Category Archives: Environmental Impact

Spruce Creek Camp: Speakers and Events


Oct. 15th, 2018, For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp Weekend Two: 75 Camptivists Gather on Land Threatened by ACP

Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) invite the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the second weekend of camp, 75 attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County and Buckingham citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in discussions.

Woody Greenberg, former reporter, retired Lynchburg College professor, former member of the Board of Supervisors, and current Secretary of the Nelson Historical Society, gave a brief history of the county and described in detail the devastating effect Hurricane Camille had here due to the intense flooding and landslides that killed 124 people. He emphasized that unstable soils on our steep slopes could fail again during or after construction of a massive 42” pipeline.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist Richard Averitt described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on the Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation he recently gave to a Congressional hearing on how this destructive project has affected his family both on camp land and where his family has residences.

Lakshmi Fjord from Friends of Buckingham gave a slide presentation on the potential health effects from the proposed compressor station in Buckingham County near Union Hill on the largely African American community. Her group has done extensive health surveys of the community which could result in bringing an environmental justice case against the ACP as described in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Others from her group described the group’s baseline air and water monitoring activities. http://www.friendsofbuckinghamva.org/friends/learning-center/compressor/

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, discussed local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. Roof top solar projects exist in the county on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries is just now beginning to be exploited in Virginia. He also said that energy conservation remains an effective strategy especially for low income residents who would directly benefit from paying smaller utility bills.

David Schweisow, land owner in nearby Wintergreen Resort, described how the ACP plans to tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail using the questionable Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) technique. The process would employ proprietary drilling chemicals, bentonite and 50,000+ gallons of water a day and take over a year to complete. Afterwards, Dave took us on a tour of the 125’ wide clear cut next to Wintergreen’s only egress road and to where the pipeline would cross the Schweisow’s front yard on Fortune’s Ridge.

The Spruce Creek Circle of Protection held an open-air Interfaith Prayer Vigil to inspire and affirm the need for communities to protect their safety, water, and land values from the threat of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, hosted by Water is Life. Protect it. The ceremony opened with words from spiritual leader Asha Greer from Batesville and pastor Louie Andrews from Rockfish Valley Presbyterian Church. Wild Common performed music powered by the Sun Bus, Richard Averitt described how his life has been affected by the ACP, Amelia Williams read an original poem, 1000 Flags 1000 Waters converged and more.

Ben Cunningham from the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) presented and demonstrated the Pipeline CSI mapping application and made a request for volunteers to monitor and report on violations of erosion controls and water quality protections found during pipeline construction.

Beth and Neal LaFerriere from Blackberry Botanicals in West Virginia spoke to the group about their family and land’s repeated bombardment by helicopters with grass/fertilizer pellets. Because of this unwarranted and illegal action, they will lose their farm’s organic certification for three years, severely affecting their chief source of income.

James Bolton, a Friends of Nelson Board member and frequent FERC commentator, discussed the legal fight and where various suits, motions and rulings stand today.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

The final weekend of October 19 – 21 will include many of the above speakers as well as Mike Tabony discussing global warming, Lara Gastinger on illustrating and journaling flora and fauna with an opportunity to create your own art and journal, Weston Matthews discussing climate justice from a religious perspective, a hike to Roberts Mountain ridge, discussions and drumming held in the resident tipi, and Ernie Reed speaking on political activism and where the group goes from here.

The final weekend of the Camp, which is free, will be held Friday afternoon October 19 through Sunday mid-day October 21. Pre-registration is required – register here. “We feel finances should not be a barrier to enjoy the beauty of our area. Donations will be gratefully accepted for Friends of Nelson and Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice.”

UN Report Predicts Dire Consequences From Climate Change


A new report issued October 8, 2018, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body within the United Nations, found that a continuation of greenhouse gas emissions at their current rate could warm the atmosphere by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) by 2040.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of one of the IPCC working groups.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and farreaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

Concerns about global warming have been one of the major arguments voiced in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline due to the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, through leaks from natural gas pipelines, and because the construction of more natural gas pipelines encourages the expanded use of fossil fuels at a time when a greater reliance on renewable sources of energy should instead be encouraged.

[Thanks to the ABRA Update for this story.]

Spruce Creek Camp: Speakers and Events


Oct. 8th, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp: Speakers and Events

Nellysford, VA: Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) are inviting the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the first weekend of camp, attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in selected topic discussions.

Woody Greenberg, a former reporter, retired Lynchburg College professor, and former member of the Board of Supervisors, and current Secretary of the Nelson Historical Society, gave a brief history of the county and described in detail the devastating effect Hurricane Camille had here due to the intense flooding and landslides that killed 124 people. He emphasized that unstable soils on our steep slopes could fail again during or after construction of a massive 42” pipeline.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems. She also described the inherent pitfalls of ACP’s plan to tunnel under the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway using the Horizontal Drilling (HDD) technique.

Peter Agelasto, President and Founder of the Rockfish Valley Foundation, led a tour of an old mill site near Spruce Creek in the historic area of Wintergreen Village and showed how the proposed pipeline would run thorough the valley’s only archeological site.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist, Richard Averitt, described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation given recently to the Congress on how this destructive project has affected his family.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

Randy Whiting, a resident of Horizons Village adjoining the camp property, led a tour and showed the group where the pipeline would destroy a forest wetland in that community.

Todd Rath, a local cidery owner, related how the project would endanger the water supplies so necessary for his business and, in turn, impact local tourism.

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, offered the group local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. There are a number of roof top solar projects in the county and nearby, on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries is just now beginning to be exploited in Virginia. He also said that energy conservation remains an effective strategy especially for low income residents who would benefit from paying less in utility bills.

Ernie Reed, former president of Friends of Nelson and current member of the Board of Supervisors, discussed how the attendees could influence decision makers and the media in this fight and the importance of continuing to mount legal challenges. He advocated having as many tools as possible to fight pipelines in order to preserve our environment and property rights.

During the weekend of October 12-14, speakers will discuss Nelson County legal challenges, highlight our Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program, and give a presentation on the proposed Buckingham compressor station; there will be more tours of local properties, and a “Circle of Protection” at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The Camp, which is free, will be held Fridays through Sundays the next two weekends of October. Pre-registration is required:  REGISTER HERE. “We feel finances should not be a barrier to enjoy the beauty of our area. Donations will be gratefully accepted for Friends of Nelson and Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice.”

Fourth Circuit Court Halts MVP Construction in WV


On October 2, 2018, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order that will significantly impede construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, halting MVP construction through rivers and streams in southern West Virginia for the foreseeable future. Last week, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, representing the Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, challenged the Army Corps of Engineers’ certification for the pipeline under a general permit, Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit 12. The Court agreed with their argument that the Corps improperly certified the MVP under the general permit.

The petitioners asserted that the Corps improperly imposed one condition requiring use of a “dry cut” method for constructing four river crossings “in lieu of” a special condition imposed by West Virginia which said “[i]ndividual stream crossings must be completed in a continuous, progressive manner within 72 hours.” Construction using the “dry cut” method was expected to take four-six weeks rather than 72 hours.

The Court vacated “in its entirety the Corps’ verification of the Pipeline’s compliance with NWP 12.” The order explained that if any part of the project requires an individual permit, then “the NWP does not apply and all portions of the project must be evaluated as part of the individual permit process.”

Appalachian Mountain Advocates expects the Corps will now be required to issue an individual permit for the project, requiring a significant environmental assessment, before it may proceed to construction.

Read the Court’s order here.

Press coverage in the Charleston Gazette-Mail is here.

Groups Invite Public to Camp on Land Under Threat from Pipeline


Sept. 21, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Nellysford, VA: Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are inviting the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

“Camping on the path of the proposed pipeline – ‘camptivists’ will learn what makes the area unique through talks, conversation and first-hand encounters with the land,” says a statement by Friends of Nelson, the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, and Jill Averitt. Spruce Creek Camp, the site of the encampment, is on the Averitt’s property.

“The gatherings will be peaceful, family-friendly weekends of camping, experiencing the grandeur of the natural world,” the statement says. It will allow campers to “connect with locals and learn about what is at stake.”

According to the statement, “Local experts will share why the history, ecology, and the community of Nelson Country makes the fight to keep the pipeline out of this beautiful valley so critical, and why non-carbon sources of energy and other economic strategies are now viable alternatives to large scale fossil fuel projects.”

The sponsors believe that “recent court decisions indicate it’s not too late to stop this pipeline and save the affected property, water, public parks and forests.”

Nelson County is home to many tourist destinations such as the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wintergreen Ski Resort, the Rockfish Valley Natural History Center, the Nelson County Farmers Market, and the new Brew Ridge Trail made up of wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries.

According to the statement, “all these local attractions will be severely affected should this pipeline be constructed. We are proud to invite you to come stay with us and experience all there is to love about Nelson County and its people.”

The Camp, which is free, will be held Fridays through Sundays the first three weekends of October. Pre-registration is requested – register here.

“We feel finances should not be a barrier to enjoy the beauty of our area. Donations will be gratefully accepted for Friends of Nelson and Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice,” the statement says.

Hurricane Could Devastate Pipeline Projects

A September 11, 2018 Washington Post article, Hurricane could devastate Virginia pipeline project that is already struggling with changing weather, points out that the wet summer of 2018 “has already overcome some efforts to prevent runoff and erosion” along then Mountain Valley Pipeline route, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will face similar problems if construction begins on that.

State officials say that even if the projects meet all construction guidelines, “those guidelines are based on standards that do not account for recent changes in weather patterns. …. In some cases, a level of rain that once may have occurred every two years has instead happened more than once in a month, staff members said. ‘There have certainly been conversations that given precipitation and climatic changes that . . . maybe there should be a different standard, but at this moment that’s what your regulation says,’ Melanie Davenport, the director of water permitting, told the [State Water Control] board.”

Department of Environmental Quality officials, their numbers reduced after a decade of budget and staff cuts, are unable to monitor the construction properly, especially given the steep and rough terrain and the many stream crossings of both the MVP and ACP.

Erosion controls have already proved inadequate for current levels of rainfall, and pipeline zones could be devastated by Florence. David Sligh, who is retired from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and now works with the Wild Virginia advocacy group, spoke to the Post: “‘I don’t believe they can, in some of these circumstances, do anything that would be adequate,’ he said. ‘That’s the real crime here, if I can use that word. People have known, the companies have known, DEQ has known that the pollution control measures are inadequate. The fact they’ve been allowed to go forward makes me very angry.'”