Category Archives: Environmental Impact

BREDL Files VA Supreme Court Appeal Against Buckingham Supervisors and ACP

Press Release from Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, July 19, 2018:

BREDL and its Buckingham Chapter, Concern for the New Generation, File Supreme Court Appeal regarding Special Use Permit for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Lovingston, VA—This week the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and its chapter, Concern for the New Generation (CNG), and its members filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia regarding Buckingham County’s approval of a special use permit for a compressor station for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The suit was originally filed February 6, 2017 pro se. Circuit Court Judge William Alexander dismissed the case in January, 2018 on technicalities regarding the form used in the pro se filing.

BREDL’s Stop the Pipeline Campaign Coordinator, Sharon Ponton, stated, “We believe this case deserves to be heard on its merits. We contend that the special exception in the zoning ordinance which was used in the permitting process is for utilities…water, sewer, or even a natural gas utility company which delivers a product to residents of the community. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is not a utility. It is a natural gas transmission company.”

Kathie Mosley, chair of CNG, stated, “The Union Hill community has been ignored and marginalized throughout the approval process for the proposed pipeline and its compressor station. The County ignored the evidence we presented at the hearings and approved the permit anyway. Our plan to stop the compressor station from being constructed in our historically significant African-American community moves forward with this appeal.”

“Judge Alexander remarked during the hearing, he believed the case should be appealed, and that’s what we have done,” stated Lou Zeller, Executive Director of BREDL. Zeller continued, “The County has done everything it could to slow walk this process, but we are persistent in our support of the Union Hill community, and look forward to a positive outcome from the Supreme Court of Virginia.”

View the Appeal to Virginia Supreme Court

Virginia Approval of ACP Challenged in Federal Court

Story from ABRA Update #189 for July 18, 2018:

The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond has been asked to stay the pending finalization of Commonwealth of Virginia’s water quality certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The Motion for a Stay was filed on Monday, July 16, 2018, by the Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation on behalf of sixteen petitioners, twelve of whom are ABRA members. The Virginia State Water Control Board, one of the respondents in the case, along with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, approved in December 2017 a certification, as required by Section 401 the Federal Clean Water Act, that there was “reasonable assurance” that construction of the ACP would not violate Virginia water quality standards. The certification is not to go into effect until the DEQ completes a necessary review of the ACP’s plans for addressing stormwater runoff and erosion and sedimentation control measures. The completion of those reviews by the DEQ, which is necessary before ACP construction can commence in Virginia, has not yet been completed. The motion contends that:

  • The State Water Control Board’s (SWCB) approval decision was explicitly contingent on the adequacy of a U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permit relative to the more than 800 crossings the ACP would make in Virginia of streams and wetlands. Since its December vote, the SWCB decided in April to seek public comment on the sufficiency of the Army Corp’s permit. By initiating that review the SWCB has rendered its own December certification decision “arbitrary and capricious.”
  • The SWCB and the DEQ failed to consider the combined effects on water quality likely to result from multiple areas of pipeline construction occurring within individual, smaller scale watersheds. Noting that the Chesapeake Bay Watershed would be significantly impacted by the ACP project, the motion points to the failure of the agencies to “analyze the combined effects on the watershed and on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load.
  • The state agencies did not conduct anti-degradation analysis, as required by the Clean Water Act. Their conclusion that “the construction of the ACP would not result in any lowering of water quality is contradicted by substantial record evidence.” Furthermore, “no amount of best management practices and sediment control measures can eliminate all sedimentation discharges from construction activities through steep, highly erodible terrain.”
  • Construction and operation of the ACP over some 70 miles of karst landscapes and underground water flow systems will impair water quality. The company’s assurances that water in these regions will be protected are meaningless because underground water resources in these regions are unmapped, and the boundaries of the drainage areas are unknown. Thus, the state agencies do not know what potential sources of contamination might impact a spring or surface water.

The respondents have until next week to respond to motion.

Pipelines, Birds, and Coal Ash

From West Virginia Pubic Radio on July 13, 2018, an hour-long audio program on Pipelines, Birds and Coal Ash: A Look at Environmental Coverage Inside Appalachia. “Coal has dominated Appalachia’s energy economy for more than a century. But natural gas is emerging as a new economic force, bringing with it jobs, infrastructure needs and new environmental concerns. In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear why some are worried about the risk of water contamination from major gas pipelines being built through parts of West Virginia, projects which also promise jobs in the region.”

Rockfish Valley Foundation Files Comments To FERC on ACP

On July 15, 2018, Blue Ridge LIfe reported on the Rockfish Valley Foundation‘s comments filed with FERC on negative impacts of the Atlantic Coat Pipeline in the Rockfish Valley.

“‘The Rockfish Valley Foundation has concluded several months of research into Dominion’s impact on the Rockfish Valley, home to the Wintergreen Resort and the state’s most scenic Route 151 with its many breweries, cideries and wineries. It is also home to the Rockfish Valley foundation which presents trails for the public along the waterways, Spruce Creek Park and the RVF Natural History Center,’ RVF’s President and Chairman Peter A. Agelasto lll said. ‘Studies have been made of access roads proposed by Dominion and also other construction that will have a negative impact on the South Rockfish Valley Rural Historic district,’ Agelasto added.”

Click here to read the full document as filed.

More Than 150 MVP Water Quality Violations Revealed

Citizens trained in water quality monitoring have been on the ground since early spring to keep tabs on Mountain Valley Pipeline construction work. They have documented more than 150 problems of failed erosion controls that have left streams and fields muddied and even closed one road down. Where is the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality?

July 13, 2018 press release from the Sierra Club. Contact: Doug Jackson, 202.495.3045 or

More Than 150 MVP Water Quality Violations Revealed by Clean Water Advocates’ New Map Project – Mountain Valley Watch’s Map Shows Location and Imagery from Route of Fracked Gas Pipeline

Today, Mountain Valley Watch, a volunteer organization of concerned community members monitoring construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, released its Incident Reporting Map, giving the public and decision makers the first-ever cumulative look at the project’s consistent and ongoing water quality violations. The map details locations, dates, descriptions, and photos of erosion control failures and evidence of water pollution caused by construction of the MVP.

More than 150 incidents are shown on the Mountain Valley Watch Incident Report Map.

Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Pipelines Campaign Coordinator Kirk Bowers said, “This map shows an alarming pattern of erosion control problems, with more than 150 incidents observed since mid-April. As you can clearly see from the photos taken by observers, there is no doubt that MVP and Precision Pipeline failed to prevent sediment from polluting our streams and wetlands.

“Even though they are responsible for construction inspection, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality was noticeably absent from MVP construction sites until mid-May. DEQ finally issued a toothless Notice of Violation, but it is too little, too late. There is no right way to build these fracked gas pipelines. The only way to truly protect our water, climate, and communities from the fracked gas MVP is to abandon the project, which is not even needed.”

Mountain Valley Watch Administrator Jason Shelton said, “Volunteers and landowners have shown the approved erosion and sediment control devices are consistently ineffective and overwhelmed by typical Appalachian storms. The incident mapping shows why Virginians needed DEQ onsite from the beginning of construction.”

Russell Chisholm with Protect Our Water Heritage Rights (POWHR) said, “The incidents shown in this map clearly indicate not only a need for increased presence of DEQ inspectors on the site of construction, but also for DEQ to be more willing to hold the corporation and its contractors accountable to the plans that were approved by the agency for the project. Volunteers have been doing a vast amount of work monitoring and reporting the issues they see in their own communities, but it’s time for DEQ to step up and take real enforcement action. DEQ should be enforcing the law, not managing mitigation after damage has already been done.”