Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

Friction between Forest Service and Dominion Over Pipeline Permitting

A lengthy March 20, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch article, “Testimony, correspondence, show friction between Dominion, U.S. Forest Service, over pipeline permitting,” discusses the many ways in which Dominion has repeatedly failed to provide information requested and required by the U.S. Forest Service, information relevant to Dominion’s proposed pipeline through steep slope areas of the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. But despite Dominion’s failure to respond to Forest Service requests, during a U.S. Senate committee hearing on energy infrastructure last week a top Dominion official complained about the Forest Service’s slowness in responding to Dominion’s application!

A February 22, 2017 letter to Monongahela Forest supervisor Clyde Thompson from James Thompson, a West Virginia University professor and specialist in soils and land use who has been contracted by the Forest Service as a third-party reviewer for the pipeline project, discusses in detail Dominion’s failures. Teleconferences with the Forest Service on November 21 and December 8, 2016, and another on February 17, 2017, were planned as opportunities for Dominon to present their proposed “Best in Class” Steep Slopes Program and solicit Forest Service feedback. At none of these meetings did Dominion provide any specific or targeted information that would allow the Forest Service to properly evaluate Dominion’s proposal. Further, the analyses and documentation from Dominion does not include data or information derived from the Order 1 Soil Survey previously prepared for National Forest lands along the route. Professor Thompson also notes that Dominion is not making available to meeting participants the documents and data critical for discussion of agenda topics until less than 24 hours before the scheduled teleconferences!

Read Professor Thompson’s letter here and the Richmond Times-Dispatch article here.

Remember that the Forest Service is requesting public comments on the authorization of the ACP on National Forest lands and on the proposed amendments of the Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs) that would allow the ACP to be constructed across the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests. For instructions on how to comment, see our January 10, 2017, Web page posting.

Blast Zone Sign Installation and Rally

Friends of Augusta will be sponsoring the installation of an “Entering the Blast Zone” sign along the proposed pipeline path on Saturday March 25, 2017, 11:30 am-12:30 pm, at the Stuarts Draft Farmers Market (2964 Stuarts Draft Highway, Stuarts Draft VA). There will be a rally with a few guest speakers.  Come – and invite everyone you know so Friends of Augusta can continue to educate people about the threat of this pipeline to our community, our water, health and safety of our families, etc.

Parking is limited so please carpool or park at Target Park and Ride and ride over to the Farm stand together.

FERC Hearing in Nelson, February 22, 2017


The FERC hearing in Nelson on the DEIS will be Wednesday February 22, 2017. Be there!

This is our chance to speak up in opposition about the seriously flawed and unacceptably inadequate Draft Environmental Impact Statement. We need as many people as possible to attend – flooding FERC – showing and voicing our disapproval and aversion towards this grossly unnecessary and dangerous pipeline.

Come early to sign up for a number to speak! Comments will NOT be taken in public. Speakers’ comments will be taken in a private room with a stenographer. (This is FERC’s idea of a “public hearing.”) It is therefore crucially important that everyone who gives comments brings a paper copy to give to the stenographer and that everyone ALSO submits their comments to FERC – online or via USPS – so that there is an irrefutable paper trail.

See our Events page for details on other FERC hearings in our area:  Farmville on February 21, Staunton on February 23, and Monterey on February 28.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is not needed, and we don’t want this 42″, 600-mile fracked gas pipeline. We want clean water, healthy air, our precious lands to stay intact, and a safe future.

New Analysis: MVP and ACP Are Climate Disasters


Two studies released on February 15, 2017, find that if built, the controversial Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines would together contribute as much greenhouse gas pollution as 45 coal-fired power plants — some 158 million metric tons a year. The studies, released by Oil Change International, build upon a new methodology, also released today, for calculating the climate impacts of natural gas pipelines in the Appalachian Basin based on the evolving science of methane leakage and its impact on our climate.

The studies show that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is out of date on measuring climate impacts, and is failing to protect communities and citizens around the country.

“Our analysis shows that both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline are climate disasters. They threaten communities along the route and they would cause massive increases in climate pollution,” said report author and Oil Change International Senior Research Analyst Lorne Stockman, who is also a resident of Staunton, Virginia, close to the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “We don’t need these pipelines and we don’t want them. We need to move away from fossil fuels, not double down on the increased climate pollution they would cause.”

The pipelines studies can be found at the following links:

Read the full press release from Oil Change International.

Inspection of Buildings, Water Supplies


Some Nelson landowners with property either on or close to the route have been contacted by Dominion’s contractors to ask for permission to inspect their buildings and/or wells. Friends of Nelson believes Dominion is trying to amass pre-construction data so that if landowners later complain that their foundations have cracked or their well is no longer producing as much good water, there will be a basis for comparison.

Although we recommend that people consult with their own lawyers about whether to allow these inspections (which are separate from the pipeline surveys authorized under VA Code 56-49.01), attorneys at Appalachian Mountain Advocates have said that they see little downside to allowing the inspections: if Dominion has a record from their own contractors that the water supply was good before the pipeline, it will be harder for them to shirk responsibility if wells go bad during/after construction.

However, we are also recommending that people INSIST on getting a copy of the report. That way, if there is anything that indicates existing problems, or somehow seems incorrect, they can arrange for re-testing with a different contractor on their own in order to confirm/refute the results.

Indeed, Friends of Nelson recommends that folks who are concerned about potential impacts to their water source get well-documented, baseline water data NOW. Then, if the pipeline is actually built, they should continue to monitor during construction and for a period afterwards.

With the support of Friends of Nelson and a number of other organizations, an excellent guide to water supply monitoring has been produced by Downstream Strategies. The guide is nearly 50 pages; note that the actual “How To” of monitoring starts on p.22, and there is also list of independent consultants that landowners can hire to do the work starting on p. 36.

If you have questions or want further information, please email friendsofnelson@gmail.com; give us your phone number so we can call you back.