Category Archives: Dominion

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.

Groups Ask Court to Halt Pipeline Construction

Roberts Mountain is one of several mountain ridges that will be flattened to create a 125′ work area under ACP construction plans.

On March 9, 2018, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of their clients, filed a request asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to halt construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until the court decides whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s permit is valid.

The challenge to the permit is based on the lack of evidence demonstrating the pipeline is needed in Virginia or North Carolina, as well as data and analysis showing the region already has sufficient pipeline capacity to meet future needs.

This filing comes as the cost of the pipeline has ballooned to $6.5 billion and when there are growing questions about Dominion’s plans for the natural gas as it eyes South Carolina for a possible expansion of the pipeline. The groups contend that the overwhelming evidence shows the true purpose of the ACP is to provide profits for the shareholders of the pipeline’s financial backers, Duke and Dominion, at the expense of those utilities’ ratepayers. The effect of the filings would be a halt to the construction of the ACP until the court considers the coalition’s existing challenges to the FERC certificate that authorizes construction. FERC and ACP have ten days to respond.

On the same day, the U.S. Forest Service and FERC gave pipeline developers the right to begin cutting down trees in the George Washington National Forest. If the court grants SELC’s request to stay the project, developers will be required to stop all work, including tree cutting, in George Washington National Forest and other federal properties.

Press release from SELC is here.  Press release from Appalachian Mountain Advocates is here.

“If you want fair media coverage you need to pay for it.”

“If you want fair media coverage you need to pay for it.” So says Bruce McKay, senior energy policy director for Richmond-based Dominion, who oversees the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s public affairs.  Apparently the only media coverage he considers “fair” is coverage favorable to Dominion.

An analysis released on March 8, 2018, by Associated Press discusses Dominion’s largest-ever outreach program that has included 225,000 direct-mail pieces; community meetings; TV, radio and print ads; and social media use to reach more than 35,000 followers, all in an effort, according to McKay, to “create and maintain a political environment which allows permitting agencies to do their work.” McKay also denies “quid pro quo for campaign donations, saying Dominion simply gives to candidates who support sound energy policy” and he insists that “grants to health foundations, land trusts, charities and other local groups shouldn’t be considered lobbying.” But, says the article, in at least four cases, “grants have gone to organizations run by or affiliated with pipeline boosters.”

The article notes that “Other emails obtained through a public-records request show an administrator in Buckingham County, Virginia, frequently alerted a Dominion employee to news or complaints. In one, the administrator predicted an outspoken pipeline critic would ‘be a problem.’ Another email says Dominion wrote a letter for a county supervisor to sign supporting the conversion of conservation easements — which are supposed to forever protect land from development — for use for the pipeline. The emails suggested printing it on Buckingham County letterhead for a Dominion worker to hand-deliver to the decision-making agency. McKay says opposition from organized, well-funded environmental groups made all this outreach necessary.

“David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, said that’s a false comparison. He said: ‘What ties all of these stories together is, Dominion is trying to con people, trying to con their own customers and policymakers and legislators, because the arguments don’t stand up on the merits.‘”

Read the full AP article here.

Citizen Activism Praised

In a March 2, 2018, editorial, the Staunton News Leader says citizen activism is “The only good byproduct of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

“In the nearly four years since we began reporting and writing about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, never did it seem unlikely that Dominion Resources would eventually get its way, ripping up our mountainsides, sawing through forests, bulldozing across streams and digging its way through the Shenandoah Valley. Perhaps Dominion has its own version of the state seal, with a motto beneath a vanquished opponent that’s edited to read, ‘Thus always to those who oppose Dominion.’ If they do, it’s because they bought it and paid for it, along with the rest of our state government. …. But they’ve created something else, unintentionally. Their project has given rise to a group of citizen activists who are not likely to stand down any time soon. …. And there’s no sign they’re going away, which is a good thing as Dominion’s plans move forward. Someone needs to be watching, and we have no confidence that the state agencies will assure that Dominion’s promises, as weak as they have been, actually line up with their actions.

Read the full editorial here.

Fences and Neighbors

A message from Irene Leech, Buckingham County VA, March 3, 2018

How many of you think it’s only fair for the ACP to make the route adjustment we’ve asked for within our property?

These friendly, curious yearlings will check out everything new in their pasture, including people (they were coming to check me out when I snapped this picture). You can tell from the facilities in the background that we often bring cattle through this area. ACP wants to bisect our entire property and especially, this central field.

We have lots of evidence that pipeline folks do not understand cattle, farming, or the needs of our 100+ year old business. ACP wants to start construction in about a month, but so far, there’s been no discussion of fences to keep these animals or others who come through this field regularly, out of the construction area. I’m not sure the judge who said we’ve got plenty of time to build fence understands that a quick electric fence won’t do the job.

In 2014 we began asking for the pipeline to be moved within OUR property so that it will create fewer problems for our business during construction, reduce the frequency with which we must cross it from now on, and give us a little more safety by moving our buildings to the edge of the incineration zone instead of the middle of it. We are only 4 miles after the compression station so the gas will be at highest pressure. Because we are rural, we only get the lowest safety standards allowed, thinnest pipe, cut off valves 20 miles apart instead of 3 miles apart, last century remote monitoring. We’ve been told that our air is so clean we can afford the new pollution load.

Our multiple requests to move the pipeline within our property are well documented – and ignored by all involved. No written offer for an easement addressed any of our business or safety concerns/ requests. Ultimately, that’s why we never accepted an offer and why they took us to court this week.

Property rights have always been central values of our country and greatly impact the ability of people to achieve their American Dream. While many decry any hint of ANY limitation on what they call Second Amendment Rights, few seem to be willing to fight for property rights that I’d argue are even more central to our ability to succeed in our markets and to our very freedom as citizens.

The ACP is taking a strip of our property for a mile literally through the middle of our business.This will negatively impact us from this point on. It is a government sanctioned way of transferring our asset to a for profit company that is set up as an LLC so it has ultimate protections while granting us no protection (in fact putting extra obligations on us). From now on, the ACP’s interest in our property is legally higher than ours, even though we continue paying property taxes but get no annual income from this infrastructure, only a small one time payment (don’t know what it will be, but when we do, divide it by 70 years and see if it’ll even cover the taxes, much less compensate us for lost value, compensate us for the additional risk and daily hassle of respecting this unsafe infrastructure placed in the middle of our property).

Just curious, how many of you think it’s only fair for the ACP to make the route adjustment we’ve asked for within our property?

ACP Granted Access for Tree Cutting

On Thursday March 1, 2018, Judge Moon, of the US Western District of Virginia Federal Court in Lynchburg, granted ‘immediate access’ for tree-felling on 16 of the 27 Virginia properties for which Dominion requested access. Notice issues, meaning parties were not served the lawsuits or did not have adequate time to respond, prevented Moon from ruling on the 11 remaining properties, but he expects “proper notice to be achieved” in the next two weeks.

None of the landowners have signed easement agreements, and just compensation for their land must still be decided in court.

Moon wrote, “These harms, and the harms that the unrepresented Landowners will face, are real. … The Landowners’ harms must be balanced with the equally real harms that ACP will face if its construction is delayed. I find the balance of the equities tips in ACP’s favor.'”

“We will be responsible stewards of their land, and we’ll continue working with them to minimize impacts on their property and daily lives”, said Dominion’s Aaron Ruby. Why are we not reassured by Mr. Ruby’s statement?

Read the Lynchburg News & Advance press coverage here.