Category Archives: Friends of Nelson

Friends of Nelson Honored for Its Community Contributions

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.

Friends of Nelson Public Meeting: FERC into FREC Road Show


Sunday October 20, 2019 – The Nelson Center, gather at 5:30, meeting begins at 6:00. Ted Glick, from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), will be our featured speaker, and will show a short film followed by discussion. We’ll also have announcements and updates. This is a kid-friendly event, and there will be an art station run by BXE’s Maple Osterbrink.

Join activists from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) on their FERC Into FREC roadshow! BXE is traveling from the shalefields of Pennsylvania down through the path of the MVP and ACP pipelines in West Virginia and Virginia. BXE members will screen their short film “FERC Doesn’t Work” and hold a community discussion on the fight to turn the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC). FERC is the federal agency responsible for the regulation of all fossil fuel infrastructure and pipelines that cross state lines. As such FERC is a lynchpin in the nationwide movement against fossil fuels and for climate justice!

Ted Glick has been a progressive activist, organizer and writer since 1968. He has prioritized the climate crisis issue since 2004 and was one of the founders of Beyond Extreme Energy in 2014. Following retirement after nine years as the National Campaign Coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, he has worked since as a volunteer with BXE and several local and state organizations in New Jersey fighting climate disruption and the expansion of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Since 2000 he has written a nationally-distributed Future Hope column of political, social and cultural commentary.

Maple Osterbrink has volunteered for peace, justice and earth conservation since the 1960’s. She “took the earth-conservation pledge as a young girl scout and has held to it.” She retired from several “almost-careers” to North Carolina and is helping out many organizations including BXE, APPPL, Workers’ Assembly and the Raging Grannies. She worked to preserve wetlands in New Hampshire in the mid-90’s as a town conservation commissioner. She is “sick of the corruption, theft and poisoning of democracy, peace, water, food and sustainability.” As an artist she will have mini-projects to do with children, or adults, during events.

Friends of Nelson Public Meeting


Join us on Sunday June 30, 2019, for an informative meeting at the Nelson Center
, 8445 Thomas Nelson Hwy (Rt. 29), Lovingston. We’ll have two excellent speakers:

  • Dr. Mary Finley-Brook, Associate Professor of Geography, Environmental Studies & Global Studies at University of Richmond – she’ll speak on “Dirty BIG Secrets: The Real Impact of Fossil Fuel Development”  Her talk will highlight locations (termed ‘Sacrifice zones’) where air and water pollution caused by fossil fuel development has had a negative effect on the health and well being of low income communities. She will offer a detailed description of the high social costs and poor record of environmental management of these sites which include the Charles City Gas Plants, the ACP Marts Compressor station, coal dust in Norfolk and Newport News and landfill gas in Cumberland County.
  • Anne Witt, Geohazards Specialist at Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy – she’ll speak on “Landslides Associated with Hurricane Camille, 1969”  Her talk will include a PowerPoint using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) imagery to show where and why the soil started to slide and the consequences of the storm. She has been researching landslides in this area of the country for some time and can show historically that this is one of the most landslide-prone areas of the entire United States. She has tracked more than 5,000 landslides caused by Hurricane Camille in Nelson County.

PLUS – Pipeline CSI updates and legal news/status.

Doors open at 6 pm, meeting at 6:30.

Videos and Slides from Spruce Creek Workshop

On behalf of Friends of Nelson and Jill and Richard Averitt, we thank those of you who spent your day with us at Spruce Creek in Nelson County a few weekends ago. We had an amazing time hearing from all of our speakers, connecting with old friends and making new ones, and enjoying the transition into this beautiful spring season.

Several speakers had slide presentations that they were not able to show (in the bright sunlight), and they have graciously shared them here:

Bill Limpert‘s presentation included:

  • Pipelines and Safety: Coatings and Geohazards
  • Bill’s letter to Virginia’s Department of Health and to the Department of Environmental Quality on possible public health impacts from the 3M Skotchkote Fusion Bonded Epoxy (FBE) used to coat the pipes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)
  • Letter to FERC by Tina L. Smusz, MD, endorsing pipeline coating concerns

Lakshmi Fjord‘s presentation included:

  • Slides on Atlantic Coast Pipeline Map of Injustice
  • A four minute video with Primilla Malik of Protect Orange County in Minisink NY, where in 2012 FERC approved a large compressor station, built near many homes, as part of a natural gas pipeline project. Since then many residents have been “Home Sick with Toxic Emissions”

Tom Hadwin‘s Slides on the economic need (actually, the lack thereof!) for the ACP, and the other available options.

Thanks to Chris Tandy from 350 Loudoun, we now have a YouTube link to the video of each speaker. If you couldn’t make it or just want to hear all the speakers again all six are available for watching here:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4OGrXDDKsSF7RF3funcKiA

Please consider spreading the news by sending links to one of your favorites to friends and family. Again, thank you for participating in the gathering and making it a real success.

Together we are stronger!

Report on Spruce Creek Workshop

Tom Hadwin speaks at Spruce Creek Workshop. Photo by Kathy Versluys

On Saturday April 13, 2019, Friends of Nelson held a day long workshop at Spruce Creek Camp featuring six speakers, a tour of the proposed route across the Blue Ridge Mountains, and hands-on exercises on safe participation in a protest action. The event ended with songs and dancing.

The purpose of the workshop was to inform activists on the current status of our opposition and to plan our future efforts. Speakers were:

  • Richard Averitt, a local Nelson County landowner, who forcefully outlined what he and his family have had to go through in dealing with eminent domain and “quick take” attempts to seize their property. The present legal framework and particularly the Sage v. East Tennessee case, are structured to deny him and all resisting landowners ‘due process’, a fundamental right enshrined in the US Constitution.
  • William Limpert, a landowner from Bath County, spoke about his research into coatings applied to gas pipelines to prevent corrosion. His preliminary findings indicate that long term storage of pipes in the sun breaks down the coating, which could lead to pipe corrosion and eventual catastrophic pipeline failure. He also voiced concern about the toxic properties of the coatings themselves. If the coating flakes off due to long term outdoor storage, these ‘flakes’ could end up in the water supply, especially when the pipe is laid in ground with porous Karst deposits. Karst is found along the proposed pipeline route in Highland, Bath and Augusta counties. Twenty thousand pipes on top of storage stacks have been exposed to sun for four years now, far exceeding the manufacturer’s recommended two year limit.
  • Lakshmi Fjord, an anthropologist from Buckingham County, described Dominion Transmission’s persistent use of misleading demographic information to the Buckingham Board of Supervisors and in their Environmental Impact Statement, allowing the location of the highly dangerous and air-polluting compressor station right in the midst of a historically significant African American Community at Union Hill. Dr. Fjord and her team spent countless hours doing their own research to prove that the siting of the station was based on faulty assumptions that resulted in unnecessary harmful impacts. The scholarly research has been ignored by Dominion, the VA Department of the Environmental Quality, and the VA Air Pollution Control Board, and is now the basis for a suit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC).
  • Rick Cornelius, an experienced environmental lawyer, updated the group on the numerous legal challenges to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. While some of these cases have been unsuccessful, several rulings have stopped the ACP project in its tracks, and other ongoing cases hold the promise for further delay. Mr. Cornelius appeared more optimistic about the ultimate outcome than he did in his previous presentation to the Friends of Nelson group last September.
  • Jennifer Lewis, a founder of Friends of Augusta, described the how Karst deposits in Augusta County create frequent sinkholes. Currently there are three such holes in her neighborhood and it is not uncommon for sinkholes to swallow grazing cattle, tractors and other farm equipment. These ground disturbances could potentially rupture a gas pipeline, creating an explosion and/or pollute nearby or distant groundwater. Ms. Lewis then advocated for citizen involvement as a way to stop this ill-conceived project, urging the audience to join local boards and commissions. She also suggested that each person speak to five friends, associates, and/or family members about why they oppose the ACP.
  • Tom Hadwin, a retired gas executive and an outspoken authority on energy and gas pipelines, made a strong presentation on why the energy needs of Virginia and North Carolina are better met by utilizing existing pipelines rather than building new ones, by practicing energy conservation, and by building alternative energy sources. He pointed out the demand for electric power and natural gas is actually flat or slowly increasing contrary to Dominion’s misleading growth projections outlined in their EIS submission. He described the economic incentives utilities have in building new pipelines, power plants, and even solar farms, and why their concern is for increasing profits for their stockholders and investors rather than for their ratepayer customers. He emphasized that the subsidiary entity that builds and transports the gas does not own or the sell the gas. Similarly, Amazon, which now has a subsidiary that transports the Amazon packages by airplane, competes with traditional shippers such as FedEx and UPS. It costs more to ship gas in new pipelines than existing ones, but the ratepayers have to pay the higher price because of the contracts signed by these entities. Although the original arguments for building the ACP were the supposed need for additional gas, that the gas would be cheaper, and that the project would create thousands of jobs, none of these three things are true today. The previous expansion of existing pipelines already in the ground exceeds the capacity of the proposed ACP and MVP pipelines combined. New pipelines cost more to ship gas than existing ones, and jobs aren’t created because an existing labor force of skilled pipeline workers travels from state to state, working on one construction project for eight months, then going on to another.

The workshop ended with a call to action and a handout with detailed steps for ways informed citizens could express their opposition and fight against the ACP. Of particular concern is stopping Congress from passing a law which circumvents the courts and allows the present proposed route to cross the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway in Nelson County.

Breaking Through News reporter Elaine Rackley was at the event and spoke organizers and guest speakers: