Category Archives: Citizen Activism

Hands Across the Appalachian Trail


SAVE THE DATE!

Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 11 AM – 1 PM, Humpback Rocks Visitor’s Center and Picnic Area, Milepost 5.8, Blue Ridge Parkway, Lyndhurst, VA 22952. Hosted by Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Join your friends and neighbors at the Fourth Annual Hands Across the Appalachian Trail! Be part of this special weekend of events across the state on Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29, as we work to protect our communities, water, air, land and natural treasures from the threats posed by unneeded and harmful fracked gas pipelines.

The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines propose to cross several nationally known and highly popular public recreational areas including the George Washington National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Eastern Trail, and – the iconic Appalachian Trail. The dedicated work of volunteers, community groups, allies, legal advocates and individuals has led to Stop Work Orders and further delays of the pipelines, and the efforts to stop these fracked-gas project continues.

The Hands Across the Appalachian Trail events features the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision to “connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy.” Come celebrate the Appalachian Trail, meet others working to protect it and enjoy food, music, and speakers!

The Saturday, September 28 event will take place at:
Humpback Rocks Visitors Center/Augusta County: Humpback Rocks Visitor’s Center and Picnic Area, Milepost 5.8, Blue Ridge Parkway, Lyndhurst, VA 22952

For more information contact:
Jessica Sims:
jessica.sims@sierraclub.org 804-366-0745
We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, September 28!

Other Hands Across the Appalachian Trail events:

Saturday, September 28, 11am-1pm
Giles County/Pearisburg: Route 100 intersection with Appalachian Trail (Trailhead), 2030 Narrows Road, Pearisburg, VA 24134 (Bluff City)

Sunday, September 29, 11am-1pm
Bears Den, 18393 Blue Ridge Mountain Road, Bluemont, VA 20135

What Can You Do?

What can you do while we wait on the courts for hearings and decisions on the several pipeline-related issues? You could:

  • Tell FERC: Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline to protect Appalachia’s endangered species. In April 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began to evaluate the impacts of sediment pollution from construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline on local threatened and endangered species. The agency expressed its concern in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Although the agency’s initial analysis demonstrated that endangered species, including the endemic Roanoke Logperch, are at increased risk, work on the pipeline continues, and the well-being of the logperch, the candy darter, the Indiana bat and more remains under threat. FERC has the authority to stop construction of the MVP to ensure the protection of Appalachia’s biodiversity!  Send a message to FERC via the Appalachian Voices Web page.
  • Tell Congress: Don’t let Dominion convince Congress to sneak in a rider to critical legislation which would allow the pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway! You can print, sign, and mail this letter to Representative Denver Riggleman – or write your own letter and mail it! For another sample letter, and for addresses of Virginia’s Senators and other Congressional representatives, see the Potomac Riverkeeper Network’s page, Help Us Preserve the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah!

Formal Complaint Against MVP Filed with FERC

Press release from Wild Virginia, June 21, 2019. Contact: David Sligh, ​david@wildvirginia.org​​ 434-964-7455

Citizens File Formal Complaint with FERC, Call on State Water Control Board to Intervene and Insist that MVP License Be Revoked or Suspended

On June 21, 2019, Wild Virginia, partner groups, and individuals filed a formal complaint against Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Complaint is based on MVP’s frequent and repeated violations of state and federal requirements, throughout work on the project.

“We are asking that FERC revoke or suspend the Certificate it issued to MVP,” said David Sligh of Wild Virginia. Through this formal process, parties can also intervene and the complainants are calling on the State Water Control Board to do so and insist that FERC do what its members decided they lack the authority to do -stop the project and defend Virginians and our resources. The Board meets next week, on June 27 and the parties want them to act on this issue at that time.

The FERC approval was based on a finding that MVP was able and willing to meet all requirements, protect the environment, and the people affected. “MVP has shown, through hundreds of blatant violations that is neither able nor willing to obey the law,” Sligh said.

The complaint is joined by the Indian Creek Watershed Association, Preserve Craig, Inc., Betty Werner, and Neal Laferriere. Werner and Laferriere are landowners who have reported ongoing problems and the locally-based groups have seen all of their warnings about the damages MVP would cause come true.

When the Commission issued the Certificate allowing MVP to proceed, it said it “expected strict compliance . .. with any state and federal mandated conditions.” The citizens joining this complaint are asking the Commissioners at FERC to prove that they meant what they said.

Two categories of violations are cited in the complaint. First, is the continued construction on MVP despite the fact that federal licenses to cross waterbodies and the National Forest were rejected by a federal court. Second,MVP has violated a broad range of legal requirements meant to protect the environment, people, and property along its path.

Citizens have monitored the project from the start and shown that MVP doesn’t bother to install pollution controls until forced to do so and that those used are sometimes so poorly designed and maintained that they won’t work even when built according to plans. Findings of regulators in both West Virginia and Virginia of hundreds of violations show that MVP is not serious about protections but is focused solely on ramming this project through with little regard for anyone else’s interests. Even FERC inspectors have document many blatant violations – often with the same problems occurring time and again.

“What we have is regulators watching our waters get trashed and then trying to act. By the time that happens though it may be too late for some of our most valuable resources,” Sligh said.

Initial Roanoke Times press coverage on the filing with FERC is here.

UPDATE by the Roanoke Times on June 28, 2019Request to stop work on Mountain Valley Pipeline remains in limbo. “A complaint that seeks to stop work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline is in a state of limbo. Last week, Wild Virginia and other environmental groups filed what they called a formal complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They expected that the action would start an official process, and they asked the State Water Control Board to join in their request that FERC halt construction. But after the board met Thursday in a closed session with an assistant attorney general, member James Lofton said it had been advised that the complaint has yet to be docketed with FERC. The 24-page document — which cites hundreds of environmental violations and the loss of two key sets of federal permits — was filed with FERC on June 21. ‘At this time, the filing is under review by the Commission who will determine how to address the issues raised,’ spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said Thursday by email.”

Send Comments to FERC Before June 26

On March 21, 2019, FERC issued a notice of inquiry requesting “information and stakeholder views to help the Commission explore whether, and if so how, it should modify its policies concerning the determination of the return on equity (ROE) to be used in designing jurisdictional rates charged by public utilities. The Commission also seeks comment on whether any changes to its policies concerning public utility ROEs should be applied to interstate natural gas and oil pipelines.”

The high rate of return on equity (a guaranteed 14% for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline) allows for the construction of unnecessary pipeline projects, leaving the US with newly built fossil fuel infrastructure in a time of rapidly falling renewable energy prices and growing concern about climate change. Because utilities can pass along costs to consumers in their monthly bills, FERC has effectively allowed them to use their customer’s money to build pipelines that may never be fully used.

We urge everyone to comment to FERC, suggesting it change the way it determines rate of return. Comments from the public on FERC’s new inquiry are due on June 26, 2019. Because FERC makes it so difficult for people to submit comments electronically, we urge you to print, sign, and mail this letter – or write your own letter and mail it! Your letter must be postmarked by June 26.

This Fight Is Now

New video from ARTivism Virginia. Follow one Mountain Valley Pipeline resister from Southwest Virginia as she journeys to stand with the Union Hill Community in their resistance against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its proposed compressor station. Bernadette “BJ” Brown speaks a simple and profound truth to those resisting new fossil fuel infrastructure anywhere: “We will win. Because if we lose – there won’t be anyone here to win. “This Fight is Now” is a collaboration of ARTivism Virginia and Lights and Years.

Video: Speakers at Buckingham’s Bridging the Gap Kickoff

On June 8, 2019, Bridging the Gap kicked off a week-long solar installation and environmental health training in Buckingham County. In this video from the kick-off event, Richard Walker, CEO of Bridging the Gap, introduces Basil Gooden, Jon Sokolow and Karen Campblin Jon Sokolow, writer, attorney, activist, fighting the Atlantic Coast & Mountain Valley Pipelines speaks about 3 Amicus Briefs filed June 7, 2019 in support of Southern Environmental Law Center’s filing on May 31 on behalf of the Union Hill Community. Karen Campblin, VA NAACP Environmental Justice Chair speaks about their recent meeting with AG Mark Herring and specifically about the woes of the Southside Connector, another environmental justice disaster.

Bridging the Gap In Virginia has received a grant from Mertz Gilmore Foundation to sponsor a solar installation and environmental health training program in the Union Hill area of Buckingham County, for the benefit of the African-American community, where Union Hill struggles economically and many leave in search of work. Their vision is to provide good jobs for the residents of Union Hill while starting a green workforce development program that mentors formerly incarcerated individuals and at-risk youth in the areas of solar installation, energy audits and conservation (i.e., weatherization, efficiency) and in-door environmental health (i.e., lead testing and encapsulation, mold remediation, and air quality monitoring).