Lew Freeman, Executive Director, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), marked the fifth anniversary of our fight against the unnecessary and destructive Atlantic Coast Pipeline with this post in ABRA Update 231 for May 30, 2019. Friends of Nelson, a member of ABRA, thanks Lew and all the many individuals, groups, and organizations who have given and continue to give their time and energy and resources in the now five year fight! Onward!
“Holy cow” is how the chairman of the Highland County Board of Supervisors reacted to the news that Dominion Energy planned to build a natural gas pipeline through his county, according to a May 29, 2014 news story in The Recorder newspaper. A Dominion spokesperson quoted in the story said that the Southeast Reliability Project, as the company initially called what has become the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), was to cost $4 billion and be in operation by the end of 2018.
Dominion’s initial talking points in 2014 about the project said:
- The project would be the “energy equivalent of broadband infrastructure,” providing a “key driver in a community’s ability to attract economic development;”
- It would promote price stability and enhance economic opportunity;
- “Substantial economic benefits including a substantial number of well-paying construction jobs and additional tax base in communities along the route” would be provided;
- Dominion looks forward to working with affected landowners and communities “to ensure that we can optimize the balance of environmental stewardship and economic opportunity that is created” by the project.
Five years later, we have learned that the company’s words do not measure up to its stated talking points. At all! “Fake News” would seem to be a more apt characterization.
The ACP is now stalled due to it losing many of its key permits. By Dominion’s own admission, the project is over 2 years behind schedule and its anticipated project costs are nearly double the original estimate.
The extraordinary effort by ABRA’s more than 50 member organizations, dozens of cooperating organizations and thousands of committed volunteers are a significant reason for where we find ourselves today. But the fight is not over against the ACP. Our persistence and perseverance must continue! Thanks to all of our coalition participants for your past and future efforts.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, thwarted in its intent to cross the Appalachian Trail (AT) in the George Washington National Forest (GWNF), now wants special treatment from the U.S. Congress — a law that would force through its proposed AT crossing in the GWNF. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has prepared a set of maps and documents with the most current facts, legal status, and research. The documents are intended to help groups and individuals facilitate conversations with elected officials (and others) about the threat to the Appalachian Trail,
- ACP Factsheet (this is a colorful one pager that you can distribute and take to meetings)
- The Case Against the ACP (this is a longer 2 page memo on the facts including citations; good background reading for you prior to a meeting)
- Contact Info (all 13 Virginia members of Congress with DC and District office contact info)
- Letter House (the letters that were sent to our Congressional Representatives–good to distribute and take to meetings)
- Letter Senate (the letters that were sent to our U.S. Senators–good to distribute and take to meetings)
- Map US House (this shows Congressional districts and the MVP & ACP routes)
- Map VA House (this shows state delegate districts and the MVP & ACP routes)
- Map VA Senate (this shows state senate districts and the MVP & ACP routes)
With many permits revoked or in court, Dominion now wants to legislate the ACP route. We urge everyone to use SELC’s materials and contact elected officials, community members, and the media to educate them with up-to-date information, including the many reasons why the proposed AT crossing is unlawful and should not receive special treatment from Congress – and why the ACP is simply not necessary!
Just a heads up to citizens and visitors of Nelson County: in recent days F & R workers have been drilling “core samples” and leaving behind some new survey flags at various locations where ACP proposes to cross Nelson’s roads. Rte 29, Rte 151 and Beech Grove Road are among the locations where citizen monitors have reported this activity, and we expect ACP will probably do this at many, if not all, of the proposed road crossings in the coming days. Please note that we are aware of this activity and are keeping a watchful eye. This is ACP doing further geotechnical studies, not ACP starting to do the actual drilling/construction under our roads.
If you see something noteworthy or something that concerns you, please alert Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program by calling 877-Go2ABRA, by emailing CSI@abralliance.org.
On May 22, 2019, Reuters reported that U.S. asks Supreme Court for more time on Atlantic Coast natgas pipe appeal. “The U.S. Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to extend the time the government has to file a petition in an appeal of a circuit court decision preventing Dominion Energy Inc from building the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline across the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Solicitor General Noel Francisco is seeking a one-month extension until June 25. Without the extension, the time expires on May 28. Some analysts think Dominion could cancel the pipeline if the Supreme Court does not hear the case because the project’s costs have ballooned due to legal and regulatory delays.”
Dominion welcomed the news that the U.S. Solicitor General would join the case, believing it would increase the chances the court will hear the case. The Reuters article states, however, that “Analysts at Height Capital Markets in Washington, DC, said they expect the Supreme Court to grant the extension but do not expect the court to take up the case. The court will likely make a decision in the fourth quarter. ‘If the court declines to hear the case, we anticipate Dominion and Duke will decide to terminate the project as rerouting the pipeline would likely be cost prohibitive,’ the Height Capital Markets analysts said, noting it will be “extremely difficult” for the utilities to pass on additional costs to ratepayers.”
Writing in the Virginia Mercury on May 20, 2019, Ivy Main says Dominion’s “investments in greenwashing are transparent and heartfelt. Dominion has had several bad months here in Virginia and would very much like to change the conversation.” She writes that “Dominion just joined a corporate coalition calling for a price on carbon. This must have been in the works about the same time Dominion was criticizing Virginia’s proposed entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which actually puts a price on carbon.”
She notes a claim that recently appeared in Dominion’s Twitter feed: “The future of our planet depends on clean energy, which is why more than 85% of our generation comes from clean energy sources such as solar.”
How in the world does Dominion come up with 85%? Main says, “Let us pause for a moment to reflect that this tweet comes from a company whose solar generation amounts to a rounding error.” She cites the pie chart from Dominion’s latest Integrated Resource Plan that shows:
- Nuclear: 33%
- Natural gas: 32%
- Coal: 18%
- Purchased (wholesale) power: 10% (that’s coal and gas)
- Non-Utility Generation (purchased under contract): 5% (more coal)
- Renewable: 2% (almost all hydro and biomass, plus a smidgen of solar)
- Oil: 0%
Maybe Dominion considers everything except coal to be “clean”? That would add up to about 85%. Main concludes, “Nobody looking at these figures could find a basis in reality for a claim of 85% clean energy,” and wonders why, “if you have traveled this far into the realm of fantasy, why not claim 100%? Or heck, with a nod to Spinal Tap, why not 110%?”
Read the full article here.
Virginia Mercury added an editorial comment to Ivy Main’s article: “Editor’s note: Dominion says it has developed 1,200 megawatts of solar in nine states since 2013, with an estimated 5,200 megawatts that ‘could be added’ in the next 25 years.” Notice Dominion says could be added….
Two recent editorials, one in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress and one in Fredricksburg’s Free-Lance Star, urge the State Corporations Commission (SCC) to demand full and accurate information from Dominion before considering Dominion’s request for new projects and new profits – and potentially new rate increases from customers to pay for them. Dominion wants the SCC to raise its guaranteed return on equity [ROE] so it can attract investors. But SCC judges and staff noted that nearly all the projects could also generate higher bills for ratepayers. Plus Dominion has submitted varying plans at various times.
The Free-Lance Star put it this way: “If Dominion’s guaranteed return on equity is increased, that would mean more money for investors, but less money for refunds or grid investments that directly benefit the company’s 2.6 million captive customers—who incidentally just got stuck paying up to $5.7 billion to clean up decades’ worth of toxic coal ash. It’s up to the SCC, which will hold a public hearing on Sept. 10 in Richmond on the utility’s application, to decide whether that’s fair.”