Category Archives: Construction

From the ABRA Update: ACP in Highland County

ABRA Update #174 for March 29, 2018, highlights the excellent reporting of The Recorder on Dominion’s efforts to ram the ACP through the problematic terrain of Highland County:

    • Pipeline, comp plan at issue tonight – The Recorder – 3/28/18.  Highland County tonight will stage its first effort to give citizens a local face-to-face encounter with Dominion over the $6.5 billion interstate gas pipeline project, rife with delays and setbacks, and how it could affect the county’s future.
    • Valley Center is central proof ACP must move – The Recorder – 3/28/18.  In all the hundreds of thousands of confusing bits of information pushed from Dominion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Valley Center gets consistently and, might we offer, intentionally, overlooked.
    • But wait, there’s more … – The Recorder – 3/28/18.  Need more evidence Dominion’s pipeline will cause irreparable damage?

Highland County Public Meeting wth Dominion

The public in Highland County will finally get a chance to have a face-to-face meeting with Dominion to express opinions about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. At a meeting on Thursday, March 29, 2018, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Highland County high school gymnasium, the County Planning Commission will take questions and comments from the public regarding the proposed ACP. Representatives from project majority-owner Dominion will be on hand.

According to The Recorder, “The stated purpose of the hearing is ‘to determine if the application to construct and operate a natural gas pipeline is substantially in accord with the Highland County Comprehensive Plan.’ About 55 Highland tax map parcels would be affected by the pipeline’s construction in some manner. The actual pipeline would cross 16-20 parcels. The remainder of the affected parcels have easements for access, construction, or other project related needs.”

To review the application, contact the Highland County Zoning Office at (540) 468-2323 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Copies are also available for review in the county administrator’s office and in the office of county attorney Melissa Dowd, 282 Mountain Turnpike. Address written comments to Highland County Department of Building and Zoning, P.O. Box 188, Monterey, Virginia 24465.

CSI Seeks FERC Investigation of Potential ACP Violations

Apparent equipment staging area and new or reconstructed road and bridges observed during Pipeline Air Force surveillance flights. (3/11/18)

On March 14, 2018, we reported on the first incident report from the Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI), apparent unauthorized access road and staging area construction in the MP158 area, the Augusta County Horizontal Direction Drilling area. A request was filed March 22 on behalf of Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to investigate potential violations by Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) of the Commission’s Certificate and Virginia’s water quality certification. Aerial photographs taken earlier in March by ABRA’s CSI showed what appears to be substantial construction work in an area of Augusta County, near the site from which ACP proposes to bore through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The photographs show new and improved roads, new bridges, and what appear to be equipment parking and staging areas.

The observed activities do not appear to have been authorized under any of the limited Notices to Proceed FERC has issued, which allow tree cutting by non-mechanized means. The request explains that these actions will impact water quality in a number of ways and that, since the State of Virginia has not approved erosion and sediment control and stormwater plans and its water quality certification is not effective, possible land disturbance, changes to stormwater flows, and other effects must not be allowed. The submittal to FERC also notes that ACP’s weekly status reports have not provided notice of any of these activities and that environmental compliance reports indicate these sites have not been inspected.

The submitters also asked that the Commission report on its investigative proceedings and findings to ABRA, the CSI, and the public and that it not invoke regulatory provisions to keep this information from citizens.

Webinar: Volunteer Pipeline Visual Assessment Program

Everyone can now watch a replay of the March 13, 2018, Trout Unlimited/Appalachian Voices/WV Rivers webinar on Pipeline Visual Assessment Program, see

Learn how to detect and report water quality impacts from natural gas pipelines

The WV/VA Pipeline Visual Assessment Program was developed by Trout Unlimited and West Virginia Rivers Coalition to support and train volunteer citizen observers to identify, document and report pollution incidents associated with large-scale pipeline development. Through a series of webinar trainings, volunteers will learn about erosion control best management practices used in pipeline development, specific examples of pollution to look for, and how to best document those problems.

On the same Web page with there are links to download the handouts associated with the Webinar.

If anyone would like to host a screening party, or have another group screening at the Nelson Library, contact Doug at

Dominion Wants More Time to Cut Trees

Photo by Marion Kanour

As reported on March 16, 2018, by the Durham NC Herald Sun and by Progressive Pulse, Dominion has asked FERC for additional time to cut trees.

The ACP is seeking an extension to May 15 for tree felling outside of the limitations they agreed to for bats and migratory birds. They say they can’t finish the work by the mandated deadlines. The Herald Sun article says, “Developers initially agreed to the tree-felling restrictions to protect migratory birds, and threatened and endangered species — two types of bats, in this case. The time restrictions vary from state to state but generally prohibit tree cutting between mid-March or early April through mid-September or mid-November. The earliest restriction to kick in was Virginia’s migratory bird window, which started Thursday.”

“It would be unconscionable for FERC to allow Dominion to slide around an important protection merely for the company’s convenience,” said David Sligh, conservation director for Wild Virginia, which is fighting the pipeline. “Too much destruction has already been caused. It must not be allowed to continue,” he said.

As NC Policy Watch points out, “The trees had to be cut down immediately. In fact, it should have been done yesterday. There was no wiggle room, attorneys for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline argued to a federal judge on Wednesday, and delays would cause “irreparable harm” to the utilities. But now Dominion and Duke Energy, co-owners of the ACP, have decided that, well, maybe the issue isn’t so urgent after all.

“According to documents filed today, ACP, LLC has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a deadline extension to cut trees that are on private property in the path of the pipeline. This is a major about-face, because earlier this week, ACP, LLC had taken several landowners to court, asking a federal judge to force them to provide access to their property for tree-cutting.”

Should we be surprised by the ACP request? No.

Should we fight back? Yes.

Please make a comment on the FERC web site today! Docket Numbers are: CP15-554-000; CP15-554-001 and CP15-555

Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed this letter in FERC’s dockets opposing extension of tree cutting restrictions for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Long Term Pipe Storage

Thanks John Cobb, Ireland, WV, for the photo

The photo shows ACP pipe stored in West Virginia in early August, 2016 (19 months ago). Manufacturers recommend no more than 6 months exposure to the sun and elements and supports between layers to ensure “true round.” Now, Dominion proposes to haul this pipe into the mountains further damaging the coating; they intend to make the necessary bends required to traverse mountainous terrain, and they expect to get “good welds” from pipe that has changed shape under its own weight.