Category Archives: Citizen Surveillance

Mountain Valley Watch Mapping Webinar Planned for May 7

Mountain Valley Watch (MVW), a pipeline surveillance program sponsored by the POWHR coalition, and Trout Unlimited are sponsoring a special free webinar on the MVW mapping system on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at 7 pm. MVW was developed to allow for citizen oversight of the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and to facilitate the enforcement of environmental protections and regulations during that process.

The webinar will be conducted by Jason Shelton of MVW and will help participants learn how to leverage the MVW mapping system to assist monitoring efforts and take citizen oversight to the next level. Among topics to be covered are erosion and sediment control plans, aerial photos and locating and sharing information about established and potential water or visual monitoring locations. Click here for more info and to register for the webinar.

ABRA CSI Has New Web Page and New URL

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program has a redesigned Web page and a new URL: ( The site includes instructions on how volunteers can become involved in the program, examples of non-compliance issues, and numerous technical resources, including the unique CSI mapping system. There are links to surveillance photographs taken by the ABRA/CSI Pipeline Air Force. Try out the new website, and if you have questions, please direct them to

What Dominion Calls ‘Best in Class’

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #227:

For the past five years, since announcing plans to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), Dominion Energy has touted that its construction of the project would employ “best in class” techniques to prevent sediment runoff from endangering streams and rivers. The photo above was taken on April 20 by ABRA’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative team along Elk Lick Road in Lewis County, WV, near Milepost 4 of the ACP. It shows the so-called “best in class” techniques that Dominion’s contractors are using. The barricade that is pictured is comprised of metal piping holding up stacked lumber. It appears that the contractor ran short of lumber.

The photo was taken in dry weather. There are two nearby streams that would be adversely impacted by sediment runoff caused by an even modest rainfall. A further observation: the terrain in this area of the ACP route is hilly, but not mountainous. One can only imagine how ineffective such “best in class” sediment control techniques would be in the steeper mountains further along the route in Pocahontas and Randolph Counties (WV) and Highland, Bath, Augusta and Nelson Counties (VA).

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:

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.