Category Archives: Natural Resources

Dominion Refuses Route Change Recommended by Own Contractor

As this April 6, 2018, comment to FERC makes clear, Dominion not only ignores expert citizen input, but also ignores the recommendations of the experts they themselves hired.

Little Valley, Bath County, VA, near ACP mile marker 93 of the ACP, is underlaid by limestone and is characterized by numerous karst features including springs and sinkholes. Most Little Valley residents depend entirely on spring water for all household and agricultural needs. Little Valley Run is a high quality spring-fed stream that holds native brook trout year round. The Valley Center area of Highland County is very similar to Little Valley and faces many of the same threats from the ACP.

Dominion has constantly assured citizens that their concerns about problems associated with placing a pipeline of this size through limestone aquifers were being addressed. Dominion hired GeoConcepts, an engineering firm with expert knowledge of karst topography, to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the proposed route.

The comment to FERC states that it has now become evident that Dominion has been routinely ignoring the advice of GeoConcepts, which proposed a route that would avoid karst areas in both Bath and Highland Counties – a route that was rejected by Dominion. Further, this route, which would have avoided karst areas in Valley Center, Little Valley, and Burnsville, would seem to be almost identical to one proposed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation in a letter to FERC in August 2017.

“It seems clear that Dominion has no intention of voluntarily facing the problems that they have created for themselves by ignoring the reality of the terrain they have chosen for the ACP. Both GeoConcepts and the Virginia DCR have recommended a route that would avoid the degradation of sensitive karst areas in both Bath and Highland Counties. We are relying on the members of the State Water Control Board to hold Dominion to their promises to protect the most precious resource we have — our water.”

Read the full comment here.

Workshop: Native Plant Identification and Rescue


Please join Blackberry Botanicals for a Native Plant Identification Workshop and Plant Rescue Training on Thursday April 12, 2018 from 6pm – 8:30pm, in the Rockfish Lounge at Rockfish Valley Community Center
. This training session is for Landowners and Volunteers who would like to volunteer to rescue and transplant our native medicinal plant heritage. FREE and open to the public. Donations are accepted and appreciated.

Blackberry Botanicals (BB) in conjunction with United Plant Savers is in the process of coordinating several plant rescue operations due to the destruction imminent in the path of several fracked gas pipelines that are coming through West Virginia and Virginia. The Appalachian mountains are home to over 500 verified varieties of medicinal plants many of which grow nowhere else in the world. BB is preserving these plants, and preserving the rich and varied medicinal heritage of our Appalachian region.

The land clearing proposals and current practices observed during pipeline construction will negatively impact forest and wetland medicinals. This is a critical time to preserve these plants, many of which will not survive if the controlled environment in which they flourish is damaged. Blackberry Botanicals (BB), along with a crew of dedicated volunteers, are digging and replanting medicinals with growers who are actively participating in managed forestland plantings with verifiable practices of conservation.

Following the April 12 informational meeting and training session, BB will schedule several days to visit Nelson County in May 2018 to meet with interested landowners, to walk the proposed pipeline route on landowner property, and identify and mark native medicinal plants on the property. BB will return in June 2018 for several scheduled volunteer dig days. During these digs, native medicinal plants will be carefully and sustainably harvested from their current location, and either planted on the landowners property outside of the proposed pipeline route, or will be safely transplanted to another local plant sanctuary or to the United Plant Savers Sanctuary in Ohio.

If you are a landowner or a potential volunteer in Nelson County and are interested in learning more, please contact Sara Agelasto at sagelasto@gmail.com. If you would like to contact Blackberry Botanicals directly, please email blackberrybotanical@gmail.com or call Beth at 304-923-3716.  (Blackberry Botanicals will have information at the Friends of Nelson Public Meeting on April 11 at RVCC.)

From the ABRA Update: ACP in Highland County

ABRA Update #174 for March 29, 2018, highlights the excellent reporting of The Recorder on Dominion’s efforts to ram the ACP through the problematic terrain of Highland County:

    • Pipeline, comp plan at issue tonight – The Recorder – 3/28/18.  Highland County tonight will stage its first effort to give citizens a local face-to-face encounter with Dominion over the $6.5 billion interstate gas pipeline project, rife with delays and setbacks, and how it could affect the county’s future.
    • Valley Center is central proof ACP must move – The Recorder – 3/28/18.  In all the hundreds of thousands of confusing bits of information pushed from Dominion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Valley Center gets consistently and, might we offer, intentionally, overlooked.
    • But wait, there’s more … – The Recorder – 3/28/18.  Need more evidence Dominion’s pipeline will cause irreparable damage?

VA DEQ Approves Plans for MVP

Press Release from DEQ
Contact: Ann Regn
March 26, 2018
804) 698-4442
ann.regn@deq.virginia.gov

DEQ Approves Erosion and Sediment, Stormwater, and Karst Plans for MVP to Protect Water Quality

RICHMOND, VA. – The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Management, and Karst Protection Plans for the Mountain Valley Pipeline effective today, March 26, 2018. These detailed site plans specify engineering designs that will protect water quality in all areas of Virginia, including karst, during and after construction of the pipeline project.

DEQ began its plan review in March 2016, which continued with a more thorough review beginning in June 2017 by EEE, an independent consulting firm. Today’s approval authorizes MVP to begin land disturbing activities in Virginia consistent with these plans. No changes to the plans may be made without obtaining prior approval from DEQ. The basis for the design specifications for the plans are contained in Virginia’s erosion and sediment control and stormwater management regulations.

“Protecting water quality and water supplies is our greatest concern,” said David K. Paylor, DEQ Director. “We required MVP to submit detailed plans for every foot of land disturbance, and we carefully reviewed all aspects of these plans.”

Draft plans were posted for the public for input in September 2017, and the final plans are now available to view at https://www.mountainvalleypipeline.info/current-news.

In response to public interest, DEQ has sent a report to the State Water Control Board (Board) detailing the approval of the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Management, and Karst Protection Plans, which are required by regulation to protect the Commonwealth’s waters.

“DEQ’s enhanced review, along with our new stop-work authority, gives the agency a variety of tools to protect water quality across the range of pipeline activities and ensure developers comply with Virginia’s rigorous regulatory requirements,” added Paylor.

Citizens can direct questions and pollution complaints to MountainValleyPipeline@deq.virginia.gov. For more information, including the report to the Board, visit www.deq.virginia.gov/MVP.

VMRC Hearing – Further Info


We have posted recently about the Virginia Marine Resources Commission hearing on Friday March 16, 2018, in Norfolk.  If you wish to attend the hearing, contact info@augustacountyalliance.org about car pooling.

Here is additional information from the Augusta County Alliance:

During the American Revolution, even as it appeared the fledgling U.S. Navy was going to be destroyed by the superior British Navy, American Commander John Paul Jones answered the request for surrender with these immortal words: “I have not yet begun to fight!”

That is our stance on this unnecessary and destructive pipeline. We must continue to push back at every opportunity and Never Give Up. Next Friday, March 16, at 9:30 a.m. in Newport News will be one more opportunity to speak up—at the hearing by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to consider the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s permit application to run its 42-inch high pressure pipeline under state regulated waters, i.e. beneath streams and wetlands with drainage areas of 5 square miles or more. 

On the list [click here for the entire application] are 26 streams in Augusta County, 5 in Bath, 1 in Highland, 11 in Nelson, and 10 in Buckingham.

If you want to read some powerful letters of objection to this permit application, here’s a link (click on ‘Additional Docs’ on the right of the page).

If any of you are interested in taking a road trip to Newport News, let us know and we can arrange a car pool. In the meantime, this citizen board needs to hear from you by email about why they should NOT issue this permit on March 16. Please contact Board members  and express your concerns about this application.  Send your comments via email to Commission Secretary Matt Hull at Matt.Hull@mrc.virginia.gov and request that he distribute your letter to all the commissioners prior to the Friday hearing.

Here are some reasons that the permit should be delayed or simply denied:

  1. They don’t have enough information to guarantee that our waters and river bottoms will not be harmed. They have not done adequate on-the-ground surveys and they haven’t taken any soil samples. They have also failed to identify the public uses of the streams that could be affected, including uses such as drinking water, fishing, wildlife habitat enhancement, and outdoor recreation. The information provided to landowners is cursory and riddled with errors. [click here to read some letters from Augusta County landowners]
  2. Dominion’s rationale for proposing the less safe, less environmentally friendly open-cut trenching for many stream crossings rather than horizontal directional drilling is that the former is less costly to the company’s budget. The costs incurred by a private corporation CANNOT be a consideration in a public resource.
  3. Dominion has not provided any evidence to ensure that trout streams will not be harmed.
  4. The company has not shown how it will keep increased sediment from construction out of the Chesapeake Bay. 

In your communication to the VMRC board, remind them that their duty lies with protecting the public trust under which these streams and rivers exist. Feel free to personalize your email with your story of how you, as a citizen of Virginia, use these waters and what the potential for permanent damage to this amazing natural resource is. You can certainly mention those specific waterways that will be crossed, but you do not have to; you also do not need to know construction details. Include photos if you want. We all know that cutting through or drilling under river beds causes mud spills and erosion. The type of hurricane-related flooding that we experience regularly can scour riverbeds and expose pipes that could lead to disaster. 

Comment to Virginia Marine Resources Commission

You still have time to comment before the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) public hearing at 9:30 a.m. on March 16, 2018, in the Newport News City Council Chambers at 2400 Washington Avenue, Newport News.

Don’t know what to say? Take a look at this joint letter to VMRC from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The vast majority of it applies word for word to the ACP, and it should give you plenty of ideas. Substitute:

  • ACP for MVP
  • Mention ACP’s 18 streams
  • Mention ACP’s 5 counties
  • Change the specific endangered or under review species discussed: page 4-6 discusses specific MVP species (James Spiny Mussel, Roanoke Log Perch, candy darter, orangefin madtom, green floater, orange pigtoe, and eastern hellbender); for ACP, we have endangered species James Spinymussel, Roanoke Logperch, dwarf wedge mussel, and the under review species Atlantic pigtoe mussel, green floater, chowanoke crayfish

You don’t have to know details of proposed procedures, to comment on problems of drilling beneath river beds – especially given the examples in other pipeline construction projects of drilling mud spills and erosion-caused scouring of river beds. Erosion caused by river bed scouring is particularly relevant in Nelson with our history of flooding. But it is relevant everywhere given the increase in extreme weather events, see for example Floods Put Pipelines at Risk and Mapping Sunoco’s drilling mud spills.

Send your letters opposing the ACP drilling under our streams and rivers to:
Marine Resources Commission
Habitat Management Division
2600 Washington Ave, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607

You may send comments by email to: Randy.Owen@mrc.virginia.gov. Put ACP in the subject line.

Tell them who you are, where you live, and why you oppose the ACP’s request to put its proposed pipeline beneath these 48 non-tidal and 3 tidal streams.