Author Archives: Ellen Bouton

Groups File Federal Appeals Court Brief Challenging ACP

On Friday April 12, 2019, a group of ten religious, social justice, and civil rights organizations filed a “friend of the court” brief urging the Federal Court of Appeals in DC to revoke the key federal permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The ten groups are Center for Earth Ethics (headed by Karenna Gore); Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign, Repairers of the Breach (led by Rev. William Barber III); Satchidananda Ashram – Yogaville, Inc.; Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church; Virginia Interfaith Power & Light; Virginia State Conference NAACP; and WE ACT for Environmental Justice. All we reaffirming long-standing opposition to the ACP.

Jonathan Sokolow, writing in Blue Virginia on April 15, 2019, explains that, “The 50-plus-page court filing states that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) violated federal law and ‘ignored significant minority populations that live along the proposed route.’ It argues that the permit issued by FERC should be revoked because FERC ‘did not take a hard look at the health and environmental effects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’ on ‘environmental justice communities.’ It points in particular to FERC’s failure to consider the disproportionate effect that the pipeline would have on the historic African American community of Union Hill, in Buckingham County, as well as on Native American communities along the proposed route. As the brief points out, Dominion Energy seeks to build three compressor stations to transport fracked methane ‘natural’ gas along a 600-mile route from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. ‘All three compressor stations would be located in census tracts where the minority population, or the population under the poverty level, is higher than the state average.'”

Martina Cole, writing for NRDC, cites examples of FERC’s flawed analysis:

  • Misguided use of census tract data masks communities of color
  • Failure to assess adverse, disproportionate impacts on communities of color

She notes that FERC’s actions are a model of environmental injustice. “In the first instance, FERC’s gerrymandered analysis led to the erasure of communities of color, which led to it not analyzing the ACP’s unique effect on these communities, which led to its faulty conclusion that the ACP would have no disproportionately high and adverse impacts on African American communities. Then when FERC did acknowledge the existence of a minority environmental justice community, its striking disregard of the clear health risks to the community amounted to the same erroneous conclusion of no impact. In each case, FERC’s flawed analysis helped produce FERC’s faulty approval of the project. This is what environmental injustice looks like.”

Cole finishes by saying, “It is soberingly clear how and why polluting fossil fuel infrastructure is disproportionately placed in communities of color, and FERC’s permissive and inappropriate approach to reviewing these projects facilitates this environmental injustice. The D.C. Circuit can prevent imminent harm to environmental justice communities along the ACP path by vacating FERC’s undue approval of the ACP. Alternatively, the court could remand the case back to FERC for a real analysis that is consistent with the law’s requirements. Such an analysis would not obscure the facts. It would recognize environmental justice communities and the threats they face. It would reveal the disproportionate burden the ACP would have on vulnerable communities. It would thoroughly review project alternatives. It would demonstrate that environmental justice communities matter. As part of a fulsome public interest analysis, a reasoned environmental justice review would further demonstrate what is already known: that the ACP is not needed, is environmentally unjust, would cause permanent environmental damage, and should be rejected.”

Read Jonathan Sololow’s full Blue Virginia column here.

Read Martina Cole’s full NRDC post here.

Read the full Amicus Brief 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):

Brief Filed in Lawsuit Challenging ACP’s FERC Certificate

From ABRA Update 225, April 11, 2019:

The opening brief in a lawsuit challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) certificate that allows construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was filed on April 5 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Appalachian Voices, et. al. vs. FERC, which includes several ABRA members as plaintiffs, had originally been filed with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. It was subsequently transferred to the DC Circuit Court where it was consolidated with several other pending cases that challenged the FERC certificate for the ACP.

The principal arguments made in the April 5 brief are:

  1. FERC’s exclusive reliance on precedent agreements with affiliated monopoly utilities to establish market need for the project was arbitrary and capricious. Such precedent agreements are unreliable evidence for market need.
  2. FERC’s Environmental Impact Statement on the ACP was seriously deficient and thus violated requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Specifically:
     – FERC failed to adequately consider the adequacy of existing transmission systems and off-forest alternative routes;
    – The impacts to aquatic resources, including sedimentation impacts and impacts in karst terrain, were inadequately analyzed by FERC;
    – Analysis of environmental justice impacts by FERC was flawed;
    – Impacts of downstream greenhouse gas emissions were insufficiently considered; and 
    – FERC’s refusal to use the Social Cost of Carbon without an adequate explanation was arbitrary and capricious.
  3. Allowing the ACP, LLC to exercise eminent domain violates the Natural Gas Act and the Constitution because 1) several required permits and related conditions for the project have been vacated, thus removing the basis on which eminent domain authority should be exercised, 2) the use of eminent domain for the ACP thus violates the takings clause of the Constitution and also violates due process.

A copy of the complete brief is available here.

SUN SiNG: April 26, 2019


Meet the SUN SiNG Collective, working now to create a new no pipeline anthem and song video and a theatrical concert evening to lift up our resistance and future lovin’ souls.  April 26, 6-9 pm. The Jefferson Theater, Charlottesville.

Each member of the SUN SiNG collective has chosen to sing for a particular pipeline endangered creature and a series of ARTivist portraits is being released now as “Who Will Sing for Me?” See them here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgOuscF5Bp8pMXD89KF68Qg/videos

All proceeds go to Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice.

Affordable Tickets now on sale:  http://bit.ly/SunSingTi

 

 

Action Alert: Appalachian Trail


Wild Virginia has issued the following action alert on Dominion’s efforts to build the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline across the Appalachian Trail. Friends of Nelson urges our readers to contact their Senators and Representatives.

Alert:

The proposed route for Dominion’s 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been a mess from the beginning. It carves through family farms, steep mountain ridges, and public water supplies, and it is slated to cross the Appalachian Trail on U.S. Forest Service land, a move that federal judges say is not legal. Rather than reconsider their poorly-planned project, Dominion is asking the U.S. Congress to change laws to make way for its unneeded gas pipeline.

We are calling on you to contact your senators and representative in Congress today and ask them to oppose legislation that makes way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  (Don’t know your senators or representative? Find out here.)

Background:
Dominion is in trouble. It’s been five years since the company announced that it would build a high-pressure gas pipeline from West Virginia, across the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, into North Carolina. Today, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is broadly unpopular, 50 percent over budget (now a shocking $7.5+ billion), and two years behind schedule.

In December 2018, a federal court in Richmond said that Dominion’s plan to cross the Appalachian Trail was not legal, and it overturned the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the crossing.  Dominion has already tried to sneak a bill through Congress to change the law and allow our precious federal resources to be harmed. The company won’t stop in its efforts to get senators and representatives to change the law and undo the court’s ruling.

We will oppose Dominion’s efforts and call on you to do the same – NOW!

The Appalachian Trail crossing is one of seven permits that federal courts have overturned or put on hold, all because of Dominion’s careless route selection and rushed permitting. And it’s increasingly clear that the pipeline is not needed to meet electricity and gas demand. Worse, electricity customers in Virginia and North Carolina would be on the hook to pay for the costly new pipeline.

Tell your senators and your representative in Congress that you oppose legislation that would change the rules to make way for Dominion’s unneeded and destructive pipeline.

Thank you for taking action to protect the mountain streams, family farms, private property, water supplies, and Appalachian Trail that we all cherish.

Sincerely,

David Sligh 
Wild Virginia
Conservation Director

End of the Line: Episode 27, Uncertainty


Listen to the latest End of the Line podcast, Episode 27, Uncertainty. In this episode, pipeline opponents talk about “hope”, how to see uncertainty in an emergent way, and what it takes to keep fighting giants. Original air date: 4/5/19.

Other recent podcasts: Episode 26, Reverend Barber (Hear Reverend William Barber’s full speech at the Moral Call for Ecological Justice in Buckingham County, VA. Original air date: 3/15/19), and Episode 25, Moral Call (Reverend William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign of North Carolina, and former Vice President Al Gore, recently visited the community of Union Hill in Buckingham County, VA for the Moral Call for Ecological Justice. Original air date: 3/1/19).