Category Archives: Construction

Hurricane Could Devastate Pipeline Projects

A September 11, 2018 Washington Post article, Hurricane could devastate Virginia pipeline project that is already struggling with changing weather, points out that the wet summer of 2018 “has already overcome some efforts to prevent runoff and erosion” along then Mountain Valley Pipeline route, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will face similar problems if construction begins on that.

State officials say that even if the projects meet all construction guidelines, “those guidelines are based on standards that do not account for recent changes in weather patterns. …. In some cases, a level of rain that once may have occurred every two years has instead happened more than once in a month, staff members said. ‘There have certainly been conversations that given precipitation and climatic changes that . . . maybe there should be a different standard, but at this moment that’s what your regulation says,’ Melanie Davenport, the director of water permitting, told the [State Water Control] board.”

Department of Environmental Quality officials, their numbers reduced after a decade of budget and staff cuts, are unable to monitor the construction properly, especially given the steep and rough terrain and the many stream crossings of both the MVP and ACP.

Erosion controls have already proved inadequate for current levels of rainfall, and pipeline zones could be devastated by Florence. David Sligh, who is retired from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and now works with the Wild Virginia advocacy group, spoke to the Post: “‘I don’t believe they can, in some of these circumstances, do anything that would be adequate,’ he said. ‘That’s the real crime here, if I can use that word. People have known, the companies have known, DEQ has known that the pollution control measures are inadequate. The fact they’ve been allowed to go forward makes me very angry.'”

250 Areas Where Sediment Has Left MVP Construction Area


On September 9, 2018, concerned citizens, environmentalists, and veterans volunteered to document over 12 miles of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Hiking for 8 hours and taking over 1000 photos of damages caused directly by MVP, volunteers identified and documented 250 areas where sediment has left the construction area impacting water sources and surrounding farms.

Area residents report that waterbars are already full, with hurricane rains yet to come.

Citizen Observers Continue to Document Violations


As construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline ramps up again (although in some places it never actually ceased, despite the stop work order), citizen observers have and will continue to document the many and ongoing MVP violations of Erosion and Sediment Control Standards specified by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and its State Water Control Board.

For example, on-site in the same location that DEQ had recently inspected, the Virginia Pipeline Violations team encountered multiple, extensive mudslides, in some places thick, wet mud nearly a foot deep, washing from the construction area – in the same location where DEQ/MVP inspectors claimed on August 21 that there was no evidence of silt leaving the construction area. Concerned citizens relentlessly demanded that DEQ return, and on August 28 DEQ found violations on this location.

ACP Timeline of Defiance: Dominion Games System, FERC Plays Along


A new post from Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition:

When the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved construction of the ACP in late 2017, it made its approval conditional upon approvals from other regulatory agencies. However, when a U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in May 2018 voided one of the required approvals, Dominion continued with construction of the ACP and FERC did nothing to stop it. Only after the Court voided another permit in August of 2018 and reconfirmed its earlier ruling, did FERC finally issue a stop work order. By then ACP construction activity in West Virginia included over 30 miles of right-of-way clearing and excavation, extensive trenching, and deployment of over 30,000 feet of pipe in the construction corridor. Although Dominion was on notice that it lacked an essential approval when it chose to continue with construction, FERC has accepted Dominion’s request that it be allowed both to complete installation of deployed pipe in previously excavated trench and to excavate additional trench in steep slope areas.

See the full story here – complete with detailed timeline and timeline photos.

FERC Lifts Stop Work Order for MVP

Even though the Mountain Valley Pipeline does not yet have any of the key approvals that prompted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a stop work order on August 3, 2018, on August 29 FERC issued a Letter to Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC re a Partial Authorization to Resume Construction under CP16-10.

Specifically, the letter says, “Maintaining the status quo across non-federal lands while the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the BLM address the Court’s instructions regarding federal lands would likely pose threats to plant and wildlife habitat and adjacent waterbodies as long-term employment of temporary erosion control measures would subject significant portions of the route to erosion and soil movement. Requiring immediate restoration of the entire right-of-way to pre-construction conditions would require significant additional construction activity, also causing further environmental impacts. In consultation with staff, I have determined that protection of the environment along the Project’s right-of-way across non-federal land is best served by completing construction and restoration activities as quickly as possible.”

In other words, the agency claims that continued construction is the only way to “best mitigate further environmental impacts” – a strategy of destroying the village to save the village.

FERC’s 3-2 decision allowing the MVP to continue construction prompted a joint statement of dissent from Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick:

Today, Commission staff issued a letter modifying the August 3, 2018 Stop Work Order on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) Project, allowing Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC to resume construction on all non-federal lands between Milepost 77 up to Milepost 303. We have significant concerns with today’s decision to allow construction to resume while required right-of-way and temporary use permits remain outstanding.

On July 27, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an order vacating decisions by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service authorizing the construction of the MVP Project across federal lands and remanding to those agencies for further proceedings. In response, on August 3, Commission staff halted construction activity along all portions of the MVP Project acknowledging MVP, “has not obtained the rights-of-way and temporary use permits from the federal government needed for the Project to cross federally owned lands.” We supported staff’s decision given the significance of the court’s order and the questions it raised regarding the future viability of the MVP Project.

Today’s action also highlights a broader concern regarding the Commission’s response to federal court actions that remand or vacate a federal authorization that is among the necessary pre-conditions for commencing construction in the first place. In response to recent court decisions, Commission staff has acted within its delegated authority to address the impact of those court decisions on post-certificate pipeline activities, as it did today. However, given the increasing complexity of such issues, we believe the Commission should revisit this practice. In the future, when a court remands or vacates a required federal authorization following the issuance of a notice to proceed, we believe the decision regarding whether and how to proceed with the pipeline should be made by the Commission rather than its staff. Ultimately, it is the Commission’s responsibility to ensure the project is in the public interest.

Standing Like a Tree


“Standing Like a Tree”: @Lobo Marino makes a call to action. The emotionally powerful new video shows what the ACP could destroy.

Consider visiting Miracle Ridge and Oona before September 8 to witness what is at stake. Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/393037261100435/

“Standing Like a Tree” was filmed at Miracle Ridge, a Virginia mountain old growth forest slated for execution by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Co-produced, arranged and performed by indie folk band Lobo Marino. From their Richmond, Virginia home base, Lobo Marino’s Laney Sullivan and Jameson Price have toured nationally for six years and produced seven records. Mystically political and whole heartily grassroots, this DIY band plays on large festival stages and the backyard fire pits of intentional communities across the country. Their music, built primarily around harmonium, Price’s elegantly simple full body percussion and Sullivan’s deep root vocals, carries the message of humanity’s need to find balance with nature.

“Standing Like a Tree” is based on an original 1987 song and lyrics by activist Betsy Rose who gave permission to use the piece to once again raise awareness of what must be protected. The film features Ona, a 300 year old silver maple at the center of the steep slope Miracle Ridge which the pipeline would destroy, land stewards Bill and Lynn Limpert, and snapshots of the legal and direct action resistance to the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines.

Video was shot and edited by Chris Damon and Kate Rivara of Richmond film collective “Good Day RVA”. Additional footage by @Aspen Miller with sound captured by Patrick Ball.