCAN says, “It’s time for the biggest public protest ever organized against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Here’s our goal: To bring so many moms and dads and farmers and students to Richmond on Saturday December 2nd that we can literally form a human ring around the Capitol building and the Governor’s mansion.

RSVP today for “Water is Life: Rally & Concert to Stop the Pipelines” on Saturday, December 2 in Richmond at 1:00 pm. This will be the biggest, baddest pipeline rally yet!

“During the rally we will stand hand-in-hand in a massive, unbroken human chain around the Capitol building and the Governor’s mansion to say “no” to the ACP and MVP pipelines. This encirclement will be the first protest of its kind in Virginia’s history. After the rally, we’ll stick around for a concert at The National just two blocks away.

“We have to be creative and loud on December 2nd because, frankly, time is running out. The State’s Water Control Board will hold final hearings in Richmond on the MVP (Dec 6-7) and the ACP (Dec 11-12). We’ll be putting pressure on the Water Control Board with our massive rally and we’ll be telling our new governor and House of Delegates that water is life and we intend to preserve it for all our children!”