Category Archives: Steep Slopes

In the News


Lots of interesting news stories in the last week. What have you missed? Click on the In the News tab above for many other current stories or use the archives links in the dropdown menu for earlier stories.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Critical Zone Mapping System

New from Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition!

The DPMC has published an interactive Critical Zone Mapping System (CZMS) in support of citizen efforts to overcome the continuing failure of the regulatory system.

The CZMS provides a framework for evaluation of the risk associated with construction of the ACP and the limitations of the proposed or available control measures. The CZMS includes user-selectable map layers that display a number of key factors that should be considered during project review and prior to project approval. Among these are layers that indicate slope steepness, soil erodibility, high-excavation areas, stream crossings, surficial karst, and existing dye traces in karst systems.

One of the more-critical map layers identifies those sections of the pipeline corridor and access road system that meet Dominion’s criteria for application of its so-called “Best in Class” program. These areas, where the existing ground slope is 30% or more for distances of 100 feet or more, present a high risk to downslope water resources due to erosion, slope destabilization, and runoff alteration.

Although Dominion has posted what it describes as detailed erosion and runoff control plans, the plans do not include “Best in Class” measures. With limited exceptions, the actual site-specific details for application of the “Best in Class” program have not been provided for regulatory agency and public review, and apparently they will not be provided until after project approval.

These high-risk “Best in Class” areas represent almost half the length of the proposed ACP pipeline corridor and access road system in the mountainous counties of Virginia and West Virginia.

Among the more-extreme of the “Best in Class” measures is the use of heavy steel wire mesh to hold steep mountainsides in place after pipeline construction. Click here for a larger version of this image.

For more information see: The ACP Critical Zone Mapping System

Little Valley: High-Hazard Pipeline Construction

DCMP photo:  The centerline of the proposed ACP along the ridge crest of Little Mountain. Extreme excavation will be required for pipeline construction and maintenance of a permanent right-of-way.

Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has published a new report on construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline across Little Valley in Virginia’s Bath County: Little Valley: High-Hazard Pipeline Construction.

The Little Valley area, like much of the proposed ACP route through the mountains, presents extreme challenges for pipeline construction due to steep slopes, high-excavation requirements, erodible and slip-prone soil cover, and interconnected karst ground water systems.

Examination of regulatory documents and available project plans for construction of the pipeline corridor and access roads in the Little Valley area reveals a general failure of the review process conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and raises concerns about permitting by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Little Valley exemplifies the significant risk posed by Dominion’s persistent failure to conduct critical studies to assess environmental hazards and to provide the detailed project plans needed for informed agency and public review of the project.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced in April 2017 that it would conduct a stream-by-stream review prior to issuing a Water Quality Certification for the ACP. We now know that the VADEQ instead plans to narrowly limit its review, and that it will rely on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permitting for stream and wetlands crossings. The USACE generally authorizes pipeline projects under a previously issued blanket (nationwide) permit without analysis of individual stream crossings or the cumulative effects of multiple stream crossings.

To date, it seems that neither the VADEQ nor the USACE have received complete applications from Dominion, and it has not been confirmed that Dominion will be required to submit site-specific construction and environmental mitigation plans with the level of detail needed for meaningful review by the regulatory agencies and the public.

Why This Fight?


“Walking the Line: Into the Heart of Virginia” presents “Why this fight?” A conversation with some, not remotely all, of the organizations and volunteers working to stop the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked-gas pipelines.

With Nancy Sorrells of Augusta County Alliance, Kirk Bowers of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, Lee White of Walking the Line and Cville Rising, Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson, Joseph Jeeva Abate of Yogaville Environmental Solutions – YES and Malik Olson of Walking the Line and Cville Rising.

This is such a good fight for so many reasons and we haven’t yet even talked about the unlawful use of eminent domain. We will. Go to http://walkingtheline.org/ to learn more. Join us!

“When Did He Walk Our Ridge Line?”


A Letter to the Editor (Daily Progress, May 10, 2017) by Joseph McMoneagle discusses the move of the ACP route to the other side of the ridge from Davis Creek. “Does Dominion believe that changing sides of the mountain is going to prevent the same thing from occurring on our side as it did on the Davis Creek side — especially after removing the trees and topping the mountain ridge for almost a mile? ….  Greg Park, construction manager, said that ‘some ridges may be cut as much as 10 feet, but nowhere near the 60 feet predicted by opponents.’ When did he walk our ridge line? Our mountain crest is 9 to 25 feet across for almost its full length. It has a 45- to 60-degree grade or greater. To meet his required 125-foot width to bury his 42-inch pipe, a minimum of 40-55 feet of the ridge — with accompanying trees, rocks, and underbrush — must go. It’s simple geometry.”

Landowners Take Concerns to Governor’s Office


Following news that Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline would obliterate 38 miles of ridge lines in Virginia and West Virginia, several severely impacted residents and business owners spoke at a May 4, 2017, Richmond press conference detailing their concerns and calling on McAuliffe to reject the pipeline. At the press conference outside Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office, residents demanded the Governor use his full legal authority to stop Dominion’s plan to explode entire ridge tops along 38 miles of mountains to build the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Read the full press release from Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Read the briefing paper on mountaintop removal.

News coverage of the event outside the Governor’s office: