Category Archives: Citizen Activism

Crowdsourcing Oversight of ACP Construction

The Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), a program of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), is working to crowdsource oversight of Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction. 

In support of this effort, ABRA has published the CSI Mapping System 4.0, a unique online geographic information system that includes user-selectable environmental layers and provides access to construction plans and aerial photography of construction in progress. Citizens, technical and legal experts, and even regulatory agency personnel, can access the CSI Mapping System to check actual construction for compliance with agency-approved construction plans.

The CSI Mapping System is a cutting-edge tool for public involvement in the regulation of pipeline construction, especially with respect to use of aerial surveillance. The CSI’s Pipeline Air Force, which now deploys on a weekly basis, has obtained thousands of photos documenting ACP activity in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. The CSI Mapping System provides access to these photos.

As shown in the screen shot below, locations for surveillance photos can be displayed in relation to the pipeline construction corridor, access roads, and other information. When a photo point is selected, a popup window displays a thumbnail of the photo and provides access to both low and full-resolution versions of the photo. In addition, the CSI Mapping System provides access to georeferenced photo mosaics for a subset of surveillance flights. A swipe tool allows direct comparison of construction activity on different days, as well as comparison of construction photos with construction plans. A simplified demo of this capability is provided here

 

Access to aerial photos is provided on the Pipeline Air Force Flights map page. Photo points provide access to both low and full-resolution photos.

The CSI Mapping system also provides a platform for documenting noncompliance with regulatory requirements and legal restrictions. Information concerning site-specific, as well as systemic, noncompliance can be accessed by clicking on points or construction corridor segments.

Training in use of the CSI Mapping System can be arranged on request.

Additional CSI support for crowdsourcing of ACP construction oversight has been developed through a collaborative undertaking involving local group coordination, on the ground surveillance, water data collection, and legal and technical support.

For more information, contact:

Dan Shaffer, CSI Spatial Analyst, 202-854-9558
dshaffer@abralliance.org

Ben Cunningham, CSI Virginia Field Coordinator, 434-882-1893
silvercunning@gmail.com

Autumn Crowe, CSI West Virginia Field Coordinator, 304-992-6070
acrowe@wvrivers.org

Citizen Observers Continue to Document Violations


As construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline ramps up again (although in some places it never actually ceased, despite the stop work order), citizen observers have and will continue to document the many and ongoing MVP violations of Erosion and Sediment Control Standards specified by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and its State Water Control Board.

For example, on-site in the same location that DEQ had recently inspected, the Virginia Pipeline Violations team encountered multiple, extensive mudslides, in some places thick, wet mud nearly a foot deep, washing from the construction area – in the same location where DEQ/MVP inspectors claimed on August 21 that there was no evidence of silt leaving the construction area. Concerned citizens relentlessly demanded that DEQ return, and on August 28 DEQ found violations on this location.

Shout-Out for Pipeline CSI and Mountain Valley Watch

An August 24, 2018, article in ThinkProgress, All-volunteer groups patrol construction of gas pipeline projects in Virginia, North Carolina, explains the background of the all-volunteer groups patrolling pipeline construction projects in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The article includes extensive quotes from Rick Webb, David Sligh, and Kirk Bowers. Both Pipeline CSI and Mountain Valley Watch were created to monitor construction of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, with trained volunteers essentially serving as citizen regulatory agencies, since the state regulatory agencies have neither the staff nor the will to monitor the massive projects as needed.

“In some cases, these volunteer monitoring groups have gathered more information on the pipelines’ impact on the environment and private lands than the regulators that are paid to monitor the projects. The mission of these all-volunteer oversight groups is to make sure laws are obeyed and no corners are cut during construction. And if the volunteers do their jobs well enough, they hope to provide enough evidence of violations to force regulators to issue permanent stop-work orders on the projects.”

A trained group of experts are monitoring and documenting problems in water quality, erosion and sedimentation control, and runoff with sound scientific results and “evidence grade” information – information strong enough to use in court. Often the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has been unable to get in on-site and observe problems, and only knows of violations because citizen observers are in the field doing the work with on-the-ground monitoring and aerial surveys.

“With previous construction projects, inspectors with the Virginia DEQ would, as Webb described, apologetically tell pipeline construction crews that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was forcing them to keep close tabs on their work. ‘Everybody blamed the EPA’ for making everyone do extra work, Webb said. With the creation of the Pipeline CSI, ‘they can blame us,’ he noted.”

Information on the Pipeline CSI here.

Information on Mountain Valley Watch here or on Facebook.

Circle of Protection: The Air We Breathe


Filmed at the July Circle of Protection, “The Air We Breathe” calls out for urgent and immediate help to challenge and deny the air permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline compressor station between now and September 11, 2018. Without the compressor station, the ACP, a robbery of and threat to all Virginians, cannot be built. Featuring Reverend Ray McKenzie of the Gravel Hill Baptist Church, Interfaith Leader Kira Young, Caroline Bray and artists Emily Robey Morrison and the Yes Brothers, this small film invites you to Stand with Union Hill.

Farm Use Old Time String Band invites you to the August 26, 2018, Circle of Protection. Note new start time of 1:30 pm. This one hour Interfaith Prayer Vigil with story and song at Union Hill Baptist Church will feature music from Farm Use Old Time String Band, personal story from Emily Satterwhite and our potluck to follow from 2:30-3:30 will have a guest speaker from SELC Come again and bring new allies to Stand with Union Hill as they challenge the air permit for the proposed ACP Compressor Station. For more about how to help with this challenge, see Our Air Our Lives.