In the News

January 2017

1-18-17 Triad City Beat. It Might Just Work: Blocking the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “If constructed, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline — transmitting highly pressurized natural gas (about 75 percent methane) — would run approximately 600 miles through West Virginia, Virginia and eight counties in eastern North Carolina. Methane is not only a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide; it’s explosive, too. Poorly maintained lines can scorch acres of land and endanger lives, as seen in last year’s pipeline explosion in Westmoreland County, Pa. Another natural gas pipeline threatens not only further environmental exploitation, but human exploitation as well. Running through some of our state’s poorest counties, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would endanger the ownership, function and value of agricultural and ancestral land, not to mention the risk of sinkholes, water contamination and the explosive potential of methane in proximity to homes and schools. Though job creation is an important consideration — not to mention highly successful propaganda — a report commissioned by Dominion Resources, a leading company in the pipeline proposal, estimates only 18 permanent jobs in North Carolina once construction is complete. Development of the pipeline would discourage the region’s pursuit of renewable sources of energy that would reduce the threat of climate change and could quickly create jobs in solar, wind, tidal and other energy futures…. Protests, prayer walks and other forms of resistance should continue to happen as long as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline remains a threat. Research, fund and join these efforts. Explain that human rights and environmental rights are inseparable issues, exploited jointly for deliberate, ruinous gain. We can build on the successes at Standing Rock.”

1-15-17 The Roanoke Times (opinion). Environmental review is flawed. “The recent Roanoke Times article (“State, feds call pipeline DEIS incomplete,” Dec. 24 news story) regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Mountain Valley Pipeline revealed the extreme concerns of thousands of residents and multiple state and federal agencies about incomplete, insufficient and missing information in this DEIS. Having spent the past two-plus years researching Draft Environmental Impact Statements as part of my battle against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, it’s become increasingly clear that a handful of companies are subcontracted to submit reports to the FERC on behalf of companies like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline. The language of these reports is not simply similar, but rather identical, notwithstanding references to specific sites. After many months of review of these resource reports, further questions sent to the applicant by the FERC and answers submitted; the FERC begins a process of ‘cutting and pasting’ language from these submissions, and creates the DEIS. In every single report I’ve reviewed, the FERC concludes ‘no significant environmental impacts’ except to ‘forested lands.’ They do not mention that people live on these ‘forested lands’ or detail the damages. They simply state that such damages can be minimized or mitigated. The mitigation is largely a two-sentence statement that boils down to a lofty promise that the company will use ‘best practices’ during construction. During the period that the FERC submits questions to the applicants, the applicants stall on critical information and give future dates on release of reports. And the FERC basically pushes it all forward to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, as quoted by the FERC in this article. Simple internet searches on pipeline construction news reveals that ‘best practices’ are tossed in the waste can as soon as the first bulldozer is dropped from its trailer.

1-15-17 State Impact. Lancaster County pipeline opponents prepare for encampments. “About 200 people gathered in southern Lancaster County Sunday and ceremonially burned the final environmental impact statement for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. In the document, federal regulators had concluded the project would not create significant environmental harm. Anti-pipeline activists in Lancaster County are preparing to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to block a proposed natural gas transmission line. The group Lancaster Against Pipelines is spearheading the effort. Activists have built two wooden structures near Conestoga, which they intend to occupy if and when crews begin work on the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Williams, the Oklahoma-based company behind the project, expects to receive final approval from federal regulators within weeks. The pipeline recently cleared a major regulatory hurdle, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its final environmental impact statement (EIS), and found the pipeline would not create significant environmental harm. About 200 people attended an event Sunday afternoon where they ceremonially ripped up the EIS and threw it into a bonfire. Pipeline activist Tim Spiese views the entire environmental impact statement as part of a larger process that’s rigged in favor of natural gas companies. ‘It’s so flawed,’ he says. ‘The EPA said there were problems. The Department of Environmental Protection in Pennsylvania said there were problems. All of us who live along the line said there were problems.'”

1-15-17 The Virginian-Pilot (opinion). How to find a billion dollars without raising taxes. “The Commonwealth of Virginia once again finds itself in a budget crunch. Not coincidentally, job creation has stalled. Wouldn’t it be great if the state could collect a billion dollars over five years and use it to stimulate a growing sector of the economy that can employ thousands of new workers? And as a result, lower the state’s carbon footprint and create savings for everyone who uses energy for electricity, heating and cooling? And do it all without imposing new taxes? Turns out, it would not be hard to do. The General Assembly simply needs to repeal a legislative provision passed in 2015 that allows our electric utilities to keep an estimated $1 billion in excess revenue. Instead, the money would be redirected to pay for energy efficiency, renewable energy and building-weatherization projects…. Projects that reduce energy consumption don’t just save dollars for the people who undertake the projects. Lowering consumption means utilities don’t have to build new generating plants, which are paid for through riders that raise electricity bills for everyone. Virginia can tap into these opportunities simply by reversing a boondoggle that Dominion Virginia Power pushed through two years ago: the infamous “rate freeze” provision of Senate Bill 1349…. SB1349 was an unprecedented abrogation of the SCC’s authority to set rates and regulate the profits of public utilities in Virginia. But there is no reason why it can’t be undone, and the utilities’ ill-gotten gains put to a better use. In this case, it is a use that could truly lower customers’ bills while also stimulating the Virginia economy.”

1-12-17 NBC12. Bill exempts some fracking chemicals from records requests. “A bill advancing in the Virginia Legislature would exempt certain chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing from disclosure in response to a public records request. Del. Roxann Robinson’s bill would exempt information about chemicals deemed a trade secret from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Robinson, a Republican, introduced a similar measure last year. She says it’s necessary to protect the oil and gas industry and its closely held trade secrets. But opponents say the bill could hinder first responders in an emergency and keep landowners in the dark about pollutants that might be affecting their groundwater.”

1-12-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Pipeline company files revised request to cross 10 conservation easements. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has revised its requests to cross 10 properties protected by state conservation easements in western Virginia, setting up a potentially precedent-setting decision by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation early next month. The revised applications would reduce the direct impact on lands under conservation easement by 13 acres under a waiver provision. It allows the foundation to accept easements on land of greater value in exchange for allowing encroachments on existing easements granted by landowners to protect properties with high scenic and ecological value. Brett Glymph, executive director of the foundation, said the requirements of the conversion process “ensure that the public’s interest in our easements remains fully protected.” But he said it would be up to the organization’s board of directors to decide at its meeting on Feb. 9 whether the pipeline’s proposals ‘satisfy the requirements of the law.’… But opponents of the pipeline said the proposed conversion of the easements would violate state law and potentially cripple the program for protecting highly scenic, environmentally valuable properties. ‘The risk here for the easement program is significant,’ warned Greg Buppert, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. ‘If the VOF says yes, they undermine the critical trust between the foundation and the owner of the easement.’ Under the proposals, the pipeline would permanently affect 55 acres of the 4,500 acres under easement on the 10 properties in Bath, Highland, Augusta, and Nelson counties, rather than the 68 acres that would have been affected under the original applications filed last May, Ruby said. In return, the company has offered to place easements on an 1,100-acre farm in Highland and 85 acres along the Rockfish River in Nelson…. Buppert said the board should reject the proposed applications because they would violate Section 1074 of the Open Space Land Act. It allows for easement conversions or diversions only if they meet a series of conditions, including showing that the conversions are ‘essential to the orderly development and growth of the locality’ and in accordance with local comprehensive plans. ‘There’s simply no way for Dominion to argue that this is essential to those localities,’ he said.

1-7-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch (opinion). The Atlantic Coast Pipeline gets a green light, and red herrings. “A federal agency is giving a green light to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — and that has environmental groups seeing red. But whether by accident or design, they are muddying the issue. A few days ago the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, released a draft of its environmental impact statement for the ACP. It’s long and detailed and covers a lot of ground, from the angle of slopes over which the pipeline would be built to its effect on groundwater, vegetation and wildlife, and public land and recreation. The bottom line: While the pipeline would do some damage, it’s nothing that can’t be reduced or fixed to ‘less-than-significant’ levels. Environmental groups and activists opposed to the pipeline are furious. Naturally, they hoped FERC would throw up a major roadblock to the ACP. It didn’t…. Kirk Bowers, a pipeline coordinator for the Sierra Club, raises a more relevant objection when he notes that the review does not provide engineering data about the stability of steep slopes and the potential for landslides or whether ‘the pipeline is going to slide down the hill . . . and blow up.’ That’s true, although FERC does examine the issue in narrative form in section 4.1.4.2, which notes that the pipeline route does include multiple sections of very steep terrain — steep enough that some construction equipment will have to be tethered to other equipment at the top of some hills to keep from tumbling down…. Opponents of the pipeline raise other objections as well — such as the property rights of landowners affected by eminent domain and its effect on rural communities.”

1-6-17 WMRA. Buckingham Approves Pipeline Component, Against Opposition. “The vote approved a special use permit for Dominion Power, allowing it to build and maintain a station on 68 acres in Buckingham that would compress natural gas as it flows through the proposed pipeline from the fracking fields of West Virginia to utility customers in North Carolina. The vote came on the heels of a lengthy 4-hour public hearing. More than 150 people packed into Thursday’s meeting, with 95 of them signing up to speak. The majority were opposed to the compressor station and the pipeline, citing health and environmental concerns. Ella Rose moved to Buckingham from Nelson County five years ago. Her home is the closest to the proposed compressor station. ‘Our lives should not be sacrificed. Our lives count and are dependent on you to make a decision that favors life and not financial interests. Most especially Dominion’s financial interest. Thank you.’ The compressor station is expected to bring the county nearly $9 million in tax revenue over the first eight years.

1-6-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Opponents fail to sway Buckingham supervisors on controversial pipeline compressor station. “A controversial compressor station needed for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project won quick approval from the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors after dozens of opponents implored the board to vote no during a five-hour public hearing Thursday night. ‘In all, the board has been part of a full and wide discussion of this matter,’ said Supervisor Donald E. Bryan, who added that the board had been grappling with the compressor station proposal for about two years and said he had consulted other counties with compressor stations and found no evidence of detrimental health or noise effects. Two supervisors abstained, one because he works for Dominion Resources, which is spearheading the proposed pipeline, and the other because he has interest in land ‘pertaining to the pipeline.’ Annie Parr, born and raised in Buckingham, where her family has owned hundreds of acres of land for generations, was incensed by the vote. ‘Shame on every one of you,’ she told the supervisors at the end of the hearing, during which 95 speakers signed up and the board’s 141-person-capacity chambers were packed with pipeline and compressor station opponents from Buckingham and elsewhere in Virginia…. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality must still approve an air permit for the station. Irene Leech, 58, who raises cattle on land in Buckingham that has been in her family for about 100 years, said the proposed pipeline would bisect her property. ‘Our land is our heritage,’ she said. ‘It’s not a commodity I could sell to take care of myself.”

1-5-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Buckingham approves compressor station for Dominion pipeline over opposition from residents. “After a five-hour public hearing Thursday night, the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a controversial compressor station, part of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project spearheaded by Dominion, over the objections of dozens of opponents. ‘In all the board has been part of a full and wide discussion of this matter,’ said Supervisor Donald E. Bryan, who added that the board had been grappling with the compressor station proposal for about two years and said he had consulted other counties with compressor stations and found no evidence of detrimental health or noise effects. Two supervisors abstained, one because he works for Dominion and the other because he has interest in land ‘pertaining to the pipeline.’ Annie Parr, born and raised in Buckingham, where her family has owned hundreds of acres of land for generations, was incensed by the vote. ‘Shame on every one of you,’ she told the supervisors at the end of the hearing, during which 95 speakers signed up and the board’s 141-capacity chambers were packed with pipeline and compressor station opponents from Buckingham and elsewhere in Virginia.”

1-4-17 The Daily Progress. Pipeline company files revised request to cross 10 conservation easements. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has revised its requests to cross 10 properties protected by state conservation easements in western Virginia, setting up a potentially precedent-setting decision by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation early next month. The revised applications would reduce the direct impact on lands under conservation easement by 13 acres under a waiver provision. It allows the foundation to accept easements on land of greater value in exchange for allowing encroachments on existing easements granted by landowners to protect properties with high scenic and ecological value. Brett Glymph, executive director of the foundation, said the requirements of the conversion process ‘ensure that the public’s interest in our easements remains fully protected.’ But he said it would be up to the organization’s board of directors to decide at its meeting on Feb. 9 whether the pipeline’s proposals ‘satisfy the requirements of the law.’… But opponents of the pipeline said the proposed conversion of the easements would violate state law and potentially cripple the program for protecting highly scenic, environmentally valuable properties. ‘The risk here for the easement program is significant,’ warned Greg Buppert, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. ‘If the VOF says yes, they undermine the critical trust between the foundation and the owner of the easement.’ Under the proposals, the pipeline would permanently affect 55 acres of the 4,500 acres under easement on the 10 properties in Bath, Highland, Augusta and Nelson counties, rather than the 68 acres that would have been affected under the original applications filed last May, Ruby said. In return, the company has offered to place easements on an 1,100-acre farm in Highland and 85 acres along the Rockfish River in Nelson.”

 


Note:  This page contains recent news articles from the past two months.  For older news articles regarding Friends of Nelson, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, anti-pipeline advocacy, and pipeline-related news, please visit our archived news pages:

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016