Category Archives: Pipeline Route

ACP’s Floodplain Variance Request Denied


On December 3, 2018, on a 3-2 vote, the Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals denied four of Dominion’s applications for the variances to the County’s flood plain ordinance needed to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline across flood plains in Nelson. The other seven of the original eleven applications were dismissed in January 2018, and ACP will have to submit new applications for them.

The Nelson County Zoning Ordinance specifically includes “Structures or facilities that produce, use, store, or transport highly volatile, flammable, explosive, toxic, and/or water-reactive materials” in the list of “critical facilities [that] are prohibited from being constructed or operated within a SFHA [Special Floodplain Hazard Area] unless a Variance is granted.” (Article 10.15F on p. 87)

Friends of Nelson issued the following press release on December 4, 2018:

Friends of Nelson commends the Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals for its 3-2 vote to deny the applications for variances that would allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross four floodplains along its route through Nelson. These four applications were deferred by Dominion earlier this year. ACP had originally filed applications for 11 floodplain sites, but easement agreements at that time were only in place for the 4 sites applied for and heard by the BZA on Dec. 3.

Board of Zoning Appeals’ member Gifford Childs, made the motion to deny, expressing concerns that the ACP’s application did not offer sufficient detail and assurances that these areas would be protected during construction.

Friends of Nelson agrees and remains very concerned about the inevitable negative impacts to our water, to surrounding properties, and the long-term damage to the fragile ecosystems that exist naturally in floodplain areas. We are convinced that the ACP’s plans do not meet the standards required by Nelson County’s current floodplain ordinance. The preferred route chosen by the ACP through 11 floodplain areas in Nelson is the highest number in any jurisdiction in Virginia, and begs the question of any earnest effort on the ACP’s part to avoid areas that will increase risks associated with large natural gas transmission pipelines. One of the major causes of pipeline “failures” is soil movement and the industry, as well as key agencies, recommend avoiding areas prone to flooding when selecting pipeline routes.

Friends of Nelson will continue to monitor the ACP’s applications on the remaining floodplain sites and is most grateful to the residents who commented during the public hearing.

See press coverage by the Lynchburg News & Advance.

Public Hearing on ACP Request to Cross Floodplains

A Public Hearing will be held at 7 pm Monday December 3, 2018, in the auditorium at Nelson County High/Middle School (6919 Thomas Nelson Hwy, Lovingston) to review four of the deferred floodplain variance applications submitted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in early 2018.  On January 31, 2018, ACP requested the deferrals until such time as they could provide the additional information requested by Nelson County on behalf of the BZA for these four applications to cross designated floodplains.

The Board of Zoning Appeals Web page has details about the ACP application as well as links to written comments on the requests submitted to the BZA. (Scroll down past the comments section to get to the links for the ACP application.)

Those wishing to speak at the hearing will be required to sign in before the meeting. Nelson County has guidelines for speakers at hearings; note that speakers representing a group will have 5 minutes, individual speakers will have 3 minutes (and may not allocate their time to another individual).

The hearing will address these four variance requests:

Variance # 2018-007

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across property owned by Ronald Slaughter Jr. & Others, 14815 Thomas Nelson Hwy, Lovingston, Virginia and further identified as Tax Map #45-A-25.

Variance # 2018-008

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across the following properties:

  • 1434 Starvale Ln, Shipman, VA – owned by Gillis Rodgers, and further identified as Tax Map #46-A-34.

  • Tax Map #46-A-12 – owned by Equity Trust Company

Variance # 2018-009

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across property owned by James & Virginia Powell, 884 Wheelers Cove Rd, Shipman, Virginia and further identified as Tax Map #59-A-23.

Variance # 2018-010

Consideration of a request from Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC for a Variance to construct a pipeline across a floodplain in conformance with Article 10 of the Nelson County Zoning Code for construction of a natural gas pipeline across properties owned by Greenway S Corporation, Tax Maps #60-3-15, 60-3-16, and 60-A-28.

See a map of the FEMA floodplains on the ACP route. The blue dots on the map (look for them along the orange line that is the pipeline route) are the water crossings. The A (red), AE (yellow), and X (green) areas on the map are FEMA designated Floodplain Areas. A & AE are the most dangerous part of Floodplains, called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), and any permanent structures are prohibited there, with or without Higher Standards.

Army Corps of Engineers Suspends ACP Permit

Appalachian Mountain Advocates announcement, November 20, 2018:

Following requests from Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad) attorneys, the Norfolk, Huntington, and Pittsburgh districts of the Army Corps of Engineers have each suspended its authorization of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. As a result, ACP lacks authorization to do any instream or wetland construction anywhere along its route.

Appalmad has argued this action was necessary in light of a recent federal court ruling that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s reliance on Nationwide Permit (NWP) 12 was improper. The NWP was issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. It allowed contractors to trench through the bottom of streams and rivers. The Corps’ decision has had the effect of forcing the ACP to temporarily suspend water crossings along the entire project until it can obtain a satisfactory permit.

Appalachian Mountain Advocates represents the Sierra Cub, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Appalachian Voices, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network in this action.

See the Richmond Times-Dispatch news story on the suspension.

Coalition Voices Concern about Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks is a non-profit organization composed of retired, former, or current employees of the National Park Service that studies, educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation of our National Park System. On November 12, 2018, Philip A. Francis, Jr., Chair of the Coalition and a former superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, wrote to the Acting Director of the National Park Service on behalf of the Coalition “to express our concern about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the permit that the National Park Service has granted to allow a natural gas pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.”

In his letter, Mr. Francis says, “There is no evidence that impacts to the critical views enjoyed by millions of Parkway visitors were considered in this decision. There also is no indication that the Service considered the cumulative effects of this action on visitors’ enjoyment of Parkway resources, the impact to the hundreds of businesses that benefit from the millions of visitors with an economic impact exceeding $1 billion annually, or the precedent that this decision would create that could lead to further deterioration of Parkway views. This decision is contrary to decades of past decisions made by superintendents of the Parkway, and the National Park Service.”

The NPS Organic Act requires the Park Service to “provide for the enjoyment of the same by such means and in such manner as to leave them unimpaired for future generations,” and Francis cites numerous examples of ways in which Parkway staff have worked over time to protect the Parkway for current and future visitors.

“Nothing should be done in derogation of park values. Decisions that adversely affect Parkway scenic views are actions that result in derogation of park values, which impact visitor experiences and potentially have an adverse effect to the economies of at least the 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina. The Park Service has failed to properly administer the requirements provided by NPS policy and law, and the use of a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act to authorize this permit for the pipeline is inappropriate and appears to have been made to accomplish political goals instead.”

On behalf of the Coalition, Francis “respectfully requests that the National Park Service reconsider its decision on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by, as an initial matter, holding a scoping procedure to consider what level of NEPA compliance is necessary and obtaining the input of the public.”

Read the full letter here.

ABRA-CSI Seeks Help with Aerial Photo Review

Pipeline construction at Grassy Run in Upshur County, West Virginia. An example of the kind of photos that photo reviewers would be examining.

A request from Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA):

ABRA’s Pipeline Compliance Surveillance (CSI) program is seeking assistance from knowledgeable individuals who can participate as CSI Aerial Photo Reviewers. Although we especially seek the help of professionals with erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, and other water-resource backgrounds, the involvement of others is welcomed and encouraged. Aerial Photo Reviewers will perform the important task of reviewing aerial imagery and other information related to Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction in order to evaluate both compliance with regulatory requirements and the effectiveness of runoff control measures.

The Pipeline Air Force is currently obtaining hundreds of aerial photos of the 200-mile western mountainous section of the ACP construction route every one-to-two weeks. The photos, along with approved project construction plans and information concerning environmental requirements, can be accessed using the online CSI Mapping System and through the CSI website. Aerial Photo Reviewers will be able to work from any location with access to the internet. See the CSI Aerial Photo Reviewer Guidebook for an overview.

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, please click here.