In the News

July 2017

7-24-17 and VA Talk Radio Network. Greg Buppert discusses ACP and EIS. Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Greg Buppert, discusses the latest report on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the flaws on the report, and the possible effects on the environment.

7-23-17 NBC29. Anti-Pipeline Groups Meet Following FERC’s Final Pipeline Review. Coverage of Friends of Nelson meeting on July 23, 2017.  “A group in central Virginia is planning its next steps to stop Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Their action comes just days after federal regulators released a final environmental review of the natural gas project. ‘We’re having a meeting for the people in Nelson County to understand better what the process is happening with the pipeline,’ Joyce Burton with Friends of Nelson said. For the Friends of Nelson County, the fight against Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is far from over.”

7-22-17 Blue Virginia. Dominion Ranked Second-Worst in US on Energy Efficiency. “Thank heaven for Alabama Power! Were it not for them, Virginia would have, in Dominion Energy, the least energy efficient utility in the whole US. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which has long ranked states, cities and countries on their energy saving programs, recently released its first ranking of the 51 largest electric utilities in the country. These companies were evaluated on their overall success in reducing energy use, on their specific programs to help homeowners and businesses save energy, and on their efficiency targets, differential rates and other strategic approaches. On every measure, Dominion received failing scores, ending up with a dreadful 5.5 out of a possible 50 points. In other words – they’re not even trying, folks.” The article gives examples of energy-saiving programs Dominion lacks, and noted that Dominion can’t “plead any lack of resources to pursue efficiency goals. The company ranks 8th in the country on sales and 6th in revenue.”

7-21-17 Science. Flawed environmental justice analyses.  “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline developer’s preferred route disproportionately affects indigenous peoples in North Carolina.”

7-21-17 Nelson County Times/News-Advance. Forest Service issues draft decision to OK use of National Forest System lands for pipeline. “The U.S. Forest Service on Friday issued a draft record of decision to authorize the use and occupancy of National Forest System lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and approve project-specific forest plan amendments for the Monongahela National Forest and George Washington National Forest. According to a release, the draft decision, jointly issued by the Forest Service’s Eastern and Southern Regional Foresters, would allow the ACP to construct and operate 21 miles of the pipeline route that would cross National Forest System lands. ‘Our proposed decision recognizes Forest Service efforts to provide for multiple uses, minimize impacts to natural resources, and to support federal policies that encourage energy infrastructure, jobs, and economic growth,’ Southern Regional Forester Tony Tooke said in the release.”

7-21-17 Washington Post. Environmental report on pipeline favorable for developers. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees interstate natural gas pipelines, released its final environmental impact statement Friday for the proposed 600-mile (965-kilometer) pipeline, which has broad support from political and business leaders but is staunchly opposed by environmentalists and many affected landowners. The assessment is a major milestone in the approval process for the project that will cross hundreds of bodies of water, mountainous terrain, national forest, and the Appalachian Trail. Its findings were largely favorable for developers. The impact statement did find that construction in steep terrain could increase the potential for landslides and that the project was likely to adversely affect seven species protected under the Endangered Species Act. It found that the greatest impact on vegetation would be on forested areas, with more than 3,400 acres having long-term or permanent effects.”

Oil Change International issued a press release titled FERC’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Review Shrugs at Climate Disaster, which begins by saying, “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today released its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile project driven by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy that would carry fracked gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. In the review, FERC continues its systemic failure to seriously assess whether the pipeline is needed, while appearing to shrug off the damage it would inflict on people’s land, water, health, and the climate. Oil Change International Research Analyst Kelly Trout had the following response: ‘With this sham review, FERC is teeing up Dominion and Duke to reap big profits on the backs of communities, their own customers, and the climate. FERC’s climate assessment is laughable. The agency grossly undercounts climate pollution by omitting fracking emissions, downplaying methane leakage, and wrongly assuming gas will replace coal when it increasingly displaces clean energy. It’s common sense that we can’t solve the climate crisis by digging a bigger hole of pollution. But that’s exactly what FERC is systematically helping the gas industry do.'”

7-21-17 Staunton News Leader. Dominion sees ‘clear path to approval’ for pipeline after FERC releases report. “In its environmental assessment, FERC concluded that the pipeline’s construction and operation ‘would result in temporary and permanent impacts on the environment’ and ‘would result in some adverse effects.’ However, the commission also wrote that if the pipeline developers follow through with ‘impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures’ and heed FERC recommendations to ‘further avoid, minimize, and mitigate these impacts, most project effects would be reduced to less-than-significant levels.’ Dominion Energy sees this conclusion as favorable — it ‘provides a a clear path for final approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline this fall,’ said Leslie Hartz, Dominion’s vice president of engineering and construction, in a press release…. Lew Freeman, executive director of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, an organization that’s vocally opposed the pipeline, said FERC’s environmental review ‘reveals significant gaps in information and woefully inadequate analysis’ in a press release.”

Additional media reports on the release of the EIS:

7-20-17 Penn State News. Shale gas development spurring spread of invasive plants in Pa. forests.  A team of researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has found that invasive, non-native plants are making significant inroads in areas around hundreds of well pads, access roads and pipelines built to extract gas from the Marcellus shale. These invasive species have long-term negative consequences for forest ecosystems, timbering, wildlife habitat and ecotourism.

7-20-17 ABC11. Residents jam Rocky Mount [NC] meeting to protest pipeline. “In a high stakes meeting about the future of powering our homes, a packed house of residents sure brought the heat. The [NC] Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday hosted its final public hearing on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the $4.5 billion project touted by Duke Energy as the best way to increase natural gas supply to the booming Piedmont.”

7-20-17 News Virginian. Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s environmental impact statement is expected Friday. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to release the final environmental impact statement Friday for the 600-mile, roughly $5.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Dominion Energy-led project that will run from West Virginia through the heart of Virginia and into North Carolina.” Long article discussing the FERC process, with comments by pipeline opponents and by Dominion.

7-19-17 Nelson County Times. Letter to the Editor by Ernie Reed: Speak out on DEQ pipeline plans. “Two years ago, on July 14, 2015, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution R2015-61, petitioning Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward to provide public access to erosion and sediment control plans for the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  The resolution requested that the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) require project-specific erosion and sediment management plans for the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline project that meet all Virginia standards and that these plans be made public prior to project approval and construction.  On July 3, 2017, the DEQ issued a public notice to seek public comment and announce public hearings on a draft Section 401 Certification for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project that 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 proposed pipeline. The deadline for comments is Aug. 22.  However, the DEQ has not made public erosion and sediment control plans. In fact, the DEQ has stated that it does not intend to review the plans prior to 401 Water Quality Certification.  Neither the public nor local officials can provide any meaningful comment without this information. The DEQ has clearly begun the comment period prematurely, before critical information has been made available.  Most importantly, the DEQ believes it can certify that the ACP will meet Virginia water quality standards without a review these plans.  The DEQ has scheduled public hearings in Harrisonburg (Aug. 7), Chatham (Aug. 9) and Dinwiddie (Aug. 14). Friends of Nelson requests that people attend one, two or all of these hearings and demand that the DEQ stop this process immediately and reinitiate it only after the requested information has been made public and that the DEQ must do a full public review of all erosion and sediment control plans for the ACP prior to any 401 Water Quality Certification.”

7-19-17 Washington Examiner. House votes to give FERC new power over pipelines. “The House voted Wednesday to give the nation’s top energy regulator broader powers to approve natural gas pipelines, while also giving it primary authority over oil and gas pipelines that cross international borders such as Keystone XL.”

7-19-17 Daily Record [Dunn NC]. Hundreds Flood Pipeline Hearing. “At a hearing in Fayetteville Tuesday, representatives from the N.C. Division of Water Resources asked attendees to hold up their signs to be pictured and recorded. Protesters from the eight North Carolina counties affected waved their protest signs. Most of the objections were about the pipeline’s environmental impact.The proposed project will permanently impact 766 feet of streams and temporarily impact 454 acres of wetlands.”

7-19-17 News Virginian. Opinion piece by Jennifer Lewis: Our Elected Officials and the Pipeline. “These last 3 years of fighting the approval of the Atlantic Coast pipeline, we have constantly heard from our elected officials that “there is nothing I can do” and “it’s a federal issue”. I think it is time for them to step aside and make room for people who will take the responsibility of representing their neighbors, friends and family, instead of just thinking of us as nameless constituents. It is completely untrue that there is nothing these politicians can do, it’s just that they don’t want to. They don’t want to jeopardize the gravy train that is Dominion giving campaign donations, to both sides of the aisle…. This pipeline issue is not just about it being a short-sighted, dirty, fracked-gas pipeline, this is about who we are as a state. Are we willing to give up our and our neighbors private property rights for this pipeline? Are we going to stand by while the already wealthy get even richer off us having to live with this threat and destruction every day? Since it is obvious that our elected officials will not stand up for us, we need everyone that opposes this pipeline to get involved in any way you can.”

7-19-17 WAVY10. Suffolk woman fighting to keep Atlantic Coast Pipeline off her land. “Dominion Energy is moving full speed ahead with its Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but one Hampton Roads resident is saying, ‘Not in my backyard.’ Paulette Johnson bought the property in Suffolk 10 years ago, and when she did, she had no thought even in her wildest imagination that a pipeline would cut right through the property.”

7-19-17 NBC29. Public Comment Open for Two Proposed Pipelines. “The public comment period is open for a pair of pipelines trying to get a clean water certification. Local and Vocal in Staunton hosted a meeting Wednesday night at the Staunton Public Library to talk about the threat the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline pose to water.”

7-19-17 Nelson County Times. One Pipeline, Two Sides. A pair of stories in the Nelson County Times, one about opponents and one about supporters of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Family on pipeline route fights ACP to preserve its history, and Shipman residents with pipeline experience among ACP supporters.

7-18-17 Fayetteville Observer [NC]. Pipeline opponents outnumber supporters at public hearing. “Opponents of a natural gas pipeline told state officials Tuesday that it will harm the environment and is not needed, but supporters said the pipeline is safe and will create jobs. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing at Fayetteville Technical Community on a water quality certification application for the proposed pipeline…. About 35 people spoke in opposition to the pipeline at the public hearing. About 10 were in favor.”

7-18-17 WBUR. Natural Gas At Odds With Nature. “A proposed natural gas pipeline would cut through a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. We’ll look at what the impacts could be.” Segment aired on July 18, 2017.

7-18-17 New Documents Further Reveal Cozy Relationship Between Energy Industry and FERC Regulators. “The cozy relationship between the oil and gas industry and the government agencies assigned to regulate it is a well-documented problem. New sources obtained by the Center for Public Integrity further confirm this. The documents show the close, friendly relationship between former FERC commissioner Colette Honorable and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a major lobbying group for big utilities corporations. Among other things, the documents reveal further evidence that the three corporations behind the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline — which is still awaiting final approval from FERC — have had close access to FERC. The CEO of one of the three ACP companies even attended a private dinner with Honorable. The sources were obtained by CPI through a Freedom of Information Act request. CPI posted the documents in a new report [see NPR story immediately below] they published on FERC and the build out of pipeline infrastructure from Appalachia.”

7-18-17 News Virginian. Business and labor groups write statewide candidates to urge support for ACP. “Virginia labor and business organizations are reaching out to candidates for statewide office to tell them of their support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All six major party candidates for Virginia governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general were written this week by more than three dozen Virginia labor and business organizations and told of their support for the pipeline.

7-17-17 NPR. Natural Gas Building Boom Fuels Climate Worries, Enrages Landowners. A lengthy and well-researched NPR Morning Edition piece on the multiple pipelines proposed in the last several years (including the MVP and ACP), the dysfunctionality of FERC, the push by energy companies, and the push-back by pipeline opponents.

7-17-17 RadioIQ-WVTF. Could Courts Stop The Pipelines? “Last week, Virginia’s Supreme Court upheld a state law that allows natural gas companies to survey private property without the owner’s permission for a proposed pipeline, but legal experts say landowners could still block construction as Sandy Hausman reports.”

7-17-17 WBUR. FERC: The Agency Behind Interstate Pipelines. “America’s shale boom is helping create a growing network of natural gas pipelines, sparking protests from many local landowners and environmentalists. But a lot of the anger is directed at the federal agency that approves interstate pipelines — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. Here & Now’s Robin Young speaks with StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick (@MarieCusick), and Kristen Lombardi (@klombardi1), investigative reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, about the agency and its responsibilities.”  [see story immediately above]

7-17-17 The Robesonian [NC]. County balks at giving pipeline permit. “Although they previously passed a resolution supporting the construction of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Robeson County [NC] commissioners tonight voted to delay granting a conditional-use permit that would allow for the placement of a monitoring station and 350-foot-tall microwave cell tower in Pembroke. All seven of the commissioners present voted at the recommendation of Commissioner Noah Woods that the permit not be denied but any action delayed until pubic hearings are held in Robeson County to educate the public about the proposed pipeline and its advantages and disadvantages.”

7-17-17 News Virginian. Letter to Editor by Bill Limpert: Court shelves property rights in favor of Dominion land grab. “Mr. Ruby’s comments regarding Dominion’s cooperation with landowners is also a stretch of epic proportions. This isn’t a cooperative collaboration. This is a land grab, pure and simple. My wife and I, and others have been bullied and harassed throughout the survey process.”

7-17-17 Blue Virginia. Echoes of a Dark Past at Virginia’s Standing Rock: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “In March 1865, as the Civil War approached its fiery end, Congress created the United States Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau. ‘The Bureau was empowered to distribute clothing, food, and fuel to destitute freedmen and oversee ‘all subjects’ relating to their condition in the South.’ The Bureau also was authorized “to divide abandoned and confiscated land into forty-acre plots for rental to freedmen and loyal refugees and eventual sale” and to create Freedmen’s schools to provide education to the newly freed population. [Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction (31, 43)]. Freedmen’s Bureau offices were established across the south. One of those field offices was in Buckingham County, Virginia. Buckingham was a majority Black county before, during and after the Civil War and it was home to many freedmen who had purchased their freedom even before the end of slavery. The Bureau took up residence at the Buckingham County Courthouse, an historic building designed by Thomas Jefferson and it established a Freedmen’s school there, known as the Lincoln School. In February 1869, an arsonist burned the Buckingham County courthouse to the ground. As Dr. Lakshmi Fjord, a cultural anthropologist and Visiting Scholar at the University of Virginia has written, the fire ‘destroyed all records of enslavement, wills [and] slave purchases of their freedom…that might be used by the 2:1 majority former slaves to sue former masters for restitution.’ Buckingham County is the geographic heart of Virginia. But the heart holds memories and in Buckingham County, those include Virginia’s complicated and often painful past. Which brings us to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.” And the compressor station in the heart of the African American community.  [This article also received national press attention in the Huffington Post.]

7-17-17 Blue Ridge Outdoors. Atlantic Coast Pipeline: The Keystone of the East. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is the Keystone of the East…. Supporters of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline say it will boost the economy and meet a growing demand for natural gas energy. Opponents say it will violate the Clean Water Act and private property rights, threaten drinking water supplies, and put natural resources at risk. The pipeline also is a massive investment in a fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when renewables are on the rise. The opposition is vocal and ready to file appeals if the project is approved. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will release an environmental impact report in July, which could determine whether the pipeline can proceed. Environmental groups are already poised to take legal action.”

7-16-17 NBC29. Anti-Pipeline Group Discuss Next Steps for DEQ Public Hearings. “A group that walked a stretch of Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route from the Shenandoah Valley into central Virginia earlier this month is now planning its next steps. Anti-pipeline group ‘Walking the Line into the Heart of Virginia’ gathered Sunday in Charlottesville to celebrate its two-week journey from Bath County to Buckingham County. Sunday’s meeting was more than just a celebration of the 150-mile hike which concluded July 2. The group met to plan out its next steps in the battle against the proposed pipeline. ‘Walking the Line’ will turn its attention to the Department of Environmental Quality’s public hearings scheduled to take place in August. Those hearings will give the public a chance to comment on how the pipeline could affect water quality in Virginia.”

7-16-17 News-Virginian. Monkey puzzles and lawmakers: make ’em take the pledge! (Opinion piece by Stephen Nash). “William Black, a former bank regulator, summarizes the ordinary citizen’s street-level, tragic view when he writes that ‘a campaign contribution always generates the best return on investment.’ But your government’s yours, not Dominion Energy’s. It’s not for the benefit of the roster of corporate high-rollers that have given large amounts to this area’s lawmakers — although we keep electing them. So the missing puzzle piece is this: if they’re making monkeys of us and we know it, so what can we do about it?”

7-16-17 Richmond Times Dispatch. Editorial: A fair call on pipeline surveying. “Courts are supposed to rule on the law, not to strike good balances. But by happy coincidence, the Virginia Supreme Court did strike a good balance in two recent rulings on surveying property. Some landowners want to keep out surveyors for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. But laws going as far back as 1782 have allowed the surveying of private property for infrastructure projects. All 50 states have similar laws, and courts have continuously upheld the authority to survey on private lands. What’s more, the mere act of walking across a property does not amount to a government “taking,” especially one for private purposes — which Virginia’s Constitution has prohibited since a 2012 property-rights amendment passed. Nevertheless, the court said, property owners do deserve specific advance notice of when surveyors will appear. Good. Property owners understandably feel like Dominion and the other energy companies behind the pipeline are walking all over them. They deserve some advance warning at the least.”

7-15-17 NBC29. Ralph Northam Faces Pressure from Protesters for Pipeline Views. “Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam is facing pressure from anti-pipeline groups in central Virginia to oppose Dominion’s planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They peppered him with questions at Saturday morning’s monthly breakfast meeting of the Albemarle County Democratic Committee. He fielded many questions after his speech to party members; all of them were about the pipeline. ‘I have a very strong environmental record, that’s one of the reasons that I got into this business, I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, it was blue in my backyard,’ Northam said. Northam is running on an environmentalist platform in the race for governor. Some fellow Democrats question how he can call himself an environmentalist and support pipelines.”

7-15-17 Tidewater News. Atlantic Coast Pipeline contractor may have conflict in Southampton. “In late May, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality awarded a state contract to the Blacksburg-based environmental contracting firm EEE Consulting Inc. The purpose was to evaluate Dominion Power’s erosion and sediment control plans for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline to stay in compliance with state laws. However, some environmentalists are now alleging that the firm may be in violation of the contract’s conflict of interest clause due to its existing business dealings with Dominion in Southampton County…. However, in response to repeated queries on the matter, the DEQ is reassessing information related to EEE’s existing contracts with Dominion as well as other affiliates of Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC and Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC.”

7-15-17 Daily Progress. Dominion required to perform water, soil and fish tissue testing at leaking Chesapeake coal ash ponds. “Dominion Energy must test water, fish tissue and sediment in the Elizabeth River for the next two years, a federal judge ruled in a lawsuit that claimed contamination from the utility’s coal ash ponds in Chesapeake has been seeping into the river for years. The judge also is requiring Dominion to apply for new permits from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality that will dictate how the ash will be handled moving forward.”

7-14-17 WMRA. “The state Supreme Court rules against an Augusta County property owner in her fight to keep Atlantic Coast Pipeline surveyors off her land.”

7-14-17 Los Angeles Times. A pipeline that would cut through the iconic Appalachian Trail sparks a fight over natural gas expansion. “[O]ne of the country’s most iconic viewsheds could soon be changed forever to make room for an energy project favored not just by fossil fuel industry boosters like President Trump, but also Virginia’s Democratic governor. A natural gas developer with some powerful political allies is nearing final approval to plow a pipeline corridor as wide as 150 feet, tracking the trail for dozens of miles and burrowing through it at one point…. To many, the Mountain Valley Pipeline has become a symbol of the building frenzy. Concern stretches all the way to California, where climate activists worry that such projects are undermining their efforts. Leaders of the Pacific Crest Trail Assn. fear that gas companies feel increasingly emboldened to impose an ever bigger footprint on protected lands. ‘Everybody, not only in the East, but around every national scenic trail, should be concerned about this,’ said Andrew Downs, regional director with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the 90-year-old nonprofit organization entrusted by the National Park Service decades ago with the task of managing the trail.”

7-14-17 Houston Chronicle. Pipeline projects caught up in Washington “dysfunction.” “Billions of dollars in gas pipeline projects face the prospect of substantial delays, as attempts to fill critical positions on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission fall prey to a political inertia that has overtaken Washington in recent months. With health care and the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contact with Russia sucking up the capital’s oxygen – and Republicans and Democrats increasingly at odds – nominations to federal posts have slowed to a virtual crawl. The situation is particularly dire at FERC, which must give approval before construction can begin on any natural gas pipeline that crosses state lines. For the past five months, the five-member commission has not had the minimum three commissioners required for a vote – a first in its more than 40-year history.”

7-14-17 The Hill. Feds investigating Ohio pipeline over ‘misstatements.’ “Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff said in a Thursday notice that they preliminarily determined that Energy Transfer Partners, developer of the Rover pipeline, ‘did not fully and forthrightly disclose all relevant information to the commission’ in paperwork filed for a federal permit.” ETP’s spill of drilling waste and deisel fuel at another Rover site prompted FERC to order a temporary stop to horizontal drilling. This latest incident “regards a historic house that Energy Transfer purchased and demolished in Ohio for the construction. State historic preservation officials say that the house was a protected historic landmark and its demolition was illegal.  ‘In the application and other docketed filings, Rover falsely promised it would avoid adverse effects to a historic resource that it was simultaneously working to purchase and destroy,’ FERC wrote in its notice. ‘Rover subsequently made several misstatements in its docketed response to the commission’s questions about why it had purchased and demolished the resource.'”

7-13-17 Farmville Herald. Letter to the Editor by Deborah Kushner: ‘Imagining the devastation.’ “I walked the line – 140 miles of Virginia’s forests, trails and roads tracking the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s (ACP) proposed route from Bath to Buckingham…. The sights and sounds we witnessed were pristine: whippoorwills singing through the night, waterfalls cascading between mossy banks, cows grazing in green fields, abundant gardens and laundry on outdoor clotheslines. Imagining the devastation caused by long construction times, heavy equipment on country lanes, dynamite blasting through rock, soil and trees in the oldest mountains in North America was nightmarish and worse. These landowners are our neighbors, unlucky to live in the path of a gas behemoth that cares not for people, property or heritage but only for profit. Explosions, earthquakes, contamination, pollution, loss of property value and loss of quality of life are certainties along pipeline paths.”

7-13-17 The Hill. Trump taps industry lawyer to lead energy commission. “President Trump is planning to name an energy industry attorney to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Trump announced the pick of Kevin McIntyre for FERC late Thursday. McIntyre is the co-head of the energy practice at Jones Day, a global law firm that has sent numerous attorneys to the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn. McIntyre, a Republican, has represented energy industry clients on a number of matters ranging from compliance and enforcement to trading, exports, marketing and more…. Trump is asking the Senate to confirm McIntyre to two terms, stretching his time at FERC out to mid-2023. He is planning to name McIntyre chairman upon confirmation; a commissioner does not need a specific Senate confirmation to be chairman.”

7-13-17 Washington Post. Supreme Court of Virginia hands pipeline foes small victory, but project rolls on. “The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled Thursday on two cases related to the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, handing opponents a minor victory but otherwise leaving the huge project unscathed. The court found in favor of a small group of landowners in Buckingham County who said pipeline surveyors had not provided adequate notice before entering their property. Survey crews have since changed their practice, though, to give more specific information about timing. The other case was potentially far more sweeping, as a landowner challenged whether an out-of-state utility has the right to enter property for surveys or to seize property under eminent domain. Although the natural gas pipeline project is largely controlled by Richmond-based Dominion Energy, the partnership that is building it is registered in Delaware. The court ruled that state law permits the survey work but said the plaintiffs had waited too late in the legal process to raise the issue of eminent domain, or property seizure. One expert said that could leave the door open for someone to pursue the eminent domain question, because the state constitution contains language prohibiting any outside company from exercising ‘the powers or functions of a public service enterprise.'”  (Of course, the industry mouthpiece, Marcellus Drilling News, sees the ruling very differently:  Va. Supreme Court Rules Against Granny in Pipeline Survey Case and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Wins Another Virginia Court Case)

7-12-17 DeSmog. A Week After Leaving FERC, Former Commissioner Honorable Joins Firm Lobbying for Company Behind Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Only one week after leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), former commissioner Colette Honorable has joined a law firm lobbying for Dominion Energy, the company behind the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Honorable is joining Reed Smith LLP, a firm lobbying in the state of Virginia for Dominion, the energy giant leading the proposed natural gas project. The Atlantic Coast pipeline, a 550-mile three-state line, still requires FERC’s approval. Virginia lobbying disclosures show that Reed Smith has been lobbying for Dominion since at least 2015. The firm has so far assigned three lobbyists to work on Dominion’s behalf: William Thomas, Jeffrey Palmore, and Edward Mullen…. Honorable’s immediate transition to a private sector firm connected to the industry she had regulated follows in the steps of many other ex-FERC commissioners and employees…. A 2015 report by E&E found that FERC employees negotiate their prospective industry jobs while still at FERC.”

7-12-17 Roanoke Times. Call for additional DEQ public hearings on pipeline falls flat. “A chorus of regional voices contends that a plan by Virginia’s environmental agency to hold just two public hearings about the proposed, deeply controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline fails to adequately serve a key constituency: the public…. It sounds like that won’t happen. On Wednesday, DEQ indicated it will stick to the plan for two meetings.”

7-11-17 Blue Virginia. Video: Justin Fairfax Nails It — OPPOSES Atlantic Coast Pipeline, SUPPORTS Clean Energy Economy. “Virginia Democratic Lt. Governor nominee Justin Fairfax nails the answer to this question by the Richmond Times-Dispatch regarding Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline monstrosity.”

7-10-17 CNBC. Energy CEOs say investor money and jobs at risk because FERC isn’t functional. “Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is one of the pillars in President Donald Trump’s plan to generate jobs. But a lack of sitting commissioners at the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) has sidelined up to 15 energy infrastructure projects valued between $15 billion and $25 billion and an estimated 75,000 jobs. Energy CEOs are warning if FERC is not functional by August break, the private investment dollars for these projects might be gone.”

7-7-17 Daily Climate. Opponents walk the proposed ACP path through five Virginia counties to celebrate what’s at risk. “Although the ‘No Pipeline’ signs speak for themselves, don’t call it a protest. According to organizers, Walking the Line: Into the Heart of Virginia, is a moving celebration of what’s on the line—literally and figuratively—of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route that bisects Virginia on a northwest to southeast diagonal…. Walking the Line started near the West Virginia border in Highland County, Va., on June 16, continued through Bath, Augusta and Nelson counties and wrapped up with a church service, water ceremony and community meal at Union Hill Baptist church in Buckingham County on July 2.”

7-7-17 The Record Delta. Who is really paying for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? “Are you paying for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? Even if you haven’t invested directly, your money may still be used to support it. If you are a member at any of several banks, including CHASE, Wells Fargo, RBC, Barclays, Bank of America, Scotiabank, and Citi, you are invested (though you may not receive shareholder benefits) and you will be affected by this project if it is granted its certificate of approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This could happen as early as this October, unless the regulating agencies responsible for permitting suddenly grow a conscience. You see, the FERC guarantees up to a 14 percent rate of return on the infrastructure projects it approves. And here’s another piece to the puzzle: FERC is funded by the fees on the projects it permits. It can’t look too critically at these projects. It needs them to survive. Conflict of interest? We think so.”

7-7-17 Crozet Gazette. Battle Over Pipeline Inspires Afton Author. “The Friends of Nelson County got a significant ally when veteran author Doug Hornig came on board. Hornig’s a long-time student of natural resource markets and had written for years for Casey Research, a business newsletter targeting investors. More recently, he wrote for Katusa Research, focusing solely on natural resource investment.” Article about Friends of Nelson Board member Doug Hornig.

7-6-17 The Recorder. State agency to accept pipeline comments. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced in a June 30 news release it is accepting public comments, including five public hearings in August, for draft water quality certifications designed to protect water quality along the routes of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines…. The DEQ announcement drew heavy criticism from citizens calling for publication of site-specific erosion and sediment control and stormwater management plans on which the public needs to comment.”

7-5-17 WVTF. Critics Challenge Dominion’s Pipeline Tactics. “Virginia’s Director of Natural Resources has warned Dominion that state regulators will not be swayed by company requests or suggestions when deciding whether to issue permits for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. That’s good news for pipeline opponents, but they say Dominion is using other questionable tactics at the local level.” Tactics used in Buckingham to influence Supervisors are outlined in the article.

7-3-17 Washington Post.  Conflicts of interest pile up on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.   “Evidently, ensuring that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s 1,989 water-body crossings comply with Virginia’s water-quality standards is just too big a job for our Department of Environmental Quality, even if it is its job, so the Department of Environmental Quality handed its responsibility off to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A Permit 12, issued nationwide by the corps, could approve all 1,989 water-body crossings of the pipeline without any site-specific review.  To make the handoff to the corps, the Department of Environmental Quality is required to determine that the corps’s requirements comply with Virginia’s water-quality standards for these projects. The Department of Environmental Quality outsourced that job, too, and Dominion agreed to pay a contractor hired by the state to evaluate its pipeline proposal for the Department of Environmental Quality. Incredibly, the contractor is doing several other jobs for Dominion. So Dominion is paying a familiar contractor to approve its work on behalf of the Department of Environmental Quality. This clearly is a conflict of interest, but it’s not the only one. A contractor hired by the Forest Service to represent its interests in the pipeline’s Blue Ridge Parkway crossing is working for Dominion on the pipeline project, and the third-party contractor hired by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to review the pipeline is tied to Dominion’s main environmental consultant in the project.  The administration and our regulators need to release all of their documents. We need to know if anyone is actually working for us.”

7-2-17 NBC29. Anti-Pipeline Hikers Celebrate End of Route with Church Service. “Anti-pipeline hikers are celebrating the end of the line in Buckingham Co. on their two-week trek following the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline across the Shenandoah Valley and central Virginia.”

7-1-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. VA to expand review of proposed gas pipelines. “Virginia has informed federal energy regulators that it will expand its review of two proposed interstate natural gas pipelines to protect water quality beyond the stream and river crossings covered by a general federal permit. The state Department of Environmental Quality is preparing additional conditions for certifying the protection of water quality under the Clean Water Act and submitting them for public comment in a series of hearings next month, including three on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Harrisonburg, Farmville and Dinwiddie County.” Also in the article, David Paylor, DEQ Director, acknowledges “that the agency’s position had sown public confusion,” DEQ announces dates for public hearings on the water protection, and pipeline opponents point out that “the DEQ has now initiated a public comment period without providing access to the critical project details that are required for objective review.”

7-1-17 Augusta Free Press. Letter to Editor by Jane Twitmeyer: Is pipeline ‘too big to handle’ for DEQ? “Is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit too big to deny? Maybe keeping track of the ACP’s 1,989 water body crossings by our DEQ is just too big a job, even if it is their job. The Natural Gas Act specifically preserves state authority to approve or deny a Water Quality Certificate for pipelines under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Virginia’s DEQ is handing over that responsibility, given to them by both the Clean Water Act and Virginia law, to the ARMY Corp of Engineers under the nationwide blanket Permit 12, which can approve thousands of water body crossings at once, all without any site-specific review. The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, in a suit filed on June 7, says that the DEQ cannot hand off their responsibility to the Army Corp of Engineers unless they first determine the Corp’s requirements comply with Virginia’s water quality standards for these particular projects. Virginians need assurance that pipeline activities covered by the permit issued by the Corp. will not cause serious damage and will not violate Virginia standards. A national association, representing 1,000 businesses in 27 states, just called for Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates to embrace “transformational change,” focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids, and energy storage. No water crossing permits or use of eminent domain needed. If protecting our water is just “too big to handle” for our DEQ, the administration should take up the call for transformational change.”

June 2017

6-30-17 After polluter contributions, McAuliffe and Northam must stand strong against pipelines. “To restore ‘faith in government,’ it’s time for the current McAuliffe-Northam administration to draw a bright line against polluter influence and fully utilize its authority to review and reject water quality permits for both massive pipeline projects, as state leaders in New York and New Jersey have done.”

6-30-17 Blue Ridge Outdoors. Atlantic Coast Pipeline: The Keystone of the East. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is the Keystone of the East.” A review of the pipeline battle, summarizing current status and position of FERC, DEQ, the Forest Service, historic districts and Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources, Wintergreen, etc.

6-30-17 Blue Ridge Outdoors. Facing Down Dominion. “The grey and green lichen and moss-covered walls of stone meander through the forest like silent sentinels of history. To 84-year-old Hazel Palmer, these centuries-old rock walls embody her struggle against Dominion Energy, the utility that Palmer says will destroy the essence of her family’s mountain land with its natural gas pipeline. Her 125-acre property on the western slopes of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Augusta County has been in Hazel’s family since 1880. Palmer has refused to negotiate with Dominion for an easement on their property. ‘It doesn’t matter what they offer,’ says Palmer. ‘I just want to keep the land the way it is.’ …. Dominion sued Palmer for access to her property, and last year, the Augusta County judge ruled in favor of Dominion. Today, a walk up the mountainside reveals pink and orange survey tape fluttering in the forest. But Palmer appealed the case. The Virginia Supreme Court agreed recently to hear the appeal. This time her legal team argued that the company—Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC—is not a Virginia public utility. Rather, it is a private corporation created in Delaware and therefore should not be allowed to operate under Virginia law. A ruling on the appeal is pending. ‘I feel like doing what is necessary to fight for my constitutional rights,’ says Palmer. ‘Just don’t try to take something away from me that’s mine.’ Palmer is a woman of quiet but resolute religious faith, and she knows well the Biblical story of David and Goliath.”

6-30-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Editorial: These environmental groups outspend Dominion. “Few articles about energy, the environment, or Virginia’s General Assembly are complete without reference to the sums donated to politicians by Dominion, Virginia’s largest utility. Indeed, Dominion is routinely referred to as the state’s ‘top corporate donor.’ According to a recent piece on the company’s influence, this ‘makes for a lopsided battle for its opponents.’ Then again, maybe not. As it turns out, environmental groups sometimes outspend Dominion….”

6-29-17 Economic Times. Trump to nominate Senate aide for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “Donald Trump intends to nominate Senate aide Richard Glick to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday. Glick, who is general counsel of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would serve the remainder of a five-year term expiring in June 2022, the statement said.”

6-29-17 The Recorder. Who can a landowner trust in FERC process? [Letter to the editor is a copy of a letter sent to FERC] “I have just read the most recent certificate filing of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline facility maps, and I can tell you that from what I have been told, the one area that I am familiar with, the map is not accurate. It states on the map that they submitted that it was updated June 2017. I am a landowner near mile post 93 and I have been told on numerous occasions by the survey company and by Doyle Land Services that the valve site and the access road shown on the maps are not really going to be where they are shown on the most recent postings. I am very frustrated that as a landowner who is about to have my land stolen and abused by [eminent] domain that Dominion Energy is telling me one thing and telling you, FERC, a different thing. Whom do I turn to? What is the truth? Who can I, as a landowner, trust?”

6-29-17 The Recorder. Valley Home Farm corrects FERC record on its status. [Letter to the editor is a copy of a letter sent to FERC] “It has come to our attention that Dominion/ACP has, possibly intentionally, omitted our “Valley Home Farm” on the list of Virginia Century Farms being encroached upon, damaged and devalued by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. The intent of Dominion is to cross an unprecedented two miles of our historic family farm, thereby significantly devaluing a premium historic property that five generations of our family has built, farmed, and responsibly maintained for more than 100 years.”

6-28-17 DeSmog. Contractor Hired by Virginia DEQ to Review Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Works for Dominion. “As part of its review of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast pipeline, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently hired a private contractor to assess several elements of the project. DeSmog has found, however, that the contractor is currently working for Dominion on an unrelated project. Documents and emails obtained by DeSmog through an open records request reveal that last month the DEQ outsourced the review of Dominion’s plans submitted as part of its application process for state permitting. According to a memorandum of agreement between the DEQ and Dominion, the state hired a private contractor to review Dominion’s stormwater and erosion and sediment control plans. In the memo, Dominion agrees to pay for the contractor, EEE Consulting, Inc. The original work proposal document submitted by EEE Consulting to the DEQ sets the cost of the review at over $1.8 million. The memo between Dominion and the DEQ reveals that Dominion had the opportunity to review the contractor’s proposal and comment on it prior to the hiring. It adds, however, that Dominion will not be involved in the procurement of contracting with EEE Consulting, which will ‘be managed solely by the DEQ.’ Yet EEE Consulting is currently working for Dominion.”

6-28-17 RVA Mag. Art Meets Activism to Combat Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Walking the Line. “The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline is proving to be an incredibly divisive subject not only for gubernatorial candidates, but also local activists and artists. The sounds of construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or ACP, are being matched by the sounds of boots and songs from a local group of activists. ‘Walking the Line: Into the Heart of Virginia’ is raising awareness and bringing peaceful resistance against the ACP. The project is a collaboration with local artists, activists, or hybrids of the two, called artivists, mostly out of Albemarle and Highland counties. Landowners affected by the pipeline plans, artists, resistance groups, and many other individuals have come together to walk the 150-mile long path that stretches across five counties, starting in Highland County June 17 and ending in Buckingham County July 2.”

6-27-17 Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI). Honorable Leaving FERC Friday; LaFleur Last Woman Standing; Nominees Bottled Up in Senate. “Friday will be Colette Honorable’s final day at FERC, she said Tuesday, a departure that will leave the already quorumless panel with a single member, and a pair of Trump administration nominees remain on the sidelines awaiting Senate votes. Honorable, who has served at FERC since late 2014, announced in late April that she would leave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when her term expired at the end of June. She confirmed at an event Tuesday at the Energy Information Administration that Friday would be her last day at FERC, her office told NGI. Honorable’s term was scheduled to expire on June 30. Her departure would leave four empty seats on the ostensibly five-member Commission. FERC has been without a quorum since January, when Trump named Cheryl LaFleur acting chairman and Norman Bay, who had been at the helm since April 2015, submitted his resignation. FERC suspended its monthly meetings beginning in February as it awaited appointment of enough commissioners to achieve a quorum.”

6-27-17 WHSV3. Anti-pipeline activists host concert to send message to energy company. “Anti-pipeline activists hosted a concert at Seven Arrows Brewing Company in Waynesboro to support those hiking along the proposed pipeline path and send a message to Dominion Power. Hikers who oppose the pipeline are taking a 150-mile journey from Highland Springs to Buckingham County along the proposed path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The concert was a way to celebrate the hikers reaching their half-way mark.”

6-26-17 UtilityDive. Atlantic Coast Pipeline ‘in the homestretch’ despite continued protests. “Opponents say the pipeline is unnecessary and destructive, but don’t expect that to stop FERC approval. Like most contentious energy infrastructure, descriptions of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline change depending on who’s speaking. Dominion Energy is developing the project to meet increasing gas demand from several sectors, including industry, home heating and power generation. The need for the pipeline is ‘urgent,’ said Dominion Energy spokesperson Aaron Ruby. Not so, says Lewis Freeman, chair and executive director of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, an environmental group. ‘Bottom line, this pipeline is not needed in the long-term,’ he said.”

6-25-17 Weston Democrat [WV] Letter to the Editor by S. Thomas Bond. Although the letter primarily addresses the long-term negative effects of fracking on WV, it has important things to say about Virginia as well. “Dominion is the greatest political force in Virginia. It owns much of the political establishment—it is the largest corporate donor to state candidates. Its influence penetrates every level of government, from the Department of Environmental Quality, through both sides of the aisle in the legislature, to the Governor’s Mansion. The 2017 Utility Energy Scorecard places Dominion as the second most inefficient utility in the nation, only Alabama Power rates lower. The scorecard is based on how the utility encourages customers to conserve energy. Duke Energy utilities and Southern Company (Alabama Power) are down there, too. What does this say about the owners of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? The pipelines are the wrong way to go, if one is thinking about the public and the course of technology.” This letter also appeared in FrackcheckWV.

6-25-17 Roanoke Times. State official advises Dominion: Integrity of permitting process for Atlantic Coast Pipeline is ‘non-negotiable.’  “Attempts by Dominion Energy to sway regulators in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permitting process prompted a top official under Gov. Terry McAuliffe to notify the utility that state agencies would not heed those efforts.  An April 19 letter from Molly Ward, Virginia’s secretary of natural resources, advised Dominion that state agencies involved in permitting for the proposed 600-mile line ‘will not base their decisions on requests or suggestions from an applicant.’  Ward’s letter is addressed to Ann Loomis, senior director for federal affairs and environmental policy for Dominion.”

6-23-17 WVTF. Walking the Line: Protestors Travel the Route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “More than a dozen people are making their way from Bath to Buckingham Counties this week along the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – hoping to raise awareness of the environmental damage that project could cause. Sandy Hausman caught up with the group in the George Washington National Forest…. The group will arrive in Buckingham County on Sunday, July 2nd in time for church. After that, trucks carrying food and the port-a-potty head home, but some hearty souls plan to continue walking the line into North Carolina.”

6-23-17 Staunton News-Leader. As pipeline route hike hits Churchville, activists press on. “With signs in hand and spirits high, a group of about a dozen pipeline activists hiking along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed route made their way through Churchville Friday.”

6-22-17 Climate Home. Planned gas investments will blow 1.5C climate target, say analysts. “To prevent dangerous climate change, natural gas will have to be phased out faster than in most official forecasts, according to a new report. If countries are serious about the Paris Agreement aspiration of limiting the long-term world temperature rise to 1.5C, then many of the proposals to increase gas production and distribution will be unnecessary. New terminals and pipelines will never be fully used and will become stranded assets. Conversely, if they go ahead with these investments, it risks locking in levels of fossil fuel use that will blow the climate target. The report, Foot off the Gas, is published by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent science-based assessment which tracks countries’ emission commitments and actions.”

6-22-17 Morning Consult. Pipeline Fighters Take a Stand in Virginia Vote. “Much has been written about last week’s Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia, where former Rep. Tom Perriello challenged establishment candidate Ralph Northam in a late charge. The race was billed as “establishment” vs. the “Bernie wing” of the party, but there’s another story to be told in Virginia: that of the pipeline fighters and the critical votes they could provide in November’s hotly contested general election.”

6-22-17 Roanoke Times. The Struggle for Appalachia. Opinion piece by Alwyn Moss. “In a recent letter in The Roanoke Times (“NIMBYs don’t speak for us all,” April 5) Coy Renick sees opponents of MVP as being “unreasonable”, and “uninformed”; seeing only “risk and no benefit” to a “necessary piece of infrastructure to power our economy”. He also implies such people are acting only out of their own personal interests. I see the opposite as true. Those I know who are giving their energy to say No to the MVP pipeline initiative are extremely well informed people acting on behalf of our entire region, not just their own backyards. Nay-sayers to MVP now include scientists, students and faculty, highly respected members of our communities whose well-researched arguments show a factual and clear understanding of what the real benefits and costs of the construction, operation and long term use of this pipeline will be. They see the lion’s share of benefits going to the corporations while the costs in the short and long term future falling on local inhabitants, the ecosystems and Appalachia itself. If this is what it means to be a ‘nimby’ (not in my backyard), perhaps we should all be proud to accept that label…. Perhaps those who see pipeline opponents as obstructionists could instead see them as responsible protectors of essential ecosystems; as hard working intelligent people trying to prevent harm to places they know and love. There is wisdom in being cautious when outcomes are unclear.”

6-22-17 The American Prospect. Virginia’s Power Broker. “For decades, Dominion Energy has been one of the key generators of both electric and political power in Virginia. The top corporate political donor in the state, Dominion has benefited from a sweetheart rate structure that keeps profits higher than the national average for electric companies. Among the company’s allies are Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic nominee to succeed him, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, as well as many key Republicans. Now, however, a popular backlash is building against Dominion’s political giving and its inside legislative influence, compounded by a controversial pipeline project. Dominion could become the symbol of the anti-corporate sentiment that has been strong in the base of both political parties since the 2016 election.”

6-22-17 Bay Journal.  Critics say pipeline would excavate 38 miles of ridgetops. “Environmental groups opposed to the construction of a natural gas pipeline across Virginia and West Virginia have raised a new concern, charging that the project will require the excavation of 38 miles of ridgetops through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, leading to severe erosion, runoff pollution and habitat loss…. Dominion has vowed to restore mountain slopes to their original contour after excavating to lay the pipeline. But FERC’s draft environmental review cautions that this “would not restore a slope to original condition, though it may appear so and create a false sense of security.” The work planned on steep slopes “would result in permanent, irreversible alterations of geologic conditions,” the FERC report says, adding that widening and flattening narrow ridgetops could lead to landslides.”

6-22-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Environmental groups: Justification for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline has ‘eroded’ “A coalition of environmental groups wants a hearing on the need for Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, claiming in a federal filing today that the justifications for the 600-mile, $5.5 billion natural gas pipeline project have ‘eroded, if they ever existed.’ ‘The pipeline, which is slated to fuel gas-fired power plants in Virginia and North Carolina, is not needed to keep the lights on,’ says the filing by the groups, which includes the Natural Resources Defense Council, a large national environmental group, and local organizations, including the Shenandoah Valley Network, Friends of Buckingham, Cowpasture River Preservation Association and the Winyah Rivers Foundation, among others. The groups are seeking an evidentiary hearing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is weighing the proposed pipeline’s environmental effects, rates and necessity.”  This story was also covered in the Wilson [NC] Times.

6-22-17 Highland Recorder. Dominion sticks to proposed ACP route. As the Walking the Line marchers began their walk at the foot of Little Mountain in Bath County, Dominion refuted a claim that there was a new route in Bath and Highland Counties, and persists in its determination to route the proposed pipeline through environmentally sensitive mountains and valleys vulnerable to water and air pollution, karst damage and permanent ridgetop deforestation.

6-22-17 Highland Recorder. Pipeline astroturfing continues. The dictionary defines astroturfing as an “organized activity that is intended to create a false impression of a widespread, spontaneously arising, grassroots movement in support of or in opposition to something.” The article describes the 500 identical messages asking them to reject efforts to halt the proposed ACP that FERC has received since May 31, 2017. The article also reminds readers of the more than 20,000 comments submitted to FERC in spring 2015 urging quick pipeline approval, letters submitted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, a non-profit trying to portray itself as the voice of the consumer.

6-21-17 WHSV3. Anti-pipeline group hiking route for proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Ongoing coverage of Walk the Line.

6-21-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. ‘A very confused, inaccurate picture is being spread’: Why did Virginia DEQ wait seven weeks to correct inaccurate pipeline statement? Investigative reporting walks readers step-by-step through the fog and confusion created by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) over their intentions for evaluating the risk that construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines might pose to the state’s rivers, streams and wetlands. Conclusion: “Nearly 2½ months after DEQ’s April 6 announcement, exactly what the agency will require of the pipeline developers remains unclear.”

6-21-17 Roanoke Times.  Letter to the editor by Georgia Haverty:  A pipeline allegory.  “Once there was a Stranger who walked into my house. I told him to leave, but he told me that he had made a deal with the rulers of the Land, and they had told him he could walk into any house he liked. The Stranger then took something precious from me. It was not worth very much, but had been handed down by my ancestors through the ages. The Stranger laughed when I tried to get it back, and said ‘Don’t worry; I will give you a coin for this object. I get to decide what it is worth… and to me it is not worth very much.’ (To me, it was worth all the coins in the Land). Before the Stranger walked out, he left a bomb on my kitchen table. ‘This is for you, as a parting gift. Your neighbors want and need this – they told me,’ he lied. ‘Oh – one more thing’ he said looking over his shoulder with a sneer – ‘you must leave this bomb in place forever more. If it goes off, don’t call me. I will be long gone from this Land, disguised and with a different name. You won’t find me. You will be responsible for anything that happens.’ The End.”

6-20-17 Wilson Times [NC]. In the pipeline’s path: Property owners object to use of eminent domain. “Five times now since the 1970s, Pearl Finch has faced condemnation of a portion of her private property in western Wilson County for public use…. Pearl Finch, 89, of Bailey, owns property in Wilson County where developers want to locate a portion of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. She is being represented by her daughter, attorney Jane Flowers Finch, who said Tuesday that her mother has been sent settlement papers from Doyle Land Services and offered $4,700 to settle the deal.”

6-20-17 Roanoke Times. Pipelines endanger water supply. (Commentary by Tina Smusz, retired medical practitioner and assistant professor of medicine who volunteers full-time addressing environmental threats to the Roanoke and New River Valleys.) In this article she comments on a May 28, 2017 opinion piece by Shawn Posey, Senior Vice President for Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction & Engineering, on “MVP’s commitment to safety and natural resources.” Smusz writes that, “Mr. Posey neglected to detail the harmful (and permanent) effects expected to water, arguably our most important natural resource” and discusses all the ways in which the MVP threatens the water supply of the immediate and wider area. She notes that Posey did not address safety at all, specifically the threats from “toxins associated with construction, operation and maintenance of this high pressure pipeline,” including insecticides, carcinogenic compounds, methane, and radioactive sediment left in pipes because methane used in fracking contains high levels of radon which leads to radioactive deposits in the pipe. “Finally, Mr. Posey did not reveal the fact that ALL pipelines leak. The EPA acknowledged in 2012 that pipeline leaks accounted for more than 10 percent of total methane emissions from U.S. natural gas systems.” Recent studies show rising leakage rates and also show “transmission lines installed in the 2010s are failing at a significantly higher rate than those installed in earlier decades, including the 1940s.”

6-20-17 Roanoke Times. Editorial: Two questions about the pending pipeline decision. “The federal agency that governs interstate natural gas pipelines is scheduled to release its final environmental impact statement on the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline on Friday. No one should be surprised by what it has to say. Friday’s document will set the clock ticking for a 90-day period, during which other federal agencies are supposed to decide whether to issue permits. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will surely give the go-ahead. We can be certain of this because FERC has rarely turned down pipeline projects — and that’s when it was dominated by Democratic appointees…. In any case, it’s still worth asking two big questions.” First, why does FERC so adamantly refuse to look at the broader context of pipelines? Second: Why isn’t the coal industry joining with environmentalists to oppose natural gas pipelines?

6-19-17 Staunton News Leader. Pipeline activists hiking proposed route to land in Augusta Wednesday. “A group of anti-Atlantic Coast Pipeline activists are set to hit Augusta County Wednesday as they hike along a large chunk of the pipeline’s proposed route. The 15-day event is called “Walking the Line” and their path spans from Highland County to Buckingham County in its first leg. The group will be making its way through Augusta County from Wednesday through next Monday. ‘We walk this line to bring attention to the facts and the issues of the ACP and to stand with the communities along the way who are fighting for their land, their water, their piece of mind,’ said Kay Ferguson, one of the organizers.”

6-18-18 DeSmog. In Atlantic Coast Pipeline Battle, Dominion Hires Democratic PR Firm That Created Ads for Virginia Governor. “Dominion Energy, the lead company behind the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline, last year hired SKDKnickerbocker, a powerful communications and Democratic consulting firm that previously produced campaign ads for Virginia’s Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, according to a DeSmog investigation.”

6-18-17 Roanoke Times. Virginia DEQ pledges thorough review of pipeline impacts. “Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality confirmed last week that past approaches to reviewing utility projects would not suffice for analyzing the potential environmental impacts of two 42-inch diameter natural gas pipelines that could burrow through the state. DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden said the department’s review of the pipeline projects will yield a thorough and public review ‘designed to ensure that Virginia’s water quality is protected. Ever since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline were announced, DEQ has been hearing from Virginia citizens concerned about the possible impact of the projects,’ he said in an email. ‘Due to the size and scope of these projects, DEQ … has determined that some of the tools it typically uses will be effective for these pipeline projects but that additional measures and opportunities for public review and input are necessary.'”

6-15-17 Roanoke Times. Timm’s tenure as forest supervisor immerses him in pipeline controversies. “[Joby] Timm’s stint as forest supervisor has been accompanied by stormy debate about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would traverse a total of about 3.4 miles of the Jefferson National Forest, and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, whose route would pass through about 16 miles of the George Washington National Forest. He estimated in April that he often spends about 50 percent of his time on pipeline-related tasks as the Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management decide whether to issue permits that would allow the 42-inch diameter natural gas pipelines to burrow through the forests.”

6-15-17 Highland Recorder. River groups follow up with questions for DEQ. A letter from the Jackson River Preservation Association and the Cowpasture River Preservation Association was sent to David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, following Paylor’s visit last week to Bath and Highland counties to see areas affected by the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The letter reiterated the questions and concerns the two groups discussed with Paylor during his in-person visit.

6-15-17 Highland Recorder. ‘Pipeline porn,’ sleazy agenda, from Dominion. Letter to the editor by John Vinson: “The other day I received a slick brochure from Dominion extolling its pipeline project. Yes, it was very eye-appealing, so much so that I have a phrase for it: pipeline porn. While Dominion entices us with glossy slickness, its agenda, I fear, is a sleazy lust for profits at the expense of our area’s beauty, environment, and resources. There are so many unanswered questions and concerns about this project. And it is truly sad read the statements of our neighbors whose property will be debased if the project goes through. Those of us who oppose the pipeline should do whatever we can legally do to express our opposition. Perhaps the sum total of our efforts can add up to something significant.”

6-14-17 Washington Post. Letter to the editor: If McAuliffe wants to lead on climate change, he should stop supporting pipelines. McAuliffe’s June 11 Local Opinions essay, Why Virginia acted on climate change, “promoted a positive agenda for cooperative, progressive energy policies but omitted his hypocritical and dangerous support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects. The Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would be irreversibly traumatic to the health of our state’s environment, water supplies and ecosystems. They would not bring wealth or permanent jobs to the citizens through whose communities the pipelines would pass…. I cannot reconcile the governor’s position that we are leading on clean energy when he supports unnecessary, nonrenewable natural-gas projects.”

6-14-17 EarthJustice. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Litigation on the Dakota Access Pipeline. “In a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Court finds that approval of Dakota Access Pipeline violated the law.
In a 91-page decision, Judge James Boasberg ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects. The Court did not determine whether pipeline operations should be shut off and has requested additional briefing on the subject and a status conference next week. The federal judge wrote, ‘the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.’
‘This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,’ said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II. (This story was also covered by the Washington Post.)

6-14-17 DeSmog. Here’s the PR Firm Behind ‘Your Energy America’ Front Group Pushing Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Your Energy America is a newly formed front group pushing Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline. By tracing hosting information for the group’s website, DeSmog has found evidence pointing to the PR firm behind the group: DDC Advocacy, which has known ties to the Republican Party. Short for Democracy, Data & Communications, DDC’s founding partner, chairman, and CEO, B.R. McConnon in the past ‘has acted as a key contact and spokesperson for [National Federation for Independent Business],’ according to his LinkedIn. NFIB takes funding from Koch Industries and other major corporate interests, and McConnon began his career as a policy analyst for the Koch-founded Citizens for a Sound Economy, the precursor to Americans for Prosperity.” The article goes on to describe DDC’s other activities, including the American Petroleum Institute’s Energy Citizens campaign to promote fracking in the Marcellus Shale, work for Phillip Morris on a website trying to fend off efforts to mandate plain packaging for the tobacco industry, and work on behalf of Republican candidates.

6-13-17 E&E News. Dems float Senate staffer for open seat. “Richard Glick, a Senate staffer who formerly lobbied for the wind industry and worked at the Energy Department, has been floated by Democrats to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to multiple sources. Glick, general counsel on the Democratic side of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been chosen as the minority’s replacement for Democratic FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable, sources said.”

6-12-17 WDBJ7. Montgomery County to ask Virginia DEQ to reconsider pipeline permit policy. “A Montgomery County group fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline now has the support of their local government to ask for help in protecting their water. Preserve Montgomery County asked the Board of Supervisors in their meeting Monday night to send a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor. They want the DEQ to reverse it’s position to give a blanket permit to MVP to cross Virginia waterways. Preserve Montgomery County wants each waterway to need it’s own permit for the pipeline to cross them…. The Board was immediately in favor, but didn’t need a formal vote. It gave a unanimous thumbs up to allow Board Chair Christopher Tuck sign a letter like that. Tuck explained, ‘We’re going to be working with the County Attorney and he’s going work on drafting it first thing in the morning. and then I’ll try to get it out later in the week.'”

6-12-17 Huffington Post. Natural Gas Industry Brings A Fake Grassroots Group To Eastern Pipeline Fights. “Amid intensifying fights over new natural gas pipelines in Virginia, New Jersey and New England, the gas industry is ramping up its defense with a new front group meant to appeal to East Coasters, who have mostly avoided the fights over oil and gas development that have rocked Western states. Your Energy launched quietly in Virginia last month, ahead of a November gubernatorial election that is shaping up to be a ‘referendum on pipelines,’ as one local newspaper put it. The group, which is funded by the American Gas Association, debuted as a co-sponsor of a conference at the Virginia Chamber of Commerce on May 24…. As the name implies, Your Energy paints itself as a grassroots organization, something akin to the Sierra Club or the American Civil Liberties Union, but for folks who support natural gas. Its Virginia chapter’s website features promotional materials about the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas and prompts visitors to join by submitting their names, email addresses and ZIP codes. The only indication that Your Energy is a public relations campaign paid for by a major industry association appears on the privacy policy page.”

The Washington Post on 6-12-17 also wrote about the front group, noting that Jim Cheng, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and industry under former governor Robert F. McDonnell, spoke about “these radical and uninformed elements within your communities that try to intimidate or shut down pro-energy supporters.”  The Post comments, “The emergence of the group and Cheng’s comments are especially curious given that the ‘radical and uniformed elements’ are, in many cases, landowners whose property is targeted by pipeline firms and electric utilities for surveying and perhaps takeover by eminent domain. In some cases, the property has been in the owners’ families for decades if not centuries. Some are working farms; others are retirement havens for older residents.  But in these days of faux news and alternative facts, up is often down and left is often right.  Peaceful homeowners are ‘radicals’ and ‘outsiders’ who need to have ‘their energy IQ’ score raised.”

6-11-17 Virginian-Pilot.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline Won’t Help Virginians.  In an opinion piece, Michael J. Hirrel, a retired lawyer from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, discusses Dominion’s claim of “public necessity” for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a claim which would allow them to use eminent domain to seize private property for construction. He points out that, “Neither the consortium nor Dominion has ever pledged to the FERC or to the SCC that a Dominion energy plant would definitely use gas from the ACP. So how can the pipeline be a public necessity?”  Projections show demand for gas-generated electric power in Virginia to be flat for the forseeable future, and even unexpected growth could be handled with adjustments to existing gas transport pipelines. “So perhaps Dominion doesn’t actually need the pipeline for its plants. Perhaps it’s hoping to sell the gas from the pipeline to export markets or to other industrial users.” If that’s the case it would (of course) bring profit to Dominion, but it would not be a public necessity and would not justify seizure of land by eminent domain. Furthermore, “If the export and industrial sales don’t pan out, the costs for the pipeline — $6 billion and rising — could be added to customers’ electric bills.”  Hirrel concludes that “every Virginian can get together behind one idea: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline doesn’t serve their best interests.”

6-11-17 Roanoke Times. Festival opposing pipeline projects draws hundreds to Elmwood Park. On June 10, 2017, more than 200 people attended “Defend the Sacred,” an afternoon-long festival held at Elmwood Park in Roanoke in opposition to the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast natural gas pipelines. The festival featured live music, art performances food from local farms, and an interfaith blessing of water. “Organizers and attendees brought water in jars and bottles, carefully labeling the streams and creeks they were collected from, to represent the natural resources they believed could be jeopardized by the proposed pipelines. ‘We’re not protesters. We’re protectors of water, of life,’ Fiddler told the crowd, who huddled close to the stage to take part in the water blessing….”

6-10-17 Alleghany Journal. Hodges Speaks To Group About ACP’s Possible Impact On Little Valley [Youtube video]. Two major regional groups, the Jackson River Preservation Association and the Cowpasture River Preservation Association combined with members of the media and several public officials to tour areas of both Bath and Highland Counties on June 6, 2017 to talk about the possible environmental impact that the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline might have on the region. In this video, real estate profession L. Ryan Hodges speaks to the group about the pristine “Little Valley” in northern Bath County.

6-10-17 Roanoke Times. Virginia Supreme Court temporarily halts pipeline surveying of 3 Bent Mountain properties. On June 9, 2017, “the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a temporary halt of work by surveyors for the Mountain Valley Pipeline on three Bent Mountain properties owned by the Terry family. The court granted a stay sought by Justin Lugar, an attorney representing the family, of a temporary injunction awarded May 26 by Circuit Court Judge David Carson that prohibited the family from interfering with efforts to survey their Roanoke County properties for a route for the proposed natural gas pipeline. Friday’s order stays Carson’s order ‘pending resolution of the petition for review in this case.’ Carson’s order had noted that pipeline surveyors planned to return to the Terry family properties between June 12 and 16.”

6-9-17 Appalachian Mountain Advocates. Groups Challenge Certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Environmental groups filed suit today challenging West Virginia’s certification for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would transport fracked gas across West Virginia and Virginia…. The lawsuit filed today in the Fourth Circuit seeks to invalidate West Virginia’s water quality certification for the pipeline and require the state to reconsider whether the project can go forward in compliance with the Clean Water Act. The suit was filed by the Sierra Club, along with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, the Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The groups are represented by attorneys from Appalachian Mountain Advocates.”

6-8-17 Augusta Free Press. Virginia faith leaders oppose fracked-gas pipelines. “Faith leaders from Virginia’s Hampton Roads region released a letter opposing the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines for fracked gas on Thursday. The letter release followed an interdisciplinary prayer breakfast in Norfolk, where leaders of local parishes, mosques, churches, temples, and worship centers spoke on the spiritual morality that calls them to stand up for our climate. During the event, the faith leaders learned about the dangers of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, which are proposed to cross Virginia and would trigger massive climate pollution equivalent to 46 new coal-fired power plants. The letter, signed by 29 faith leaders and members of the religious community, likened the environmental impacts of the pipeline to ‘attacks on the health and human rights of the people who live in their paths,’ which is ‘contrary to the teachings of all of our religions.’ They stated: ‘[W]e cannot allow a creation as amazing as our earth to be devastated by irresponsible and unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure any longer.’ ”

6-8-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Top Virginia environmental official defends pipeline reviews. “Virginia’s top environmental official insists the state is going ‘above and beyond’ in evaluating the water quality impacts of two proposed natural gas pipelines. Department of Environmental Quality Director David Paylor made the comments in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday after it came to light that his department released inaccurate information about the water quality review process for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.”  This story also appeared in extended form in the Washington Post.

6-8-17 Roanoke Times.  Legislators seek reform of FERC’s pipeline review process.  “On Wednesday, three members of Virginia’s congressional delegation announced plans to introduce legislation to improve how FERC reviews interstate natural gas transmission pipelines and sites and garners comment at public hearings. A news release from Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, said the legislation reflects conversations with constituents in recent years about how FERC has handled the review of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline… and separate but similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, said he will introduce similar legislation in the House. The reforms recommended by Kaine and Warner echo many changes long sought by opponents of the two projects.” (This story was also covered by CBS29)

6-8-17 Oil Change International.  Dominion’s Deep Reach in Virginia Taints Atlantic Coast Pipeline Approval Process. “There is a growing political scandal in Virginia regarding the ubiquitous influence of the state’s largest energy company, Dominion Energy, and it’s raising fundamental questions about the integrity of the governor’s office and state regulators who will decide the fate of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion’s longstanding exercise of power and influence in Virginia is no secret – the company is the largest corporate donor to state candidates. But a new report by the Public Accountability Initiative documents in one place the company’s extensive, revolving door relationships with the very regulators charged with issuing permits for this controversial, $5 billion fracked gas project.”

6-8-17 Who.What.Why  Dominion Energy Pulls Out All Stops for Pipeline Win. “On May 12, just weeks before Democrats and Republicans in Virginia will vote in primaries for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, Thomas Farrell, the head of Dominion Energy, Inc. sent a letter to its 76,000 current and retired employees and shareholders in Virginia. The letter was about one issue — Dominion’s effort to build a controversial 550-mile natural gas pipeline through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina…. Farrell wrote that the massive project — bringing natural gas from Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to consumers in Virginia and North Carolina — would help ratepayers and shareholders, and create jobs…. [I]t’s not surprising that Dominion would be paying a lot of attention to state politics. The Farrell letter was an additional salvo in an ongoing fusillade by Dominion to win final approval for the pipeline. A recent report from a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group documents how Dominion has used political contributions and lobbying prowess to promote its pipeline plans.”

6-8-18 Nelson County Times. Letters to the Editor, June 8, 2017: Doug Hornig – Pro-pipeline poll is misleading, Marcie Gibbons – A flawed pro-pipeline poll. Both letters outline the major flaws in the “pro-pipeline” poll amd discuss Dominion Energy’s ongoing efforts “to con citizens by trumpeting false information.” A third letter by Robert Fuhrman discusses maintenance of right of ways, safety issues, and eminent domain.

6-7-17 Washington Post. Environmental groups sue over pipeline permitting decision. “Several environmental groups are suing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality over part of the permitting process for two proposed natural gas pipelines. The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, Bold Alliance and Preserve Craig Inc. filed suit this week in Richmond Circuit Court. They’re challenging an approval DEQ granted in April that allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct the broader of two types of water quality reviews for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. The suit alleges, among other things, that DEQ ‘acted arbitrarily and capriciously in finding that water quality protection requirements would be met’ under that process.” This story was also covered in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other media outlets.

6-7-17 ThinkProgress. Appalachian pipeline emissions would be equal to 42 coal-fired power plants. “Oil Change International, a nonprofit research group, studied one of the largest proposed natural gas pipelines in the Appalachian region and came away with precise calculations of the pipeline project’s climate impact. The Rover Pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) — the same company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline — will produce emissions equivalent to about 145 million metric tons of carbon dioxide on an annual basis, equal to the greenhouse gas emissions produced by 42 coal-fired power plants, the group says in a report released Wednesday [June 7, 2017] …. The group’s look at the environmental impact of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline concluded that the pipeline would create 68 million metric tons of emissions on an annual basis, equivalent to the emissions produced by 20 coal plants.”

6-7-17 Highland Recorder. Letter to Editor by Bill Limpert: Dominion’s rescue ‘plan’ clearly false. “Many local residents’ safety would be threatened if the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is built as proposed. Difficult construction conditions, landslides, floods, a scarcity of qualified installers and inspectors, and an incredibly powerful explosive potential make the pipeline dangerous, regardless of how much Dominion denies it. Residents who would be most at risk would be those near the pipeline, in the blast zone and the evacuation zone. Even more at risk are residents who would not have a path to safety if their only escape would require traveling over the burning pipeline. This is the case in our mountainous terrain where residences are nestled in nature’s quiet secluded hollows and valleys with a single access road that would be blocked by the pipeline…. Not surprisingly, Dominion’s spin doctors have concocted a story right out of Alice In Wonderland, where they have stated that folks in Little Valley would be rescued in a pipeline emergency by cutting a new road over the mountain, or by airlifting us to safety. Seeing as how we would be trapped in the evacuation zone, where death or severe injury would likely occur in minutes, that explanation appears to be pulled out the same rabbit hole that Alice went down. I’m sure that Dominion’s stated rescue plans for others with blocked egress are similarly flawed, and hidden in the haze of the smoking caterpillar that Alice encountered. I know this sounds laughable, but the fact is, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission believes it, or at least pretends they believe it. Federal regulations require that areas where citizens would be difficult to rescue in a pipeline emergency must be classified as a high-consequence area, and require additional safety measures on the part of the pipeline company. No area in Bath County has been designated a high consequence area for this proposed project.” [Subscription required for access to full article]

6-7-17 Highland Recorder. DEQ director visits area in pipeline path. “The director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality visited Bath and Highland counties Tuesday [June 6, 2017] to tour areas in the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. The Jackson River Preservation Association and the Cowpasture River Preservation Association coordinated DEQ director David Paylor’s visit. Army Corps of Engineers environmental scientist Steve Gibson also arrived for the tour. Both the DEQ and the Army Corps will be responsible for regulating and permitting pipeline construction, if the project is approved by the federal government. Government representatives from Bath, Highland and Alleghany counties and representatives of environmental groups attended the tour. The group visited sites in Bolar, Little Valley, and Valley Center.” The article discusses at length the areas visited, the concerns of local government representatives and environmental groups, and Paylor’s efforts to explain DEQ’s assessment process. [Subscription required for access to full article]

6-7-17. Roanoke Times. Franklin County family repels surveyors with help of sheriff’s office. On June 1, 2017, Carolyn Reilly and her family “worked together to anticipate, encounter and peacefully repel from their Franklin County farm a crew of surveyors working for Mountain Valley Pipeline.” The Franklin County sheriff’s office talked to surveyors, who agreed to leave the farm. Mountain Valley Pipeline will probably seek a court injunction sanctioning entry on the property.

6-7-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Correspondent of the Day: Many reasons for pipeline concerns. “The reasons Virginians don’t want or need the pipeline vary from climate change, to real unknowns about water quality, to the heartbreak of those in the ACP’s path.”

6-6-17 Alleghany Journal. Paylor Assures Tough Scrutiny Of Pipeline Stream Crossings [Youtube video]. “Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, David K. Paylor, explains how his agency will approach the very sensitive issues involving proposed stream crossings that would be necessary for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. He emphasized that his Dept. would be insisting on even greater scrutiny of those issues than is necessary under the law to assure that things are done properly. He did so at a piece of property near Bolar, Virginia, in Highland County, with the beautiful vista of mountains and streams in the background, and about a dozen very concerned set of officials, environmentalists and press in the foreground on June 6, 2017.”

6-6-17 Utility Dive. Senate committee advances Trump’s FERC nominees. “The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 20-3 on both Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson’s nominations to serve as FERC commissioners. The five-member agency has lacked a quorum since Commissioner Norman Bay resigned at the end of January.”

6-5-17 Washington Post. D.C. and Virginia, bucking Trump, pledge to honor Paris climate pact.  “The District and Virginia have joined a growing number of cities and states whose leaders are vowing to uphold the goals of the Paris climate agreement, despite President Trump’s announcement last week that the United States will withdraw from the accord…. McAuliffe said in a statement that ‘if the federal government insists on abdicating leadership on this issue, it will be up to the American people to step forward — and in Virginia we are doing just that.’ …. But Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said McAuliffe’s support for the Paris pact was hypocritical in light of his support for offshore drilling and two proposed natural-gas pipelines.”  (This story was covered by a wide variety of media outlets.)

6-5-17 Roanoke Times. As filings pile up, pipeline watchdogs call for supplemental draft environmental impact statement. Article about the immense number of supplemental filings submitted to FERC by the Mountain Valley Pipeline after the December 22, 2016 closing date for public comment (10s of 1000s of pages) and the calls by watchdogs for a properly indexed (so “the average person can navigate and understand”) supplemental DEIS before the release of the MVP’s final environmental impact statement, currently scheduled for June 23, 2017. Speaking about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion’s Aaron Ruby said Dominion has “submitted about 10,000 pages since the close of the [ACP] comment period” on April 6, 2017.  Meanwhile, many commenters continue to call for a “programmatic environmental impact statement, which would provide, they say, a more comprehensive review of the environmental and other cumulative impacts of several interstate pipelines designed to transport natural gas extracted from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the Appalachian Basin.” Such a programatic EIS would include both the Moutain Vally and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

6-4-17 Charlottesville Daily Progress. Opinion/Commentary: The Pledge: A money puzzle’s missing pieces. “The two Democratic candidates running for their party’s nomination for governor are sparring over how and when to clean up our rotten shambles of a state campaign finance system. But there’s brighter inspiration for a cynical citizenry. We can use some. Two polls have found that a landslide majority of Americans — more than three out of four — believe campaign contributions buy results from Congress. Democratic voters are as disgusted as Republicans, and there’s little reason to think the bad fragrance doesn’t extend to Virginia lawmakers.” Article goes on to discuss how “[p]ublic finance of campaigns is the missing puzzle piece that would wean candidates away from their corporate sugar-daddies.”

6-4-17 Roanoke Times. Virginia governor’s race ‘a referendum on pipelines.’ “[A]s five men vie to become Virginia’s next governor, environmental activists and pipeline fighters spy a glimmer of hope. They’re hopeful a new governor could stop the fracked gas pipelines from crossing the commonwealth. As the two Democratic candidates for governor sparred at debates and discussed their platforms at public forums, pipelines came up time and again. Activists made sure of it. With the June 13 primary inching closer, pipeline opponents are using the election as a way to make their voices heard — a trend that could continue during the lead-up to the general election.”

6-3-17 Blue Virginia. Northam & Perriello, Pipeline & Dominion: The Money-Power Problem on the Ballot. Discusses the gubernatorial race in light of the role money plays in Virginia politics. “Virginia ranks 47th of the 50 states in its ‘public integrity.’ And nowhere is that lack of ‘public integrity’ more visible than in the case of Dominion– a monopoly over a necessity, which is supposed to be regulated by the people’s representatives , but which, in Virginia, quite visibly gets to regulate the regulators. Again and again, Virginia legislators and officials (of both parties) have done the bidding of Dominion, at the expense of the people.”

6-2-17 EcoWatch. Here’s How This Governor Can Take Real Climate Action.  “Now that Donald Trump has official announced that he plans to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and further entrench the power of the fossil fuel industry within our federal government, state and local action on climate becomes ever more crucial. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently said as much in announcing executive action to draw up a state cap-and-trade system to limit carbon pollution from power plants. ‘Obviously with the pronouncements now coming out of the Trump administration, we cannot rely on them to do it, so we will be taking it into our own hands on the state level,’ McAuliffe declared. But if McAuliffe (or Virginia’s next governor) is truly serious about standing up to Trump on climate, and protecting Virginia’s vulnerable coastline from catastrophic flooding, he would also stop two massive fracked-gas pipelines proposed across the state. And, contrary to McAuliffe’s public statements, Virginia’s governor can stop these pipelines.”

6-2-17 Staunton News Leader. Report sheds light on pipeline’s statewide influence. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and Dominion Energy behind it in Virginia, wields widespread influence across many levels of government in the commonwealth, a report released Thursday by a nonprofit watchdog details. The corporate backers of the pipeline, including Dominion, have donated heavily to Virginia and North Carolina’s politicians, who have been publicly vocal about their support for the pipeline, according to the Public Accountability Initiative in its third report looking into the ‘power relation’ behind various U.S. pipeline projects. ‘Key members’ of the the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), which is part of the review process for the pipeline and has to make recommendations on whether to approve it, have also accepted gifts from Dominion Energy, either personally or through their organizations, the report highlights.”

6-1-17 Southeast Energy News. Report highlights Dominion efforts to secure Atlantic Coast Pipeline approval. “A report released [June 1, 2017] by a public accountability non-profit details the interlocking relationships, campaign donations and potential conflicts of interest that Dominion Resources is deploying to secure approval of its Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The nonpartisan Public Accountability Initiative outlined potential conflicts of interest with state and federal regulatory agencies, donations to campaigns and foundations and efforts by CEO Tom Farrell and a revolving door of lobbyists to influence key decision-makers.”

6-1-17 Charlottesville Daily Progress. Editorial: DEQ muddies waters over permit plans. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality denies that it’s backpedaling on a statement that it would review water crossings necessitated by the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines…. But DEQ certainly damaged its own reputation, raised false hopes among environmentalists and further muddied the waters in an already complicated and controversial debate.”

6-1-17 Roanoke Times. Is there more to pipeline flap than a mere ‘miscommunication?’  “Lots of people are wondering if any political pressure was brought to bear on the Department of Environmental Quality regarding two major Virginia pipelines and water quality issues they present.” In April DEQ said it would do individual certification for the MVP and ACP, looking at each wetland, stream crossing, etc., separately, to determine specific requirements. Six weeks later DEQ said it would not require individual certification of stream crossings. Rather, regulators will go with a general permit (which presents less hassle for pipeline companies), and blamed “miscommunication” between the agency’s technical staff and public affairs office for the April statements. Apparently it took six weeks for DEQ to notice multiple media reports saying they would do individual certifications. Why the flip-flop? Is it at least possible that Dominion’s influence played a role in DEQ’s “miscommunication?”

6-1-17 Daily Energy Insider. Senators introduce bill to support public participation in FERC processes. A group of U.S. senators recently introduced legislation aimed at assisting residential and small commercial energy consumers in participating in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) processes that affect them. The Public Engagement at FERC Act would create an Office of Public Participation and Consumer Advocacy at FERC, which would participate in FERC proceedings. The office would also reach out to the public in order to help ensure that their interests are represented, encourage the public’s participation in FERC processes and work to better incorporate public opinion into industry and FERC practices. U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Public Engagement at FERC Act. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

6-1-17 Forbes. Are Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Projects Given Sufficient Review? “The ultimate responsibility for approving [pipeline] projects falls onto the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, which is an obscure non-partisan five-member body. To win permission, companies must not just show the economic need for pipelines but also that they have worked in advance to satisfy the various stakeholders that include communities and environmentalists…. For an obscure agency, FERC has a lot of economic power. Enabling the infrastructure to meet tomorrow’s energy demands is one of its jobs. Ensuring that communities’ needs are heard is another. If those twin goals can be achieved, it is then duty-bound to approve projects that would improve millions of lives.”

6-1-17 Highland Recorder. ‘Environmentalist’ label doesn’t always apply. “Not everyone who is opposing the pipeline would be comfortable with those monikers. The folks with a family farm who are concerned that their water sources may be damaged, diminished, or eliminated may not think of themselves as “environmentalists.” The same may be true of local business owners who would be adversely affected. Many are simply appalled that private property rights are being violated or that the historical, cultural, or aesthetic aspects of their communities would be compromised and that their local economies would be endangered.” Note: access to the full letter requires a paid subscription.


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:

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

December 2016

November 2016