Category Archives: Friends of Nelson

Now Is the Time


We are now approaching the potentiality of major legal challenges to FERC, to Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and to the United States Forest Service (USFS).

We have provided expert comments to FERC, to the Virginia DEQ, and to the USFS on the impacts to Nelson County from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Our Economic Report documents the direct costs to Nelson County, property values and revenues from the pipeline.

Our Steep Slope Study describes the geologic challenges to Nelson County from the proposed pipeline, the removal of ridge tops, and the potential for erosion and landslides.

Our Water Monitoring Program has created a baseline water quality in Nelson County that the Virginia DEQ and Dominion must protect. 

We have filed a federal lawsuit along with 14 Nelson County property owners against FERC, challenging their ability to use eminent domain to take properties along the proposed ACP route.

We continue to:

We continue to build our legal cases, using community and property owner support, procedural challenges, scientific analysis, and professional-expert analysis.


Please make a donation to Friends of Nelson HERE or by sending a check made out to Virginia Organizing, notating ‘Friends of Nelson’ in the memo line to:

Friends of Nelson
P. O. Box 33
Nellysford, VA 22958

Thank you for your support and Keep in Touch!

Ernie Reed, President
Friends of Nelson

Friends of Nelson Submits Comments to DEQ

Davis Creek area, August 1969

Friends of Nelson has submitted extensive comments on the proposed 401 Water Quality Certifications for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The comments include:

  • A letter written by Board member Jim Bolton related to activity on steep slopes and in slide-prone areas such as found in Nelson County, including patterns of recurrent destructive landslides and resulting debris flows and fans, and similar rapid erosional processes; includes links to supporting documents and U.S.G.S. maps and documents
  • A letter by Board member Joyce Burton on water quality issues, specifically those related to activity on the steep, landslide-prone slopes found in Nelson County
  • Comments on FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the ACP prepared by Dr. W. Lee Daniels on behalf of Friends of Nelson in April of 2017 addressing (among other things) disposal of excess spoil, risks posed by acid forming materials (AFM) in the soils along the pipeline route and inadequate procedures to mitigate them, and adverse impacts of the proposed soil disturbances on farmland productivity, with the overall conclusion that the project as proposed could potentially negatively affect soils and water quality in Nelson County and surrounding landscapes.
  • August 2017 memo by Dr. Daniels confirming that his April 3, 2017, report is also clearly applicable to the current DEQ review process
  • A bound copy of Blackburn Consulting Services, Nelson County Report, Report Analysis and Field Verification of Soil and Geologic Concerns with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Nelson County, VA, dated March 2017, discussing pipeline construction and the potential for increased landslide risk and increased soil erosion, especially on steep slopes

It is DEQ’s responsibility to safeguard our Virginia’s water resources. Building the ACP in terrain that is as steep, difficult to stabilize, and nearly impossible to successfully revegetate such as that found in much of Nelson County poses an unacceptable risk to our precious water resources. ACP has not committed to adhering to the same standards and safeguards on private lands as on Forest Service lands, leaving Nelson’s steep, landslide-prone slopes particularly vulnerable.

Contrary to what has been implied in their aggressive marketing campaign, ACP’s “Best in Class” (BIC) program for managing the challenges of steep slope and narrow ridgetop construction is still “under development,” and other slope instability/landslide risk reduction measures have not yet been adopted. Because of this, and because of the inadequacy of ACP’s landslide risk analysis on non-USFS lands along the route, neither stakeholders nor the DEQ can thoroughly assess the likelihood and magnitude of the slope stability-related environmental effects of the project nor the sufficiency of their plans for the multiple sites that we anticipate to be at high risk.

The cited inadequacies in the ACP’s plans are not isolated aberrations, but rather constitute an underlying pattern of inadequate analysis and planning which has the potential to severely impact Virginia’s waterways.

Friends of Nelson Press Release: ACP Impacts Terrifying; Official Documents Irredeemably Flawed


Friends of Nelson Press Release, July 24, 2017
Contact: Ernie Reed, 434-971-1647, lec@wildvirginia.org

On Friday [July 21, 2017], the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Also on Friday, the United States Forest Service released its draft Record of Decision that could allow permitting of the ACP through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. Friends of Nelson concludes that these documents are “irredeemably flawed.”

The reports rely solely on the project developer’s claims of need for the 600-mile, $5.2 billion pipeline, which would yield substantial profit for Dominion Energy and the other private companies behind the project, while the public would be saddled with the long-term and permanent financial, environmental and health costs.

Ernie Reed, President of Friends of Nelson noted that “The FEIS paints a terrifying picture of a bleak future: 4,892 acres of interior forest habitat would be eliminated, creating 30,025 acres of new forest edge habitat and destroying 214 acres of National Forests…1,669 waterbody crossings, threatening native trout streams and severing Potomac, James and Roanoke River watersheds…permanent scars on the Appalachian Trail…100 miles of construction on steep slopes including those in Nelson County…and the truth is actually worse, as the combined impacts of the ACP and MVP (Mountain Valley Pipeline) are never considered…and all this to give Dominion and Duke Energy enough gas to burn our way into hell.”

“It is beyond shocking that FERC has thus far not completed essential biological studies or consultation with the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service, and how much is being left to state agencies to address later,” said Marilyn Shifflett of Friends of Nelson. “This document is premature and incomplete and its conclusions defy science and logic.”

In Nelson County, construction is predicted to take longer than a year, including creation of the landing and drill pad to be located adjacent to the entrance to Wintergreen and a still-unanalyzed 2.5 million gallon water impoundment on the Rockfish River. The bulldozing, trenching and blasting in areas of cultural and historical value in Wingina, Dutch Creek, Wheeler’s Cove and the Rockfish Valley have all been deemed “insignificant” by FERC.

“The destructive effects on our economy, our roads, our water and our community are unfathomable,” Reed said.

Confirming what Friends of Nelson has long maintained—and what independent soil scientists have affirmed—the FEIS tellingly asserts that “considering the historic and recent landslide incidence in the immediate project area…we conclude that constructing the pipelines in steep terrain or high landslide incidence areas could increase the potential for landslides to occur.” Yet development of other slope instability/landslide risk reduction measures have not been completed and have not been adopted.

“How can landowners determine what kind of impacts the construction on steep slopes will have if the details of how ACP is going to manage them are still ‘under development’?” asked Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson. “And furthermore, why would Dominion be willing to put Virginia citizens and water resources at risk by building it?”

“The most significant thing about this release is that it brings us one step closer to stopping the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Burton continued. “We have spent the last 3 years building our legal case, documenting the potential impacts to residents with expert economic and steep-slope studies and water quality analysis that clearly define the danger this presents to Nelson County. Now this is all coming to a head.”

“It is inconceivable that anyone could conclude, as FERC and the USFS do, that the massive impacts of the ACP are ‘less than significant’,” Reed concluded. “This will not be allowed to happen.”

Letter to Landowners on Nelson County ACP Route


Friends of Nelson has sent the following letter and invitation to Nelson County landowners on the ACP route:

Dear Landowner,

Do you have questions about eminent domain?

How the compensation amounts for landowners are determined?

What the legal process in eminent domain cases is?

What the timing of events is most likely to be?

What you can do to fight for your land?

What happens now?

If you have ever wondered about any of the above then please join Friends of Nelson, and lawyers from Appalachian Mountain Advocates for an informative Landowner Meeting on Thursday, August 3rd at 7pm, at the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Afton.

The guest speaker will be Chris Johns, a prominent Texas attorney who has not only handled many jury trials on pipeline cases but also teaches eminent domain and private-property rights at the University of Texas School of Law. He has created a primer on eminent domain and will be present to talk about the process of eminent domain and answer your questions on the subject.

Landowners who have property on the pipeline route or on an access roads are invited and encouraged to attend.

If you have any questions about this meeting please do not hesitate to contact Randy Whiting at 434-529-7247.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

New Map: The ACP in Nelson County


Friends of Nelson’s Ben Cunningham has produced an interactive map showing the ACP route through Nelson County. See the map here (21MB so it may take a few moments to load). The 125 foot clear cut ACP right of way is shown in orange, the 1100 blast radius zone in light orange, and the access roads in red. You can zoom in by clicking control-+. Where is your property on the map?

Friends of Nelson Public Meeting, July 23, 2017


Join us at Rockfish Valley Community Center on Sunday July 23, 2017, 6:30 pm, for the latest updates on our pipeline fight and to hear David Sligh discuss Virginia Water Quality Permitting, the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Public comment period and public hearings and the current situation with the proposed route across National Forest Lands.