Category Archives: Environmental Impact

Pipelines and Farmers Battle Over Lifetime Loss

An article in the November 14, 2017 AgWeb (Farm Journal Media), Pipelines and Farmers Battle Over Lifetime Loss, says, “Pipelines and agriculture are a contentious pair, with a growing number of farmers raising concerns over soil health, drainage issues, and responses from oil and gas companies.”

Three farmers in Illinois, Georgia, and Iowa talk at length about their personal experiences with three different pipelines built across their land and the problems they caused.

“‘Pipelines promise the world and money. Sure, I love energy efficiency, but I’m a farmer and I don’t want this pipeline headache on my property. If you can keep a pipeline from coming through your property, then do it,’ Richter says. ‘If they need to get through your land, they’ll tickle your ear. But once the line is installed, they don’t come back to the table to fix problems. Even if you’ve got it in writing, you’ll still have to go to the legal system for enforcement and spend thousands of dollars,’ Dowdy adds. ‘The only leverage you’ve got is prior to the pipeline.’ ‘You’ve got to get advice from somebody with soil experience, not dirt experience. Don’t let the company put time limits on corrective action and don’t sign off on anything,’ Kelley concludes. ‘Remember, farmers look down and see soil, but the pipeline company just sees dirt.'”

Fumes Across the Fence Line


A report released on November 14, 2017, by the NAACP says, “African American and other environmental justice communities face heavy burdens because of the millions of pounds of hazardous emissions released by the oil and gas industry each year.”

The report is Fumes Across the Fence Line: The Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Oil & Gas Facilities on African American Communities. “The life-threatening burdens placed on communities of color near oil and gas facilities are the result of systemic oppression perpetuated by the traditional energy industry, which exposes communities to health, economic, and social hazards. Communities impacted by oil and gas facility operations remain affected due to energy companies’ heavy polluting, low wages for dangerous work, and government lobbying against local interests.”

McAuliffe’s Folly: The Atlantic “Trump” Pipeline


The November 12, 2017, Huffington Post asks, “Is outgoing Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe a climate change denier?” It notes that just asking the question “is bound to offend the governor and some of his supporters,” who list his efforts to reduce emissions and his very recent return from the 23rd United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing Virginia to reduce carbon emissions (after he leaves office) as part of the Under2Coalition.

But, the article continues, “Never mind that close observers have called McAuliffe’s record on climate change ‘abysmal’ and ‘marred by contradictions and empty rhetoric,'” that by joining in November 2017 Virginia came very late to the Under2Coalition, formed in May 2015 and already including 180 jurisdictions. And “never mind that McAuliffe has spent the past three years as the state’s biggest cheerleader for two massive and controversial fracked gas pipelines, that, according to recent estimates, will produce greenhouse gases equivalent to that produced by 45 coal fired plants or 158 million metric tons per year, more than doubling Virginia’s carbon footprint.”

The article goes on to discuss

  • A Moment of Choice for Virginia and Terry McAuliffe – How the Water Control Board hearings in December are an opportunity for “an historic choice for climate change action – or climate change denial” as McAuliffe, after belatedly signing on to the Under2Coalition, is “trying to write the final chapter of his gubernatorial narrative – or the preface to his next campaign.” But, “If these pipelines are approved, Terry McAuliffe will forever be where any Democratic politician does not want to be, particularly in a Democratic primary – firmly on the side of climate change denier in chief Donald Trump.”
  • The Atlantic “Trump” Pipeline – Less than a week after taking office, Trump released a list of top 50 domestic priorities, including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, saying the permitting process was done. Actual fact, of course, is that the process is not done, and since January “the public debate and the legal, regulatory and political terrains have shifted decidedly against these pipelines. The tide has started to turn – and smart politicians are catching on fast.”
  • The Anti-Pipeline Movement Grows Strong – “The opposition to these pipelines is growing and is not going away. Indeed, the scope of opposition activity over the past few months has been breathtaking.”
  • The Legal Terrain Shifts Beneath McAuliffe’s Feet – In August two different federal appeals courts issued rulings on two different pipelines (in New York and in Florida) making it “much more difficult for these pipelines to survive judicial scrutiny,” and in early November a court issued an order halting a third pipeline.
  • Regulatory Agencies Start to Balk – Both NC and WV state environmental agencies delayed approvals and demanded new and additional information from pipeline proposers. Two brand-new Trump appointees to FERC, who gave FERC a quorum of three, approved both the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines, with an almost unheard of stinging dissent from veteran FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur. On election day, “Virginia Democrats swept all three statewide offices and erased what many thought was an insurmountable 66-34 Republican majority in the House of Delegates.” Dominion also lost big: “Thirteen newly elected members of the House of Delegates – fully one quarter of the caucus – were elected on a platform that included signing the Activate Virginia pledge. Justin Fairfax, who also took the pledge and ran as a pipeline opponent, was elected Lieutenant Governor.”
  • It is Time to Choose Sides – “But more importantly, by acting now – before the December State Water Board hearings – McAuliffe could stop these two massive environmentally irresponsible, job killing, social justice destroying methane projects. He would be doing Virginia a world of good. That would transform his signature on the Bonn agreement into a new beginning for real action on climate change. McAuliffe can join Obama’s FERC appointee, Senator Tim Kaine, Lieutenant Governor-Elect Justin Fairfax, the newly elected anti-pipeline Democratic delegates, supported by landmark anti-pipeline federal court rulings, and stop these pipelines, or he can stand with climate change denier Donald Trump.”

Read the full Huffington Post article here.

West Virginia Waives 401 Review for MVP

In a November 1, 2017, statement released by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced permit adjustments for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, saying the State Stormwater Permit includes enhanced inspection and enforcement, stronger environmental guidelines for project.

The statement said, “West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Cabinet Secretary Austin Caperton announced today that the agency has lifted the suspension of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) state Stormwater Permit. The suspension of the state Stormwater Permit was put in place in September to allow the agency to properly respond to all public comments received.

“Additionally, the state has chosen to waive the individual 401 Certification of the federal permits for the MVP. The Army Corps of Engineers recently reissued, with provisions that are specific to West Virginia, the Nationwide 12 permit which is used for stream crossings. These new conditions, when combined with specific requirements that are included in the state’s storm water permit, will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protection for the state’s waters.”

Read the full statement from WVDEP here.

In a Sierra Club press release, Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter Gas Committee Chair Justin Raines said, “Instead of protecting West Virginia’s water, DEP has sold us down the river. They had one job to do and they failed to do it, leaving our water in the hands of the federal government and out-of-state corporate polluters who are more interested in making money than protecting West Virginians. If we can’t trust our own state to protect our water, health and tourism, who can we trust to do it? Governor Justice and his DEP have let us all down by abandoning the responsibilities we trusted them with.”

DEP had previously certified the MVP, but Appalachian Mountain Advocates brought a lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, and on October 17, 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals set aside that certification and allowed DEP to start over. Just two weeks later, in response to the WVDEP’s November 1 announcement, Derek Teaney, Senior Attorney at Appalachian Mountain Advocates, said, “This is an outrageous and unprecedented dereliction of duty by DEP. After assuring a federal court that it was committed to reconsidering whether the MVP would degrade the hundreds of streams that it would impact, DEP has thrown up its hands and admitted that it is not up to the task of protecting West Virginia’s environment. This action suggests that DEP does not believe in the laws–including the antidegradation policy–that it is charged with enforcing. It also makes you wonder whether DEP intends to give the Atlantic Coast Pipeline–the other ill-conceived pipeline project it is currently reviewing–the same free pass it has just given to MVP.”

Read the full Sierra Club press release here.

See WDTV5 coverage, Environmental organizations outraged at WVDEP decision.

McAuliffe Announces Environmental Justice Advisory Council

On October 31, 2017, Governor McAuliffe announced the creation of an Environmental Justice Advisory Council (EJAC), which will serve as the first coordinated forum to discuss environmental justice issues across the Commonwealth. The EJAC, established by Executive Order 73, will provide advice and recommendations to the Executive Branch on ways in which environmental justice should be incorporated in decision-making. Environmental Justice is the principle that no community or individual should bear disproportionate impacts from pollution. According to the press release, “Governor McAuliffe will appoint members to the EJAC who represent a variety of backgrounds and geographic regions of the Commonwealth. The EJAC will annually draft a report containing specific recommendations in furtherance of environmental justice issues, including recommendations on proposed legislation, regulations, policies, and commencement of research initiatives.”

The Governor’s Executive Order follows the People’s Tribunal event held October 28, 2017, in Charlottesville, which focused on environmental justice issues raised by the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

A good place for the Council to start (ASAP!) would be the Union Hill community in Buckingham, threatened by significant air, water, and noise pollution from the proposed ACP compressor station.

Read the full announcement here. Read Executive Order 73 here.