Category Archives: Citizen Surveillance

Rain, Then Mud, Mud, and More Mud

Photo by Emily Beckner Guilliams

We’ve had a rainy week, as we sometimes do. Not a 100-year rain, not a 50-year rain, not even a 25-year rain. Just a normal rainy week, with normal thunderstorms. And, not surprisingly, when pipeline companies try do work on steep terrain, the slopes slide.

On May 18, 2018, Cahas Mountain Rd in Franklin County was covered in sediment after tree clearing by Mountain Valley Pipeline crews. Locals on the scene say the mud was 12” to 18” thick. The road was closed. The nearby creek was running red. The mud blocked traffic, rerouted school-buses and put the lives, land and water of Franklin County citizens at risk. Sediment-laden runoff filled local creeks to the point where cattle would not drink from them.

Environmental experts and concerned citizens have – since 2014 – been telling FERC, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Governor of Virginia that this kind of destruction will be the result of both Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction on our steep mountain slopes.

It is particularly distressing that MVP said, “Initial reviews indicate the controls were installed properly; however, the circumstances appear unusual and an ultimate cause is under investigation.” MVP seems to imply that an ordinary rainy week with ordinary thunderstorms constitutes “unusual circumstances.”

If you live near the MVP or ACP path please document, date, gps coordinate, and time stamp photos to send to DEQ. Please report flood damage (time-stamp and date your photos if possible!) to the Mountain Valley Watch (833-689-2824) or to Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (csi@abralliance.org, 877-GO2ABRA (877-462-2272)). You may also notify:

    •  Ralph Northam, Governor (804-786-2211)
    • John McCutcheon, DEQ Stormwater Compliance Manager (804-527-5117)
    • Ann Regn, DEQ spokeswoman (804-698-4442)
    • Jerome A. Brooks, Manager of the DEQ Office of Water Compliance (804-698-4403)
    • Matt Strickler, Secretary of Natural Resources (804-786-0044)
    • We also suggest you contact your local government officials and insist that they report this to the officials responsible (such as the DEQ, VDOT, etc) for monitoring and compliance.

And here in Nelson County, Richard Averitt made this quick video to show the effects of the rain in Nelson County. We are facing an unprecedented risk to our communities. Please help. Look at the sediment problems from this one normal spring rain along the mountain valley pipeline route and imagine that same thing here in our communities and hundreds of communities throughout our state.

Terry’s Trees Come Down


Less than 24 hours after Red and Minor Terry came down from their trees, Mountain Valley Pipeline violated EPA regulations and cut the Terry’s trees along a tier 3 stream. There were many law enforcement personnel surrounding the guardians of the trees – where are they now that MVP is racing to cut? Who will enforce the penalties on MVP?  [Video by Genesis Chapman]

Beware of Surveyors!


On Wednesday May 2, 2018, Doyle surveyors were observed on land specifically NOT permitted for survey access.

The petition for access is still in court and nothing has been granted. To access the property they also used roads marked “no ACP access” and where no permission has been granted. Doyle was approached and reported they were told by ACP that all permissions had been received. The surveyors were told that they had been misinformed and left the property. This occured in the Rockfish Valley. BE ON THE LOOKOUT!

A Visit to the Terrys

Friends of Nelson stands with Red (and other tree sitters). Photo by Kathy Versluys.

Richard and Jill Averitt visited Red and Minor Terry on Sunday April 29, 2018. Here is their report.

Richard and I went to visit Red and Minor on Sunday. They have been sitting in the trees for about a month now. We brought with us a young reporter with NPR’s show With Good Reason. She spent about 45 minutes interviewing Red. They would not allow her to send up a mic so she had to shout. Red’s voice projects very well though so it was still possible to conduct a quality interview. It was cold and windy yesterday and I was worried about her last night even though I know she has been up there in much colder weather. I don’t know how she is doing this. They are giving her the same food three times a day and she says the white bread is always stale. She gave a good interview and is a spitfire of a woman. I’m so grateful and proud of her.

There are three warrants for her arrest taped to the base of the tree. She has about five officers waiting at the bottom of the tree to arrest her. All the cop cars left before we arrived. They don’t like to be seen when they know press is coming. The campers told us they always leave. Today Rolling Stone is rumored to have sent a reporter.. On Saturday, a film crew from LA showed up. In the short time we were there, a bunch of local children poured through to say hello and to have a May pole dance just outside the police tape.. It was nice to hear the children’s laughter.

I wanted so badly to throw her a hamburger or something but folks at camp told me that, if I did that, they would arrest me for aiding and abetting! You would think she is a murderer that’s armed and dangerous.

Minor’s camp was much quieter. The day we were there she requested sunscreen and they would not give it to her. Soon she will not need it as all the leaves will fill out the trees and block the sun and her. I worry that when the leaves bud out no one will be able to see her anymore. Her brother is staying near Minor in a tent and her friend was there to play books on tape for her. She finished reading all the ones she had.

Back at our car, Minor’s boyfriend and another man reported the MVP folks were trespassing. They were not using the access areas that they are supposed to use to get to the pipeline easement.. Those areas are all wetlands (which I was told were never identified in the EIS) with at least knee deep water in some places. Minor’s boyfriend put up a blockade of brambles and took out their illegal log bridge so that the MVP folks would have to go back the way they were supposed to go, through the wetlands. Police standing nearby didn’t seem to care that MVP folks were breaking the law on the Terry’s land.

If you get a chance to see them it’s totally worth the drive. When the reporter asked Red who she is doing this for she answered “Everyone. Everyone.” Please keep them in your thoughts. Tomorrow is their case in court. The lawyers came while we were there and the police let them send up some papers for her to look over.

She is amazing. She is strong. She is representing all of us right now.

To their report on visiting the Terrys, they add this note:

Please don’t forget about the monopod sitter who has broken a monopod-sit record at 33 days. But she is STILL not getting food and water. Her sit is the smallest, the size of a small cot, and she could not have been able to store much food. And the arduous trek through the woods, 125′ from the road means she is getting few visitors.

Other tree sitters continue at Little Teel Crossing and on Peter’s Mountain.

On May 1, 2018, in US District Court in Roanoke, Mountain Valley Pipeline lawyers argued their case against the Terrys.  The Roanoke Times reported that evening, “Two pipeline protesters stuck to their positions in trees atop Bent Mountain on Tuesday while, in the valley below them, lawyers went to a federal courthouse to argue their fate. Attorneys for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said that 61-year-old Theresa “Red” Terry and her daughter, Theresa Minor Terry, are blocking tree cutting for the natural gas pipeline and should be found in contempt of court. They cited an order from U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon that gave Mountain Valley the power, through the laws of eminent domain, to run its pipeline through private land owned by the Terry family. Roanoke attorney Tom Bondurant, who represents the Terrys, flipped that argument around — asserting it was Mountain Valley that should be held in contempt for misrepresenting to the court key facts during an earlier hearing in the condemnation proceedings. After hearing several hours of testimony and arguments, Dillon said she will issue a written opinion ‘as quickly as I can.’”

MVP Runs ATVs on the AT

Appalachians Against Pipelines reports that for well over a week, Mountain Valley Pipeline and the US Forest Service have been driving ATVs up and down the Appalachian National Scenic Trail on Peters Mountain.

On April 30, 2018, the Roanoke Times story, ATV traffic on the Appalachian Trail is the latest Mountain Valley Pipeline controversy, reported that “After receiving a complaint Sunday about ATV traffic on an approximately quarter-mile section of the trail that runs along the edge of Giles County, Downs contacted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is overseeing construction of the natural gas pipeline. A FERC official looked into the matter and was told that the Forest Service authorized the use of ATVs, according to FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen. Forest Service officials have also been four-wheeling on the trail, she said. Joby Timm, the Roanoke-based supervisor of the Jefferson National Forest, said through a spokeswoman only that his agency was looking into the matter.”

This video — which shows the view from Symm’s Gap meadow, a famous and popular viewpoint along the AT — is just one example of many documented instances of motorized vehicle use on the AT & the accompanying trail damage.

According to the Forest Service’s website, ATV use is strictly prohibited on all National Forest land in West Virginia. Even the project plan for MVP’s boring under the AT specifically states, “No motorized vehicle traffic is permitted between the Appalachian National Scenic Trail bore pits.” On top of that, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy says, “To protect the Appalachian Trail and the A.T. experience, certain incompatible activities, such as … use of motorized vehicles, are prohibited.”

What can you do?

Call the Forest Service! Report this abuse of the trail, and DEMAND that they stop destroying public lands on behalf of MVP, and that they stop protecting MVP over land and communities!
• USFS Office in Atlanta – 888-603-6430
• Joby Timm, Forest Supervisor – 540-265-5118 – email jtimm@fs.fed.us
• Forest Supervisor’s Office (use employee directory to reach Timm) – 540-265-5100
• Jessica Rubado, Contact for Closure Orders – 503-314-0767 – jrubado@fs.fed.us
• Rebecca Robbins, Public Affairs Specialist – 540- 265-5173 – email rebeccarobbins@fs.fed.us

Note added on May 2:  On May 1, the day after their headline story about Trail damage, the Roanoke Times reported that Forest Service apologizes for damage to Appalachian Trail during patrols of pipeline protests. “The U.S. Forest Service apologized Tuesday for damaging the Appalachian Trail with all-terrain vehicles driven during patrols of a pipeline protest. In a news release, the agency admitted that its law enforcement officers used the ATVs from April 11 to April 30 on a short stretch of the scenic footpath that follows the ridge of Peters Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest.”

CSI Drone Training, April 28, 2018

Friends of Nelson and the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance are excited to announce the date of our first Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) drone monitoring training on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 12:00pm – 4:00pm at the Rockfish Valley Community Center (click for directions).
 
If you haven’t already, please sign up for the event using our Pipeline Air Force volunteer form here: 
 
The purpose of this training is to introduce volunteers to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to monitor construction and preconstruction activities of the fracked gas pipelines that threaten our communities.
Topics to be covered are as follows:
  • Why use drones?
  • Which drones can you use?
  • Flying Safely: Do’s & Don’t’s
  • Flying Legally: Rules of the air
  • What and where to monitor?
  • Taking useful photos and videos
  • Advanced mapping missions
  • Networking with your neighbors

The CSI will have two DJI Mavic Pro drones present for demonstration. If you own or have access to your own drone, please bring it with you! 

This training will include an indoor classroom-style presentation in the Rockfish Lounge followed by a flight and mapping-mission demonstration in the soccer field outside. Lunch will be provided, so please let us know if you have any dietary restrictions. 

Important: It is our hope with this program to create a network of citizen aerial monitors across our region who can respond to and document construction non-compliance and environmental degradation at the hands of ACP and MVP developers. This training is not an end-all-be-all for how to fly, you’ll need to practice flying on your own to become proficient. If you cannot attend due to scheduling conflicts or distance, don’t fret, we plan on holding more of these trainings in the coming weeks and months in different communities along the proposed MVP and ACP routes. We also plan to have a live-stream video of this training so stay tuned for updates on how to access that.

Space is limited to 50 people.

Please direct any questions or concerns to Ben Cunningham, at silvercunning@gmail.com or 434-882-1893.