Category Archives: Press Releases

Spruce Creek Camp: Report on Final Weekend


Oct. 22nd, 2018, For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp Weekend 3: Camptivists Gather on Land Threatened by ACP

Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) invited the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the final weekend of camp, attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in workshops and discussions.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist Richard Averitt described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on the Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation he recently gave to a Congressional hearing on how this destructive project has affected his family both on camp land and where his family has residences.

Charlie Hickox, Friends of Nelson board member, presented a brief history of Nelson and described the devastating effects Hurricane Camille had on the county, due to the intense rain and landslides that resulted in 124 Nelson citizens losing their lives. He emphasized that the unstable soils on our steep slopes, coupled with extreme precipitation events (brought on by climate change) have a high probability of failing again during or after construction of a 42” diameter pipeline. Such integrity failure would most likely result in explosions and fire due to the volatile nature of natural gas put under 1400 + psi pressure.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems.

In the afternoon Joyce hiked with camptivists up Robert’s Mountain to see just how steep one of these ridges that the pipeline is proposed to go though actually is. Participants got to see firsthand the narrow slope that would be significantly “reduced” in height.

Mike Tabony, local resident, school lecturer, and frequent writer of letters to the editor to local newspapers, gave a detailed slide presentation on Climate Change and Global Warming. One point he made was that increasing global temperatures result in catastrophic sea level rise with major implications for Virginia’s coast line, especially in the heavily populated Norfolk/Hampton Roads area where one segment of the ACP is proposed to end.

Lara Gastinger, an internationally recognized botanical illustrator and lead illustrator of the book, Flora of Virginia, presented a workshop on illustrating and journaling plants. Participants walked the Averitt’s property collecting plant materials and then sketched and painted them using fine point pens and watercolors.

Weston Mathews, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia and co-director of the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice (IACJ), gave an insightful talk on the necessity for action and collaboration beyond borders of Nelson County, expanding the notion of what it means to relate to someone as a neighbor. His IACJ organization generously funds Native Americans under duress due to climate events, bail for arrested protesters, and supports many other environmental justice organizations and activities.

Ben Cunningham from the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) presented and demonstrated the Pipeline CSI mapping application and made a request for volunteers to monitor and report violations of erosion controls and water quality protections found during pipeline construction.

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, discussed local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. Roof top solar projects exist in the county on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves, as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Sadly, off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries, is just now beginning to be implemented in Virginia. Doug reminded us that energy conservation remains an effective strategy, especially for low income residents who would directly benefit from paying smaller utility bills.

Ernie Reed, former president of Friends of Nelson and current member of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors, showed the group a recent Powerpoint presentation he made to Sweet Briar students. Later he discussed how the attendees could influence decision makers and the media in this fight, and the importance of continuing to mount legal challenges. He advocated having as many tools as possible to fight pipelines in order to preserve our environment and property rights.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

The weekend camping events brought together people from Oregon, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland, as well as from many cities and counties in Virginia. Participants learned about Nelson County, its history, natural resources, beauty, susceptibility to landslides, and the vulnerabilities to its tourism businesses. Campers were briefed by our knowledgeable citizen task force on the lack of property rights, legal matters now in the courts, the deleterious effects of pipelines on local flora and fauna, and, finally, on the reasons why this project is totally unnecessary. Natural gas demand in the Commonwealth is flat and alternatives such as solar, offshore wind and conservation have become much more attractive and competitive. As Nelson has stated from the beginning of this struggle: No Pipeline.

Spruce Creek Camp: Speakers and Events


Oct. 15th, 2018, For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp Weekend Two: 75 Camptivists Gather on Land Threatened by ACP

Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) invite the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the second weekend of camp, 75 attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County and Buckingham citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in discussions.

Woody Greenberg, former reporter, retired Lynchburg College professor, former member of the Board of Supervisors, and current Secretary of the Nelson Historical Society, gave a brief history of the county and described in detail the devastating effect Hurricane Camille had here due to the intense flooding and landslides that killed 124 people. He emphasized that unstable soils on our steep slopes could fail again during or after construction of a massive 42” pipeline.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist Richard Averitt described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on the Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation he recently gave to a Congressional hearing on how this destructive project has affected his family both on camp land and where his family has residences.

Lakshmi Fjord from Friends of Buckingham gave a slide presentation on the potential health effects from the proposed compressor station in Buckingham County near Union Hill on the largely African American community. Her group has done extensive health surveys of the community which could result in bringing an environmental justice case against the ACP as described in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Others from her group described the group’s baseline air and water monitoring activities. http://www.friendsofbuckinghamva.org/friends/learning-center/compressor/

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, discussed local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. Roof top solar projects exist in the county on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries is just now beginning to be exploited in Virginia. He also said that energy conservation remains an effective strategy especially for low income residents who would directly benefit from paying smaller utility bills.

David Schweisow, land owner in nearby Wintergreen Resort, described how the ACP plans to tunnel under the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail using the questionable Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) technique. The process would employ proprietary drilling chemicals, bentonite and 50,000+ gallons of water a day and take over a year to complete. Afterwards, Dave took us on a tour of the 125’ wide clear cut next to Wintergreen’s only egress road and to where the pipeline would cross the Schweisow’s front yard on Fortune’s Ridge.

The Spruce Creek Circle of Protection held an open-air Interfaith Prayer Vigil to inspire and affirm the need for communities to protect their safety, water, and land values from the threat of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, hosted by Water is Life. Protect it. The ceremony opened with words from spiritual leader Asha Greer from Batesville and pastor Louie Andrews from Rockfish Valley Presbyterian Church. Wild Common performed music powered by the Sun Bus, Richard Averitt described how his life has been affected by the ACP, Amelia Williams read an original poem, 1000 Flags 1000 Waters converged and more.

Ben Cunningham from the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) presented and demonstrated the Pipeline CSI mapping application and made a request for volunteers to monitor and report on violations of erosion controls and water quality protections found during pipeline construction.

Beth and Neal LaFerriere from Blackberry Botanicals in West Virginia spoke to the group about their family and land’s repeated bombardment by helicopters with grass/fertilizer pellets. Because of this unwarranted and illegal action, they will lose their farm’s organic certification for three years, severely affecting their chief source of income.

James Bolton, a Friends of Nelson Board member and frequent FERC commentator, discussed the legal fight and where various suits, motions and rulings stand today.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

The final weekend of October 19 – 21 will include many of the above speakers as well as Mike Tabony discussing global warming, Lara Gastinger on illustrating and journaling flora and fauna with an opportunity to create your own art and journal, Weston Matthews discussing climate justice from a religious perspective, a hike to Roberts Mountain ridge, discussions and drumming held in the resident tipi, and Ernie Reed speaking on political activism and where the group goes from here.

The final weekend of the Camp, which is free, will be held Friday afternoon October 19 through Sunday mid-day October 21. Pre-registration is required – register here. “We feel finances should not be a barrier to enjoy the beauty of our area. Donations will be gratefully accepted for Friends of Nelson and Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice.”

Spruce Creek Camp: Speakers and Events


Oct. 8th, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jill Averitt 434-262-3417, sprucecreekgathering@gmail.com

Spruce Creek Camp: Speakers and Events

Nellysford, VA: Activists opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) are inviting the public to camp on property in its path the first three weekends in October to learn why Nelson County residents are fighting to prevent its construction.

During the first weekend of camp, attendees heard talks and presentations from a number of Nelson County citizen experts, toured local properties that would be affected by the pipeline, and participated in selected topic discussions.

Woody Greenberg, a former reporter, retired Lynchburg College professor, and former member of the Board of Supervisors, and current Secretary of the Nelson Historical Society, gave a brief history of the county and described in detail the devastating effect Hurricane Camille had here due to the intense flooding and landslides that killed 124 people. He emphasized that unstable soils on our steep slopes could fail again during or after construction of a massive 42” pipeline.

Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson land owner liaison, described how individual properties in the immediate vicinity would be impacted by the pipeline. Effects include contamination of drinking water, wetland and stream bed degradation, ridgetop and old growth tree removal, the economic impact on a newly built country inn, and in one case, elimination of an entire residence due to the proximity of the ACP pipe to its septic and water systems. She also described the inherent pitfalls of ACP’s plan to tunnel under the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway using the Horizontal Drilling (HDD) technique.

Peter Agelasto, President and Founder of the Rockfish Valley Foundation, led a tour of an old mill site near Spruce Creek in the historic area of Wintergreen Village and showed how the proposed pipeline would run thorough the valley’s only archeological site.

Host landowner and anti-pipeline activist, Richard Averitt, described the camp property and his family’s plans to build an eco-resort there. He led a tour of the site and showed the group the deleterious effects the ACP would have on Spruce Creek waterbody. He also showed a slide presentation given recently to the Congress on how this destructive project has affected his family.

Susan McSwain, a Nelson County master naturalist, led the group on a nature walk where she identified native and invasive plants.

Randy Whiting, a resident of Horizons Village adjoining the camp property, led a tour and showed the group where the pipeline would destroy a forest wetland in that community.

Todd Rath, a local cidery owner, related how the project would endanger the water supplies so necessary for his business and, in turn, impact local tourism.

Doug Wellman, vice president of Friends of Nelson, offered the group local alternatives to gas and coal power generation. There are a number of roof top solar projects in the county and nearby, on residences, schools and community centers. There are also solar alternative projects being done by the utilities and electric coops themselves as well as many nearby commercial projects. The energy source profile is changing but many laws and regulations still need to catch up. Off-shore wind, a stable energy source in many European countries is just now beginning to be exploited in Virginia. He also said that energy conservation remains an effective strategy especially for low income residents who would benefit from paying less in utility bills.

Ernie Reed, former president of Friends of Nelson and current member of the Board of Supervisors, discussed how the attendees could influence decision makers and the media in this fight and the importance of continuing to mount legal challenges. He advocated having as many tools as possible to fight pipelines in order to preserve our environment and property rights.

During the weekend of October 12-14, speakers will discuss Nelson County legal challenges, highlight our Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) program, and give a presentation on the proposed Buckingham compressor station; there will be more tours of local properties, and a “Circle of Protection” at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The Camp, which is free, will be held Fridays through Sundays the next two weekends of October. Pre-registration is required:  REGISTER HERE. “We feel finances should not be a barrier to enjoy the beauty of our area. Donations will be gratefully accepted for Friends of Nelson and Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice.”

50+ Leaders Urge Northam to Oppose ACP and MVP


Press release from Chesapeake Climate Action Network on August 14, 2018:

Fifty-four Virginia Organizations Call on Gov. Northam to Visit “Miracle Ridge,” Pristine Forest in Path of Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and Oppose Pipelines

Leaders from environmental advocacy, justice, and business organizations send letter to Northam one week ahead of key State Water Control Board hearings on the controversial pipelines.

READ THE LETTER IN FULL HERE.

“Miracle Ridge has been designated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as one of the finest oak-hickory forests they have ever seen in all of Virginia,” said Joan Maloof, Executive Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network. “It is imperative that Governor Northam and the Virginia State Water Control Board visit this land first-hand to fully appreciate the magnitude of devastation that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have on this old-growth forest.”

The Limperts have been hosting a summer-long “encampment” on their property in Bath County dedicated to stopping Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This pipeline is slated to go right through their property, destroying hundreds of old-growth trees — some as old as 300 years — and decapitating much of the 3000-foot-long ridge known as “Miracle Ridge.”

“Our property is a natural treasure, and we wish to preserve it for future generations,” said Bill Limpert, landowner at Miracle Ridge. “There are countless other properties in the cross hairs of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that are treasures as well. We wish to draw Governor Northam’s attention to these lands which should be preserved under his own criteria for protection of high quality natural resources. We hope that the Governor can join us on our property and visit other properties as well that would be lost to the unneeded and destructive Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The signers also ask Northam to direct the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to require an individual review of the 1,000 water crossings these pipelines will cross. The DEQ has the authority to do so under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, but it has instead relied on a “blanket” permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that approved crossings for all waterways.

“As a pediatrician, I know that every child needs clean water, clean air, and a safe and stable climate to be healthy and thrive,” said Samantha Adhoot, Chairperson of the Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. “This pipeline threatens the health and safety of all children in Virginia, particularly those living in communities directly affected by large scale environmental destruction for pipeline infrastructure. We should not be sacrificing the health of Virginia’s families, children and natural heritage for the sake of corporate profits.”

This letter comes amid setbacks for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit threw out two key permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The same court revoked a different permit from the U.S. Forest Service for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued stop-work orders for both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until their respective multiple permit issues are resolved.

Reverend Kevin Chandler, Branch President of the Virginia Conference NAACP, stated: “Currently, both Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines are steeped in regulatory challenges. Due to the adverse impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on African-American communities, particularly in Buckingham County and the Georgetown community in Chesapeake, all construction activities along the route of the pipeline should cease immediately.”

During his campaign for governor, Northam pledged to look at the scientific evidence and use a transparent process to ensure that Virginia’s environment would be fully protected from any pipelines. He also called for site-specific permitting for every water crossing of these pipelines, instead of blanket permits.

One week from today, the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) will hold a hearing on the pipelines. This is the first SWCB meeting since the opening of a comment period re-examining the ability of the Nationwide Permit 12 to provide sufficient protections for Virginia waterways threatened and currently being impacted by the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

“Governor Northam must see first-hand what is at stake for the people whose lives are being so profoundly harmed by work already been done for these pipelines and the threats that loom over them,” said David Sligh, Conservation Director, Wild Virginia. “He can’t possibly see the forests and waters in Little Valley and what Dominion wants to do there and think the science supports it or that Virginia citizens are being treated fairly. He has pledged to be guided by those principles.”

Kendyl Crawford, Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, stated: “As communities of faith, it is our duty to be conscientious stewards of our planet and treat all of creation, including members of the human family, with respect and dignity. Miracle Ridge and the Limperts stand to be part of the sacrifice zone of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Within minutes of visiting their land one is immediately struck by the immense immorality of fossil fuel infrastructure that destroys so much in its wake.”

Jamshid Bakhtiari, Virginia Field Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated: “Together, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines threaten to chain Virginians to another generation of dangerous and unnecessary fracked-gas fossil fuel extraction. Additionally, the construction of these pipelines threatens numerous endangered species, ridgelines, waterways and vulnerable communities across the Commonwealth. Governor Northam and the Water Control Board need to bear witness to the unconscionable sacrifices Virginians are being asked to make for pipelines that aren’t needed.”

BREDL Files Title VI Environmental Justice Complaint with EPA

BREDL files Title VI Environmental Justice Complaint with EPA against the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

June 20, 2018: The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) and its Virginia chapters, Protect Our Water, Concern for the New Generation and No ACP, filed a Title VI civil rights complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) office of External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO). BREDL’s Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator, Sharon Ponton, stated, “The 26-page complaint tells the story of VADEQ’s segmented process for 401 water quality certification and asks the EPA to void the certification until a thorough environmental justice analysis is completed. We believe we have presented a strong case indicating the environmental justice communities along the path of the proposed ACP will be disproportionately impacted by health impacts from pollution caused by toxic, polluting pipeline infrastructure and its contributions to global warming from leaks and its compressor station, as well as the health affects from noise and toxic emissions from its compressor stations. The complaint also outlines disproportionate impacts from possible threats to water supplies, safety related issues from discriminatory construction rules, and property loss through eminent domain.”

View the Press Release

View the Title VI Complaint

Tree-Sit Pipeline Protests, MVP, and ACP

The Loudoun County Democratic Committee issued an April 27, 2018, press release on Tree-Sit Pipeline Protests, MVP, and ACP:

Natural gas is neither safe nor clean. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) present unacceptable risks to water quality, unacceptable contribution to climate change in the form of greenhouse gas emissions, unacceptable threats to social justice in communities affected, unacceptable impact to the forests and wildlife in the Commonwealth, unacceptable risks to human health, and unacceptable use of eminent domain.

To quote Delegate Danica Roem, one of fourteen Virginia legislators who recently held a press conference to condemn construction of the pipelines, “I’m a property rights Democrat and an environmental Democrat, and this is bad for both; We are one Commonwealth…it is our obligation to stand with people in Southwest Virginia. We all represent the Commonwealth of Virginia, we have to be united.”

Democrats in Loudoun are conscientious stewards of the environment, advocates of rural conservation and defenders of social justice. Many in our membership and leadership are alarmed at the treatment of Theresa “Red” Terry, her daughter Minor and others, who are actively engaged in tree-sit protests on their own property to obstruct tree clearing progress on the MVP and ultimately construction of the pipeline itself. Even more disconcerting, one of the enormous compressor stations on the ACP route is planned for Union Hill, a historic, predominantly African American community that was founded by freed slaves in Buckingham County.

“Water is life. The construction of these pipelines poses a threat to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who live near proposed constructions sites,” said LCDC Chair Alfonso Nevarez, “The Department of Environmental Quality needs to do a stream-by-stream analysis of all water crossing that would be impacted by these proposed pipelines before further work is authorized. I am confident that Virginia’s Democratic elected officials will make prudent decisions that will protect human and property rights for our brothers and sisters across the Commonwealth.”

LCDC accompanied their press release with excellent supplemental information covering:

  • Denial of Access to Water and Food for the tree sitters
  • Social Justice in Union Hill, Buckingham County
  • Inappropriate use of Eminent Domain
  • Widespread opposition from environmental organizations
  • Unacceptable level of environmental damage
  • Fracking is harmful to human health
  • Unacceptable response to climate change, and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Additional natural gas infrastructure not needed
  • Erosion of public trust in regulatory institutions
  • These pipelines could very well kill someone
  • A listing of Material / References

On April 29, 2018, the Arlington County Democratic Committee issued a statement saying in part:

While Arlington might not suffer direct impacts, we all will be required to pay a large portion of the estimated $10 billion in pipeline costs which the builders will pass on to consumers in the form of increased utility rates. In addition, this massive new investment in decades-long infrastructure will retard the needed growth of truly clean sources of energy from which everyone in Arlington would benefit.

We join our elected officials in urging Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam and the Department of Environmental Quality to conduct a full, on the ground stream-by-stream analysis of the water impacts of the two pipelines and to complete this review before any construction proceeds. And we insist that peaceful protesters be treated humanely and provided with nutritious food and water. ….

You can help deliver this message in two ways.

  • Call Governor Northam at (804) 786-2211. Tell him you #StandWithRed and ask him to order law enforcement to give food and necessities to the tree sitters. Urge him to order the Department of Environmental Quality to use its full authority under the Clean Water Act to conduct a detailed, stream-by-stream analysis of each water crossing.
  • Call the Department of Environmental Quality at (804) 698-4000. Tell them to halt pipeline construction and conduct a thorough stream-by-stream review to ensure our lands and waters are protected.