Category Archives: Environmental Impact

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.

Failure to Meet Minimum Standards of Scientific Proof

From Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC):

A group of thirteen expert scientists and engineers submitted reports to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on August 22, 2017, finding that DEQ has failed in its duty to properly analyze and protect against the water quality damages the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cause to Virginia’s waters. In the reports, one issued for each of the pipelines, the authors wrote that they had reviewed the information DEQ claimed to rely upon in its draft Water Quality Certifications (WQCs) and made their own independent assessments. The experts’ conclusion in each case:

DEQ’s draft WQC, which asserts that there is a “reasonable assurance” that Water Quality Standards (WQS) will be met with the conditions contained in that draft, cannot be supported by the evidence in the record and pertinent scientific authorities and knowledge. Such a finding in the Department’s recommendation to the State Water Control Board (SWCB) would be professionally incompetent and would fail to meet minimum standards of scientific proof.

The full story, the list of report authors, plus a link to the full DPMC report submitted to DEQ are on the DPMC Web page.

Appeals Court Rejects Florida Pipeline Project on Environmental Concerns

In a 2-1 ruling the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found on August 22, 2017, that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not properly analyze the climate impact from burning the natural gas that the project would deliver to power plants.

Judge Thomas Griffin, appointed to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote that the project’s environmental impact statement “should have either given a quantitative estimate of the downstream greenhouse emissions that will result from burning the natural gas that the pipelines will transport or explained more specifically why it could not have done so. As we have noted, greenhouse-gas emissions are an indirect effect of authorizing this project, which FERC could reasonably foresee, and which the agency has legal authority to mitigate.”

The ruling said, “Quantification would permit the agency to compare the emissions from this project to emissions from other projects, to total emissions from the state or the region, or to regional or national emissions-control goals. Without such comparisons, it is difficult to see how FERC could engage in ‘informed decision making’ with respect to the greenhouse-gas effects of this project, or how ‘informed public comment’ could be possible.”

The Sierra Club had sued FERC, saying that under the National Environmental Policy Act, the law governing all environmental reviews of federal decisions, FERC must consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The decision overturns the project’s approval and returns it to FERC to complete the necessary greenhouse gas analysis.

Read the full article here.