WINTERGREEN PROPERTY OWNERS: Online webinars on inverse condemnation lawsuits, three dates. Click to register: http://bit.ly/2yIasmT
We all knew that FERC would use its rubber stamp to issue a Certificate to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, but we weren’t sure just when. Now that FERC has given its blessings to this wretched project, Friends of Nelson, and our many friends and colleagues throughout Virginia, North Caroline, and West Virginia are moving forward on strategies that could not be initiated until now!
Friends of Nelson is continuing to fight to stop the ACP in every way that we can.
- Keeping our membership and allies informed and engaged through e-mail, Facebook and the Friends of Nelson Webpage.
- Acting on strategic opportunities with our board of directors, our membership, our allies and our colleagues
- Being represented in legal actions wherever possible and whenever necessary
- Keeping pressure on all Federal, State and local agencies to do the right thing.
- Continuing to build the public record through continued water monitoring and engagement with experts and resource professionals.
Remember: it only takes one agency or one judge doing the right thing to stop this runaway train.
Friends of Nelson cannot, of course, give legal advice. However, this is what we know and this is what we recommend:
- The FERC process was expedited by executive order and has left many regulatory requirements incomplete. The only FERC Commissioner who had a deep understanding of the ACP, and with whom Friends of Nelson representatives met three years ago, filed a dissent and voted against the issuance of the permit on grounds that it was not deemed necessary. The only two commissioners who voted for the certificate have served less than 2 months with FERC and were both Trump appointees.
- A legal challenge to the issuance of the FERC certificate is in the works.
- Construction on the ACP cannot begin until ALL necessary permits have been obtained by Dominion. This includes approval from:
- The Forest Service on required forest plan amendments and special use permits
- The US Fish and Wildlife Service on its regulatory requirements for endangered species
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency and affected counties on regulations for construction and hazardous materials in floodplains
- the Virginia Outdoors Foundation on affected lands with conservation easements
- Section 401 (water quality, erosion and sediment control and storm water management) and 404 (water discharges) permits under the Clean Water Act by the Virginia State Water Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality (or Army Corps of Engineers)
- Tree clearing MAY be able to begin on properties that have recorded easement agreements with Dominion, but it also MAY NOT. If you have a signed easement agreement and Dominion either contacts you about entering your property for tree clearing or enters your property without notice we strongly recommend that you CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY immediately. There are a variety of possible legal challenges that may prevent entry to your property in the short or long term, whether you have signed an easement or not.
- If you are an impacted landowner and do not yet have an attorney, we STRONGLY advise that you contact Appalachian Mountain Advocates (434-529-6787), Lollar Law (757-644-4657), or one of the other firms (see our website) that specialize in these matters. Representation is usually offered on a no-fee, contingency basis. Even if you opt to negotiate an easement rather than go to court for an eminent domain hearing, it has been our observation that individuals with legal representation have obtained much better settlements than those without it.
- If you have not signed an easement agreement, then you can continue to deny access to your property until the entire eminent domain process has run its course. This includes Dominion bringing a lawsuit for entry under eminent domain, you obtaining legal representation, a court hearing and a judge ruling on appropriate compensation. This process takes time to run its course. No property owner is under any obligation to allow eminent domain condemnation or access without this full process being completed. There is one existing lawsuit already filed and the possibility of others that could stall or obstruct this process.
- If you feel that your property rights have been violated and your property is being entered illegally, immediately contact Nelson County Sheriff David Hill at: 434-263-7050.
- If you filed with FERC as an intervener and if you submitted comments to FERC on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement, we invite you to join Friends of Nelson in filing a Request for Rehearing with FERC which is the next step in challenging the FERC decision. For more information, contact Ernie Reed at 434-971-1647. And, most importantly…
KEEP IN TOUCH!
WE ARE HERE!
Ernie Reed, President, Friends of Nelson
Decisions will be made by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation Board of Trustees on applications presented by Dominion to convert open spaces on 10 tracts that lie in the path of the proposed ACP that are protected by conservation easements. Dominion should not be allowed to dishonor or disrupt the conservation easements set in place in Nelson, Augusta, Highland, and Bath counties. You can submit comments online through October 16, 2017, here: http://www.virginiaoutdoorsfoundation.org/comments/ or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Trustees meeting on October 16 is open to the public, see our Events page listing for details.
The People’s Tribunal on human rights, environmental justice, and the impacts of fracked gas infrastructure will be held on Saturday October 28, 2017, 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., at City Space, 100 5th Street NE., Charlottesville, VA.
While many know about the environmental hazards of fracked natural gas pipelines, few people know who is being forced to give up their human rights to clean air, water, and soil for the economic benefit of corporate stockholders. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) routes target rural, poor, African American, Native American, and Appalachian communities from West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina to bear the disproportionate burden of their toxic, polluting fracked natural gas infrastructure.
A people’s tribunal creates a public forum to present evidence for and information about issues critical to a just and civil society, especially when local, state, and federal governments are not responsive to public concerns. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the Human Rights Impacts of Fracking call on member nations to:
“Undertake independent and effective investigation into all cases of environmentally polluting activities and their impacts on the rights of affected communities; bring those responsible to account; and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies.”
Experts in the fields of environmental and medical science, environmental justice, Virginia Slave and Freedmen, Native American and Appalachian history, and fracked gas economics will preside as Judges to hear first-person impacts and expert testimonies. Judges’ findings and recommendations will be sent to these human rights committees and will form the basis around which local groups can organize.
Who is at risk?
- Union Hill in Buckingham, Virginia is an 85% African American community built by Freedmen. White descendants of former plantation owners sold their land to the ACP LLC where the only Virginia megacompressor station is to be built, within 150 ft. of households in this populous minority community. Compressor stations pose documented health and safety risks with their release of highly toxic gas emissions, air-borne particulates, and continuous noise pollution.
- The area in West VA where the MVP & ACP jumbo pipelines begin will be replete with (more) compressor stations, metering stations, extraction plants, cryogenic plants, and soon, cracker plants and more fracking than ever. West Virginians are the source colony, yet they get little attention or help.
- Across the U.S., new pipelines leak, break, and explode more often than even those 40 years old, causing permanent well-water, stream and river contamination, and destruction of property and its value, a nightmare for those unlucky to live in their path. Landowners along the ACP and MVP are coerced by threats of eminent domain to give up their property rights and live with these risks. Several Native American communities are directly impacted and all proposed routes were once Native American lands.
For more information, including the list of sponsoring organizations, see the People’s Tribunal flyer here.
The event will feature: award-winning journalist, author and long-time Appalachian Voices board member Clara Bingham, who will screen her film The Last Mountain, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival; a short film by the Light House students; and a panel discussion with Clara, Kate Boyle of Appalachian Voices, and Logan Landry from Sigora Solar. This event is free and open to the public.
About Energize Appalachia
For more than a century, Appalachian coal built our infrastructure, our universities, and powered our technological advancement. But it came at an enormous cost for mountain communities. Coal companies have blown up more than 500 of the oldest, most biologically rich mountains in the world and buried over 2,000 miles of headwater streams. Appalachian communities located near mountaintop removal mines have double the cancer rates of nearby counties with no mining activity.
Now, with the Trump administration’s commitment to revive the coal industry, West Virginia’s Coal River Mountain—known as the Last Mountain—is facing renewed threats from mountaintop removal mining.
Appalachian Voices is working to Energize Appalachia by putting solar power on schools, low-income housing communities, hospitals, and old mountaintop removal mine sites in the heart of Southwest Virginia’s coal country. By creating a clean energy economy in the coalfields, we can build more vibrant, healthy communities for future generations.
On October 3, 2017, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced dates for town hall meetings before the State Water Control Board on the water quality certification applications, required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. DEQ’s press release says:
The State Water Control Board plans to hold two meetings in December to consider additional Section 401 water quality certification conditions for the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.
Each meeting is scheduled to last about two days. On the first day of each meeting, those who made oral or written comments during the public comment period will have an opportunity to sign up to speak to the board under the board’s policy for public participation. The official agenda containing more details will be available in early November.
The schedule for the meetings (see linked pages for details on each meeting):
- Mountain Valley Pipeline. 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 6, 2017, and Thursday, December 7, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.
- Atlantic Coast Pipeline. 9:30 a.m., Monday, December 11, 2017, and Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Location: Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will present a summary of the public comments it received and will make its recommendations to the board on the proposed additional conditions at each meeting. Also at each meeting, the board may approve, deny or amend the recommendations.
According to an extensive October 3, 2017, article on DEQ’s just-announced plans in the Roanoke Times, “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality plans to disclose in December its recommendations to the State Water Control Board regarding water quality certification for two deeply controversial natural gas pipelines. DEQ said it will recommend conditions that the seven-member citizens board should consider attaching to any Clean Water Act 401 water quality certification the board grants the projects. Ann Regn, a DEQ spokeswoman, said it is also possible the agency will suggest that one or both projects not be granted certification.” The article also notes that “During the first day of each meeting, people who weighed in about the pipelines during a formal public comment period can sign up to address the board. As envisioned, Regn said, the second day of each meeting will feature DEQ’s recommendations.”