Category Archives: Environmental Impact

Blast Zone


Blast Zone – Natural Gas and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Causes, Consequences and Civic Action is a new report from the Rachel Carson Council. In addition to naming and exploring the economic and political systems underlying fracking and the ACP, Blast Zone highlights organizations, businesses, and campuses working in interconnected ways toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the source, restoring equity, and putting decision-making in the hands of communities.

The report discusses:

  • Natural gas: current and future trends (including the “bridge fuel” myth)
  • Fracking in the Marcellus and Utica Shale Basins
  • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (including the power behind it, industry motives, what’s paving the way, and the ACP and the environment)

And the report includes an entire set of “Toolboxes” for fighting the ACP:

  • Policy Toolbox: Our Power Plan
  • Housing Toolbox: Efficient, Affordable, Durable Investments
  • Voter’s Toolbox: Supporting Fossil-Free Leaders
  • Campus Toolbox: Research and Advocacy for the Public Interest
  • Advocacy Toolbox: Eliminating Fracking Dangers
  • Financial Toolbox: Divest and Reinvest
  • Property Rights Toolbox: Challenging Eminent Domain
  • Lobbying Toolbox: Re-envisioning FERC
  • Policy Toolbox: Water Quality Permits
  • Civil Rights Toolbox: Driving Racial and Social Justice
  • Direct Action and Advocacy Toolbox

Easily understandable graphs and charts, along with photographs (many you’ll recognize) help to make the points in this clear and thoughtful report.

Sierra Club Sends Request for Supplemental ACP EIS to FERC


In light of the recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 16-1329 (August 22, 2017), the Sierra Club wrote to FERC on September 18, 2017, submitting a new authority and request for FERC to revisit its impact analysis in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The Sierra Club writes that FERC should reopen the evidentiary record for the purpose of taking additional evidence regarding greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts, and issue a Supplemental EIS. In the course of that process, FERC should also address previously identified deficiencies in the EIS, as well as new information received after the close of the comment period for the Draft EIS.

The 9-page Sierra Club letter, written on behalf of a number of organizations including Friends of Nelson, describes in detail the reasons why a Supplemental EIS is required and why it must also address new information and previously identified EIS deficiencies.

Appended to the letter is a copy of the August 22 decision issued by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read the full submission from the Sierra Club here.

Distraction: “Hey, look over there!”


Our colleagues near the Richmond area tell us Dominion has been hitting the TV commercial circuits pretty hard in the evenings lately. (To the point of distraction ad nauseum.) Seems you can’t even sit and peacefully watch Jeopardy without being inundated with lies about cheaper power bills and how much we need their safe gas pipeline. Thankfully, there are the ads like this one, from the hard-working folks at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This video was created by a nonpartisan partnership of clean energy, conservation, consumer and social justice organizations from around Virginia to highlight Dominion’s favorite pastime: distracting you from some of the things you might not like about them, something they do every single day to their customers and to lawmakers alike.

And while the enthusiastic Byron from Distraction Energy might not be an actual lineman, what he’s saying about Dominion is 100% true.

Virginia’s Own DCR Refutes DEQ’s ACP Conclusion

Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has written to the Department of Environmental Quality with new information refuting DEQ conclusions. On August 30, 2017, DPMC issued the following announcement, saying DEQ’s “reasonable assurance” is in question.

The DPMC announcement:

The DPMC has written to Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director, David Paylor, insisting that recent information provided by the Department of Conservation and Recreation be entered into the official record for the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The DCR letter, submitted to FERC on August 21st, directly refutes DEQ’s conclusion that there is a “reasonable assurance” that water quality standards will be met if the proposed ACP complies with the conditions in the draft 401 Water Quality Certification.

When DEQ Director, David Paylor, was asked at a recent public meeting to define “reasonable assurance” he deferred to the expertise of the “technical people.”

And now, state agency technical experts have concluded that water resources and other natural resources are indeed threatened by construction of the ACP.

With respect to the proposed ACP route in Highland and Bath Counties, the DCR:

  • Recommended a major rerouting of the pipeline (totaling 12 or 18 miles) to avoid significant karst development in the Valley Center, Little Valley, and Burnsville Cove areas.
  • Emphasized that the current route options in the Valley Center area are “likely to have significant karst associated issues, including subsidence in the pipeline trench and contamination of nearby springs.”
  • Found that land disturbance associated with the ACP corridor in the Little Valley area “could impact the major springs at Bolar.”
  • Identified rare species of high biodiversity concern that would be threatened by the pipeline access road across national forest in the Wilson Mountain/Duncan Knob area.
  • Designated a new Little Valley Slope Conservation Site where the pipeline would cross the western side of Jack Mountain.

The DCR also addressed other issues and other areas.

The DCR submission to FERC was made just one day before the August 22nd deadline for public comment on DEQ’s Draft 401 Water Quality Certification. This is another example where the DEQ has rushed ahead in the absence of critical information concerning water resource impacts and effectively precluded informed review by its own staff and the public.

Also note that hydrologic analysis submitted on behalf of the DPMC to the DEQ concerning the draft 401 Water Quality Certification indicated that peak runoff would increase in both the Valley Center and Little Valley areas due to changes associated with ACP construction. Increased runoff increases the threat to karst groundwater systems. Dominion, however, argues that no runoff changes will occur and therefore no Stormwater Management Plans are necessary. Dominion suggests that the DEQ accepts this ridiculous argument. It remains to be seen if that is the case.

For more information, see:

DPMC’s 082817 letter to David Paylor
DCR’s 082117 letter to FERC

File Your Objections to Forest Service Decision on ACP

The deadline for filing objections with the U.S. Forest Service against their draft record of decision for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is September 5, 2017. (Deadline for Mountain Valley was August 7, 2017).  Write your letters!

On July 21, 2017, the U.S. Forest Service issued a draft Record of Decision to authorize the use and occupancy of National Forest System lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Forest Service release statement is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd551404.pdf.

The draft Decision document is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd551283.pdf.

Wild Virginia provides instructions for how, where, and what to file.