Category Archives: Citizen Surveillance

ACP: Risk Upon Risk


On March 25, 2019, Oil Change International released a new report, Atlantic Coast Pipeline – Risk Upon Risk, about the public health, ecological, and economic risks of the now $7.5 billion dollar ACP. As the transition to clean energy gathers pace, the risks and costs of this huge fracked gas pipeline project are growing rapidly in the face of major legal, regulatory, financial, and community challenges.

The ACP is now two years behind schedule and substantially over-budget. The latest update from Duke Energy estimates the project cost at between $7 to $7.8 billion – 37% to 53% higher than the original estimate of$5.1 billion – with the latest date for full operation now pushed back to 2021.

Lorne Stockman of Oil Change International says the ACP is facing a triple threat of challenges that combine to present serious obstacles for the project to reach completion:

  • Extensive legal and regulatory challenges that are delaying construction and raising costs, which may lead to cancellation.  ““The ACP is facing an onslaught of legal challenges and losses. Seven federal permits have been stayed, suspended or vacated; in fact, all construction on the pipeline is currently stopped. When — or if — construction will start up again is unknown. Environmental groups, Indigenous Peoples and others have brought at least nine court challenges to ACP permits and certifications, most of which are ongoing.” 
  • Fundamental challenges to its financial viability in the face of lack of growth in domestic demand for methane gas and increased affordability of renewable energy options.  “In Dominion’s 2018 long-term Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), four out of five modeled scenarios showed no increase in methane gas consumption for power generation from 2019 through 2033. However, in December 2018, this IRP was rejected by Virginia state regulators, in part for overstating projections of future electricity demand.” “Over the next decade, it is likely that the demand for methane gas in Virginia and North Carolina will decrease further as renewable energy and storage technologies continue to rapidly decline in price and undercut the cost of running methane gas-fired power plants.”
  • The Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), an unprecedented citizen initiative, is positioned to ensure strict compliance with environmental laws and regulations, even in remote locations, if construction proceeds. [Three cheers for the CSI!]

These challenges and the accompanying risk are likely to further delay construction and raise the project’s price tag even higher. If completed, state utility regulators in North Carolina and Virginia are unlikely to justify passing the full cost of methane gas transportation contracts onto ratepayers.

Download the full Oil Change International briefing here.

Important Upcoming Events

In addition to the one-day Spruce Creek Camp (see above), there are two other forthcoming events of note:

Dominion vs Nelson County in Federal Court, April 8, 2019:

For background information see our post on March 14, 2019.


Pipeline Air Force Drone Meet-Up, March 30, 2019:

For details see our post on March 7, 2019.  See also the recent news article, Drones change the way advocates protect the environment

Pipeline Air Force Drone Meet-up


Saturday, March 30th
, the Pipeline Air Force will be having its first UAV (drone) meet-up of 2019, and you are invited!

They will be meeting to share skills, knowledge, experience, and ideas regarding UAV technology all day from 10am-4pm in the Rockfish Valley Community Center, in Nelson County, VA. They will be focusing on how to plug your skills and experience as a remote pilot into our Pipeline CSI program to defend our quality of life and water quality in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains of Appalachia, but the skills and lessons to be shared are applicable to many use-cases involving drones.

Please fill out this RSVP form by Saturday 3/23 if you intend to joining them: https://goo.gl/forms/S7Roh9Y3uvGYQpa93

Space is limited to the first 25 folks who register; lunch will be provided for those who RSVP.

Registration priority will be given to those who are most serious about joining the program and those who already have their Part 107 license.

The Pipeline CSI has been developing our systems and methodology for aerial photos review of missions taken by our volunteer manned aircraft over the past 6 months. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is currently on an indefinite work stoppage until at least September due to their loss of multiple key federal permits. We want to make the most of this reprieve of work by sharing skills, putting our heads together, and getting organized.

Come learn how to execute and share flight plans for imagery product creation like orthomosaics and 3D models. See how professionals and volunteers are creating a new way to monitor development of huge construction projects. Meet other remote pilots, technologists, and discover how you can give back to the community at large as a volunteer drone monitor for the Pipeline CSI!

When: Saturday, March 30th, 10am-4pm
Where: Rockfish Valley Community Center, 190 Rockfish School Ln, Afton, VA 22920
What to bring (optional but recommended): your drone, a laptop, and energy, attention, and a good attitude.

New ABRA Slide Presentation on Environmental Folly of ACP


Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Pipeline CSI program has developed a new slide presentation describing the unavoidable impact of the ACP on water resources and the failure of regulatory oversight. The presentation, Pending Construction of the ACP in the Virginia Mountains: Empty Assurances, compares government and company promises with the realities of environmental review and enforcement and the record of ACP construction in West Virginia. The presentation is available for download here, as a PowerPoint or as a PDF with slide notes.

CSI Results Show ACP Violations

The Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) Surveillance Report for January 24, 2019, includes analysis of the November and December 2018 flight photos by CSI Aerial ImageReviewers. After the analysis, 22 separate complaints concerning regulatory non-compliance were submitted by the West Virginia Rivers Coalition to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Complaints concerned:

  • Failure to install, or delayed installation of, erosion and sediment control measures. (5 incidents)
  • Deviation from approved erosion and sediment control and construction plans. (1 incident)
  • Missing, failed, damaged, or improperly installed or maintained silt fences, filter socks, or other perimeter control devices. (13 incidents)
  • Missing, failed, damaged, or improperly constructed right-of-way diversions (water bars or slope breakers) and outlet structures. (2 incidents)
  • Sediment discharge into streams and wetlands. (1 incident)

Following a December 10, 2018 inspection conducted in response to some of these
complaints, WVDEP issued a Notice of Violation to Dominion Energy Transportation, Inc. for noncompliance with permit terms and conditions and failure to comply with the project’s approved Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.

Read further details of the January report here.

The CSI is a program of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) and its member groups. The central strength of ABRA’s CSI program is its citizen volunteers. Many people have already signed on to be part of the program, but many more are needed. Persons interested in becoming CSI volunteers can sign up by clicking here.

CSI General Information Workshop – Augusta County


The first general information workshop in Augusta County on the pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) will be held on Saturday, January 5th, 10am-2pm, at the Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad, 10 Manor Rd., Stuarts Draft VA.

While recent wins are to be celebrated, let’s not let our guard down against ACP. Join friends and neighbors getting organized against destructive and damaging construction practices and gain the tools and training you need to blow the whistle on Dominion.

The event is free, but CSI will be providing a light lunch and the form helps them plan for numbers and dietary restrictions. Please be sure to share the link to this form with anyone you invite to this event.

REGISTER HERE.

Further information or questions: ben@blueridgegeographics.com