Category Archives: Environmental Impact

PA DEP Suspends Mariner East 2 Construction Permits

Another example – in Pennsylvania – of a pipeline infrastructure project failing to implement promised safeguards. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued an order suspending the construction permits associated with the Mariner East 2 pipeline in southern PA until the permittee, Sunoco Pipeline, L.P. (Sunoco) meets the requirements outlined in the order. Sunoco must cease all construction activity on the pipeline project, except for maintenance of erosion controls and limited maintenance of horizontal directional drilling equipment.

The DEP cited a series of spills and other “egregious and willful violations” of state law. “Until Sunoco can demonstrate that the permit conditions can and will be followed, DEP has no alternative but to suspend the permits,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We are living up to our promise to hold this project accountable to the strong protections in the permits.”

Read the announcement from the PA DEP here. It includes a links to the full DEP order and to a list of the violations issued to Sunoco.  Press coverage on ABC6.com is here.

Tell the Marine Resource Commission: No Pipeline!

On November 27, 2017, we posted the story below. Although December 7, the supposed deadline for comments, has passed, we understand that the Virginia Marine Resources Council (VMRC) will continue to accept comments until they hold a hearing, which is not likely to be until early 2018. We urge everyone to continue to send your comments to the VMRC. You don’t have to know which specific rivers are included in the 48 mentioned in the notice, nor do you need to know details of proposed procedures, to comment on problems of drilling beneath river beds – especially given the examples in other pipeline construction projects of drilling mud spills and erosion-caused scouring of river beds. Erosion caused by river bed scouring is particularly relevant in Nelson with our history of flooding. But it is relevant everywhere given the increase in extreme weather events, see for example Floods Put Pipelines at Risk and Mapping Sunoco’s drilling mud spills.

Sign the petition and then join Bold Alliance in Newport News on Thursday, December 21, 2017, for a press conference and petition delivery to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), to demand the agency hold public hearings to hear affected landowners’ and communities’ concerns on the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipeline projects.  See our Events page for details.



The Public Notice above appeared on November 23, 2017, buried in the back pages of the print edition of the Thanksgiving Day Nelson County Times – and several layers down in the online edition. Yes, we’re sure the notice meets legal requirements, but given its timing it is clearly an effort to slip beneath everyone’s radar. (Thanks, Elinor Amidon, for your vigilance!)

Let’s make sure the Virginia Marine Resources Commission is awash with comments by December 7!

Send your letters opposing the ACP drilling under our streams and rivers to:
Marine Resources Commission
Habitat Management Division
2600 Washington Ave, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607

You may send comments by email to: Randy.Owen@mrc.virginia.gov. Put ACP in the subject line.

Tell them who you are, where you live, and why you oppose the ACP’s request to put its proposed pipeline beneath these 48 non-tidal and 3 tidal streams.

Needed Scrutiny of the ACP

Needed scrutiny of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the December 4, 2017, editorial in the Raleigh NC News and Observer says it all:

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will face many hurdles from gaining permits to burrowing through 600 miles of terrain from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. But its biggest obstacle may be time. The project is already more than a year behind schedule and now faces further delays as it waits for environmental permits. The project’s backers don’t like it, but the delays are a helpful test. If the project is truly needed, time should make that clearer. If it’s not – as many argue – then time will reveal that as well. …. There’s no doubt North Carolina needs reliable sources of energy, but there is doubt about whether it needs a massive new pipeline carrying natural gas from fracking operations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Whether it does will become clearer as DEQ and the public has time to assess the environmental and economic impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

We hope the Virginia DEQ & Water Control Board take heed of North Carolina’s caution: ask the questions now so your negligence doesn’t cause disaster later.

Can We Trust the VA State Water Control Board?

In the coming two weeks the Virginia State Water Control Board will hold hearings (agendas here) on both the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. A November 29, 2017 article in Blue Virginia says, “One would think that because the SWCB’s function is to make independent decisions on Virginia water quality, the SWCB and Dominion wouldn’t have any connection outside of ‘independent’ decisions made by the SWCB involving Dominion projects. But upon taking a closer look at individual members of the SWCB, a stunning and disconcerting number of ties between board members and Dominion can be found.”

Can we trust the SWCB to make truly independent decisions?

NC Officials Ask ACP for More Details

The Raleigh NC News & Observer reported on November 29, 2017, that the “N.C. Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday sent the [ACP’s] developers a fourth round of questions about the economic benefits and environmental risks of the project,” giving pipeline developers 30 days to respond, after which the agency would have 60 days to review the response.

The NCDEQ wants “details on economic benefits to specific areas along the pipeline’s route, as opposed to generalizations about economic benefits. The agency wants a forecast of future economic conditions with the pipeline and without the pipeline, along with an analysis of the two forecasts, and an explanation of the logic on which the analysis is based. The agency also wants additional information on the pipeline’s end point, which was originally proposed in Robeson County. Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials later suggested that the pipeline would be extended to South Carolina at some point.”

The article reminds readers that, “The agency is asking for information previously requested but not adequately answered by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

“The Appalling Silence of Good People”

Writing in Blue Virginia on November 27, 2017, Jonathan Sokolow reminds us that, “In April 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested as part of the Birmingham Campaign, an effort to bring national attention to systemic racism in one of America’s most segregated cities. As he sat in a jail cell, King wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which would become a bedrock document of the Civil Rights Movement. Speaking to leaders who, despite good intentions, failed to speak up against injustice, King famously wrote: ‘We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.’ In Virginia, we are now suffering from an ‘appalling silence’ over the environmental racism at the heart of Dominion Energy’s controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. …. The appalling silence over Dominion’s plans comes from many who Dr. King would consider to be ‘good people.’ But the silence has become deafening, particularly with the environmental racism of the linchpin of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – Dominion’s proposed compressor station in Union Hill in Buckingham County, Virginia.”

Sokolow reviews Dominion’s purchase from the white descendants of what was once a large tobacco producing slave plantation known as Variety Shade to build the compressor station in Buckingham County that would service the ACP for 200 miles in each direction, reminds us of the environmental and health hazards of such compressor stations, and writes that “The population within one mile of the proposed facility – an area commonly referred to in pipeline planning documents as the ‘incineration zone’ in case of an accident – is 85% African American. Many of those residents, as well as unknown others buried in unmarked cemeteries, are descendants of the slaves who worked that plantation and freedmen who acquired some of the land after the Civil War. Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources is considering naming Union Hill as a state Historic District and Preservation Virginia has listed it as a ‘Most Endangered Historic Place.'”

Sokolow tells us that the November 13, 2017, filing to FERC by a number of environmental and community organizations asking for reconsideration of the ACP approval, “offers the most detailed and compelling evidence to date that the Union Hill compressor station and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline overall should be rejected. And it should be rejected not just because construction and operation of another massive fracked-gas pipeline will worsen climate change and cause lasting damage to Virginia’s land and water, but also specifically because of the health and other dangers posed to all people who live in the pipeline’s path — and particularly to communities of color. Virginia’s leaders – including Democrats who presumably do not want to be complicit in an act of environmental racism that affects people’s health – should pay attention to the evidence of the health effects of the proposed compressor station as discussed in the FERC filing.”

After listing numerous examples of environmental racism and injustice along the pipeline route in both Virginia and North Carolina, Sokolow says, “The proposed Union Hill compressor station is just one window into the fact that the entire Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is infected with environmental racism.”

He reminds us that “all people of good will can help break the silence by attending the Water is Life Rally and Concert in Richmond on December 2, by writing or calling their elected representatives or by taking any of the easy actions outlined here.”

Read the full article here.