Category Archives: Steep Slopes

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 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:

DPMC Files Another FOIA Request

Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) has filed yet another Freedom of Information Act Request with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, asking for critical records related to the ACP, including:

  • Erosion and Sediment Control Plans, including narrative descriptions and schematic depictions or alignment sheets, for the pipeline corridor and other pipeline-related construction activities, including access roads, other workspace and staging areas.
  • Stormwater Management Plans, including narrative descriptions, schematic depictions or alignment sheets and computational spreadsheets, for the pipeline corridor and other pipeline-related construction activities.
  • Descriptive material related to ACP’s “Best in Class” program and other slope-stabilization plans, including narrative descriptions and site-specific designs, depictions and alignment sheets.

Although the Virginia DEQ has announced that it will conduct project-specific 401 Water Quality Certification reviews for both the ACP and the MVP, no one has yet seen complete applications or the detailed plans DPMC is again requesting. Moreover, in correspondence with the DEQ, Dominion contends that Stormwater Management Plans (required of all other significant earth-disturbing projects in Virginia) should not be required because the project will not alter the runoff characteristics of the steep mountainsides and ridge lines it intends to excavate.