Category Archives: Landowners

The ACP Is NOT a Done Deal!


We all knew that FERC would use its rubber stamp to issue a Certificate to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, but we weren’t sure just when. Now that FERC has given its blessings to this wretched project, Friends of Nelson, and our many friends and colleagues throughout Virginia, North Caroline, and West Virginia are moving forward on strategies that could not be initiated until now!

Friends of Nelson is continuing to fight to stop the ACP in every way that we can.  

This includes:

  • Keeping our membership and allies informed and engaged through e-mail, Facebook and the Friends of Nelson Webpage.
  • Acting on strategic opportunities with our board of directors, our membership, our allies and our colleagues
  • Being represented in legal actions wherever possible and whenever necessary
  • Keeping pressure on all Federal, State and local agencies to do the right thing.
  • Continuing to build the public record through continued water monitoring and engagement with experts and resource professionals.

Remember: it only takes one agency or one judge doing the right thing to stop this runaway train.

Friends of Nelson cannot, of course, give legal advice.  However, this is what we know and this is what we recommend:

  • The FERC process was expedited by executive order and has left many regulatory requirements incomplete.  The only FERC Commissioner who had a deep understanding of the ACP, and with whom Friends of Nelson representatives met three years ago, filed a dissent and voted against the issuance of the permit on grounds that it was not deemed necessary.  The only two commissioners who voted for the certificate have served less than 2 months with FERC and were both Trump appointees.
     
  • A legal challenge to the issuance of the FERC certificate is in the works.
     
  • Construction on the ACP cannot begin until ALL necessary permits have been obtained by Dominion.  This includes approval from:
  1. ​The Forest Service on required forest plan amendments and special use permits
  2. The US Fish and Wildlife Service on its regulatory requirements for endangered species
  3. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and affected counties on regulations for construction and hazardous materials in floodplains
  4. the Virginia Outdoors Foundation on affected lands with conservation easements
  5. Section 401 (water quality, erosion and sediment control and storm water management) and 404 (water discharges) permits under the Clean Water Act by the Virginia State Water Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality (or Army Corps of Engineers) 
  • Tree clearing MAY be able to begin on properties that have recorded easement agreements with Dominion, but it also MAY NOT.  If you have a signed easement agreement and Dominion either contacts you about entering your property for tree clearing or enters your property without notice we strongly recommend that you CONTACT YOUR ATTORNEY immediately.  There are a variety of possible legal challenges that may prevent entry to your property in the short or long term, whether you have signed an easement or not.
  • If you are an impacted landowner and do not yet have an attorney, we STRONGLY advise that you contact Appalachian Mountain Advocates (434-529-6787), Lollar Law (757-644-4657), or one of the other firms (see our website) that specialize in these matters.  Representation is usually offered on a no-fee, contingency basis.  Even if you opt to negotiate an easement rather than go to court for an eminent domain hearing, it has been our observation that individuals with legal representation have obtained much better settlements than those without it.
  • If you have not signed an easement agreement, then you can continue to deny access to your property until the entire eminent domain process has run its course.  This includes Dominion bringing a lawsuit for entry under eminent domain, you obtaining legal representation, a court hearing and a judge ruling on appropriate compensation.  This process takes time to run its course. No property owner is under any obligation to allow eminent domain condemnation or access without this full process being completed.  There is one existing lawsuit already filed and the possibility of others that could stall or obstruct this process. 
     
  • If you feel that your property rights have been violated and your property is being entered illegally, immediately contact Nelson County Sheriff David Hill at: 434-263-7050.
     
  • If you filed with FERC as an intervener and if you submitted comments to FERC on their Draft Environmental Impact Statement, we invite you to join Friends of Nelson in filing a Request for Rehearing with FERC which is the next step in challenging the FERC decision.  For more information, contact Ernie Reed at 434-971-1647. And, most importantly…

KEEP IN TOUCH!
WE ARE HERE!

Ernie Reed, President, Friends of Nelson

Blast Zone


Blast Zone – Natural Gas and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Causes, Consequences and Civic Action is a new report from the Rachel Carson Council. In addition to naming and exploring the economic and political systems underlying fracking and the ACP, Blast Zone highlights organizations, businesses, and campuses working in interconnected ways toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the source, restoring equity, and putting decision-making in the hands of communities.

The report discusses:

  • Natural gas: current and future trends (including the “bridge fuel” myth)
  • Fracking in the Marcellus and Utica Shale Basins
  • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (including the power behind it, industry motives, what’s paving the way, and the ACP and the environment)

And the report includes an entire set of “Toolboxes” for fighting the ACP:

  • Policy Toolbox: Our Power Plan
  • Housing Toolbox: Efficient, Affordable, Durable Investments
  • Voter’s Toolbox: Supporting Fossil-Free Leaders
  • Campus Toolbox: Research and Advocacy for the Public Interest
  • Advocacy Toolbox: Eliminating Fracking Dangers
  • Financial Toolbox: Divest and Reinvest
  • Property Rights Toolbox: Challenging Eminent Domain
  • Lobbying Toolbox: Re-envisioning FERC
  • Policy Toolbox: Water Quality Permits
  • Civil Rights Toolbox: Driving Racial and Social Justice
  • Direct Action and Advocacy Toolbox

Easily understandable graphs and charts, along with photographs (many you’ll recognize) help to make the points in this clear and thoughtful report.

Landowners Sue FERC to Stop Eminent Domain by ACP and MVP


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Carolyn Reilly, Bold Alliance, 540-488-4358, carolyn@boldalliance.org
Ernie Reed, Friends of Nelson, 434-249-8330, lec@wildvirginia.org
Carolyn Elefant (landowners’ attorney), 202-297-6100, carolyn@carolynelefant.com

Landowners Sue Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to Stop Eminent Domain by Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines

Press conference Wednesday morning outside FERC offices to feature landowner-plaintiffs and their attorney, and regional organizers

Washington, D.C. — Landowners whose farms and homes are in the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines will hold a press conference on Wednesday outside the D.C. offices of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to announce their filing of a lawsuit against FERC to end the abuse of eminent domain for private gain for fracked gas pipelines.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Washington D.C. federal district court, on behalf of 57 Landowners, Bold Alliance and Friends of Nelson, challenges the constitutionality of the eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act, and seeks to end the unconstitutional and unconscionable process of taking citizens’ private property via eminent domain for a corporation’s profits — and not for “the public good” as the Constitution intended.

The lawsuit targets FERC’s encouragement of pipeline companies to negotiate easement agreements with landowners in advance of the agency’s issuance of a “certificate of need,” which results in “irretrievable commitment of resources” to a particular route prior to a formal decision, and absolves the Commission of its responsibility to actually determine whether a proposed project is needed.

“FERC’s policy of encouraging pre-certificate easement negotiations between impacted landowners and the pipeline impermissibly biases the outcome of the certificate approval process, because FERC views pipeline proposals more favorably when the company has acquired most of the easements by negotiation,” the lawsuit states. “In so doing, FERC emboldens private companies to abuse eminent domain rights by duping landowners into signing an easement agreement by threatening them with eminent domain powers that the company does not have, or by refusing to agree to any protective measures in advance of construction until the landowner agrees to sign an easement, often for constitutionally inadequate compensation.”

The lawsuit also specifically challenges FERC’s issuance of “conditioned certificates” — which authorize a taking of property rights that are not, and may never be, necessary to construct the proposed project; and “blanket certificates” — which inappropriately grant a private company eminent domain power coextensive with that of the state, and strip future aggrieved landowners of their rights to formal administrative procedures.

Under the current regulatory regime, landowners are left without a forum to challenge eminent domain abuses. Meanwhile, virtually anything goes — with certificates conferring eminent domain issued by FERC to pipelines that do not serve a public use, but instead, facilitate gas for export or create opportunities for pipelines to monopolize the market for input to gas and electricity utilities, to be distributed in markets controlled by the pipeline’s affiliates.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Bold Alliance, Friends of Nelson, 26 individual landowners on the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline route and 31 landowners on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Plaintiffs include 14 Nelson County landowners and others in Augusta and Bath Counties. Defendants include FERC, and, respectively, Atlantic Coast Pipeline backers Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources; and Mountain Valley Pipeline backers EQT Midstream Partners, LP; NextEra US Gas Assets, LLC; Con Edison Transmission, Inc.; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream, LLC.

View the full text of landowners’ lawsuit online at: https://www.scribd.com/document/358098979/Landowners-vs-FERC

WHAT: Press Conference With Landowners Suing FERC Over Eminent Domain
WHO: Landowners’ attorney Carolyn Elefant; Bold Alliance’s Carolyn Reilly (also a landowner on the proposed MVP route); Ernie Reed (Friends of Nelson) and landowners on the proposed ACP and MVP routes.
WHEN: Wednesday, September 6, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
WHERE: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), 888 1st St NE, Washington D.C.

Hotline Call from 10th Generation Landowner


Virginia landowner Don Jones calls the Chesapeake Action Climate Network’s pipeline hotline to defend the land that’s been in his family for generations.

The fracked gas Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines threaten our land, our climate, and our communities. Join Don on September 12-14, 2017, as part of the CCAN People’s Pipeline Protest.