Category Archives: Natural Resources

FERC to Dominion: More Information Needed


In their weekly update, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) reports, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) wasted little time in following-up with Dominion Transmission, Inc. (DTI) to seek additional information and clarifications on numerous items, many of which were flagged in comments filed about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). On April 11, five days after the DEIS comment deadline, FERC wrote DTI making 111 specific requests for supplemental information, requesting that the company submit its responses by May 1 (20 days from the date of the agency’s letter).”

In the letter to Dominion, FERC asked Dominion to:

  • Conduct a thorough review in order to limit the number of access roads necessary to construct and operate the ACP, noting the very large number of temporary and permanent access roads in the current proposal
  • Incorporate small route changes and/or workspace design revisions to avoid or minimize impacts on the numerous point and area features and known and suspect closed depressions within the current project workspace that were identified in the updated Karst Survey Report filed on February 24, 2017
  • Incorporate a route variation to avoid the Valley Center area in Highland County where there is an abundance of karst features, caves, and sinking streams
  • Identify the location and temporary and permanent impact acreage of high quality wetlands
  • Provide an updated table of forest fragmentation analysis using the proper data sets, since the forest fragmentation data that DTI had submitted February 24, 2017, in response to a FERC request of October 26, 2016, was not in compliance with the agency’s requested data parameters.
  • Provide a status report on the survey, evaluation, and effect assessment of properties along the project route through Nelson County, Virginia. Include access roads and off-right-of way facilities. Report also on agency and local informant communication regarding the properties and historic districts.
  • Describe in more detail how Dominion would work with local law enforcement and emergency response to promote the safe evacuation of landowners in remote areas should a pipeline incident occur. Consult with each landowner where the proposed pipeline crosses a private egress that is the sole access to/from the property to determine if a site-specific evacuation procedure is requested.

Read the letter from FERC to Dominion here.

WhoWhatWhy Article

“Will Activists Be Able to Stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline?” That’s the question discussed in this excellent article in Who.What.Why. The article accurately reviews both Dominion’s claims about the benefits of the pipeline and the evidence on both lack of need and resulting damage presented by the many organizations and individuals opposing it. It is a fine summary of the arguments – a good article to send to anyone who has not followed the day-by-day pipeline developments.

Excellent Pipeline News Coverage

The Recorder, the weekly newspaper for Highland and Bath counties, provides continually excellent coverage of many issues associated with the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Note:  Access to full text of articles is by subscription only.

The April 6, 2017, issue includes these articles:

  • Citizens group demands withdrawal of pipeline statement — “A citizens group has filed a motion to rescind and revise the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission posted Monday, Friends of the Central Shenandoah states the draft EIS either needs to be withdrawn and revised or supplemented to meet the letter of the law.”
  • Stop the Pipeline’ campaign under way — “The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and chapters will take to the highways and byways of North Carolina and Virginia for eight days in April on a barnstorming tour of communities threatened by natural gas pipelines.
  • Things are getting real around here – “Highland County supervisors deserved a meeting much sooner. Dominion Resources, which plans to construct an interstate gas pipeline through part of southern Highland, came before the county board last week — three months after a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project was issued in late December. Finally, they were given an audience with Dominion officials to ask some questions they’ve posed before, and more specific questions that have not been addressed until now. Of course, the answers were not satisfactory, the way we see it.” The article goes on to discuss in detail the many negatives of the proposed pipeline (and Dominion’s less than helpful answers), including how it goes counter to the county’s comprehensive plan in many aspects, how movement of workers to the proposed construction site would be “equivalent to a third of our entire residents traveling one of only two main arteries into this county, for 10 hours a day, six days a week, for about two years,” Dominion’s lack of specific answers on source of the millions of gallons of water needed for testing. And many more issues.

Steep Slopes – Compendium of Links


In mid-March 2017, Friends of Nelson released the Steep Slope Report by Blackburn Consulting Services, which concluded that “Dominion has not adequately identified those soils and landforms that are prone to debris flows (and) landslides.” The report also states that “the potential for debris flows in the very steep mountainous portions of Nelson County is underestimated by the reports submitted to FERC by Dominion.”

For ease of reference, we list below links to the Steep Slope Report and related materials:

Steep Slopes Study by Blackburn Consulting:
http://friendsofnelson.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Final-Steep-Slope-Report-March-2017.pdf

Comments on the DEIS by consultant Dr. W. Lee Daniels (he is at Virginia Tech. He also did consulting work for the MVP):
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170403-5168

Comments on the DEIS by Blackburn Consulting/Soil Foundations (the guy who did our steep slopes soil study):
http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170403-5158

Joyce Burton’s comments to FERC on why the DEIS is deficient and misleading, with the unexamined impacts to Roberts Mountain as a illustrated case-in-point, comments inspired by the extremely narrow ridges during the Steep Slopes study (see photo above – top of ridge is only 40 feet wide and the ACP requires a 125 foot right-of-way for construction):
https://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170404-5061

Proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area and the ACP


If built, the ACP could mar the beautiful, unfragmented viewshed of the southern end of the proposed 90,000-acre Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area that stretches from Rt. 250 north to Rt. 33 on the western side of the Shenandoah Valley. The currently unspoiled area, proposed to Congress for National Scenic Area designation with the endorsement of many organizations and businesses, would no longer look as it does in this wonderful photo of Shenandoah Mountain from Reddish Knob (© Brad Striebig, used with permission). A new utility corridor across the Braley Pond area and Hankey Mountain would:

  • diminish scenic beauty
  • degrade popular recreational resources
  • fragment core forests
  • damage wild brook trout streams
  • industrialize a major gateway to the scenic area

A permanent corridor of this magnitude could degrade the natural and scenic characteristics of the proposed National Scenic area to the point where it could jeopardize its viability for Congressional designation. Although the Natural Gas Act requires FERC to assess impacts to scenic areas and recreational trails, the Draft EIS for the ACP does not consider impacts to this special area.

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has created a new Story Map: Proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Explore the Story Map for in-depth information about the Scenic Area and the effect the ACP would have upon it.