Category Archives: Tree cutting

Tree Cutting – Action Alert!

Call Gov. Northam and tell him to stop Dominion’s tree cutting for the unwanted and unnecessary ACP.

FERC just approved Dominion’s request for early tree removal (using chainsaws). Area impacted around Wintergreen is the blue line in the red box. DEQ has not issued permits! Call the Governor of Virginia.

FERC says it’s ok for Dominion to take down trees before receiving all approvals. Write to Governor Ralph Northam and other elected officials — stop Dominion’s end run around state agencies, leaving a swath of destruction in their wake.

Jobs for Virginians? – NOT!

On January 20, 2018, one day after FERC gave permission to ACP to beginning cutting trees, but before final permits have been issued in Virginia and North Carolina, out-of-state crews arrived in Buckingham County with chain saws.

Irene Leech from Buckingham County reports, “Trees are being cut on the right of way for the ACP right now. None of the trucks has a Virginia license. None of the workers is from Buckingham county where logging is a primary skill. Utah, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas are represented. Some just have machetes but most have backpacks in which they carry chain saws. The odor of the fuel permeates. They are housed in Farmville – not Buckingham. We do not see anything they might have purchased in Buckingham. FERC gave them the needed tolling order yesterday but they had to be nearby to be at work by about 9am today.”

FERC Approves Tree Cutting by ACP

North Carolina recently rejected the ACP’s sedimentation control plans and has not issued ACP approvals.  Virginia’s DEQ has issued a conditional permit – based on acceptance of  additional information submitted (or resubmitted) by the ACP.  But on January 19, 2018, the The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to proceed with tree felling for its pipeline project. ACP had requested FERC’s permission to do so.

FERC’s January 19 letter states in part:

As described in your request, Atlantic’s and DETI’s activities approved include felling of trees in upland areas via non-mechanized methods. I clarify here that non-mechanized clearing is defined as the use of equipment that can be operated and carried by hand, by an individual; and that use of wheeled, tracked, or other similar types of ground-disturbing equipment is not authorized for clearing-related activity. Activities may only occur as described in Atlantic’s “NTP and Skip Tracking Table” in its January 18, 2018 supplement on lands where easements have been obtained, surveys have been completed, and where no additional state or local permits are required for the activity. As indicated in your request, contractors may only cross wetlands and waterbodies on foot. Trees and vegetation may be felled at or above ground level, and must use methods that will not rut soils or damage root systems, and be felled in a way that avoids obstruction of flow, rutting, and sedimentation of wetlands and waterbodies. Felled trees and woody and other vegetation debris shall be left in place until further authorization for any earth-disturbing activities is granted by the FERC.

This approval does not authorize tree-felling within waterbodies and wetlands. Atlantic and DETI shall maintain a 50-foot buffer between waterbody and wetland boundaries and the extent of upland tree-cutting activities. Improvement or modification of approved access roads is not authorized as part of this limited notice to proceed. This approval does not authorize use of U.S. Forest Service access roads until Atlantic obtains the applicable road use permit(s).

Action Alert: Stop Tree Clearing for Pipelines

Call the Governor Today! We can stop tree clearing for pipelines. Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Our new Governor has the authority and duty to protect our waters and our communities from the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

Governor Northam must uphold the principles he has supported for many months and we ask that you let him know that you will support him in doing the right thing. It is not too late for Virginia to meet its Clean Water Act duties. Learn More Here.

Contact the Governor today and urge him to:

  • See that his administration prohibits any construction, including clearing of trees, for either pipeline unless and until all conditions of water quality certifications are met,
  • Order the DEQ to conduct individual Clean Water Act section 401 reviews for stream and wetland crossings covered by the Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide 12 Permit,
  • Ensure that DEQ provides for public notice and comment on additional plans ACP is required to submit and that there is a clear procedure for the State Water Control Board to review and decide whether the certification will become effective.

Call the Governor:  
804-786- 2211

Email him through his Chief of Staff:

FERC Denies Constitution Pipeline Petition

On January 11, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected Constitution Pipeline’s petition asking FERC to find that New York state wrongly denied the project a key permit.

In April 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Constitution Pipeline a water quality permit, which is required for the project to progress. Constitution challenged the DEC denial and in August 2017, a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the company’s argument that the DEC was “arbitrary and capricious” in denying a water quality permit. One of Constitution’s argument to FERC was that the NY DEC failed to give its decision within a reasonable amount of time, but FERC said New York had made its decision within a reasonable amount of time — within one year of the pipeline’s most recent appeal. Constitution Pipeline has 30 days from the January 11 FERC order to appeal and then FERC has 30 days from an appeal request to act.

Despite being repeatedly denied permits in New York, Constitution Pipeline has all its permits in Pennsylvania, and there, despite objections of property owners, trees have already been cleared in preparation for construction.  Here’s a re-post of an article from September 2017 that spells out the mess early tree-cutting has caused for Pennsylvania landowners on the Constitution pipeline route. Half the sugar maple trees (550 of them!) on one family’s maple sugar farm a few miles from the NY border were cut – and then the pipeline was blocked by neighboring New York. 

Read the news report from WAMC on the January 2018 decision.
Read the press release on the NY Attorney General’s filing in 2016.
Read about the August 2017 decision by the US Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

January 18, 2018 update from Kallanish Energy:  Constitution Pipeline files petition with U.S. Supreme Court. “Constitution Pipeline Co. is taking its fight with New York state to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kallanish Energy reports. The project sponsors, in a Tuesday statement, said, ‘We continue to believe that this federally-approved project has been unjustly prohibited from construction.’ The $1 billion, 121-mile natural gas pipeline is a joint project of Williams Cos., Cabot Oil and Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas and WGL Holdings. The company has petitioned the nation’s highest court to review the judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Last Aug. 18, that court denied Constitution’s challenge after the New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation denied the company’s application for water-quality certification. A rehearing request was denied by the appeals court on Oct. 19. On Jan. 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission upheld the New York decision, even though FERC had approved the project.”

Tree Cutting

Dominion wants to cut your trees. Dominion wants to cut your neighbor’s trees. Dominion wants to cut as many trees as possible on the pipeline path during the allowable time period (now through March, to protect nesting and migrating birds) – because their next opportunity would not be until November 2018. DEQ has said that under Virginia regulations some cutting may be allowed where the activities do not qualify as “land disturbance.” That means only hand-felling, no equipment or machinery – yet even hand-felling can cause significant disturbance.

BUT – Dominion does not have the required permits from North Carolina and has only a conditional one from Virginia. The projected date for completing the required studies for Virginia’s reconsideration of permits is March or April 2018, after the allowable tree felling period has ended.

Here’s a re-post of an article from September 2017 that spells out the mess early tree-cutting has caused for Pennsylvania landowners on the Constitution pipeline route. Half the sugar maple trees (550 of them!) on one family’s maple sugar farm were cut – and then the pipeline was blocked by neighboring New York. The pipeline company sued, and a federal court sided with New York. The landowner lost trees and half her livelihood for a pipeline that probably won’t be built – because the pipeline company charged ahead with having all the permits. A lawyer for the pipeline company said, “I think going forward, people will be very careful before they authorize either the taking of land or the clearing of right of way.” (Dominion, take note!)

On December 27, 2017, Friends of Wintergreen and Wintergreen Property Owners Association filed documents asking FERC to oppose Dominion’s request to cut down trees. For more details on the tree-cutting issue, including Dominion’s petition to FERC, statements from DEQ, and submissions to FERC by several other organizations, see our December 21, 2017, article, What’s Next?