A new map, prepared by Friends of Nelson Board member Charlie Hickox, shows the routes of existing and proposed natural gas pipelines in our region. You can look forward to seeing a large version of this map displayed when we table at events and meetings.
Here are 10 reasons why Friends of Nelson opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In the coming weeks we will be posting expanded information on each of the 10 reasons. We hope this information will help clarify your thinking and help you to explain to family, friends, neighbors, and legislators why you oppose the ACP. (Click here to download a printable version of the list.)
1. No Demand or Need
With evidence of reduced future demand and with recent upgrades to existing pipelines, energy analysts argue that there is no need domestically for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Additionally, foreign demand for this gas is better satisfied by nearer sources which can be produced and delivered at a lower cost.
2. Climate Change Implications
Gas pipelines leak methane gas and their compressor and metering stations regularly release methane and other harmful pollutants. The ACP will therefore significantly contribute to climate change.
3. Cost Burden on Ratepayers
The pipeline’s almost $8 billion construction cost will eventually mean rate increases for all Dominion customers as they will have to foot a large part of the ACP cost, regardless of whether it is put into service or not.
4. Discourages Utility Investment in Alternatives
The ACP’s possible construction and its huge capital investment cost will discourage utilities from promoting and developing non-fossil fuel, increasingly cost-effective alternatives such as wind and solar.
5. Eminent Domain Seizures of Private Property
Through the imposition of Eminent Domain, the proposed route confiscates and restricts Nelson landowners’ property rights, lowering their own and adjoining neighbors’ property values.
6. Landslide Danger on Steep Slopes
The proposed construction and placement of the pipeline endangers Nelson citizens’ lives and property, especially on steep slopes which are highly susceptible to landslide failures. Note that ruptured pipelines are likely to explode.
7. Disproportionate Harm to Minority Communities
The ACP will specifically harm the historic African American community of Union Hill by locating a dangerous and polluting compressor station in its midst.
8. Containment Failures Impact on Streams and Drinking Water
As recently demonstrated with the Mountain Valley Pipeline, construction of the ACP will, despite promised containment safeguards, silt up mountain and valley streams, affecting local drinking water and aquatic life.
9. Forest Fragmentation and Effects on Endangered Species
The ACP’s construction will further fragment our vulnerable eastern forests, reducing the habitat and population of Federally-listed endangered species. Such activity could potentially cause their extinction.
10. Detracts from Scenic Views on Public Lands
The pipeline corridor will detract from scenic views on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail and National Forest Lands. One of the most prominent viewing locations is at the Parkway’s Raven’s Roost overlook.
A crowd at the Friends of Nelson annual public meeting at Rockfish Valley Community Center on January 12, 2020, enjoyed an extensive and varied potluck, along with great music by local favorites Kim and Jimbo Carey, as we celebrated 5.5 years and counting of our fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. And we celebrated the fact that, because of the hard work of committed citizens and the Southern Environmental Law Center, which has resulted in numerous obstacles and denied permits, pipeline builders Dominion and Duke shut down all construction more than a year ago – with less than 6% of the project in the ground so far – and are now struggling to find a way to retool their plans.
We elected Friends of Nelson Officers and Board: Doug Wellman (President), Connie Brennan (Vice-President), Julie Burns (Secretary), and Cheryl Klueh (Treasurer), Jim Bolton, Ellen Bouton, Ron Enders, Woody Greenberg, Charlie Hickox, David Schwiesow, Marilyn Shifflett, and Kathy Versluys. And we gave outgoing President Helen Kimble a standing ovation for her two years of exemplary leadership and incredibly hard work!
Join us on Sunday January 12, 2020, at Rockfish Valley Community Center from 6-10 p.m. for our annual meeting and potluck. We’ll vote on Board members and officers for 2020, review our 2019 accomplishments, talk about plans for 2020, and enjoy being together. Local favorites Kim and Jimbo Carey will provide our music. Beer, wine, cider – and potluck dinner!
Bring friends, bring family, bring your potluck dish, and come help us usher in a new decade!
Friends of Nelson exists to serve the people of this special community. Because of your continued support—whether attending our meetings and rallies, volunteering for one of our programs, or supporting us financially—we have accomplished a great deal during the five years of our existence. We have challenged the pipeline builders’ assertions about the ACP’s great benefits and minimal dangers. The issues we and our allies have raised are now front and center in Virginia and beyond where battles over the huge national pipeline build-out are raging. We have helped push back the announced in-service date of the ACP by at least two years; the projected cost of the pipeline has ballooned to the point that investors and rating companies are expressing concerns; and both Duke and Dominion have acknowledged the possibility that their pipeline may not be built as planned.
But there is more to do. We cannot rest on our laurels. Until the Atlantic Coast Pipeline boondoggle is stopped, we must continue to work hard to bring the ACP’s weaknesses to the attention of key policy makers and follow through to get them to take action. We hope for your continued support through monetary donations and participation in our 2020 campaigns. (Click here for donation form to print and mail)
Please start the new year by joining us for our annual celebration, January 12th at the Rockfish Valley Community Center. Stay tuned for more information.
FON NEWSLETTER + FACEBOOK – We continued weekly publication of our widely read and praised newsletter. This essential outreach program alerts readers to upcoming public meetings, rallies, deadlines for public comments and important events. It concisely summarizes the major points of key reports, articles and other news on the ACP and other aspects of the struggle to shift from an economy based on fossil fuels to the clean energy economy we must have. Other articles and reports of possible interest are listed by title and with links to web sites. Through our Facebook posts of important actions and upcoming events, we reach approximately 5,000 followers.
PUBLIC INFO + EDUCATION – We continued our “tabling” activities at the Nelson Farmers’ Market, public meetings, and various regional festivals and other special events. From May through October, we are present at the weekly farmers’ market, where we answer visitors’ questions and collect signatures on letters to key decision-makers. In 2019, we got an average of 30 signatures on over 17 different letters. We installed additional large NO PIPELINE signs on major thoroughfares throughout Nelson County; these signs frequently provoke market visitors to stop by our display and talk with us. We also submitted many letters to the editors of regional newspapers, 16 of which were printed. We held a number of public meetings at which outside experts provided information on a variety of topics, including the legal aspects of the ACP review, developments in renewable energy, the risks of burying the ACP on Nelson’s steep slopes, reforming the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, potential problems with pipeline coatings, and the struggle for environmental justice in the Union Hill community in Buckingham County.
EFFORTS TO INFLUENCE DECISION-MAKERS – In concert with the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) and our allied citizen groups, we continued our efforts to inform and educate local, state, and federal office-holders about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its many deficiencies and dangers. The impact of any specific letter, petition, call or conversation may be hard to discern, but policy makers are beginning to understand our opposition to the ACP and other unnecessary, dangerous, costly and unfair fossil fuel infrastructure projects. For example, we joined other organizations urging Virginia Attorney General Herring to oppose the EPA’s plan to reduce state and local governments’ authority under the Clean Water Act; soon after, Mr. Herring joined 22 other state attorneys general in a formal objection.
STREAM MONITORING – For the past three years, Friends of Nelson has participated in the Trout Unlimited/West Virginia Rivers citizen science stream monitoring program. On a monthly basis, 16-18 trained volunteers gather baseline water quality data on 9 small streams that would be crossed by the ACP. If and when ACP construction begins in Nelson County, we will begin collecting water quality data on a weekly basis. The end result of this volunteer effort will be solid water quality data that will be instrumental in pursuing corrective actions. In addition to the citizen science program, we helped ABRA’s Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program train volunteers how to observe and report possible violations on other county streams.
OTHER STREAM OBSERVATION – Through the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance’s (CSI), trained volunteers keep watch on other streams that may be polluted by ACP construction. This “adopt a stream” program trains volunteers how to identify potential evidence of construction violations, legally trace problems to the source, and file reports with the CSI hotline, where experts decide which cases should be investigated further. Often this will involve the Pipeline Air Force (fixed wing airplanes and drones) gathering visual evidence of problems with high-resolution cameras, and in some cases experts will visit the site personally. Friends of Nelson helped recruit volunteers.
WELL WATER TESTING – With grant funding, a volunteer with expertise in environmental health developed a plan for assessing well water quality in areas along the proposed path of the ACP in Nelson and Buckingham counties. Measures include 87-90 different pollutants (the last 3 involve extra expense, so are optional). All testing is carried out by certified experts, with the goal of providing solid data for regulatory enforcement or legal action. Friends of Nelson will do our pre-construction testing as close as possible to the start of any construction activities.
LANDOWNER SUPPORT – We continued a major effort to help affected landowners in Nelson County deal with a wide range of concerns related to eminent domain. We helped them understand the legal and procedural aspects of eminent domain; provided them with information to overcome Dominion’s unfair advantage during easement negotiations; helped them connect with good legal counsel; alerted them to possible irregularities and changes in ACP’s plans; provided them a direct and vital link to the Pipeline CSI team; and helped them build supportive relationships with other affected landowners.
SUPPORTING OUR ALLIES – As in the past, many of us attended allied citizen groups’ meetings, rallies and other events, and often they attended our gatherings. In addition, when appropriate, we signed on to others’ anti-pipeline initiatives.
Five years after Dominion CEO Farrell and Governor McAuliffe announced plans for the ACP, not a single shovelful of soil has been dug in Nelson County or Virginia, Dominion’s original justification for their massive project has largely been discredited, and Dominion is struggling to overcome the loss or suspension of seven permits. It seems reasonable to conclude that we’re doing something right. Therefore, our intention in the new year is to continue what we’ve been doing—all of it, because it’s hard to tell exactly what’s working and what’s not producing the results we want. Our own internal review of where we stand and where we need to go has revealed a number of programs that could be strengthened or expanded.
PUBLIC INFO + EDUCATION – After 5 years, many of our large storyboards and maps, key elements in our tabling program, are showing their age, both in their physical condition and in their messages. Prior to the start of the 2020 farmers’ market season, we will develop new, attractive, informative, up-to-date signs and maps. Our conversations at the market and festivals reveal that many people from Nelson and nearby counties have limited understanding of the ACP in particular and, beyond that, the larger context of topics like climate change, renewable energy, energy conservation, and federal and state laws and regulations. For 2020, we plan to develop a speakers bureau comprising FON Board members and volunteers who have expertise or a strong interest in one or more of these topics and are willing to present informative talks.
COLLABORATION WITH ALLIES – It takes a team to defeat massive projects like the ACP and the huge amounts of money its backers can pour into TV, lobbying and other promotional activities. Our local “team” includes over 50 other citizen groups under the ABRA umbrella. In 2020, we will continue to build relationships with these local allies and also with other grassroots organizations throughout the country fighting against the massive and destructive buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure. There are many similarities in our struggles, and we have much to learn from one another.
Friends of Nelson, a founding member of ABRA, was given the Community Stalwart Award by the Property Rights and Pipeline Center (PRPC), a national coalition supporting the fight to prevent the use of eminent domain for siting of oil and gas infrastructure. ABRA is a member of PRPC.
The award was presented to Friends of Nelson for its “generous donation of time, toil, and inspiration in the struggle for a cleaner America.” The stated mission of Friends of Nelson (http://friendsofnelson.com/) is to protect property rights, property values, rural heritage and the environment for all the citizens of Nelson County, Virginia.” Doug Wellman, Vice-President of the organization, accepted the award on October 29 at the annual conference of PRPC, held in Washington. The conference featured an address by Richard Glick, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and included visits with Members of Congress by teams of landowners affected by pipeline projects from throughout the country.
Click here to view videos of the award ceremony (bottom video link on the Web page) and of Richard Averitt’s interview with FERC Commissioner Glick (top video link on the Web page).
For more on PRPC, click here.