Category Archives: Citizen Activism

ABRA-CSI Seeks Help with Aerial Photo Review

Pipeline construction at Grassy Run in Upshur County, West Virginia. An example of the kind of photos that photo reviewers would be examining.

A request from Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA):

ABRA’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance (CSI) program is seeking assistance from knowledgeable individuals who can participate as CSI Aerial Photo Reviewers. Although we especially seek the help of professionals with erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, and other water-resource backgrounds, the involvement of others is welcomed and encouraged. Aerial Photo Reviewers will perform the important task of reviewing aerial imagery and other information related to Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction in order to evaluate both compliance with regulatory requirements and the effectiveness of runoff control measures.

The Pipeline Air Force is currently obtaining hundreds of aerial photos of the 200-mile western mountainous section of the ACP construction route every one-to-two weeks. The photos, along with approved project construction plans and information concerning environmental requirements, can be accessed using the online CSI Mapping System and through the CSI website. Aerial Photo Reviewers will be able to work from any location with access to the internet. See the CSI Aerial Photo Reviewer Guidebook for an overview.

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, please click here.

Spruce Creek Camp: Report on Final Weekend


Oct. 22nd, 2018, For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp Weekend 3: Camptivists Gather on Land Threatened by ACP

Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) invited the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the final weekend of camp, attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in workshops and discussions.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist Richard Averitt described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on the Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation he recently gave to a Congressional hearing on how this destructive project has affected his family both on camp land and where his family has residences.

Charlie Hickox, Friends of Nelson board member, presented a brief history of Nelson and described the devastating effects Hurricane Camille had on the county, due to the intense rain and landslides that resulted in 124 Nelson citizens losing their lives. He emphasized that the unstable soils on our steep slopes, coupled with extreme precipitation events (brought on by climate change) have a high probability of failing again during or after construction of a 42” diameter pipeline. Such integrity failure would most likely result in explosions and fire due to the volatile nature of natural gas put under 1400 + psi pressure.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems.

In the afternoon Joyce hiked with camptivists up Robert’s Mountain to see just how steep one of these ridges that the pipeline is proposed to go though actually is. Participants got to see firsthand the narrow slope that would be significantly “reduced” in height.

Mike Tabony, local resident, school lecturer, and frequent writer of letters to the editor to local newspapers, gave a detailed slide presentation on Climate Change and Global Warming. One point he made was that increasing global temperatures result in catastrophic sea level rise with major implications for Virginia’s coast line, especially in the heavily populated Norfolk/Hampton Roads area where one segment of the ACP is proposed to end.

Lara Gastinger, an internationally recognized botanical illustrator and lead illustrator of the book, Flora of Virginia, presented a workshop on illustrating and journaling plants. Participants walked the Averitt’s property collecting plant materials and then sketched and painted them using fine point pens and watercolors.

Weston Mathews, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia and co-director of the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice (IACJ), gave an insightful talk on the necessity for action and collaboration beyond borders of Nelson County, expanding the notion of what it means to relate to someone as a neighbor. His IACJ organization generously funds Native Americans under duress due to climate events, bail for arrested protesters, and supports many other environmental justice organizations and activities.

Ben Cunningham from the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) presented and demonstrated the Pipeline CSI mapping application and made a request for volunteers to monitor and report violations of erosion controls and water quality protections found during pipeline construction.

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, discussed local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. Roof top solar projects exist in the county on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves, as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Sadly, off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries, is just now beginning to be implemented in Virginia. Doug reminded us that energy conservation remains an effective strategy, especially for low income residents who would directly benefit from paying smaller utility bills.

Ernie Reed, former president of Friends of Nelson and current member of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors, showed the group a recent Powerpoint presentation he made to Sweet Briar students. Later he discussed how the attendees could influence decision makers and the media in this fight, and the importance of continuing to mount legal challenges. He advocated having as many tools as possible to fight pipelines in order to preserve our environment and property rights.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

The weekend camping events brought together people from Oregon, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland, as well as from many cities and counties in Virginia. Participants learned about Nelson County, its history, natural resources, beauty, susceptibility to landslides, and the vulnerabilities to its tourism businesses. Campers were briefed by our knowledgeable citizen task force on the lack of property rights, legal matters now in the courts, the deleterious effects of pipelines on local flora and fauna, and, finally, on the reasons why this project is totally unnecessary. Natural gas demand in the Commonwealth is flat and alternatives such as solar, offshore wind and conservation have become much more attractive and competitive. As Nelson has stated from the beginning of this struggle: No Pipeline.

Spruce Creek Camp: Speakers and Events


Oct. 15th, 2018, For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp Weekend Two: 75 Camptivists Gather on Land Threatened by ACP

Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) invite the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the second weekend of camp, 75 attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County and Buckingham citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in discussions.

Woody Greenberg, former reporter, retired Lynchburg College professor, former member of the Board of Supervisors, and current Secretary of the Nelson Historical Society, gave a brief history of the county and described in detail the devastating effect Hurricane Camille had here due to the intense flooding and landslides that killed 124 people. He emphasized that unstable soils on our steep slopes could fail again during or after construction of a massive 42” pipeline.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist Richard Averitt described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on the Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation he recently gave to a Congressional hearing on how this destructive project has affected his family both on camp land and where his family has residences.

Lakshmi Fjord from Friends of Buckingham gave a slide presentation on the potential health effects from the proposed compressor station in Buckingham County near Union Hill on the largely African American community. Her group has done extensive health surveys of the community which could result in bringing an environmental justice case against the ACP as described in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Others from her group described the group’s baseline air and water monitoring activities. http://www.friendsofbuckinghamva.org/friends/learning-center/compressor/

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, discussed local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. Roof top solar projects exist in the county on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries is just now beginning to be exploited in Virginia. He also said that energy conservation remains an effective strategy especially for low income residents who would directly benefit from paying smaller utility bills.

David Schweisow, land owner in nearby Wintergreen Resort, described how the ACP plans to tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail using the questionable Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) technique. The process would employ proprietary drilling chemicals, bentonite and 50,000+ gallons of water a day and take over a year to complete. Afterwards, Dave took us on a tour of the 125’ wide clear cut next to Wintergreen’s only egress road and to where the pipeline would cross the Schweisow’s front yard on Fortune’s Ridge.

The Spruce Creek Circle of Protection held an open-air Interfaith Prayer Vigil to inspire and affirm the need for communities to protect their safety, water, and land values from the threat of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, hosted by Water is Life. Protect it. The ceremony opened with words from spiritual leader Asha Greer from Batesville and pastor Louie Andrews from Rockfish Valley Presbyterian Church. Wild Common performed music powered by the Sun Bus, Richard Averitt described how his life has been affected by the ACP, Amelia Williams read an original poem, 1000 Flags 1000 Waters converged and more.

Ben Cunningham from the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) presented and demonstrated the Pipeline CSI mapping application and made a request for volunteers to monitor and report on violations of erosion controls and water quality protections found during pipeline construction.

Beth and Neal LaFerriere from Blackberry Botanicals in West Virginia spoke to the group about their family and land’s repeated bombardment by helicopters with grass/fertilizer pellets. Because of this unwarranted and illegal action, they will lose their farm’s organic certification for three years, severely affecting their chief source of income.

James Bolton, a Friends of Nelson Board member and frequent FERC commentator, discussed the legal fight and where various suits, motions and rulings stand today.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

The final weekend of October 19 – 21 will include many of the above speakers as well as Mike Tabony discussing global warming, Lara Gastinger on illustrating and journaling flora and fauna with an opportunity to create your own art and journal, Weston Matthews discussing climate justice from a religious perspective, a hike to Roberts Mountain ridge, discussions and drumming held in the resident tipi, and Ernie Reed speaking on political activism and where the group goes from here.

The final weekend of the Camp, which is free, will be held Friday afternoon October 19 through Sunday mid-day October 21. Pre-registration is required – register here. “We feel finances should not be a barrier to enjoy the beauty of our area. Donations will be gratefully accepted for Friends of Nelson and Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice.”

Pipeline CSI Local Coordination/Compliance Review Workshop


You are invited to attend a Pipeline CSI Local Coordination/Compliance Review Workshop on Tuesday, October 23 from 10am-1pm at the Rockfish Valley Community Center.

The ACP and MVP construction work that has occurred so far is alarming, and the agencies seem unwilling or unable to ensure compliance with basic environmental requirements meant to protect us all. The importance of the CSI could not be more clear.

Many of you have expressed an interest in the CSI effort by completing our online form or by other means, and we hope you can attend. If not, we hope you can attend one of the next upcoming workshops that are in the works. We are making plans to hold similar meetings this season in Augusta and Buckingham Counties in Virginia and in Pocahontas and Buckhannon Counties in West Virginia.

If you can join us, please RSVP at the link below so that we can get a head count for the lunch we’d like to provide.

Seating will be limited to ~40, so please RSVP sooner rather than later. An outline of our day’s agenda is below (may be subject to adjustments).

RSVP Link: https://goo.gl/forms/Gh8L0ZZKQDanuj8Y2

Please contact Ben Cunningham (ben@blueridgegeographics.com) with any questions or concerns regarding this upcoming workshop.

AGENDA:  October 23, 10-1, Rockfish Valley Community Center, Rockfish, Va.

CSI Local Coordination/Compliance Review Workshop

1.    Introduction
     A.    Description of meeting content and objectives
     B.    Components of incident review
     C.    Data management
2.    Local coordinator playbook
     A.    Organization of local coordinators
          a.     ACP geographic segments
     B.    Volunteers
          a.     Volunteer roles (observers and water data collectors)
          b.    Recruiting/training/deploying
     C.    Landowners
          a.     Engagement plus access to observation and water sampling locations
          b.    Recruiting/signing
     D.    Pipeline construction process
     E.    Top ten compliance issues
     F.    Incident identification flow process
3.    CSI Mapping System
     A.    Content and Navigation
     B.    Use for compliance review
4.    Compliance issues
     A.    List of top ten issues and related regulatory requirements
     B.    Photos related to each issue
     C.    Discussion of photo documentation
5.    Submitting complaints to agencies
     A.    Virginia DEQ
     B.    West Virginia DEP
     C.    FERC
     D.    Forest Service
6.    Meeting wrap-up
     A.    Designation of local coordinators
     B.    Identified loose ends
     C.    Need for additional work sessions/meetings
          a.     Local Coordination/Compliance Review Workshops
          b.    General CSI Overview Meetings
          c.     CSI Mapping System training
          d.    Drone workshops
          e.     Water quality monitoring training

 

 

Spruce Creek Camp Speaker Schedule, October 12-14

Spruce Creek Camp for the October 12, 2018, weekend: another lineup of great speakers and interesting activities.  Registration required, but there is still time to register!

Friday evening:

7:00 pm Richard Averitt – video of presentation given recently to the Congress on how this destructive project has affected his family.

8:00 pm VSEC – update on MVP tree sits

Saturday:

9 am Woody Greenberg – Brief history of Nelson, discussion of 1969 Hurricane Camille devastation and parallels to pipeline construction

10-11:30 am – Walk the property with Joyce Burton and Richard Averitt

11:30 am – Friends of Buckingham – compressor station at Union Hill

Lunch – Doug Wellman – alternatives to gas and coal power generation

1:30-5:00 – offsite activity – visit to steep slopes of proposed pipeline route on Roberts Mountain; visit to proposed HDD site at Wintergreen

5 pm – Circle of Protection

Dinner

7 pm – Ben Cunningham on CSI

Campfire and musicians