Around 500 people came to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hearing in Harrisonburg on the deeply controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. DEQ recently announced it would require certification of the pipeline under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act rather than just relying on a nationwide permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The draft 401 Certification would establish additional conditions “for activities in upland areas that are located near state waters and that may indirectly affect state water along the route of the project,” conditions including such things as engineering and best practices for steep slopes and slide-prone areas, and environmental monitoring and inspections. State erosion and sediment control and storm water management requirements also must be met by the proposed ACP.
The hearing was the first of three scheduled to take place during the public comment period, which ends August 22, 2017. DEQ says the 50-day comment period is 20 days longer than required. Comments may be made by email or by letter before August 22.
Approximately 100 people signed up to speak, but time allowed for only 89 speakers. Although the hearing was specifically for comments about the water permitting, almost all of the 15 or so pro-pipeline speakers talked about jobs, and did not mention water, ignoring the fact that the E in DEQ stands for Environment and not Employment. [We suspect that’s because it is difficult to make a persuasive case for construction procedures which pollute water supplies.] A number of the pro-pipeline speakers were from out of the area: Chesapeake, Fairfax, Henrico, etc.
See below for media reports documenting that the vast majority of people who came to Harrisonburg opposed Dominion Energy’s destructive pipeline.
- 8-8-17 WMRA. At Pipeline Hearings, Voices of Protest and Support. [Sound collage and slide show] http://wmra.org/post/pipeline-hearings-voices-protest-and-support
- 8-8-17 News Leader. Pipeline opponents demand action from state at DEQ hearing. http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2017/08/08/pipeline-opponents-demand-action-state-deq-hearing/547485001/
- 8-8-17 Nelson County Times. Hundreds, including Nelson residents, attend DEQ hearing on pipeline. http://www.newsadvance.com/nelson_county_times/news/hundreds-including-nelson-residents-attend-deq-hearing-on-pipeline/article_c003c408-afed-52e4-8ca7-fc41ccf5aaae.html
- 8-8-17 Blue Virginia article: http://bluevirginia.us/2017/08/science-clear-mountain-stream-500-show-atlantic-coast-pipeline-demand-deq-job
- 8-8-17 Blue Virginia photo.video: http://bluevirginia.us/2017/08/video-photos-harrisonburg-rockingham-county-residents-stare-goliath-greed-dominion-destructive-fracked-gas-pipelines
- 8-8-17 CCAN on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChesapeakeClimate/posts/10154891176672219
- 8-7-17 WHSV. http://www.whsv.com/content/news/Pipeline-meeting-draws-project-supporters–439081523.html
See also the sampling below of Facebook videos of Harrisonburg speakers. The first three videos were made by Jennifer Lewis of Friends of Augusta, the fourth is from Walking the Line.
- Richard Averitt: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferlewis930/videos/10155692811827171/
- Joshua Vana: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferlewis930/videos/10155692789692171/
- Pam Gibson: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferlewis930/videos/10155692803757171/
- Walking the Line: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreWalkingTheLine/videos/838788506288164/
A DEQ ACP hearing was held in Farmville on August 10. Here are a few Facebook videos from Farmville:
- Free Nelson: https://www.facebook.com/mjdishere/videos/10156594681223289/
- Michael James-Deramo: https://www.facebook.com/mjdishere/videos/10156594734878289/
- Mara Eve Robbins: https://www.facebook.com/mara.robbins/videos/10155556033485629/
DEQ hearings for the Mountain Vally Pipeline were held in Radford and Chatham on August 8 and 9. The final ACP hearing will be in Alberta on August 14.
Some general comments on the hearings by our friends from Free Nelson:
- The audience was reprimanded for applause only when that applause was offered for remarks by Water protectors/anti-pipeline citizens; never when it came in support of pro-pipeline speakers.
- The rules changed from hearing to hearing. In Chatham poems and singing were banned, but we could have water bottles. In Farmville, poetry was allowed as long as you didn’t have an empty plastic water cup, but if you did, you were removed from the building. In Radford, poetry in any form landed you in poetry jail and therefore removed from the hearing.
- Both Dominion and EQT made sure they had pro-pipeline folks to represent their viewpoints. Those who arrived en masse by bus, or who received gift cards were obvious plants by the industry. Their speeches also gave them away: repeated phrasing and sentences taken from industry brochures and advertising.