Author Archives: Meredith Ackroyd

Upcoming Event Reminder: DEIS Comment-Writing Workshop at RVCC

This weekend, on Sunday, March 19th, Friends of Nelson will be holding a comment-writing workshop at the Rockfish Valley Community Center between 3:00 and 7:00 pm.  Volunteers will be available to help you draft your comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and to help walk you through the process of submitting your comments online to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

Remember, the deadline for submitting comments to FERC about the DEIS is April 6, 2017.  You can submit as many comments as you would like to FERC, but they need to be submitted by the deadline. 

FERC is also accepting comments on behalf of the Forest Service regarding the authorization of the ACP on National Forest lands and 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.  The deadline for comments to FERC regarding the ACP on National Forest lands is April 10, 2017.

For more information about submitting comments to FERC, please visit our FERC page

If you can’t make it to Friends of Nelson’s comment-writing workshop at RVCC, Wild Virginia will also be holding comment-writing workshops in Staunton on March 20th and in Charlottesville on March 27th

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Sign on to the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition’s Objection to the DEQ’s Water Quality Certification Proposal

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has filed an eight-page objection to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ’s) Water Quality Certification proposal that would allow all utility projects in Virginia to be regulated under a generalized Nationwide 12 permit.  The DPMC argues that the issuance of the proposed Water Quality Certification would be illegal, because the DEQ has not conducted the required analysis of the impacts on water quality standards; furthermore, the generalized conditions under the Nationwide permit cannot possibly protect the great variety of waters that would be affected across the state by utility projects, nor can they account for the large variation in project conditions encountered by the many different utility line projects (ranging from small to very large) that would be covered under the general permit.

Bold Alliance has created an online petition by which you can add your name to the DPMC’s objection to the DEQ’s Water Quality Certification proposal.  The petition is an easy way for you to voice your concern for the protection of Virginia’s streams and wetlands during construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other utility projects across the state. 

The Virginia DEQ is currently accepting comments on the proposed Water Quality Certification, but the deadline is this Friday, March 17th!  Be sure to sign Bold Alliance’s online petition by this Friday.  You can also submit comments to the DEQ regarding the Water Quality Certification by email:  Comments should be submitted to Steven.Hardwick@deq.virginia.govAgain, the deadline for comments is this Friday, March 17, 2017 by 11:59 pm.

To learn more about the proposed Water Quality Certification, read our earlier post here at Friends of Nelson or read the DPMC’s detailed post about this issue, “Permission to Pollute.”

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League Sues to Block ACP Compressor Station in Buckingham County

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), along with its local chapter Concern for the New Generation (CNG), has filed a lawsuit opposing the recently granted special use permit for a natural gas compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in Buckingham County.  BREDL and CNG are seeking to reverse the decision by the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors to permit construction of the compressor station in the residential and agricultural community of Union Hill.  The lawsuit contends that state zoning laws do not allow for a compressor station in an agricultural community.  The Buckingham County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a permit for the compressor station despite overwhelming opposition to the proposal by Buckingham County residents.

You can read more about BREDL’s lawsuit opposing the ACP’s compressor station at Blue Virginia

Press Release: Study Concludes that Dominion Understates Pipeline’s Landslide Potential in Nelson County

Friends of Nelson Press Release, March 13, 2017 (Contact:  Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson, 434-361-2328)

Study Concludes that Dominion Understates Pipeline’s Landslide Potential in Nelson County

A study of the potential for slope failures and landslides in Nelson County from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, coupled with a review of Dominion’s in-house analysis, has concluded that “Dominion has not adequately identified those soils and landforms that are prone to debris flows (and) landslides.” The report also states that “the potential for debris flows in the very steep mountainous portions of Nelson County is underestimated by the reports submitted to FERC by Dominion.”

The author of the report, Blackburn Consulting Services, LLC, was contracted to review, assess, and comment on information submitted by Dominion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as related to the construction and operation of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) through Nelson County. The review was limited to information pertaining to soils/soil structure and slope stability, as well as the associated geohazards and erosion/water quality concerns that the ACP project raises for Nelson County.

As part of their work, Blackburn developed a series of predictive maps to better identify the areas with high debris flow potentials and spent three full days in Nelson County traveling to 17 pre-determined sites along the pipeline route to ground-truth their model. In addition to their visual assessments of the terrain in those areas, four hand-auger borings were performed, and full soil descriptions were completed from 14 soil pits dug using a mechanical excavator. Three of the sites were located near the Wintergreen entry on Rt. 664—proposed as the exit point for a 4500-foot tunnel through the Blue Ridge—where they found evidence of a history of numerous debris flows.

Blackburn also reviewed documents submitted by Dominion to FERC through December 1, 2016. Soil scientists looked at the information Dominion was using to determine the pipeline route, soil types along that route, slope stability and erodibility.

The scientists found that Dominion has been using inadequate and inappropriate data sets to assess the soils and identify the landslide risk potential along the pipeline route in Nelson.

The report states: “(The) review has discovered that, due to the reliance on this regional- based and publicly available information, many of the statements made in Dominion’s FERC filings represent gross generalities. Dominion has not adequately identified those soils and landforms that are prone to debris flows/landslides, nor have they adequately addressed how they plan to mitigate those site-specific hazards that can put people, property and water quality at extreme risk.”

“Given the types of soils that the soil/scientists observed during their site work on Nelson’s steep slopes (loose uncompacted soils on slopes that measured as steep as 83%), it is obvious that the erosion potential of these slopes is much higher than Dominion is reporting,” said Randy Whiting of Friends of Nelson. “Considering the anticipated difficulties Dominion is expected to have with revegetating the pipeline right-of-way—both during and after construction—it becomes apparent that combining Nelson’s soils, slopes and this proposed pipeline is a recipe for disaster.”

“After reading this report, what scares me even more are the places where they want to install the pipeline along our narrow ridgetops,” said Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson, referring to ridgetops such as those on Roberts Mountain. “There is no way to clear and flatten a 125’ construction right-of-way on a ridge that is only 60’ feet wide without severely impacting the landslide-prone slopes on either side. “

“We are calling on FERC to rescind the current DEIS and demand that Dominion follow these scientists’ recommendations to perform a more thorough assessment of the landslide risks in Nelson before the approval process is allowed to proceed any further,” Burton concluded.

Blackburn Consulting Services, LLC has over 50 years of experience in mapping and evaluating soil characteristics for a variety of purposes—ranging from agriculture and forestry to land development, environmental and wastewater disposal. They are licensed Professional Soil Scientists and On-site Soil Evaluators in the State of Virginia and nationally certified through the Soil Science Society of America.

The report was a joint project of Friends of Nelson, Friends of Wintergreen, and Wintergreen Property Owners Inc.

You can download the full report by clicking here.

To download this press release, click here

Tell the Virginia DEQ to Reject the Water Quality Certification of the Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide 12 Permit

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) reports this week that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is considering a proposal to issue a Water Quality Certification (WQC) that would allow parties to build utility lines, including large gas pipelines, through streams and wetlands across Virginia with only the limited, generalized requirements for waterbody crossings that are stipulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide permit (NWP 12).  According to the DPMC, such generalized conditions under the Nationwide permit cannot possibly protect the great variety of waters that would be affected across the state by utility projects, nor can they account for the large variation in project conditions encountered by the many different utility line projects (ranging from small to very large) that would be covered under the general permit.

Despite the fact that the DEQ is charged with ensuring that all Virginia water quality standards are met for such utility projects, the DPMC reports that the DEQ has performed no analysis to look at the impacts of NWP 12 activities on water quality standards. The DPMC requested all supporting documentation for the DEQ’s proposed regulatory action and received only five documents that show that no analysis of impacts was even attempted, let alone completed.

The DEQ has suggested that it may attempt to cover the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline under this generalized WQC if the Corps of Engineers deems them eligible for coverage under NWP 12.  The DPMC asserts that such an action would be illegal and argues that this proposal cannot be justified on legal or scientific grounds even for the many smaller utility projects that the WQC would cover.

The Virginia DEQ is currently accepting comments on the proposed Water Quality Certification, so you have an opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue.  Contact the DEQ and tell them to reject the Water Quality Certification of the Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide 12 Permit.  Comments should be submitted to Steven.Hardwick@deq.virginia.govThe deadline for comments is this Friday, March 17, 2017 by 11:59 pm.

To read the DPMC’s full statement on its position regarding the DEQ’s consideration of the proposal to issue a Water Quality Certification that would allow parties to build utility lines through Virginia’s waterbodies under a generalized Nationwide 12 permit, click here

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Pipeline Opponents Rally in Charlottesville

Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), as well as other large pipeline projects across the United States, made their voices heard in Charlottesville this weekend at the Stop the Pipelines rally hosted by the Central Virginia Environmental Coalition.  Pipeline protesters from communities along the proposed ACP route gathered at the Freedom of Speech Wall on the Downtown Mall to listen to speakers and raise awareness of the many negative impacts of the ACP. 

You can read more about the demonstration at the Charlottesville Newsplex and NBC 29

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