Hundreds of Nelson County residents showed up at the Nelson County High School in Lovingston on Wednesday, February 22nd, to tell the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that they oppose the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in Nelson County.
Despite the fact that FERC insisted on a format for the hearing in which people were taken one by one into private rooms to make their comments to FERC, Nelson County residents were united in their opposition to the pipeline. “Nelson county is really speaking with one voice saying we don’t want this pipeline,” said Ernie Reed, president of Friends of Nelson County (ABC 13 WSET).
From environmental impacts to the loss of private property, residents reiterated their many concerns to FERC about the pipeline and continued to voice their strong opposition to its construction in Nelson County and across Virginia. Many expressed deep concern over the fact that FERC appears to have ignored the views of residents and independent organizations when creating the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). “They haven’t done their research,” said Amelia Williams. “There’s all kinds of data that they’ve failed to gather” (WFXR Fox News). “This draft environmental impact statement is a joke,” said Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson. “If they don’t listen then when the environmental impact statement comes out and we don’t see that they’ve taken our concerns seriously, well that’s what the courts are for” (WDBJ 7).
Several news outlets covered the public hearing in Nelson County, including WDBJ 7, NBC 29, WSET 13, CBS 19, the Nelson County Times, and WFXR Fox News.
Friends of Nelson Press Release, February 21, 2017 (Contacts: Ernie Reed, email@example.com, 434-249-8330, and Kirk Bowers, firstname.lastname@example.org, 434-296-8673)
Nelson County Community Public Hearing on the Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Date: Wednesday, February 22, 6-9 p.m.
Location: Nelson County Middle School, 6925 Thomas Nelson Hwy, Lovingston, VA 22949
Local citizen groups will hold a Community Public Hearing on Wednesday, February 22 from 6-9 p.m. at the Nelson County Middle School. The hearing will be held concurrently with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s “Listening Session” on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is conducting public listening sessions in Virginia regarding the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) at different locations throughout the state. The Nelson County FERC session begins at 6:30 p.m. at the adjacent Nelson County High School.
Concerned citizens will be gathering in the Nelson County Middle School library at the same time as the FERC meeting, to provide a welcome environment for the public to share information and show opposition to the ACP.
FERC has refused to hold true Public Hearings on the proposed ACP, instead holding “Listening Sessions” where citizens sit in a closed room with a scribe and speak their 3 minutes of comments in secrecy.
“The FERC process makes a mockery of the concept of a Public Hearing,” said Ernie Reed, President of Friends of Nelson. “FERC has also cut the time for public comment in half in Nelson County, severely limiting the time available for citizens to make their comments. This is despite the fact that opposition to the pipeline is strongest and the destructive impacts most significant here in Nelson County.”
“The alternate community hearing is intended to highlight the continuing lack of transparency and public disclosure by the FERC during the environmental review process,” said Kirk Bowers of the Sierra Club. “The community meeting will provide an open forum for the community to prepare comments on the proposed pipeline for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.”
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a proposed $6 billion, 42”, high-compression pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia, across Virginia to North Carolina and the Tidewater area, causing environmental and economic damage to communities and private properties that it does not serve. Polls confirm that a majority of Virginians doesn’t want it, and gubernatorial candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties have come out strongly against it.
A press conference with local citizens opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be held at 6:10 p.m. at the Nelson County Middle School library. We encourage the press to attend and interview participants at that time.
To download the full press release from Friends of Nelson, click here.
Twelve years ago, when the Oroville Dam in California was up for relicensing, a group of concerned citizens (including Friends of the River and the Sierra Club) filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete to ensure its integrity under high water conditions. They said that the dam did not meet modern safety conditions and warned that, in the event of extreme rain, fast-rising water could create flooding and the dam’s earthen spillway could fail. FERC, however, disregarded these warnings, stating that the dam’s earthen spillway met engineering guidelines, and instead ruled in favor of state and industry officials who did not believe that the upgrades were needed and did not want to incur the extra costs of an armored spillway.
This week, nearly 200,000 people had to be evacuated due to flooding from the Oroville Dam and the risk that the dam will collapse. Portions of the dam and emergency spillway have eroded away under the force of water spilling over the dam. If the Oroville Dam were to fail, it would be one of the worst dam disasters in U.S. history.
For citizens who are concerned about the proposed construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), the Oroville Dam serves as a cautionary tale. Will the many concerns of citizens and scientists regarding the potential impacts of the ACP–concerns and impacts that FERC seems to be disregarding, given its conclusions in the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS)–ultimately be realized in a similar catastrophic failure or other disaster of the ACP if it is approved and built? The history of the Oroville Dam seems to confirm the fears of many concerned citizens who live along the route of the ACP: that FERC ignores the concerns of citizens and scientists in favor of industry and state analysis and pressure and that it is the people who will live near the ACP who will pay the price.
To learn more about the Oroville Dam and FERC’s role in the decisions that led up to the current crisis, you can read articles at the many news organizations that have covered the story: The Mercury News, CNN, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) has created an easy-to-use online comment form, Tell FERC: No Atlantic Coast Pipeline, that allows you to send a comment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the ACP. The form provides a pre-written letter to FERC that details the many failings of the DEIS; you can edit this letter or add your own comments about the DEIS and how the pipeline would impact you.
Remember you can submit as many comments as you like to FERC during comment periods. Friends of Nelson strongly encourages you to write and submit your own comments to FERC, but you can and should use tools like this form provided by CCAN to submit more comments. They make the process of submitting comments to FERC easy and quick, so that it’s easy to submit more comments. The more comments submitted in opposition to the ACP, the better.
If you are planning or want to attend the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Public Hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Lovingston on Wednesday, February 22nd, but aren’t sure what to say during your three-minute speaking allotment, Friends of Nelson can help. From 6:00 pm on, Friends of Nelson will be available in the Nelson County Middle School library (right next door to the high school, where FERC’s hearing will be held) for help and support. Come gather with us and share information, prepare comments, and wait for your number to be called by FERC for the public comment session.
The FERC hearing in Nelson on the DEIS will be Wednesday February 22, 2017. Be there!
This is our chance to speak up in opposition about the seriously flawed and unacceptably inadequate Draft Environmental Impact Statement. We need as many people as possible to attend – flooding FERC – showing and voicing our disapproval and aversion towards this grossly unnecessary and dangerous pipeline.
Come early to sign up for a number to speak! Comments will NOT be taken in public. Speakers’ comments will be taken in a private room with a stenographer. (This is FERC’s idea of a “public hearing.”) It is therefore crucially important that everyone who gives comments brings a paper copy to give to the stenographer and that everyone ALSO submits their comments to FERC – online or via USPS – so that there is an irrefutable paper trail.
See our Events page for details on other FERC hearings in our area: Farmville on February 21, Staunton on February 23, and Monterey on February 28.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is not needed, and we don’t want this 42″, 600-mile fracked gas pipeline. We want clean water, healthy air, our precious lands to stay intact, and a safe future.