Category Archives: Friends of Nelson

Friends of Nelson Public Meeting – September 30


The Friends of Nelson public meeting, originally scheduled for September 16, 2018, will be held September 30, happily with the same two dynamic guest speakers!  Join us from 6:30 to 9 pm at Rockfish Valley Community Center to hear our speakers, with time for questions and answers.

Guest Speakers:

Rick Cornelius – Rick has been practicing environmental law for over 45 years, and has worked with Friends of Nelson and the Southern Environmental Law Center on the pipeline issues since he first heard about them 4 years ago. Rick will give us overviews and updates on key cases before the courts.

Ivy Main – Ivy works with the Sierra Club and is a columnist with Power to the People. She’ll give a brief overview of the Virginia Energy Plan and updates on Virginia’s energy future, and give suggestions about actions we can take to push toward a carbon-free electric energy system for Virginia.

Motion Submitted to Rescind ACP Certificate and FEIS

On September 4, 2018, Friends of Nelson and Wild Virginia submitted a motion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to “rescind and place in abeyance the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline issued by the Commission staff on October 13, 2017, to rescind the Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) issued on July 21, 2017 in the above captioned dockets, to and to initiate a new DEIS/FEIS NEPA process in this matter.”

The motion states, “Pursuant to NEPA Section 102, 42 U.S.C. § 4332, and its implementing rules, specifically 40 C.F.R. § 1502.9, Friends of Nelson and Wild Virginia move that the Commission rescind and place in abeyance the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity in this matter in accordance with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. and National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. and in violation of FERC conditions placed upon the issuance of the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity. This is necessary because 1) the DEIS published on December 30, 2016 is deemed “so inadequate as to preclude meaningful analysis,” id., § 1502.9(a), as demonstrated by the copious amount of new and crucial information that has been submitted to FERC and emerged after the release of the DEIS, 2) the subsequent vacating of the United States Fish and Wildlife takings permit upon which the FEIS is based on August 6, 2018 and 3) the necessary rerouting of the ACP which will require a full NEPA analysis in lieu of the vacating of the right of way permit by the National Park Service on August 6, 2018.

“Therefore the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity issued on October 13, 2017 should be rescinded and placed in abeyance until 1) a new route has been determined, 2) a revised DEIS is issued that fully addresses and provides the public an opportunity to comment on the significant new information that has been submitted to FERC since the release of the original DEIS, 3) a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) has been issued, and 4) the project and its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis is in full compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as required by NEPA.”

The motion is followed by 19 items of supporting facts and law, and concludes, “Friends of Nelson and Wild Virginia respectfully request that the Commission grant their motion and rescind and place in abeyance the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Supply Header Project, CP15-554-000, CP15-555-000 et.al. and also rescind the FEIS upon which the Certificate relies. In this matter, the Commission must take a “hard look” at all new information and review it in the context of the application. This must include all information required by NEPA including full review of new information by USFWS and NEPA compliant ITS for all required species. It must also include information relating to any route changes required by the vacating of the NPS authorization of the right-of-way permit that NPS had issued to ACP. At such time that a new DEIS is completed, the commission shall initiate a new public comment period for the intended completion of a FEIS. Lastly, the Commission should require Dominion to file all additional information that is vital to the NEPA environmental review before proceeding further.”

The full motion is here.

Appendix 1 contains a motion to rescind or revise the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (“ACP”) issued on December 30, 2016.

Appendix 2 contains “a partial list of important information that was submitted by Dominion in an untimely manner, too late to be considered in the NEPA analysis for the ACP and should be considered in a new DEIS/FEIS process. All of these are available on the FERConline website for Docket #CP15-554-000 et.al.”

Appendix 3 is the August 23, 2018, Richmond Times-Dispatch article, State scientists confirm more sightings of endangered bumblebee along pipeline route.

Appendix 4 is a copy of FERC’s August 10, 2018 denial by Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Robert F. Powelson of requests for rehearing and Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur’s dissent.

50+ Leaders Urge Northam to Oppose ACP and MVP


Press release from Chesapeake Climate Action Network on August 14, 2018:

Fifty-four Virginia Organizations Call on Gov. Northam to Visit “Miracle Ridge,” Pristine Forest in Path of Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and Oppose Pipelines

Leaders from environmental advocacy, justice, and business organizations send letter to Northam one week ahead of key State Water Control Board hearings on the controversial pipelines.

READ THE LETTER IN FULL HERE.

“Miracle Ridge has been designated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as one of the finest oak-hickory forests they have ever seen in all of Virginia,” said Joan Maloof, Executive Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network. “It is imperative that Governor Northam and the Virginia State Water Control Board visit this land first-hand to fully appreciate the magnitude of devastation that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have on this old-growth forest.”

The Limperts have been hosting a summer-long “encampment” on their property in Bath County dedicated to stopping Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This pipeline is slated to go right through their property, destroying hundreds of old-growth trees — some as old as 300 years — and decapitating much of the 3000-foot-long ridge known as “Miracle Ridge.”

“Our property is a natural treasure, and we wish to preserve it for future generations,” said Bill Limpert, landowner at Miracle Ridge. “There are countless other properties in the cross hairs of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that are treasures as well. We wish to draw Governor Northam’s attention to these lands which should be preserved under his own criteria for protection of high quality natural resources. We hope that the Governor can join us on our property and visit other properties as well that would be lost to the unneeded and destructive Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The signers also ask Northam to direct the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to require an individual review of the 1,000 water crossings these pipelines will cross. The DEQ has the authority to do so under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, but it has instead relied on a “blanket” permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that approved crossings for all waterways.

“As a pediatrician, I know that every child needs clean water, clean air, and a safe and stable climate to be healthy and thrive,” said Samantha Adhoot, Chairperson of the Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. “This pipeline threatens the health and safety of all children in Virginia, particularly those living in communities directly affected by large scale environmental destruction for pipeline infrastructure. We should not be sacrificing the health of Virginia’s families, children and natural heritage for the sake of corporate profits.”

This letter comes amid setbacks for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit threw out two key permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The same court revoked a different permit from the U.S. Forest Service for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued stop-work orders for both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until their respective multiple permit issues are resolved.

Reverend Kevin Chandler, Branch President of the Virginia Conference NAACP, stated: “Currently, both Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines are steeped in regulatory challenges. Due to the adverse impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on African-American communities, particularly in Buckingham County and the Georgetown community in Chesapeake, all construction activities along the route of the pipeline should cease immediately.”

During his campaign for governor, Northam pledged to look at the scientific evidence and use a transparent process to ensure that Virginia’s environment would be fully protected from any pipelines. He also called for site-specific permitting for every water crossing of these pipelines, instead of blanket permits.

One week from today, the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) will hold a hearing on the pipelines. This is the first SWCB meeting since the opening of a comment period re-examining the ability of the Nationwide Permit 12 to provide sufficient protections for Virginia waterways threatened and currently being impacted by the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

“Governor Northam must see first-hand what is at stake for the people whose lives are being so profoundly harmed by work already been done for these pipelines and the threats that loom over them,” said David Sligh, Conservation Director, Wild Virginia. “He can’t possibly see the forests and waters in Little Valley and what Dominion wants to do there and think the science supports it or that Virginia citizens are being treated fairly. He has pledged to be guided by those principles.”

Kendyl Crawford, Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, stated: “As communities of faith, it is our duty to be conscientious stewards of our planet and treat all of creation, including members of the human family, with respect and dignity. Miracle Ridge and the Limperts stand to be part of the sacrifice zone of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Within minutes of visiting their land one is immediately struck by the immense immorality of fossil fuel infrastructure that destroys so much in its wake.”

Jamshid Bakhtiari, Virginia Field Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated: “Together, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines threaten to chain Virginians to another generation of dangerous and unnecessary fracked-gas fossil fuel extraction. Additionally, the construction of these pipelines threatens numerous endangered species, ridgelines, waterways and vulnerable communities across the Commonwealth. Governor Northam and the Water Control Board need to bear witness to the unconscionable sacrifices Virginians are being asked to make for pipelines that aren’t needed.”

Art Opening and Pop-Up Cafe


An art exhibition JUM JIRAPAN
BOSSA NOVA Sidetracks Music – 310 2nd St SE, Charlottesville, VA. June 2 – 30, 2018 Art Opening & Pop Up Café – Saturday, June 2 from 2 to 5 PM
The event benefits Friends of Nelson

Inspired by Getz & Gilberto’s 1963 album and the album’s cover painting by Olga Albizu, Jum Jirapan is bringing you paintings with vibrant colors reflecting the birth era of Bossa Nova. With each painting named after a favorite song, Jum’s paintings evoke the spirit of summer, jazz music, sidewalk cafés, and her zest for life. Indulge in a fine afternoon at the opening on June 2 which features a pop up café with live music by Cool Lane and live painting by Jum. Enjoy coffee from Lone Light Coffee and light refreshments by local chefs while lounging on fun furniture from Pigment.  The event benefits Friends of Nelson.

‘The Girl From Ipanema’ (2018) Acrylic on wood

Appeals Court Orders Halt to ACP Construction


Late in the day on May 15, 2018, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that, “A federal appeals court has ordered a halt to construction of the 600-mile Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline, following a legal challenge by environmental opponents who argued a review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was inadequate. A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed, striking down the review, known as an incidental take statement, which is meant to set limits on harm to threatened or endangered species during construction.”

The court’s order states, “Petitioners seek review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Incidental Take Statement, which authorized the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project to take certain threatened or endangered species. As to five of the affected species, Petitioners argue that the agency failed to set clear limits on take as required by the Endangered Species Act. Exercising jurisdiction pursuant to 15 U.S.C. § 717r(d)(1), we conclude, for reasons to be more fully explained in a forthcoming opinion, that the limits set by the agency are so indeterminate that they undermine the Incidental Take Statement’s enforcement and monitoring function under the Endangered Species Act. Accordingly, we VACATE the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Incidental Take Statement.  See 5 U.S.C. § 706(2). We reserve judgment on the parties’ remaining disputes until our forthcoming opinion.”

D.J. Gerten, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney who argued the case for the Sierra Club, the Defenders of Wildlife, and the Virginia Wilderness Committee, said, “This puts a stop to any work that could threaten rare and endangered species and that’s much of the pipeline route.”

In the Washington Post report, Dominion talks about continuing construction [italics added].  “‘We remain confident in the project approvals and the ACP will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled,’ spokeswoman Jen Kostyniuk said via email. ‘We will fully comply as required while we continue to construct the project. Although we disagree with the outcome of the court’s decision, and are evaluating our options, we are committed to working with the agency to address the concerns raised by the court’s order.'”

In a statement to the press, Friends of Nelson said, “We are of course pleased with this decision from the 4th Circuit regarding the US Fish and Wildlife review of the ACP. Residents and groups fighting on behalf of impacted communities have long held that thousands of pages of documents do not necessarily end in a thorough review. Errors and omissions have been rife among agencies in charge, and political pressures have been glaringly obvious. We will wait for details of the court’s full opinion, but are most grateful for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s steadfast dedication to the communities all along the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It is indeed a pleasure to hear a court confirm the deficiencies in at least part of the review of this project. Given the opportunity for all of the many challenges to be heard by the courts before this pipe is laid, we are confident that this project will not be built.”

Friends of Nelson Public Meeting, April 11, 2018


Join us on Wednesday April 11, 2018, Rockfish Valley Community Center, to share information and hear the latest news and updates. Plus a raffle with exciting prizes! Doors will open at 6 pm to give folks a chance to talk informally and pick up information sheets before the 7 pm meeting begins. At the meeting we’ll hear updates on various legal cases, on stream monitoring and water testing, and on the proposed horizontal directional drilling under the Blue Ridge and the James River.