From Friends of Nelson


July 16, 2020

WE—ALL OF US WORKING TOGETHER—DID IT! There will be NO PIPELINE!

Six years of hard work by hundreds of volunteers, the great team at ABRA and our superb legal teams from the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates and other conservation organizations, called a halt to the Dominion and Duke’s awful, profit-seeking Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal.

All the assistance from the attorneys and the experts ultimately depended on the fact that ordinary citizens in Nelson, Buckingham, Augusta, Highland and Bath counties joined citizen groups in SE Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia to stand against the pipeline. We informed ourselves and our neighbors, read long reports, filed comments with federal and state regulators, petitioned our elected representatives, attended hearings and gave passionate testimony, wrote letters to the editor, attended rallies, created art, wrote songs, and made videos, pitched in at tabling events, attended public meetings, helped with stream monitoring, …and in every way we could conceive kept up the pressure and showed that little David wasn’t afraid of Goliath. Had we been passive in the face of overwhelming odds, the attorneys and experts might have found other projects more worthy of their talents and time.

Time was on our side. While our team was bedeviling Dominion’s team with beautifully crafted lawsuits, the world was changing in our favor. Renewable energy caught fire, with amazing reductions in price; the American public finally realized that climate change is real and the consequences of failing to reduce our carbon footprint are horrific; “Black Lives Matter” called attention to environmental justice concerns and the need for systemic changes in many of our institutions; overproduction in the fracking rush undercut the price of natural gas and bankrupted many of the drillers; and the investment community lost confidence in fossil fuels. Expert analysts discredited Dominion’s claims of rising demand for electricity, massive job creation, and negligent environmental impacts.

Slowly at first, the comments I heard at our tabling events of “It’s a done deal” and “you can’t beat Dominion” were replaced by questions about specific lawsuits and expressions of optimism.

On behalf of the Board of Friends of Nelson, I want to thank you for your steadfast support through this six-year trial of fire. Your willingness to contribute your time and money, wear our NO PIPELINE and Friends of Nelson T-shirts, put up NO PIPELINE yard signs, and do all the hard work necessary to get the truth of the ACP proposal out was critical. And then you helped set up for events, work music festivals, posted flyers, wrote letters, went to demonstrations, gave talks, and so much more. Together we truly are stronger.

Having fulfilled our mission of defeating the pipeline proposal, the question becomes “What’s next?”

We will continue our support of landowners who were in the pipeline’s path. Joyce Burton, our landowner liaison, will continue to help landowners as they try to figure out what the cancellation means for them in terms of the easements they have signed, what rights they now have (or don’t) over the land, what the legal situation is, etc. Landowners with questions should contact us at friendsofnelson@gmail.com.

We will tie up loose ends, including removing or temporarily modifying the large “NO PIPELINE” signs and banners that have served us so well, wrapping up our stream water quality monitoring program in a way that assures the data we collected will be available for future use as needed, and deciding what to do with our T-shirts and other paraphernalia.

We will do what we can to help put an end to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. That terrible project is largely complete, but there are still opportunities to stop or modify it, and we will work with Mountain Valley Watch, POWHR and ABRA to lend a hand where we can.

Jill Averitt will continue to serve as our volunteer coordinator, graphic artist and social media expert, although her Facebook postings will be fewer and more selective.

We will work to compile and preserve an archive of the battle against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that can inform future generations about this landmark struggle. We don’t want anyone to forget this story and the multitudes of people like you who helped make it happen.

In the months to come, the Friends of Nelson’s Board of Directors will give careful consideration to the future of our organization. Unlike in the past six years, we now have the luxury of time for exploring options and deliberating possible avenues for continuing to serve Nelson County. We will keep you posted.

Once again, Friends of Nelson thanks each and every one of you for your support, and for the many and various ways you all played a part over the last six years in bringing us to this moment of relief and celebration.

Sincerely,
Doug Wellman, President
Friends of Nelson