Category Archives: Natural Resources

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Energy Regulatory Commission posted Monday, Friends of the Central Shenandoah states the draft EIS either needs to be withdrawn and revised or supplemented to meet the letter of the law.”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.

The ACP in Our National Forests: FERC’s Problematic DEIS and How You Can Help

Photo by Lynn Cameron

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) released a new story map this week about the major problems with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s (ACP’s) route through the National Forests.  The report highlights seven major issues with the DEIS and provides information on how you can help protect our National Forests by submitting a comment to FERC that asks the Forest Service to deny a Special Use Permit that would allow construction of the ACP through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests.

The DPMC has identified seven problem areas in the DEIS for the ACP:

  1. The request for an amendment to the forest plans for the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests would lower standards for soil retention, water quality protection, harvesting old growth trees, crossing the Appalachian Trail, construction of roads in a Scenic River Corridor, and the maintenance of scenic integrity.
  2. The construction of the ACP and its many access roads would result in significant loss of forestland and increased forest fragmentation.  A total of 2,406 acres of core forestland would be lost in the National Forests.  This impact cannot be mitigated.
  3. The DEIS fails to acknowledge and address the many endangered and sensitive species that will be negatively impacted by the ACP.  The DEIS only identifies five species that would be adversely affected, but the US Fish & Wildlife Service has identified 30 federally threatened or endangered species, 2 designated critical habitats, 1 proposed species, 5 proposed critical habitats, and 6 species under review for federal listing that are known to occur along the ACP route.  Furthermore, forest fragmentation or slight shifts in the route of the ACP could negatively impact many additional species.  Many of the biological surveys for special species may not be completed until September 2017; therefore, survey results are not included in the DEIS.  The DEIS is thus incomplete with regard to impacts to sensitive species and cannot inform the Forest Service regarding its decision to issue a Special Use Permit. 
  4. The ACP will threaten water quality in pristine streams and rivers in the National Forests.  The ACP and it access roads would cross 58 streams in the National Forests, including 26 native brook trout streams.
  5. The ACP route passes through high-hazard areas with steep terrain that would be prone to severe erosion, landslides, and harmful stream sedimentation.  The DEIS identified over 100 possible slope instability hazard locations along the proposed ACP route.  The Forest Service asked Dominion to provide detailed plans for 10 high-hazard areas with steep slopes, unstable soils, and problematic bedrock types, but, due to Dominion’s lack of a timely response, this information is not in the DEIS.
  6. The proposed use of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) to cross the Appalachian Trail at the Augusta County–Nelson County line poses a substantial risk of failure and environmental damage, given workspace limitations and the topographic and geologic characteristics of the proposed drilling locations.  The Forest Service has stipulated that its issuance of a permit for the ACP to cross National Forest lands is contingent on the successful completion of the HDD under the Appalachian Trail.
  7. The ACP passes through some of the most scenic locations in the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests and would destroy the scenic integrity of these areas.  The DEIS states that the ACP would not meet Forest plan standards for scenic integrity and thus would require a plan amendment to bypass the standards.

You can help protect our National Forests by submitting a comment to FERC that asks the Forest Service to deny a Special Use Permit for the ACP and reject forest plan amendments.  The DPMC encourages you to submit comments that emphasize that the DEIS is incomplete, inconsistent, and incorrect and does not provide adequate information for Forest Service decisions.

You can submit comments to FERC through FERC’s online comment system or send written comments to the following address:

Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426

Be sure to use the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s docket number CP15-554-000 when submitting your comment to FERC, whether you submit electronically or by mail.  The deadline for comments to FERC regarding the ACP on National Forest lands is April 10, 2017.

For more information on how to send comments to FERC, please visit our FERC page.  To view the DPMC’s excellent story map (which contains much more information that the overview presented here) in its entirety, click here

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Protect YOUR National Forest


The George Washington National Forest belongs to you!

Our forest is under threat from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The ACP would cut across steep slopes, destroy intact forests, threaten drinking water supplies and impact sensitive species. Worse yet, the need for the ACP has yet to be demonstrated at all. That means, our forests could very well suffer all of these consequences for nothing.

To go forward, the ACP needs to secure an amendment from the Forest Service because the project is not consistent with the current 10 year plan for the George Washington National Forest.

We believe the Forest Service should not grant the Atlantic Coast Pipeline this amendment and change the plan for our public lands. Our forests should not be destroyed for the benefit of a private company.

If you agree – please speak up now during this comment period. Your voice matters!

1) Sign and share the Wild Virginia petition. Petition Link

2) Then, comment! Send statements of support to Forest Service Chief, Thomas Tidwell, ttidwell@fs.fed.us, and Regional Foresters, Kathleen Atkinson, katkinson@fs.fed.us, and Tony Tooke, ttooke@fs.fed.usCopies of your letters should also be submitted to FERC’s online system to be included in the administrative record.   Wild Virginia has made you a guide to walk you through the process. Step-by-Step Comment Guide.  What should you talk about in your comments? Sample Comment Ideas   Comments are due by April 6, 2017. Remember to cite the ACP docket number, CP15-554.   You can also send comments to FERC by mail to: Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary, FERC, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

3) Don’t stop yet…sign up for a comment writing night.
Wild Virginia will help you create and file comments on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Work with your friends and neighbors to pull together and file these important comments. There will be snacks and drinks.
March 20 in Staunton or March 27 in Charlottesville.

Pipeline Fighters

Watch the trailer for Pipeline Fighters, a 98 minute feature length documentary, featuring Jane Kleeb, the XL pipeline killer, and Lorne Stockman of Oil Change International, a watch dog group, and Mekasi Camp-Horinek, a protest coordinator for Standing Rock in N.D. – plus specific footage on the ACP and MVP, and appearances by some familiar local pipeline fighters.

The trailer is here, further information, including purchase info, is here.

Read about the making of the film and the film’s director in this Roanoke Times article.