Category Archives: Press Releases

Reactions to ACP EIS


Reactions to FERC’s release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the ACP were swift:

Oil Change International issued a press release titled FERC’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Review Shrugs at Climate Disaster, which begins by saying, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today released its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile project driven by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy that would carry fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. In the review, FERC continues its systemic failure to seriously assess whether the pipeline is needed, while appearing to shrug off the damage it would inflict on people’s land, water, health, and the climate. Oil Change International Research Analyst Kelly Trout had the following response: ‘With this sham review, FERC is teeing up Dominion and Duke to reap big profits on the backs of communities, their own customers, and the climate. FERC’s climate assessment is laughable. The agency grossly undercounts climate pollution by omitting fracking emissions, downplaying methane leakage, and wrongly assuming gas will replace coal when it increasingly displaces clean energy. It’s common sense that we can’t solve the climate crisis by digging a bigger hole of pollution. But that’s exactly what FERC is systematically helping the gas industry do.'”

7-21-17 News Leader. Dominion sees ‘clear path to approval’ for pipeline after FERC releases report. “In its environmental assessment, FERC concluded that the pipeline’s construction and operation ‘would result in temporary and permanent impacts on the environment’ and ‘would result in some adverse effects.’ However, the commission also wrote that if the pipeline developers follow through with ‘impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures’ and heed FERC recommendations to ‘further avoid, minimize, and mitigate these impacts, most project effects would be reduced to less-than-significant levels.’ Dominion Energy sees this conclusion as favorable — it ‘provides a a clear path for final approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline this fall,’ said Leslie Hartz, Dominion’s vice president of engineering and construction, in a press release…. Lew Freeman, executive director of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, an organization that’s vocally opposed the pipeline, said FERC’s environmental review ‘reveals significant gaps in information and woefully inadequate analysis’ in a press release.”

7-21-17 Washington Post. Environmental report on pipeline favorable for developers. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees interstate natural gas pipelines, released its final environmental impact statement Friday for the proposed 600-mile (965-kilometer) pipeline, which has broad support from political and business leaders but is staunchly opposed by environmentalists and many affected landowners. The assessment is a major milestone in the approval process for the project that will cross hundreds of bodies of water, mountainous terrain, national forest, and the Appalachian Trail. Its findings were largely favorable for developers. The impact statement did find that construction in steep terrain could increase the potential for landslides and that the project was likely to adversely affect seven species protected under the Endangered Species Act. It found that the greatest impact on vegetation would be on forested areas, with more than 3,400 acres having long-term or permanent effects.”

Additional media reports on the release of the EIS:

Friends of Nelson Press Release: ACP Impacts Terrifying; Official Documents Irredeemably Flawed


Friends of Nelson Press Release, July 24, 2017
Contact: Ernie Reed, 434-971-1647, lec@wildvirginia.org

On Friday [July 21, 2017], the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Also on Friday, the United States Forest Service released its draft Record of Decision that could allow permitting of the ACP through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. Friends of Nelson concludes that these documents are “irredeemably flawed.”

The reports rely solely on the project developer’s claims of need for the 600-mile, $5.2 billion pipeline, which would yield substantial profit for Dominion Energy and the other private companies behind the project, while the public would be saddled with the long-term and permanent financial, environmental and health costs.

Ernie Reed, President of Friends of Nelson noted that “The FEIS paints a terrifying picture of a bleak future: 4,892 acres of interior forest habitat would be eliminated, creating 30,025 acres of new forest edge habitat and destroying 214 acres of National Forests…1,669 waterbody crossings, threatening native trout streams and severing Potomac, James and Roanoke River watersheds…permanent scars on the Appalachian Trail…100 miles of construction on steep slopes including those in Nelson County…and the truth is actually worse, as the combined impacts of the ACP and MVP (Mountain Valley Pipeline) are never considered…and all this to give Dominion and Duke Energy enough gas to burn our way into hell.”

“It is beyond shocking that FERC has thus far not completed essential biological studies or consultation with the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service, and how much is being left to state agencies to address later,” said Marilyn Shifflett of Friends of Nelson. “This document is premature and incomplete and its conclusions defy science and logic.”

In Nelson County, construction is predicted to take longer than a year, including creation of the landing and drill pad to be located adjacent to the entrance to Wintergreen and a still-unanalyzed 2.5 million gallon water impoundment on the Rockfish River. The bulldozing, trenching and blasting in areas of cultural and historical value in Wingina, Dutch Creek, Wheeler’s Cove and the Rockfish Valley have all been deemed “insignificant” by FERC.

“The destructive effects on our economy, our roads, our water and our community are unfathomable,” Reed said.

Confirming what Friends of Nelson has long maintained—and what independent soil scientists have affirmed—the FEIS tellingly asserts that “considering the historic and recent landslide incidence in the immediate project area…we conclude that constructing the pipelines in steep terrain or high landslide incidence areas could increase the potential for landslides to occur.” Yet development of other slope instability/landslide risk reduction measures have not been completed and have not been adopted.

“How can landowners determine what kind of impacts the construction on steep slopes will have if the details of how ACP is going to manage them are still ‘under development’?” asked Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson. “And furthermore, why would Dominion be willing to put Virginia citizens and water resources at risk by building it?”

“The most significant thing about this release is that it brings us one step closer to stopping the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” Burton continued. “We have spent the last 3 years building our legal case, documenting the potential impacts to residents with expert economic and steep-slope studies and water quality analysis that clearly define the danger this presents to Nelson County. Now this is all coming to a head.”

“It is inconceivable that anyone could conclude, as FERC and the USFS do, that the massive impacts of the ACP are ‘less than significant’,” Reed concluded. “This will not be allowed to happen.”

Friends of Nelson Welcomes Pipeline Route Walkers to Nelson County


MEDIA ADVISORY

Contacts: Jessica Glendinning, (pipeline walker), 434-202-4285; Ernie Reed, Friends of Nelson, 434-249-8330

Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 1pm
Location: Three Ridges Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, Mile Marker 12.9, Nelson County, VA (north of #664/Beech Grove Rd.)

Friends of Nelson and citizens of Nelson County will welcome the “Walking the Line” hikers to Nelson County, Tuesday, June 27 at 1 pm at Three Ridges Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. They are tracing the proposed path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The walkers embarked over a week ago on the 2-week pilgrimage to draw public attention to the devastation that would be unleashed by the proposed pipeline. This 140-mile segment of the hike, which closely follows the proposed route, began on June 17 in Bath County and will end on July 2 in Buckingham County.

By meeting the affected people—and seeing firsthand the mountains, ridges, countryside, rivers, streams and wetlands that would be impacted by the proposed pipeline—the hikers will be able to speak from their hearts about the consequences of this highly destructive and unnecessary project.

Nelson County residents will be joining the hikers at Reed’s Gap as they hike east down along Beech Grove Road, where the proposed ACP would emerge after boring 4200’ through the mountain beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail. They will be spending the night in Nellysford before continuing through Gullysville, then along the ridgetop of Roberts Mountain, which would be leveled by proposed construction.

The hikers will continue towards Wheeler’s Cove on their way to Wingina, the James River and eventually Buckingham County.

For more information see the Walking the Line Webpage at http://walkingtheline.org.

Organizers, pipeline walkers and impacted Nelson County residents will be available for interview.

Appalachian Trail Hikers Protest McAuliffe’s Support of Fracked Gas Pipelines


Press release from Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN):

RICHMOND, VA – Dozens of Appalachian Trail hikers in full backpacking gear rallied outside Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office on June 2 — the eve of National Trails Day — to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline. The hikers highlighted the fact that both pipelines for fracked-gas, each of which would cross the Appalachian Trail, would severely impact the viewsheds and water sources along the iconic trail. Following the protest, the hikers delivered dozens of compasses to the Governor’s office, demanding that he chart a new direction for the state.

Companies building the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines would lay nearly 1,000 miles of fracked-gas pipeline infrastructure across West Virginia and the Commonwealth, threatening hundreds of waterways and endangered species. Recent data show that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, supported by McAuliffe and proposed by controversial power company Dominion Energy, would blast away the tops of 38 miles of mountain ridges in West Virginia and Virginia, much of it near the Appalachian Trail. The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would likewise deforest and harm valleys and mountains along the trail, causing permanent damage to iconic views.

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline are both unnecessary and dangerous projects,” said Jessica Sims, lifelong hiker from Midlothian, Virginia. “They would be irreversibly traumatic to Virginia’s landscape — physical manifestations of disregard for the environment. They are attacks on that which I love: Virginia, the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Mountains, our park systems, our tourism industry, our water, our ecosystems and our history.”

“I know these mountains, these waters, these forests, and how fragile they are,” said Kathleen “Kit” Johnston, a member of Wild Virginia and Appalachian Voices from Reva, Virginia. “That’s why McAuliffe must say NO to cutting hundreds of miles of pipeline access under and through our ancient mountains, invaluable forests, and irreplaceable waters.”

Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which McAuliffe oversees, recently abandoned its promise to conduct thorough, site-specific reviews of the impacts that the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines would have on water quality. Now, the agency wants to abdicate that responsibility to President Trump’s Army Corps of Engineers, which is expected to issue a blanket one-size-fits-all permit that does not look at each individual stream crossing, and therefore does not fully protect these water bodies.

“I’ve been a proud hiker of the Appalachian Trail since I was a kid,” said Mike Tidwell, member of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. “But with the Governor’s support, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked gas would decapitate mountains within view of the trail and plow through geologically fragile areas. The pipelines would threaten not only water along the trail, but also water for farmers and communities across 13 counties. This is horrifying, and must be stopped.”

The hikers also referred to the climate change impacts of the pipelines. The two pipelines would together create annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to doubling all of Virginia’s current power plants combined. If built, these pipelines would lock us into another generation of unacceptable and unnecessary fossil fuel extractions.

“Climate change threatens our mountains, our forests, our rivers, and the entire ecosystem that we depend on,” said Lorne Stockman, lifelong hiker from Staunton, Virginia and senior researcher at Oil Change International. “These pipelines will not only disrupt the Appalachian Trail, but also fuel the destruction of our climate. With Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Accord, it is up to us to defend our future and stopping these pipelines is at the top of our pack list.”

This rally was one of the largest political acts ever in Richmond held by defenders of the Appalachian Trail.

Press Release: Study Concludes that Dominion Understates Pipeline’s Landslide Potential in Nelson County

Friends of Nelson Press Release, March 13, 2017 (Contact:  Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson, 434-361-2328)

Study Concludes that Dominion Understates Pipeline’s Landslide Potential in Nelson County

A study of the potential for slope failures and landslides in Nelson County from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, coupled with a review of Dominion’s in-house analysis, has 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.”

The author of the report, Blackburn Consulting Services, LLC, was contracted to review, assess, and comment on information submitted by Dominion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as related to the construction and operation of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) through Nelson County. The review was limited to information pertaining to soils/soil structure and slope stability, as well as the associated geohazards and erosion/water quality concerns that the ACP project raises for Nelson County.

As part of their work, Blackburn developed a series of predictive maps to better identify the areas with high debris flow potentials and spent three full days in Nelson County traveling to 17 pre-determined sites along the pipeline route to ground-truth their model. In addition to their visual assessments of the terrain in those areas, four hand-auger borings were performed, and full soil descriptions were completed from 14 soil pits dug using a mechanical excavator. Three of the sites were located near the Wintergreen entry on Rt. 664—proposed as the exit point for a 4500-foot tunnel through the Blue Ridge—where they found evidence of a history of numerous debris flows.

Blackburn also reviewed documents submitted by Dominion to FERC through December 1, 2016. Soil scientists looked at the information Dominion was using to determine the pipeline route, soil types along that route, slope stability and erodibility.

The scientists found that Dominion has been using inadequate and inappropriate data sets to assess the soils and identify the landslide risk potential along the pipeline route in Nelson.

The report states: “(The) review has discovered that, due to the reliance on this regional- based and publicly available information, many of the statements made in Dominion’s FERC filings represent gross generalities. Dominion has not adequately identified those soils and landforms that are prone to debris flows/landslides, nor have they adequately addressed how they plan to mitigate those site-specific hazards that can put people, property and water quality at extreme risk.”

“Given the types of soils that the soil/scientists observed during their site work on Nelson’s steep slopes (loose uncompacted soils on slopes that measured as steep as 83%), it is obvious that the erosion potential of these slopes is much higher than Dominion is reporting,” said Randy Whiting of Friends of Nelson. “Considering the anticipated difficulties Dominion is expected to have with revegetating the pipeline right-of-way—both during and after construction—it becomes apparent that combining Nelson’s soils, slopes and this proposed pipeline is a recipe for disaster.”

“After reading this report, what scares me even more are the places where they want to install the pipeline along our narrow ridgetops,” said Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson, referring to ridgetops such as those on Roberts Mountain. “There is no way to clear and flatten a 125’ construction right-of-way on a ridge that is only 60’ feet wide without severely impacting the landslide-prone slopes on either side. “

“We are calling on FERC to rescind the current DEIS and demand that Dominion follow these scientists’ recommendations to perform a more thorough assessment of the landslide risks in Nelson before the approval process is allowed to proceed any further,” Burton concluded.

Blackburn Consulting Services, LLC has over 50 years of experience in mapping and evaluating soil characteristics for a variety of purposes—ranging from agriculture and forestry to land development, environmental and wastewater disposal. They are licensed Professional Soil Scientists and On-site Soil Evaluators in the State of Virginia and nationally certified through the Soil Science Society of America.

The report was a joint project of Friends of Nelson, Friends of Wintergreen, and Wintergreen Property Owners Inc.

You can download the full report by clicking here.

To download this press release, click here

Nelson County Community Public Hearing on the Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Friends of Nelson Press Release, February 21, 2017 (Contacts: Ernie Reed, lec@wildvirginia.org, 434-249-8330, and Kirk Bowers, kirk.bowers@sierraclub.org, 434-296-8673)

**MEDIA ADVISORY**

Nelson County Community Public Hearing on the Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Date: Wednesday, February 22, 6-9 p.m.
Location: Nelson County Middle School, 6925 Thomas Nelson Hwy, Lovingston, VA 22949

Local citizen groups will hold a Community Public Hearing on Wednesday, February 22 from 6-9 p.m. at the Nelson County Middle School. The hearing will be held concurrently with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s “Listening Session” on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is conducting public listening sessions in Virginia regarding the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) at different locations throughout the state. The Nelson County FERC session begins at 6:30 p.m. at the adjacent Nelson County High School.

Concerned citizens will be gathering in the Nelson County Middle School library at the same time as the FERC meeting, to provide a welcome environment for the public to share information and show opposition to the ACP.

FERC has refused to hold true Public Hearings on the proposed ACP, instead holding “Listening Sessions” where citizens sit in a closed room with a scribe and speak their 3 minutes of comments in secrecy.

“The FERC process makes a mockery of the concept of a Public Hearing,” said Ernie Reed, President of Friends of Nelson. “FERC has also cut the time for public comment in half in Nelson County, severely limiting the time available for citizens to make their comments. This is despite the fact that opposition to the pipeline is strongest and the destructive impacts most significant here in Nelson County.”

“The alternate community hearing is intended to highlight the continuing lack of transparency and public disclosure by the FERC during the environmental review process,” said Kirk Bowers of the Sierra Club. “The community meeting will provide an open forum for the community to prepare comments on the proposed pipeline for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a proposed $6 billion, 42”, high-compression pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia, across Virginia to North Carolina and the Tidewater area, causing environmental and economic damage to communities and private properties that it does not serve. Polls confirm that a majority of Virginians doesn’t want it, and gubernatorial candidates from both the Republican and Democratic parties have come out strongly against it.

A press conference with local citizens opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be held at 6:10 p.m. at the Nelson County Middle School library. We encourage the press to attend and interview participants at that time.

To download the full press release from Friends of Nelson, click here