In the News

November 2017

11-20-17. Roanoke Star. Nearly 1,000 Wintergreen Property Owners To Sue Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Friends of Wintergreen announced today that nearly 1,000 Wintergreen property owners plan to individually sue the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for damages to their property if the pipeline company seizes land used by the Wintergreen community. These actions follow a rare split-decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve the 600-mile, 42-inch compressed natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and grant the private pipeline company the power to use eminent domain to seize private land, including 7-acres of common land at Wintergreen. ‘By approving the ACP, FERC effectively guarantees a 14% profit (or over $200 million a year) to the Dominion-managed pipeline company, a return that comes at the expense of many unwilling, uncompensated or under-compensated Virginia landowners. In the case of Wintergreen property owners, the land to be seized by the pipeline will come with no compensation to individual property owners, but significant inconvenience and damage to their property values,’ said Jonathan Ansell, Chairman of Friends of Wintergreen, Inc.”  See the full press release from Friends of Wintergreen here.

11-20-17 New York Times. Nebraska Regulators Approve Alternative Route for Keystone XL Pipeline. “Nebraska regulators on Monday allowed the Keystone XL oil pipeline to clear its final major hurdle, granting a victory to President Trump and Republicans who have for years pressed for the project. But the pipeline company will not be allowed to build along its preferred route, the regulators announced, opening up new questions about how the project will proceed.”

11-18-17 [Buckhannon WV] Record Delta. Pipeline starting April 1. It begins, “Construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is expected to begin on April 1, 2018, and that is not an April Fool’s joke. Mike Cozad, a third-party contractor for ACP, came to the Upshur County Commission’s weekly meeting Thursday to provide commissioners with a timeline and update on the building of the 42-inch, 600-mile natural gas pipeline that will extend from Harrison County, West Virginia to Robeson County, North Carolina. …. In the latter part of March, you’ll see a whole lot of people coming in here and getting set up with the anticipated start date (of construction) 1 April 2018. Prior to that, we will be dropping trees, but that’s a much smaller impact – they’re just going out, felling the trees and moving on. …. Each construction spread will be 400 to 600 people, depending on the contractor.” But later in the meeting, after comments by April Pierson-Keating, a member of Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, Cozad agreed that most benefits would be short term, saying, “The bigger impact is going to be short term, of course, while construction is going on. There will still be some long-term jobs, but she’s correct that the number’s probably not that much.”

11-18-17 News and Observer [Charlotte NC]. Editorial: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will slow conversion to more renewable energy. “The pipeline will not be a lifeline for eastern North Carolina. It will instead delay Duke from more urgently converting to renewable sources. This is not a theoretical issue. Eastern North Carolina has felt the flooding from hurricanes intensified by global warming, and it is feeling the encroachment of rising sea levels. What’s in eastern North Carolina’s best interest with regard to energy sources is the same as what’s in the world’s best interest. Build more wind turbines and solar arrays and encourage the rapidly improving battery technology for storing solar power. Those steps – not running a 50-foot wide swath through eastern North Carolina for the pipeline – represent the best path for the state’s energy future.”

11-18-17 News-Virginian. Letter to Editor from Bill Limpert: FERC Editorial way off base. “Back in October, following the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s certification of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published an editorial in which citizens and groups who were opposed to the pipelines were ridiculed. The editorial stated that the FERC decisions were sound, and cited the length of the documents as proof of their validity. It also stated that opponents were hysterical, and did not base their conclusions about the projects on fact. After seeing all of the work and scholarly research that so many have done to prove beyond any doubt that these projects are not in the public need, I saw red. I sent the following letter to the Richmond Times-Dispatch rebutting the editorial. They chose not to print it. Dominion runs Virginia and, apparently, the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They don’t run The News Virginian, however. My rebuttal follows: I recently read your editorial of October 16th, in which citizens opposed to FERC’s approval of the ACP and MVP were summarily derided. I take great exception with this ignorant and ugly attack. …. The editorial stated that our opposition was based on hysteria, not fact. Quite the contrary. Those opposed to this project bring more expertise to this argument than the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dominion, or FERC. Our unpaid volunteers are fighting against corporate seizure of our property and our rights, and as such, we have the moral high ground as well.”

11-17-17 Utility Dive. FERC rejects New York petition for rehearing over Millennium pipeline project, setting up court battle. “Federal regulators yesterday stuck to their guns, rejecting a petition for rehearing filed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation over the approval of the 8-mile Valley Lateral Pipeline that would move shale gas from the existing Millennium Pipeline to the 680 MW Valley Energy Center in Orange County, N.Y. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week denied a request for a stay by the DEP to block construction. Next month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear arguments over the lateral. Earlier this month, the court approved a temporary stay of construction. In an unrelated proceeding, North Carolina regulators have asked FERC to reconsider the return on equity it granted to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in its October approval.”

11-17-17 Richond Times-Dispatch. U.S. Forest Service will allow Atlantic Coast Pipeline through two national forests. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline won another key approval Friday when the U.S. Forest Service said it would permit the Dominion Energy-led project to be built through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests. …. But David Sligh, an environmental attorney, former Virginia Department of Environmental Quality engineer, conservation director for Wild Virginia and an investigator for the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, called the Forest Service decision disappointing. ‘You have to be disappointed anytime an agency essentially betrays their duty, and that’s what they’ve done,’ Sligh said. ‘It’s certainly not a sound decision, and it certainly doesn’t meet their legal mandates.'”

11-17-17 NBC29. US Forest Service Allowing Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction. “The federal government will allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to run through national forests in Virginia and West Virginia. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service announced its decision Friday, November 17. Twenty-one miles of the pipeline route will cross national forest system lands in the George Washington and Monongahela national forests. Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC expects tree removal to start later in the month. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) responded soon after in a statement that strongly opposes the USDA Forest Service’s decision. The center plans to challenge both forest service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval of the project.” Web coverage includes the release from the Forest Service, as well as releases from SELC and Dominion.

11-16-17 Charlotte Observer. Atlantic Coast Pipeline set to seize private property for 600-mile project. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is set to start seizing private property in North Carolina early next year to build its proposed 600-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina. The energy consortium, which includes Charlotte-based Duke Energy, said this week that about 20 percent of 2,900 landowners whose properties lie in the path of the proposed underground pipeline have not signed voluntary agreements to allow their land to be used for the project, including an estimated 200 property owners in eight North Carolina counties. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline can begin legal condemnation proceedings against holdout property owners as soon as it has received all state and federal permits.”

11-16-17 WeAreCovePoint.org. Back-to-back bad hearings for Dominion this week. “The last two days saw two hearings about different Dominion Energy gas infrastructure projects in Southern Maryland. Tuesday night, there was a zoning permit for a compressor station Dominion wants to build near Accokeek, and Wednesday, there was a hearing to change Dominion’s largest state-level permit for its export terminal being built at Cove Point in a way that would allow more pollution into the surrounding community. Dominion representatives left both hearings with grumpy faces.”

11-16-17 DeSmog. Did Northam’s Office Try to Hide the Dominion Executives and Lobbyists Sitting on His Transition Team? “Virginia’s Democratic governor-elect, Ralph Northam, announced his transition committee this week. In a press release, his office listed 85 individuals who will comprise the ‘bipartisan’ committee, representing Virginians ‘from across the Commonwealth who will join him over the course of the next two months to lay the groundwork for a successful administration.’ But there is something odd about the list of people and their affiliations, or lack thereof. Dominion Energy — the state’s most powerful corporate player who will need certifications from the Northam administration for its pivotal Atlantic Coast pipeline — doesn’t appear once on the list. …. Yet a closer look at the people on the transition team reveals that some have been presented in a selective way that fails to mention their various affiliations with Dominion.”

11-16-17 Washington Post. Keystone pipeline spills 210,000 gallons of oil on eve of permitting decision for TransCanada. “The Keystone pipeline running from Canada across the Great Plains leaked Thursday morning, spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil — or 210,000 gallons — southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota. The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada. The spill on the first Keystone pipeline is the latest in a series of leaks that critics of the new pipeline say shows that TransCanada should not receive another permit.”

11-16-17 Charleston Gazette.  Judge taps on brakes in Mountain Valley Pipeline land easement case. “A federal judge on Thursday tapped on the brakes — at least for now — in Mountain Valley Pipeline’s effort to fast-track one of two lawsuits against hundreds of landowners seeking to use eminent domain to gain easements for construction of its more than 300-mile natural gas project across West Virginia and Virginia. U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver indicated that he would not be granting a request from MVP lawyers that all of the landowners in the company’s West Virginia lawsuit be forced to respond by Dec. 4 to the company’s motions for summary judgment to force unwilling landowners to allow surveys of their property and to ‘immediate access and possession’ of those properties to begin construction of the pipeline. ‘There is no prospect that the court is going to require an answer by December 4 to those motions,’ Copenhaver said during a morning status conference he held in open court in Charleston. Copenhaver also indicated that he is going to press MVP attorneys to personally serve all of the landowners with the lawsuits against them, and demand detailed explanations if the company ultimately says it couldn’t find all of the owners and wanted to rely on a public notice in the newspaper instead. ‘The court wants these people located,’ Copenhaver said. ‘The court is expecting due process.’

11-15-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Suit seeks to stop FERC from blocking pipeline appeals. “A new legal action against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeks to stop the agency from using a procedural maneuver to keep challenges of its approval of new natural gas pipelines from having their day in court. Attorneys for the Sierra Club filed their emergency petition this week with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in a case about NEXUS, a 257-mile pipeline from Columbiana County, Ohio, to Ypsilanti, Michigan. But the underlying legal issues focus on procedures that are also likely to play out in the months to come in separate challenges to FERC approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia. Essentially, the petition argues that the FERC prevents federal appeals courts from hearing legal challenges to its pipeline approvals by delaying decisions on requests that it reconsider those approvals — required before court appeals can be filed — and then allowing pipeline construction to begin before it decides those rehearing requests.”

11-15-17 Triangle Business Journal. N.C. Utilities Commission asks feds for a ‘rehearing’ on ACP. “A week after state regulators asked Duke Energy and Dominion Energy to come up with a better erosion plan for its 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, another North Carolina agency has lobbed criticism at the project. This time it’s the N.C. Utilities Commission, which has filed a request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission grant a ‘rehearing’ on the $5 billion pipeline. NCUC is asking the feds to reconsider the certificate it granted the project in October – an issuance celebrated by ACP as its most significant regulatory milestone yet. Bill Gilmore, a deputy director with NCUC, says his group continues to support the project as a whole. NCUC didn’t ask for any kind of stay and doesn’t ‘anticipate’ any delays for ACP stemming from the rehearing request, he says. ‘It would be wonderful to have a competing pipeline,’ he reiterates, noting that Transco has dominated as the state’s primary interstate for more than six decades. What NCUC takes issue with, however, is ACP’s proposed recourse rates, which factor into what ACP could charge for the natural gas it wants to pipe in from Virginia. ACP is calculating its recourse rates based on a 14 percent return on equity estimate, a figure NCUC calls ‘overstated’ in its filing to the feds. Since ACP is a new entity, it’s basing that rate on what Transco uses for its own calculation – an estimate Gilmore also calls ‘ridiculous’ and outdated.”

11-15-17 Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk postpones vote on Atlantic Coast Pipeline easements.  “The Norfolk City Council postponed a vote on whether to grant easements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two drinking water reservoirs, the only ones in the project’s path. The Virginian-Pilot reports the council was scheduled to consider the issue Tuesday night but rescheduled the vote for Dec. 19.” [Attendees at the meeting say Mothers Out Front and a local group called Motherboard 757 were in attendance and spoke against the city granting the easement. There were some industry reps in the room but they were outnumbered by people speaking in opposition to the easement.] TV coverage here.

11-14-17 AG-Web. Pipelines and Farmers Battle Over Lifetime Loss. Farmers in Illinois, Georgia, and Iowa talk about their personal experiences with pipelines built across their land. “Pipelines and agriculture are a contentious pair, with a growing number of farmers raising concerns over soil health, drainage issues, and responses from oil and gas companies. ‘Pipelines promise the world and money. Sure, I love energy efficiency, but I’m a farmer and I don’t want this pipeline headache on my property. If you can keep a pipeline from coming through your property, then do it,’ Richter says. ‘If they need to get through your land, they’ll tickle your ear. But once the line is installed, they don’t come back to the table to fix problems. Even if you’ve got it in writing, you’ll still have to go to the legal system for enforcement and spend thousands of dollars,’ Dowdy adds. ‘The only leverage you’ve got is prior to the pipeline.’ ‘You’ve got to get advice from somebody with soil experience, not dirt experience. Don’t let the company put time limits on corrective action and don’t sign off on anything,’ Kelley concludes. ‘Remember, farmers look down and see soil, but the pipeline company just sees dirt.'”

11-14-17 Nelson County Times. Nelson group files request with FERC to halt pipeline. “In an effort to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Friends of Nelson filed a request for rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday on the commission’s recent decision to issue a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the natural gas project. ‘We request that the Certificate Order and deficient final environmental impact statement (FEIS) be withdrawn and the environmental analysis and public convenience and necessity analysis be redone in a manner that complies with FERC’s obligations pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act,’ the 74-page filing says.”

11-14-17 News & Observer [Raleigh NC]. Atlantic Coast Pipeline would hurt black residents most, NAACP says. “Building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through low-income Eastern North Carolina counties would force people of color to bear more than their share of the risks posed by the nation’s power infrastructure, the NAACP said in a report released Tuesday. “African American and other environmental justice communities face heavy burdens because of the millions of pounds of hazardous emissions released by the oil and gas industry each year,” said the report, titled “Fumes Across the Fence Line.”

11-14-17 Blue Virginia. 10 Actions to Oppose Dominion Energy’s Stranglehold on VA Politics. “After last Tuesday’s incredible results, it should be clear that we’re experiencing a democratic moment of transformation. The power dynamics in Virginia are in flux; now’s the time for everyday citizens to go all in, to insist that our representatives put our interests above those of corporate donors. Over the next several months, this struggle can and should be focused on combating the political influence of Dominion Energy in particular. The Richmond-Times Dispatch recently published an eight-article series tracing the origins and transformation of Dominion’s political power. This series, in part, details Dominion’s role as Virginia’s top corporate contributor. Yet in the aftermath of last Tuesday – since 13 candidates won who have pledged never to accept Dominion contributions – we have the momentum. Virginians who’ve had enough of Dominion’s stranglehold over our politics should act now, so I’ve put together a set of short-term actions below.” The article goes on to list the 10 actions citizens should take.  See also our main page post listing the actions.

11-14-17 Roanoke Times. Critics of pipeline approval seek new hearing on FERC decision. “One month after it approved the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, a federal agency is being asked to think twice by a chorus of critics. Some 22 petitioners — including landowners whose property the pipeline would dissect, counties it would cross and conservation groups who say it would leave a trail of environmental damage — filed documents Monday asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order a rehearing of its Oct. 13 decision. The requests outline a variety of grounds on which opponents argue that FERC erred when it granted a certificate allowing a 42-inch diameter, 303-mile buried pipeline that would channel natural gas at high pressure through the two Virginias. While some opponents concede that FERC is unlikely to reverse itself, the petitions are a necessary step toward a possible legal challenge that would seek a delay in construction.”

11-13-17 Wichita Eagle. Norfolk leaders voting on Atlantic Coast Pipeline easements. “The Norfolk City Council is set to decide whether to grant easements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two drinking water reservoirs, the only ones in its path. The Virginian-Pilot reports the council will consider the issue Tuesday [November 14, 2017]. Senior city staffers and Dominion Energy, the 600-mile (965-kilometer) natural gas pipeline’s lead partner, say they’re confident it can be safely routed under the reservoirs. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club and other environmental advocates are asking the council to put a hold on the request.”

11-13-17 Fredricksburg Today. Richmond County bans fracking. “Richmond County is the first community to ban fracking in the Rappahannock River watershed, a move which environmental advocates are calling a big win for water quality on the Northern Neck. After several months of research and deliberations, the Richmond County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Nov. 9 to ban gas drilling and fracking in their jurisdictional boundaries. The vote sends a strong message that the communities of Richmond County and the Northern Neck are invested in protecting their land and water from industrial activities that pose a clear risk to clean water and healthy communities.”

11-13-17 StateImpact-Pennsylvania. New gas pipeline capacity sharply exceeds consumption, report says. “Charges that the U.S. pipeline industry is building far more natural gas pipelines than it needs are being fueled by a new report showing that the capacity of lines approved by federal regulators over the last two decades was more than twice the amount of gas actually consumed daily in 2016. The report by the independent Analysis Group for the Natural Resources Defense Council said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved more than 180 billion cubic feet a day (bcf/d) of new pipeline capacity since 1999, when it began its current policy on approving interstate pipelines. The new capacity compares with the average daily consumption of only 75.11 bcf/d last year, the report said. Even during the Polar Vortex of 2013/14 when exceptionally cold temperatures in the Northeast boosted the need for heating fuel, consumption of 137 bcf/d was still significantly lower than the combined capacity additions, the report said, citing data from the federal Energy Information Administration.”

11-13-17 DeSmog. Northam’s Transition Team Leader Has Ties to Companies Behind Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Virginia’s governor-elect, Ralph Northam, wasted no time in organizing a transition team. A day after his November 7th victory, Northam announced that Marianne Radcliff, a former state transportation official with rich experience in local government and politics, will lead his transition team. Over the past two decades, Radcliff has established herself as a prominent lobbyist in the state’s capital. She is currently vice president of the Richmond-based lobbying firm Kemper Consulting. Previously she worked as a lobbyist for Williams Mullen. DeSmog has found that Radcliff and Kemper Consulting have ties to companies behind the Atlantic Coast pipeline, a highly controversial project that loomed large in the gubernatorial race. These include links to Dominion – the energy giant and historically dominant corporate player in Virginian politics.”

11-13-17 The Record Delta [WV]. Water board agrees to gas pipeline deal. “The Buckhannon [WV] Water Board on Thursday approved a preliminary agreement with Atlantic Coast Pipeline that states the company will pay nearly $2 million to enhance the city’s water system. According to a copy of the agreement, ACP will pay for $1,933,085 worth of improvements to the city’s water system — improvements that natural gas company officials say are necessary to perform hydrostatic testing on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. City water board employees will perform the labor required to make the improvements.”

11-13-17 MetroNews [WV]. Waiver aside, WV regulators express confidence in pipeline oversight. “West Virginia environmental regulators drew scrutiny this month by waiving the state’s option to tailor its own requirements within a federal permit for the enormous and controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. Trying to better explain their rationale, the state’s regulators say they weren’t giving up their say-so but instead were opting for a different form of oversight. Observers with environmental groups have said they need to do more homework to determine if what the Division of Environmental Protection is saying holds water. Others contend DEP’s decision is really a way to deflect criticism while capitulating to the pipeline developers.”

11-12-17 Huffington Post. McAuliffe’s Folly: The Atlantic “Trump” Pipeline. “Is outgoing Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe a climate change denier? Just asking that question is bound to offend the governor and some of his supporters. … Never mind that close observers have called McAuliffe’s record on climate change ‘abysmal’ and ‘marred by contradictions and empty rhetoric.'”  See also our main page post on this news story.

11-11-17 Rocky Mount Telegram [NC]. Pipeline critics push against plan. “A local group fighting installment of an interstate natural gas pipeline through Nash County is urging people to voice their opposition at a public hearing next week while utility representatives say the project is on track despite questions from state regulators. The U.S. Division of Air Quality is holding a public hearing Wednesday in Garysburg, the largest town in nearby Northampton County, where builders are planning a compressor station near Pleasant Hill for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Compressor stations can cause dangerous emissions of volatile organic compounds, said Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina. The pipeline disproportionately targets minority and low-income rural communities, according to advocates at a recent people’s tribunal. Nash Stop the Pipeline and other environmental and social justice groups have been fighting a protracted battle against the pipeline for years.”

11-10-17 Blue Virginia. Virginia Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Should Reject Dominion Money for Inaugural Committee. “In the coming weeks, Dominion Energy will almost certainly try to deliver a $50,000 check to Governor-elect Northam for his inaugural committee. In Virginia politics this is routine–since 1998 Dominion has contributed over $225,000 to gubernatorial inaugural committees. No other corporation has donated more than Dominion to these committees according to records kept by the Virginia Public Access Project. But this might be the first year a Governor-elect considers whether it’s politically acceptable to cash Dominion’s check. A new class of elected officials will enter office in January having pledged not to accept Dominion contributions as a result of a pledge circulated by Activate Virginia. For many political observers, this is a major development in Virginia politics….”

11-10-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Thirteen candidates who refused Dominion money win seats in General Assembly. “Thirteen candidates who signed a pledge refusing to accept campaign cash from Virginia’s two big utilities won seats in the House of Delegates Tuesday. Seven of those support prohibiting Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power from making political donations. The pledge, signed by nearly 60 mostly Democratic House of Delegates candidates, made headlines earlier this year. And in the traditionally business-friendly General Assembly, where no corporate concern has held more sway of late than Dominion, the state’s largest utility, an influx of lawmakers who see the company’s clout as excessive could augur a shift in debate on major issues during the legislative session next year.”

11-9-17 Oil Change International. Burning the Gas ‘Bridge Fuel’ Myth. “This analysis provides five clear reasons why fossil gas is not a ‘bridge fuel.’ It shows that even with zero methane leakage, gas is not a climate change solution. The idea of fossil gas as a ‘bridge’ from coal to renewables has been strongly promoted by the industry over recent years, and echoed also by government leaders including former U.S. President Barack Obama and EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete. In this briefing we show that even in the hypothetical case of zero methane leakage, fossil gas cannot be a bridge fuel. This is not to say that the methane leakage issue is unimportant or that reducing leakage is not essential. However, it is to demonstrate that methane leakage is not the sole determinant of whether fossil gas causes net harm to the climate. To meet climate goals, fossil gas production and consumption must, like that of other fossil fuels, be phased out, and reducing methane leakage does not alter that fact.”

11-9-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Opinion: As McAuliffe heads to Germany, his climate legacy is marred by a pipeline promise. After Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined 14 U.S. states and Puerto Rico in forming the U.S. Climate Alliance, with the commitment to ‘reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.’ This week, McAuliffe will travel to the U.N. Climate Negotiations in Germany as part of a delegation of U.S. elected officials. McAuliffe’s involvement in this delegation makes for a great headline. But the trouble for the Virginia governor is that his climate legacy is marred by contradictions and empty rhetoric. One of the most glaring examples of this: Despite mounting opposition from Virginians, he continues to support two fracked gas pipelines that would worsen climate change — the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.”

11-8-17 Blue Virginia. Thirteen “Dominion $ Deniers” to Serve in the State Legislature, Countering Climate Deniers. “In a big win for anti-corruption and clean energy advocates, 13 elected House of Delegates members have pledged not to accept campaign contributions from Dominion Energy or Appalachian Power. (Dominion has blocked clean energy progress for years by funding campaigns of candidates in both parties.) Tom Perriello made the pledge famous last summer when he signed it during his campaign for governor. Around that time, 13 House of Delegates candidates who have now been elected—or one-quarter of next session’s Democratic delegation—also signed the pledge, according to Activate Virginia, the pledge tracker.”

11-8-17 DeSmog. How Dominion Energy, Fracked Gas Giant, Lost Big in Virginia Election. “Virginia’s top corporate political contributor, Dominion Energy, had a rough night last night, as at least 14 candidates who pledged not to accept money from the monopoly utility won seats in a surprise wave election for Democrats. Depending on official counts that may take days or weeks, Democrats will likely tie Republicans with a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, leading to a share of power, though they may still control the chamber outright depending on the results of recounts. Democrats won all three statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. In addition to the 13 Delegate candidates who pledged not to accept money from Dominion, newly elected Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax ran a campaign that opposed Dominion’s fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and refused contributions from the monopoly utility. 52 Democratic and Independent nominees who advanced to the general election signed the pledge, organiz

11-8-17 Augusta Free Press. Findings from Charlottesville People’s Tribunal on pipelines. “Low-income rural communities – particularly those with significant African-American, Native-American, and Appalachian populations – will bear disproportionately the environmental, health, and economic costs of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, according to testimony at a People’s Tribunal recently held in Charlottesville. … Based on the relevance of testimony to six principal human rights signed by the U.S. in agreements to protect its people, the environmental justice experts presiding as judges over the Charlottesville tribunal ‘strongly recommend that the states of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina and their environmental agencies 1) suspend all actions [to proceed with the ACP and MVP pipelines]; 2) immediately cease and desist eminent domain actions; and 3) thoroughly investigate the environmental, cultural, and health impacts [of the pipelines and infrastructure] with real voice and real vote from the community.’ The judges also strongly recommended that the United Nations Human Rights Council put the United States on trial for crimes against human – as the U.S. has recommended for other countries in violation of their agreements.”

11-7-17 Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Editorial: DEP’s hands-off stance on pipeline raises valid concerns. “The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s actions – or inactions – again are raising questions about its commitment to doing a thorough job of protecting the state’s environment. … Regardless of how one feels about the [MVP] project itself, the critics do have a point when they condemn the agency as being derelict in its duty in this case. After all, it conceded first that it didn’t do a thorough job in evaluating the project, then decided it wasn’t going to do the job at all.”

11-7-17 Triangle Business Journal. Regulators issue ‘Letter of Disapproval’ for Atlantic Coast Pipeline; Not a rejection, ACP says. “The utilities behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have hit another potential delay with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. ACP spokesman Aaron Ruby confirmed Tuesday that Dominion Energy and Duke Energy received two more information requests from NCDEQ, this time related to the project’s erosion and sedimentation control permit. … Calling the request ‘normal procedure,’ and ‘typical for projects of this size,’ Ruby wrote that the firms are ‘confident’ they can provide the additional information soon.”

11-7-17 Lancaster Online.  Work stops on Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Lancaster County, builder seeks court clarification.  “Construction has stopped along the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline’s 37-mile route in Lancaster County amid a confusing stay order issued by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., on Monday. A temporary stay was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in response to an emergency motion filed Oct. 30 by environmental groups opposing the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The emergency motion asks that work cease until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does a comprehensive environmental review on the project’s short- and long-term impacts, as well as whether there is a public need for the pipeline.”  UPDATE on 11-9-17:  On November 8, the Court denied the motion for emergency stay and dissolved the administrative stay issued earlier in the week.  See Atlantic Sunrise pipeline build resumes after court lifts work-stoppage order and Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline construction to resume: ruling

11-6-17 Utility Dive. Massachusetts lawmakers press for law banning ‘pipeline tax.’  “Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a pair of bills that would strengthen gas project reviews and make it explicitly illegal to charge electric ratepayers to develop gas infrastructure. Senate Bill 1855 says the DPU ‘shall not approve any contract for the purchase of gas, gas pipeline capacity or liquefied gas storage where any contract costs could be recoverable from the ratepayers, if such contract requires any construction or expansion of interstate gas infrastructure.’ ‘In paying a surcharge on their utility bills to build the pipeline, ratepayers are taking away the risk of the electric company’s business decision to build the pipeline whether it is profitable or not,’ the lawmaker letter, reportedly signed by 125 legislators, reads. ‘This shields the electric companies from risk and subsidizes the corporate bottom line.'”

11-6-17 ThinkProgress. Environmentalists just gained a new enemy in the fight against natural gas pipelines – Industry is intensifying its campaign against landowners and environmentalists. “The electric utility sector’s top lobbying group is teaming up with fossil fuel trade associations as part of an effort to intensify the industry’s campaign against citizen and environmental groups opposed to fracking and new natural gas pipelines. … From Keystone XL to Dakota Access to ongoing efforts to curtail oil and gas drilling, anti-fossil fuel activists caught the attention of energy companies and their representatives in Washington years ago. Aside from only a small number of victories, however, the activists have largely been unable to stop pipelines or slow down fracking. And yet the gas industry isn’t taking any chances; it wants to ensure its winning percentage remains strong. EEI brings to the table a budget of $90 million and a strong lobbying network in Washington and state capitals that can be used to help squelch fossil fuel resistance. … Lorne Stockman, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, an anti-fossil fuel research and advocacy group, sees EEI’s decision to link with the oil and gas trade groups as an effort to ‘offload their risks and their costs onto the consumer.’ … ‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a classic case where the three utilities that are developing it also own the three utilities that are the primary customers for the pipeline capacity,’ Stockman said. ‘So, they sign these 20-year agreements with themselves or with their subsidiaries and the cost of that long 20-year agreement is being passed along to the ratepayer.'”

11-4-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. DEP pipeline decision at odds with WV’s push against federal overreach. “or years, West Virginia political leaders and regulators have complained about overreach by the federal government. State agencies should be the ones who make decisions about how to best protect the environment within their borders, West Virginia leaders, including Gov. Jim Justice, have argued. But last week, the Justice administration gave up its broad authority under state and federal water pollution rules to approve, reject or require changes in the proposal to build the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to carry natural gas from Wetzel County into Virginia. Legal experts say such a move is surprising, given the state’s strong public stance about what level of government should make environmental decisions and in the context of a Clean Water Act provision — Section 401 — aimed to ensure states could be the ones to make those determinations.”

11-3-17 River Reporter [NY]. Pipeline construction halted – Federal court steps in. “A federal appeals court has stepped into the ongoing battle between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The US Court of Appeal, Second Circuit on November 2 issued an emergency stay FERc’s “Notice to Proceed with Construction.” FERC had issued the notice to Millennium Pipeline to allow the company to begin construction on the 7.8 mile Valley Lateral Pipeline, which is intended to carry gas from the Millennium Pipeline to the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant in Wawayanda. The stay halts construction of the pipeline, at least temporarily, until the case is heard in court. The issue is whether DEC acted properly when it denied a water quality certificate to Millennium because the environmental review of the pipeline did not include a review of the impact the construction of the pipeline would have on climate. FERC declared that DEC waited too long to act on the permit application and therefore had forfeited the right to deny the permit. The argument from the DEC was that the one-year clock on the permit application began when the DEC determined it had a completed application, not when Millennium began the process of applying. DEC applied to FERC for a rehearing on the matter, but instead of granting that, a FERC official issued the Notice to Proceed, which prompted DEC to take the matter to court. Activists and environmentalists have been fighting both the power plant and the pipeline and considered the stay to be a victory.”

11-2-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. MVP developers suing hundreds of WV, Virginia landowners for easements. “As the state Department of Environmental Protection paves the way for the project, developers of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline are suing hundreds of landowners in West Virginia and Virginia to gain easements through eminent domain rights granted to MVP by a federal regulatory approval. MVP lawyers have filed complaints in U.S. District Court in Charleston and Roanoke to obtain through condemnation the rights of way for the 300-mile natural gas pipeline from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The Virginia complaint lists more than 300 separate pieces of property — with the property descriptions taking up 192 pages of a 196-page complaint — and the West Virginia filing lists more than 140 separate property parcels. ‘Condemnation is necessary because MVP has been unable to negotiate mutually agreeable easement agreements with the landowners,’ the MVP lawyers said in both of their complaints.”

11-2-17 Washington Examiner. Senate approves two Trump FERC nominees. “The Senate on Thursday afternoon approved the nominations of Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Their approvals to the commission, by voice vote, give FERC its full slate of five members for the first time in two years. It comes at a crucial time for the board, which is considering a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to create new rules subsidizing coal and nuclear plants to value the ‘reliability and resiliency’ they offer the electric grid. McIntyre, a Republican former energy industry adviser, will take over as chairman from Neil Chatterjee. Chatterjee, a former staffer of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was also nominated by Trump and has served as chairman in a temporary capacity. He will remain on the board. Glick was a Democratic attorney for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”

11-2-17 WSLS10 News. Montgomery County asks FERC for rehearing on Mountain Valley pipeline, Last week, Roanoke County requested a rehearing from FERC. “Montgomery County is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. At a meeting this week, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to petition FERC for a rehearing on the authorization of the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. Board members say they are concerned that FERC has not fully addressed the potential dangers the construction of the pipeline might have on the environment and the potential negative impact on citizens’ quality of life. ‘We don’t believe that this pipeline is in the best interest of the citizens in Montgomery County. In addition to that, this company doesn’t have any experience building this size pipeline through karst terrain,’ said Chris Tuck, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. Roanoke County has also asked FERC to reconsider its approval of the pipeline.”

11-2-17 The Breeze [JMU]. Community members protest approved pipelines. “Local Rockingham County and Harrisonburg community members stand in solidarity with the pipeline fighters across the commonwealth in the anti-pipeline group called Rockingham Alliance for the Protection and Transformation of Our Resources and Society. The emergence of this organization happened a year ago when a number of members became unified through common-interest meetings and the indigenous movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. The RAPTORS assemble to formulate strategies, educate the public and organize trips to spread awareness about the effects pipelines can have on the land and the community.”

11-1-17 Roanoke Times. W.Va. agency waives water quality certification for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Derek Teaney, an environmental lawyer based in West Virginia, used words like ‘stunning,’ ‘egregious’ and ‘outrageous’ to describe a decision by that state’s environmental agency related to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. On Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced the state has waived the requirement that the controversial pipeline project obtain Clean Water Act 401 water quality certification in West Virginia. ‘This is an outrageous and unprecedented dereliction of duty by DEP,’ said Teaney, a senior attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. ‘After assuring a federal court that it was committed to reconsidering whether the MVP would degrade the hundreds of streams it would impact, DEP has thrown up its hands and admitted that it is not up to the task of protecting West Virginia’s environment,’ he said. The department also announced it has restored a previously awarded stormwater permit it had suspended in September ‘to properly respond to all public comments received.’ The agency said provisions and conditions associated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide 12 permitting process, which will review the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s stream crossings, along with requirements of the stormwater permit, ‘will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protections for the state’s waters.'”

11-1-17 WDTV5.  Environmental organizations outraged at WVDEP decision.  “Multiple organizations released statements together Wednesday against the decision by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announcement to waive the individual 401 Certification of the federal permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline – a decision that the organizations say put the health of West Virginians at risk.”

11-1-17 Rocky Mount Telegram. Pipeline builders to alter plans. “Atlantic Coast Pipeline builders say they will modify plans for crossing waterways based on state requests, while opponents held a recent people’s tribunal condemning the entire project. … Dominion Energy spokesman Aaron Ruby said the pipeline builders will make the modifications requested by the agency in short order so it can complete the approval process in a timely manner. ‘We have every reason to believe the project remains on track, and we’re confident we’ll receive final approval in time to begin construction by the end of the year,’ Ruby said. At about the same time North Carolina environmental officials asked for changes, a panel of human rights advocates and environmental experts hosted a people’s tribunal Saturday in Virginia to address concerns over environmental injustice and racism related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Nearly 50 people spoke out about negative impacts of the pipeline at the meeting in Charlottesville.”

October 2017

10-31-17 The Robesonian. Campaign launched to highlight benefits of pipeline. “A campaign featuring personal, local stories has been launched to promote the the construction of a 600-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would begin in West Virginia and end in Pembroke. EnergySure Coalition’s campaign in favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is designed to highlight ‘the significant economic and environmental benefits that this important infrastructure will bring to the state,’ according to a release issued by EnergySure. Local elected governmental officials also will speak about how families, business owners and communities will benefit from the pipeline. The campaign will feature television, radio, print and website advertising, along with messages on EnergySure’s social media channels, according to the release. EnergySure North Carolina is described on its website as a ‘group of businesses, organizations and individuals that is standing up for reliable energy in our state.’ … Not everyone agrees. The ACP has been the focus of numerous public forums during which the pipeline’s need was questioned. Many people also have expressed concerns about the pipeline’s effect on the residents of the areas through which it will pass and on the environment.”

10-30-17 Public Radio East. NCDEQ Requesting Different Stream Crossing Strategies For Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has requested modifications to the way the Atlantic Coast Pipeline crosses some streams in the state. The natural gas pipeline that runs through eight counties in North Carolina will cross 367 bodies of water. 53 of those streams have little to no flow, so open cut crossings were proposed. Workers dig a trench, pipe is laid from bank to bank and the area is filled and restored to its original state. Duke Energy spokesperson Tammie McGee says some of the crossings were impacted by the Department of Environmental Quality’s request to instead use dry ditch methods. ‘So only about 16 of the crossings will be materially impacted by switching to the drier method of construction, so that we see that everything is still scheduled so that we can begin construction by the end of the year.’ Workers will now build sandbag dams both upstream and downstream and divert the water during construction. McGee says she doesn’t expect the modifications will delay the timeline for the project, which is set to receive final approval in time to begin construction by the end of the year.”

10-30-17 Natural Gas Intelligencer. Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Have All State Permits by Mid-December, Dominion Says. “Dominion Energy Inc. expects to complete the permitting phase of its 600-mile, 1.5 Bcf/d Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) by mid-December, securing all necessary state approvals by that time despite pushback from project opponents, management said Monday. The controversial natural gas transmission project received a certificate earlier this month from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a rare split decision. With FERC’s approval in place, opposition groups have turned to the states recently to try to stall the pipeline, urging regulators in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina to withhold water quality permits for ACP. During a conference call Monday to discuss 3Q2017 results, Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell was asked about the scrutiny the project has received. Farrell described the state-permitting process for the pipeline as business as usual.”

10-29-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Environmental groups say Virginia State Water Control Board must deny pipeline water permits. “In a letter last week, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, along with the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, wrote that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s much-maligned decision to narrow its water-quality review for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines to ‘upland’ areas, among numerous other shortcomings, means the board lacks the information it needs to make a legally-defensible water-quality certification. ‘While it is the board’s decision whether to certify the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, DEQ must provide the board with sufficient information to make that decision,’ the letter says. ‘DEQ has not done so. As a result, the board does not have the tools it needs to do its job and approval of water quality certifications for these proposed pipelines would be vulnerable to challenge in federal court.'”

10-29=17 Southside Daily. A company wants to put pipeline under water supply for Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Here’s what you should know. “Last week, [Norfolk] city council briefly discussed a public hearing slated for the evening’s formal session. In the eight or so minutes it was discussed, council members had several questions. The agenda item was described as ‘to accept bids for a long-term easement and temporary construction easements on City of Norfolk property’ – or, in simpler terms, a request to use lands currently owned by the city. The sole bid? The offer of $150,000 was more than double the city’s minimum. But the company, a partner of Dominion Energy, is one that’s been shrouded in controversy – Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC. … A lateral extension of the pipeline, splitting off of the main line near the Virginia-North Carolina border, would run 70 miles northeast, through Suffolk and into Chesapeake. It’s estimated to cost $5.1 million overall. The Norfolk-owned land in question? It’s located in Suffolk and includes the Lake Prince and Western Branch reservoirs – two of the largest sources of both Norfolk and Virginia Beach’s tap water. And the company? They want to install a 20-inch in diameter natural gas pipeline underneath the reservoirs – anywhere from 4 to 40 feet underneath them, according to Kristen Lentz, the city’s director of utilities.”

10-28-17 NBC29. Anti-Pipeline Group Hosts Tribunal In Wake of Pipeline Projects’ Approval. “Saturday, Anti-pipeline group Friends of Buckingham hosted a tribunal at Charlottesville’s CitySpace where more than 40 people spoke about what they see as the negative effects of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This comes about a week after the Department of Environmental Quality ruled the pipeline to be safe. ‘Even though they say it’s a done deal, I say that it’s not a done deal,’ Ruby Laury, who lives near the proposed compressor station, said.”

10-27-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Justice urged to give WV DEP resources for complete review of pipelines. “Twenty citizen groups are urging Gov. Jim Justice to ensure that the state Department of Environmental Protection performs a complete review of the water quality impacts of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The coalition of groups, calling themselves the Appalachian Gas Working Group, delivered a letter to Justice’s office this week asking the governor to provide DEP staffers with ‘ample resources for the agency to do its due diligence to protect our water through’ reviews for Clean Water Act water quality certifications for the natural gas pipelines. They said that the state’s tourism industry ‘and the health of the state’s citizens depend on clean water.’ ‘West Virginians are counting on you to oversee DEP’s thorough review of these massive projects to ensure water quality will not be degraded,’ the groups said in their letter.

10-27-17 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley sues landowners to gain pipeline easements through eminent domain. “Mountain Valley Pipeline filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday in Roanoke against hundreds of landowners in Virginia to initiate acquiring easements for the project across private properties through eminent domain. Both Maureen Brady, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, and Chuck Lollar, a Norfolk-based lawyer who specializes in eminent domain, said filing suit against multiple landowners and properties at once is standard procedure for similar projects. Lollar said one reason to file condemnation proceedings against hundreds of landowners at once ‘is to seek one court order granting entry to begin construction, applicable to all property owners who have refused to sign easements, since they would be the remaining obstacle to commencement of construction of the pipeline.’ … The condemnation action targets properties where Mountain Valley has failed to negotiate with landowners an acceptable price for an easement. Many property owners opposed to the pipeline have refused even to enter such negotiations.”

10-27-17 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: Politicians failed to stand against pipeline. “On Oct. 13, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission committed a crime against humanity. That’s the day FERC issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity to the wannabe builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. FERC’s review board normally has five members, but the vote was just 2-1 because two seats remain unfilled. That’s right, approval for this highly contentious project was rammed through by exactly two people, which wouldn’t even constitute a majority if the commission were at full strength. … Meanwhile, it’s time to call out by name our politicians who, by their conspicuous silence, have aided and abetted Dominion Resources through this process. ‘Game of Thrones’ fans can only wish we had a ‘Walk of Shame’ here. If we did, these local misrepresentatives of districts on the pipeline route should be forced to walk it….”

10-27-17 Robesonian. NC asks again for more pipeline information. “State environmental regulators are seeking even more information from the builders of a 600-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would start in West Virginia and end in Pembroke. The N.C. Division of Water Resources on Thursday [October 26, 2017] issued a third letter to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC requesting additional information as part of the company’s application for a state 401 water quality certification, according to Bridget Munger, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Public Information officer. The state is requesting information about the pipeline builders’ methods for crossing small bodies of water.”

10-27-17 Triangle Business Journal. N.C. officials ask for ‘modifications’ on Atlantic Coast Pipeline plans. “State officials are asking Duke Energy and Dominion Energy to tweak their plans for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. Late Thursday [October 26, 2017], Atlantic Coast Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby said the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality requested modifications to its plans to cross a small number of water bodies. Specifically, the request relates to the 401 water quality certification, which is required in order for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to move forward in North Carolina.”

10-27-17 Marcellus Drilling News. Mountain Valley Pipeline: “We Don’t See Any Major Obstacles”   “Yesterday EQT provided an update for both its drilling and midstream operations. On the midstream side, EQT had an interesting comment about it’s biggest project on the books–the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). MVP is a $3.5 billion, 303-mile natural gas pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for the project two weeks ago (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) which had issued a federal water crossing permit for the project in March, withdrew the permit in September (see Trouble for Mountain Valley Pipe: WV DEP Withdraws Water Permit). The permit process has now restarted in WV. Committed radicals in Virginia are pressuring the state’s Dept. of Environmental Quality to reject the project (see 19 Radicals Arrested for Blocking DEQ Building in Richmond, Va.). Apparently the absence of permits in WV and VA isn’t bothering the brass at EQT because yesterday they said this about the project: ‘We don’t see any major obstacles’…”

10-25-17 Nelson County Times. Letter: It’s time to reform FERC. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to approve both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline proposals highlights the need to reform this captured agency. FERC demonstrated once again that its primary purpose is to serve the industry it is supposed to regulate. Nobody with experience dealing with FERC was surprised by these approvals. Given the revolving door between FERC and the industries it is supposed to regulate, coupled with the fact that FERC’s operating budget comes from industry fees, what else could be expected? … In its handling of the ACP and MVP reviews, FERC carried out what many participants felt was a sham of public involvement. We were buried in paperwork, and key information was not offered for public review. Instead of building confidence through the review process, any confidence we may have had at the beginning was eroded.”

10-25-17 Progressive Pulse. Pipeline builders’ group starts “incident database” to track protests. “An organization that supplies the energy industry with equipment and machinery is tracking protests against oil and gas pipeline projects, including those that are peaceful demonstrations. Energy Builders lists 18 incidents over the past year in which protesters were arrested. Some of those incidents involved vandalism to heavy machinery and pipelines under construction, but those acts were limited to property damage. However, the organization makes no mention of the police violence against peaceful protesters. The group is also alleging the protesters are paid, although none of the news articles that the website links to substantiate that claim. … The tracker also lists a demonstration in Virginia against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, both recently approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In that case, protesters peacefully blockaded the offices of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Police were also peaceful, according to the Roanoke Times, and a law enforcement spokeswoman was quoted as saying the demonstration was ‘an ideal peaceful protest.’ Energy Builders claims that it is a ‘grassroots coalition of workers, local businesses, civic leaders, unions and American families.’ However, Energy Builders does not list its members on its website.It is a subsidiary of the nonprofit group Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance, also headed by Mack. The alliance’s federal tax returns show that it generated $500,000 in membership fees in fiscal year 2015. The cell phone number provided on the press release connects to the voicemail of Jonathan Toby Mack. He is president and CEO of Associated Equipment Distributors, an international trade association representing suppliers of heavy machinery and related services to the construction, mining and forestry industries in North America.”

10-25-17 S&P Global Platts. Natural gas pipeline groups call on US Army Corps to break permitting logjam. “Faced with repeated rejections of interstate natural gas pipelines in New York, a key industry trade group is hoping the US Army Corps of Engineers may be able to assist, as well as exploring whether to pursue Clean Water Act changes. … Industry hopes of further relief in court were dimmed earlier this month when the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rehear a decision upholding New York’s denial of Constitution. Northern Access’ pending 2nd Circuit appeal is slated for oral arguments November 16. … Adding to the industry’s challenges, environmental groups objecting to projects are increasingly turning to state water reviews as an avenue for litigation. On Wednesday, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and others wrote to Virginia’s State Water Control Board to say it cannot approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects at this time because it lacks adequate information from project sponsors and the Department of Environmental Quality about erosion and sediment controls and stormwater management.”

10-24-17 Roanoke Times. Roanoke County seeks rehearing on pipeline certification. “The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors is urging federal energy authorities to reopen their review of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. In a resolution Tuesday, the county board said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s certification of the 303-mile natural gas pipeline plan was premature. Germane information had been ‘dismissed, disregarded, or insufficiently evaluated,’ leaving key concerns about environmental protection and quality-of-life preservation unresolved, it said. The county plans to use its status as an ‘intervenor’ party in the process to formally petition FERC for a rehearing of the pipeline’s certification application. Specifically, local leaders will seek a closer review of needed water quality protection measures, erosion and sediment control plans, and proposals to safeguard the historical and cultural resources found along the pipeline route.”

10-23-17 Bacon’s Rebellion. Is Dominion Eyeing a Big Move in South Carolina? “Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric utility in South Carolina that lost a bundle through nuclear power overruns, is thinking up putting itself up for sale. One of the four companies sniffing around, according to this report in The State, is Dominion Energy. Dominion has been beefing up its presence in South Carolina. Since 2014, says The State, the company ‘has announced plans for a major solar farm in the Lowcountry, built a gas pipeline southeast of Columbia, established a regional headquarters in the Capital City, donated to nonprofit groups and hired State House lobbyists.’ The company also has confirmed the possibility that it might extend the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to the Palmetto State, although any extension of the pipeline, which terminates in southern North Carolina, would require another lengthy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval process.” [Does Dominion want to extend the ACP to SC because VA and NC don’t have enough demand?]

10-23-17 Kallanish Energy. FERC approves continued commissioning at Cove Point. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted Dominion Energy approval to continue its commissioning activities at the $3.8 billion Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Maryland, Kallanish Energy reports. The latest approval, granted last week, covers introduction and commissioning activities involving mixed refrigerants and propane refrigeration systems, LNG piping to existing LNG tanks and permanent fuel gas piping, as well as supporting systems. FERC asked subsidiary Dominion Cove Point LNG to file weekly reports to show the commissioning is progressing and the plant on Chesapeake Bay at Lusby, Md., can be safely operated. FERC’s latest action does not cover beginning service at the LNG liquefaction and export terminal. Dominion had reported last month the facility was 95% completed. It is expected to be in commercial operation by Dec. 31. It will handle up to 750 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Marcellus and Utica shales in the Appalachian Basin. The Cove Point plant’s marketed capacity is fully subscribed under 20-year service agreements with Japan’s Sumitomo and India’s GAIL Ltd.”

10-23-17 Augusts Free Press. Friends of Nelson: Pipeline would create 4,500-acre downzone area in Nelson County. “In a letter today addressed to the Nelson County Board of Supervisors, Friends of Nelson has asked that the board consider potential zoning and economic impacts from the possible construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This week it has been revealed that that there is an ‘industry [effort] to create a “consultation planning zone” which extends 660 feet from the center of any high pressure natural gas pipeline.’ The purpose of the zone or corridor is to ‘restrict development’ within those parameters for the ‘lifetime of the pipeline.’ Both the industry and the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) have recommended that county governments restrict development through actions by county governing bodies.” [See the full press release from Friends of Nelson]

10-22-17 DeSmog. GOP Senators, Fueled by Industry Cash, Propose Bill to Expedite Small Scale LNG Exports. “U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have introduced a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG). The bill, titled ‘Small Scale LNG Access Act,’ was introduced on October 18 and calls for amending the ‘Natural Gas Act to expedite approval of exports of small volumes of natural gas.’ The proposed legislation follows in the footsteps of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed rule which would assume that all U.S. small-scale exports of LNG, with the gas mostly obtained via hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), is in the “public interest” as defined by the Natural Gas Act. The public commenting period for the DOE’s proposed small-scale LNG rule ended on October 16, with 81 comments posted on Regulations.gov. DOE, alongside the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), oversees the regulatory process for LNG exports and the industry has long complained that the process is too onerous.”

10-21-17 West Virginia Press. Officials: Atlantic Coast Pipeline project to provide big boost to NCWV, all of West Virginia. An extremely one-sided report, describing pipeline approval as a win-win for everyone – without a single mention of opposition.

10-20-17 Riverkeeper. Circuit Court rejects Constitution Pipeline, again. “Yesterday marked a big legal victory for New York’s environment. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Constitution Pipeline’s motion for a rehearing, upholding the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denial of a Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification. … In April 2016, the DEC denied certification for the proposed pipeline, noting that the application failed to provide the necessary information for New York State to confirm that the project would comply with water quality standards. In May 2016, Constitution Pipeline, Co. sued to overturn the DEC’s decision to deny certification. Last year, the Court’s three judge panel dismissed the legal challenge.

10-20-17 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley Pipeline still faces hurdles before construction. Note: This article is about the MVP, but almost all the hurdles mentioned also apply to the ACP. “The Mountain Valley Pipeline nailed a major milestone Oct. 13 by winning the blessing of a key federal agency. But the company can’t crank up the bulldozers yet. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s order certifying the $3.7 billion interstate project noted that other federal and state agencies must weigh in before construction can begin on the 42-inch diameter buried natural gas pipeline.”

10-19-17 Roanoke Times. Fraser: How oil and gas pipelines abuse private property owners. “It seems, with the passage of time, today’s pipeline operators and real estate moguls consider the courts business partners and have forgotten that their long-standing use of eminent domain is a public trust, not a private power. American governments, I presume, are still in the business of protecting individual private property rights. The public purpose once rendered by oil and gas corporations — and the basis for the delegation of the police power into corporate hands —has vanished. … Why should state and federal governments continue to empower pipeline operators to force private property owners, against their personal conscience and environmental concerns, to forfeit their land for a purpose that potentially puts the well-being of the Earth at risk? If taking of private property to encourage oil and gas development was once in the national interest that is no longer the case. Delegation of eminent domain powers to oil and gas corporations is no longer justified as a special form of corporate welfare but now violates a cardinal principle of American government — the protection of private property from government abuse.”

10-19-17 Oil Change International. Community Responses to FERC’s Terrible Pipeline Approvals. “Six days ago, in a Friday-evening news dump, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Certificates of Need and Necessity for the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. Grassroots organizations across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina were unanimous in their opposition to this cowardly act, but vowed to fight on even harder to stop these dangerous pipelines that threaten our land, air, water, climate, and sovereignty. Fortunately for pipeline fighters and water protectors, the fights against these two fracked gas pipelines is far from over. Here’s a selection of community voices responding to FERC’s terrible pipeline approvals of Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast’s certificates. Note: This list is by NO means exhaustive – there are millions of residents of these three states firmly opposed to these fracked gas pipelines, and millions more supporting them from around the globe. If you don’t see your community represented here or know of other reactions, please email collin@priceofoil.org to be added to this compilation.” What follows is an extensive list of groups opposing the pipelines, with brief descriptions of the group and quotes from their statements or press releases.

10-17-17 Wilson [NC] Times. Wilson County voices concern over Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Wilson County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling for Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials to be more transparent in their dealings with property owners and local government when it comes to development and safety issues. Commissioners expressed reservations on several issues related to the pipeline project and its officials Tuesday, including a ‘development dead zone’ in Wilson County, full and complete disclosures and transparency in project planners’ dealings with property owners and the pipeline’s quality of construction and safety. Commissioner say ACP officials failed to inform property owners or local government that there is an ‘industry [effort] to create a “consultation planning zone” which extends 660 feet from the center of any high pressure natural gas pipeline,’ according to the resolution. The purpose of the zone or corridor is to ‘restrict development’ within those parameters for the ‘lifetime of the pipeline,’ the resolution states. Property owners within that zone have not been offered compensation for restrictions placed on their property outside of the construction and permanent easements, commissioners said. They say these types of development restrictions will severely affect the value of land and property owned by county residents. That planning zone, according to the resolution, would create a ‘development dead zone’ 1,300 feet wide by 12 miles long running through the heart of western Wilson County. And that would lower property values and ‘adversely affect’ both residents and Wilson County as a whole, they said.”

10-17-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Court ruling highlights unanswered questions on Mountain Valley Pipeline. “A federal appeals court on Tuesday sent a key water quality permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline back to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for further review, in a move that highlights the significant questions that remain about the $3.7 billion project’s impacts and whether those impacts will be fully examined by state regulators. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the Clean Water Act water quality certification for the MVP to DEP Secretary Austin Caperton, whose lawyers last month had acknowledged — under pressure from a citizen group lawsuit — that the permit needed further evaluation. The DEP has not indicated how long its re-examination of the water quality certification might take or answered questions about exactly how the re-evaluation would work. The DEP also is re-examining a sediment control permit for construction of the 300-mile natural gas pipeline from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Additional regulatory hurdles still exist for MVP in Virginia as well.”

10-17-17 Indy Week. FERC Approves Atlantic Coast Pipeline, But N.C. DEQ Can Stop it in its Tracks. “On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission took a decisive step in moving the project forward by granting the necessary federal approval for the pipeline. The decision was widely expected by critics, who say the agency routinely gives its blessing to infrastructure projects. … As the INDY reported last week, a recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that FERC has rejected just two pipelines out of hundreds of proposals over the past three decades. ‘At best,’ the researchers concluded, ‘FERC officials superficially probe projects’ ramifications for the changing climate, despite persistent calls by the U.S. Environmental Agency for deeper analyses.’ FERC’s approval came down in a 2–1 decision and over the objections of Cheryl A. LaFleur, the only non-Trump appointee on the commission, who highlighted the project’s potential environmental impacts. … But FERC’s decision does not mean the pipeline is good to go. In order for developers to start building, the project needs to be approved the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and its West Virginia and Virginia counterparts, which must issue water-quality permits stipulating that the pipeline is in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Earlier this month, the DEQ surprised opponents when it made public a late September letter to the pipeline developers denying the necessary water-quality permit and inviting them to resubmit their application with additional information on the project’s impacts on streams and waterways. If the agency ultimately denies the permit, experts say the decision would deal a fatal blow to the project.”

10-17-17 Roanoke Times. Politicians react to FERC pipeline certifications. “U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine used the phrase’“very suspicious circumstances’ Monday to describe how a federal agency announced it had approved two deeply controversial natural gas pipelines that will burrow through different regions of Virginia. Kaine, a Democrat who was in Roanoke on Monday, observed that notices from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the commission’s endorsement of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline were distributed after 7 p.m. Friday — timing clearly intended, he said, to inhibit news coverage going into the weekend. ‘When somebody puts something out at 7 o’clock Friday night, they’re trying to hide it,’ Kaine said. ‘That means they’re ashamed of their decision. Why would they be ashamed of it?’ He said the orders granting certificates of ‘public convenience and necessity’ to the multi-billion dollar projects were issued when there were only three commissioners on FERC’s five-person panel. ‘Clearly, they were trying to rush it without a full complement on the team,’ Kaine said, adding that he believes decisions of this magnitude ought to require the participation of all five commissioners. The senator noted too that a vigorous and “stinging” dissent by Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur was significant, partly because such dissents rarely occur on the commission, he said. LaFleur, a Democrat who has been a commissioner since 2010, wrote, ‘I cannot conclude that either of these projects as proposed is in the public interest.’ The two commissioners who voted to approve the pipelines are both Republicans appointed by President Donald Trump who recently joined the commission. Kaine said the timing of the public notice, the orders granted in an apparent hurry by two members of a three-person commission and LaFleur’s dissent all led him to conclude that ‘their reasoning is probably pretty weak.'”

10-17-17 Oil Change International. Trump stamps his mark on mid-Atlantic pipeline fights: time for McAuliffe & Cooper to take action. “There’s an entire episode of The West Wing devoted to the infamous practice of the Friday news dump. Early in the episode Donna quizzes Josh on the merits of ‘Take-out-the-Trash Day,’ and Josh highlights the benefits: the opportunity to dump multiple bad news stories onto editors with limited column space, so they don’t have the space to say much, and the fact that ‘no one reads the paper on Saturday.’ Last Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took things a step further. They didn’t just dump bad news on a Friday, they did it after 7pm, when any self-respecting news editor (at least on the East Coast) is deep into Happy Hour. The bad news in question was the issuing of permits for two highly destructive and contested interstate gas projects, the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines. While issuing gas pipeline permits has come to be a rote routine at FERC, the approval of these permits were different. Nearly all FERC decisions are unanimous, but on Friday, only two of the three sitting commissioners voted to approve. A dissenting commissioner at FERC is so rare, it was clearly a candidate for Trash Day. Any White House role in the timing will probably never be clear, but the mark of Trump on these permits is as clear as day. The two ‘yes’ votes came from Trump appointees who have barely been in the job two months. The dissenting vote came from Cheryl LaFleur, a seven-year FERC veteran, former FERC Chairwoman, and Democratic Obama appointee. The fact that LaFleur has signed off on dozens of similar gas pipeline projects means she’s no friend to environmentalists, landowners, and communities along pipeline routes. But her ‘no’ votes this time around do say a lot about these two projects and the deeply flawed process by which they were certified. LaFleur’s dissent should also speak volumes to the Democratic governors who now have the power to decide the future of these two dangerous projects – Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, Roy Cooper of North Carolina. If McAuliffe – who has the authority to stop both pipelines – or Cooper – who can stop Atlantic Coast – allow either of these projects to run roughshod through their states, they will be standing side-by-side with the Trump administration’s dismantling of environmental protections, bulldozing of citizen protections, and science denial.

10-16-17 S&P Global. FERC faces pressure after its split on Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley projects. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hear calls for change in its review process for interstate natural gas pipelines after Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur expressed reservations about the way the commission determines the need for such projects, analysts said. … ClearView Energy Partners LLC managing director Christi Tezak said the decisions showed that FERC under Chatterjee will hear calls for the commission to integrate its reviews of economic need for the projects with its study of environmental impacts. ‘What you’re seeing, I think, is a lot more political pressure for FERC to have those concurrently instead of sequentially,’ Tezak said in an interview. ‘It’s been some time since we’ve seen dissent on a pipeline.’ Analysts at Height Securities LLC expected LaFleur’s comments on public need to feature prominently in future petitions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit opposing FERC approvals of gas pipeline projects. ‘Supply-led projects may find themselves faced with a higher bar to clear — demonstrating demand — and projects designed to serve similar markets may consider co-location as a way to reduce cumulative environmental harms,’ the analysts wrote in an Oct. 16 note to clients. The analysts’ view contrasted with the position of Chatterjee, who told reporters on the morning of Oct. 13, just before FERC issued the pipeline approval orders, that the commission had no plans to adjust its pipeline review process.”

10-16-17 Daily Progress. Land preservation board approves easements for pipeline. “A public land preservation organization in Virginia has approved easements that will allow two natural gas pipelines to be built in mountainous areas of the state. The Virginia Outdoors Foundation’s board of trustees approved 11 easements on Monday, the board said on its website. In exchange for crossing 53 acres of protected land, two pipeline developers will convey to the foundation 1,130 acres of substitute land in three counties.

10-16-17 News-Leader. The pipeline: What happens from here. “Getting the go-ahead from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) grants the pipeline developers the authority to use eminent domain to acquire property from landowners they can’t reach agreements with — but the project’s not a done deal yet. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) still must issue some key permits in order for the pipeline to be constructed on its planned route, which projects to cross more than 700 rivers and streams in Virginia. … Pressuring those state regulators not to issue the permits will be the focus moving forward for pipeline opponents on the ground here in Augusta County, said Jennifer Lewis, president and founder of the Friends of Augusta anti-pipeline group. They plan to go to upcoming DEQ public hearings to voice their concerns over the pipeline’s potential effect on Virginia water. ‘None of us are giving up and we’re going to keep fighting,’ she said. ‘I don’t think people understand the serious risk this project would have to our water.'”

10-16-17 Public News Service. Pipeline Critics Continue Opposition to ACP, MVP. “As expected, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has green-lighted two huge natural gas pipelines running through Virginia. But opponents say they’ll still try to stop them. Between them, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would run 900 miles and cost more than $8.5 billion. Rick Webb, coordinator of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, said FERC almost never turns down gas pipeline projects. But his group will be asking state regulators and the U.S. Forest Service to stop the projects. And Webb says they’ll be going to court. ‘We expected this, FERC always approves pipelines,’ Webb siad. ‘The battle’s not over, there are a number of approvals that still have to be obtained, and a lot of errors have been made in the decision making.'”

10-15-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. FERC sidesteps broader issues in approvals of pipelines. “In approving 900 miles of new natural gas pipelines through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, federal regulators rejected proposals that they conduct a broader examination of where those projects fit in a national energy policy and sidestepped some major questions about their long-term environmental effects. A split Federal Energy Regulatory Commission explained that the agency’s role and practice are not to examine groups of proposed projects in such a wholesale manner, but simply to separately review whatever individual applications industry submits. ‘We have explained that there is no commission plan, policy, or program for the development of natural gas infrastructure,’ FERC said in its order approving the Mountain Valley Pipeline. ‘Rather, the commission acts on individual applications filed by entities proposing to construct interstate natural gas pipelines.’ … FERC in both rulings explained that it would not, as some citizen groups had requested, conduct broad ‘programmatic’ environmental impact studies looking at a collection of pipelines proposed across the region as part of the boom in natural gas drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. ‘The commission is not engaged in regional planning,’ Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson said in rulings on both MVP and ACP. ‘Rather, the commission processes individual pipeline applications in carrying out its statutory responsibilities under the [Natural Gas Act].'” [Interesting that FERC is so up front about having no broad plan, no overall view, and no interest in how the pieces fit together. It is a good way to avoid dealing with anything that might slow down the fossil fuel industry.]

10-15-17 RTO Insider. FERC Chair: Court Ruling Won’t Change Pipeline Reviews. “A court ruling requiring FERC to consider the impact of greenhouse gas emissions won’t have a “significant” impact on the agency’s licensing of natural gas pipelines, Chairman Neil Chatterjee said Friday. On Aug. 23, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that FERC’s environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Southeast Market Pipelines Project should have included ‘reasonable forecasting’ of the project’s impact on GHG emissions. FERC had contended that the impact of the pipelines on GHG emissions was unknowable, dependent on variables including the operating decisions of individual plants and regional power demand. Ruling in a challenge by the Sierra Club, the court said FERC had failed to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. FERC ‘should have either given a quantitative estimate of the downstream greenhouse emissions that will result from burning the natural gas that the pipelines will transport or explained more specifically why it could not have done so,’ the court ruled. In a press conference Friday, Chatterjee said he didn’t ‘believe that [the court’s ruling] was going to significantly alter the way that we evaluate these projects.'”

10-13-17 Southeast Energy News. Experts: North Carolina’s actions on pipeline ‘not unusual’ so far. “In North Carolina, where more than 300 rivers and streams lie in the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has dealt the project two high-profile setbacks – delaying a decision over one crucial water quality permit, and temporarily rejecting another. Yet officials say these actions – both involving requests for more data from the pipeline – are not uncommon for a project of this scale, its 100-foot-wide construction berth stretching across eight counties along the state’s I-95 corridor.”

10-13-17 Washington Post. US regulators OK Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley pipelines. “A divided panel of federal regulators granted approvals Friday evening for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines, major East Coast projects. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authorization had been widely expected by both supporters and opponents of the pipelines. The certificates granted by the commission came with dozens of conditions, and other necessary permits for both projects are still pending.”

This story was covered by many other media outlets, including the
Charleston Gazette-Mail, Roanoke Times, Virginia Pilot, Daily Progress, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and NBC29.

10-13-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Dominion rules: How the Richmond-based utility company became one of the most influential political forces in Virginia, a special multi-part report.  Last month, in a decision that could allow the Richmond-based monopoly to reap an estimated $1 billion windfall, the Virginia Supreme Court confirmed that the General Assembly can constitutionally freeze electric rates. The series explores the utility’s transformation and political power – and what that means for the company’s 2.5 million customers.

10-10-17 WVVA. Pipeline preparations moving forward at Raleigh County [WV] staging base. “Construction crews continued to bring in miles of parts for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) to a Mount Hope [WV] staging site on Tuesday — another sign the company overseeing the project, EQT Midstream Partners, is confident it will get the green light. On Sept. 7, West Virginia’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) revoked its previous approval of the 300-mile, $3.5 billion pipeline that would transport fracked gas from West Virginia to Virginia, saying only that it needed to ‘reevaluate the complete application.’  As of October 10, a DEP spokesperson confirmed to WVVA News the agency is still weighing the application.”

10-10-17 Roanoke Times. Roanoke County seeks more comment time on Mountain Valley Pipeline effects. “The Roanoke County supervisors want more time for residents to respond to a report outlining potential environmental effects of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The board passed a resolution Tuesday asking the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to push back by 90 days the Oct. 22 deadline for public comments on a report about erosion and sedimentation impacts. They also asked the agency to require that the pipeline company take out a bond to protect against damage to private water sources like those relied on by residents in western and southern Roanoke County where the pipeline is currently routed.”

10-10-17 Roanoke Times. Giles County wants cost estimates for tapping Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Giles County’s board of supervisors continues to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline, but the county also wants to know what its costs might be for tapping the natural gas pipeline if the project moves forward. County Administrator Chris McKlarney said in an email Tuesday that the county wants to compare the costs of a tap at the 120-acre Wheatland Eco Park that would be installed either during or after pipeline construction. ‘Giles County has been, and remains, opposed to the proposed route through our community,’ McKlarney said. ‘However, the reality of the situation is that if the project is approved, we have to determine the most cost efficient means by which to obtain a connection.'”

10-10-17 Marcellus Drilling News. NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next? “North Carolina has become the first state to complete an environmental evaluation for Dominion’s proposed $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. ACP is slated to run through eight NC counties. After completing it’s evaluation, the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a rejection letter (copy below) for the project. The reason? The DEQ says the erosion and sediment control plan for the project is not up to scratch. Dominion can now do two things: Revise the erosion and sediment control plan and resubmit it, or contest the DEQ’s rejection of the existing plan”

10-9-17 Washington Post. Is Dominion already planning a pipeline expansion? “So, why are we learning on the eve of a critical FERC vote that this might be a much bigger project than we were led to believe? Why all the legerdemain on markets and regulation and intentions?”

10-9-17 Richmond Times Dispatch. Buppert and Sanner column: Construction of Atlantic Coast Pipeline will destroy lands, endanger state’s waters. “Families in Virginia should not have to worry about their drinking water or whether in the future their children will continue to enjoy the same clean creeks and streams that we fish and swim in today. Yet Virginia environmental officials find themselves at a crucial moment, poised to make a decision that could either protect our waters or put us on a path toward endangering our most valuable natural resource…. We should not be beholden to Dominion’s timeline to build its pipeline and race forward toward a water certification without first understanding the risks to our waterways and requiring adequate, specific mitigation plans. Our state officials must take this process seriously.”

10-9-17 News and Observer [Raleigh NC]. NC officials reject environmental plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has rejected environmental plans by Duke Energy and three other energy companies to build an interstate pipeline to carry natural gas from West Virginia into North Carolina. The letter of disapproval from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is the first decision on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline from any state or federal government agency in the three states the project would traverse. Duke Energy is also expecting a decision this month from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as to whether the $5 billion pipeline project is necessary.”

10-6-17 FrackCheckWV.   An essay by S. Tom Bond listing the many reasons why Most Farmers and Land Owners Abhor Drilling & Fracking & Pipelines. “Placement of wells, access roads and pipelines destroys the surface value of the land. Well pads and roads are rocked to a depth that will support heavy trucks in any weather, often 18 inches. Drainage is changed, with new gullies formed, and silt produced and discharged into streams. ‘Reclamation’ never restores a fully productive surface. Pipelines from wells to connectors go up and down steep grades, many of them over 45 degrees. They are kept cleared for the length of the project with consequent loss of timber. They are a source of erosion, timber is lost…. These rights-of-way are attractive to trespassers, and interrupt habitat and animal migration patterns. … Building sites are foreclosed” because heavy equipment can’t cross the pipeline right of way. “Big diameter pipelines for transmission are a particular horror. They often go straight up and down hills, cutting very deep. Here in West Virginia, in many places that means cutting through solid stone. One can see both bulldozers and backhoes with special cutting blades that rotate using tungsten carbide cutting edges. And what is the back filling material? The same broken stones, since it the grade is too steep to move in material that will pack. The result is a subsurface stream along the pipeline, rock scratched protective coating on the outside of the big pipes, and plenty of oxygen and water to the steel underneath the coating to cause rusting.” And the list goes on.

10-6-17 Washington Examiner. FERC appeals court’s ruling in pipeline climate decision. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked a federal court Friday to end its ruling blocking construction of a natural gas pipeline project in Florida in a major case that could hold sway over all future pipeline projects. FERC said it has complied with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal’s Aug. 22 decision to redo its original environmental review for the pipeline, taking into consideration the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from the power plants that the pipeline would supply. A three-judge panel killed FERC’s permit that allowed a pipeline to be built in Florida because it said the commission did not consider the effects of climate change caused by the natural gas that would be shipped through the project…. The most important part of FERC’s request is that it does not want the court’s decision to interfere with the construction of the pipeline. Under the Aug. 22 order, the court’s mandate to kill the project’s permit would mean the pipeline would not be able to go forward and construction would be suspended.”

10-5-17 Bay Journal. Virginia board to hear pipeline arguments over four days in December. ” The fate of two sprawling pipeline projects in Virginia will be decided by the State Water Control Board at a pair of meetings in December, each expected to last two days. The Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, which would carry natural gas across portions of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina have faced steep opposition from citizens and environmental groups. The projects are undergoing review by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which has pledged to apply several ‘regulatory tools…to ensure that Virginia’s water quality is protected’ should the projects be approved. But it will be up to the State Water Control Board, composed of seven, governor-appointed citizens, whether to approve, reject or modify the state environmental agency’s proposal for how to proceed. At the meetings, which will take place on Dec. 6 and 7 and Dec. 11 and 12 in Richmond, the DEQ will present a summary of the public comments it received and will make its recommendations to the board…. The DEQ’s recommendations will not be made known until those meetings, though an agenda with more details about how the meetings will proceed will be posted on the agency’s website in early November.”

10-5-17 Toronto Globe and Mail.  TransCanada halts pipeline, sparking new regional tensions.  “TransCanada Corp. killed its controversial $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline proposal Thursday, provoking a bitter regional battle over the Liberal government’s energy and environment policies.  In a terse statement, TransCanada said it reviewed ‘changed circumstances’ and will pull the plug on the pipeline, which was designed to carry 1.1-million barrels a day of Western crude to Eastern refineries and export terminals.”

10-5-17 The Real News. People Power Defeats an Oil Pipeline in Canada. “Activists in Canada are celebrating what is being called a victory for people over pipelines. The energy company TransCanada has announced it is canceling the proposed Energy East pipeline that would’ve moved crude oil from the Alberta tar sands to Canada’s east coast. The Energy East is one of several major pipelines that have faced heavy protests from indigenous and environmental groups, and its defeat has raised hopes that those pipelines will meet the same fate.”

10-5-17 Roanoke Times. City council wants pipeline developers on hook for any sedimentation of Roanoke River. “The Roanoke City Council is calling on the state to require developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline to either completely control sediment the project causes in the Roanoke River or pay for cleaning it up — at a potential cost of $36 million or more. The council passed a resolution Thursday to be sent to the governor, the General Assembly and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. ‘Essentially, whoever dirties the water needs to clean it up,’ Councilman Ray Ferris said. The route of the 303-mile, $3.5 billion, 42-inch diameter pipeline from West Virginia to Chatham doesn’t pass through the city. However, it crosses the Roanoke River and its tributaries upstream from the city more than 100 times, according to the resolution. The river and those tributaries are already listed as “impaired” by the federal Environmental Protection Agency due to excessive sediment, and the city is in the midst of spending millions of dollars on stormwater improvements to reduce sediment and other pollution to comply with demands from the EPA. A consultant for MVP estimated that the pipeline project would increase sediment in the river by 2 percent — or about 1,039 more tons per year — which the city calls a conservative estimate. But even that amount would add $36 million in costs to an existing $78 million the city believes it will have to spend to comply with EPA requirements.”

10-5-17 State Impact Pennsylvania.  Pipeline blasting sprayed Lebanon County home with debris, and may have spread legacy pollution.  “Blasting to remove rock for construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Lebanon County showered a home and its swimming pool with debris, and may have prompted the spread of existing underground contamination from a former gasoline depot…. “It appears that the legacy plume migrated under 322 from the north side to the south side, and the blasting brought that to the surface,’ Lloyd told [a supervisor for the township] reporters after the [public] meeting. He said Sunoco has now promised to remove contaminated soil to a depth of 10 feet from the Spangler Road site. He said he did not know the nature of the contamination. Tests on water at nearby properties found two – a private home and a chicken farm – that showed the presence of benzene and MTBE, the township said in a timeline of recent events. The report also described three spills of fluid used in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the pipeline in the township during September. Two of the spills prompted DEP to order a halt to drilling at those sites…. Drilling has resumed but with tougher oversite from DEP. At the time of the renewed drilling operations, Sunoco had caused 90 drilling fluid spills at 40 sites. Since then, there have been at least 15 additional spills, according to the DEP.”

10-5-17 Roanoke Times.  Does potential expansion of Atlantic Coast Pipeline to South Carolina change equation for Virginia?  “Dominion Energy’s Dan Weekley, a vice president and general manager at the company, told the South Carolina Clean Energy Summit in Columbia last month that Dominion could bring ‘almost a billion cubic feet a day into South Carolina’ when it extends the pipeline, as ‘everyone knows’ it will, according to an Associated Press report last week. Those remarks, pipeline opponents contend, undercut the stated rationale for the roughly $5.5 billion, 600-mile project, which, if approved, will bring Marcellus Shale natural gas through West Virginia, across Virginia and into North Carolina, with an extension running from the Virginia-North Carolina border south of Emporia to Chesapeake. ‘For us, that underscores this issue that we’ve been focusing on: that there’s not demand for new gas-fired power plants in Virginia or North Carolina that will justify the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,’ said Greg Buppert, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville, which has fought the project. ‘That sounds like companies looking for a market for their products because the market they’ve been banking on isn’t materializing.'”

10-4-17 Los Angeles Times. Trump administration ordered to enforce methane restrictions launched under Obama. “The Trump administration was ordered by a federal judge Wednesday to immediately enforce Obama-era restrictions on the release of potent methane emissions at oil and gas drilling operations on public land. The ruling came at the behest of California and other states, which charged the administration is required by law to enforce the new rules intended to cut the release of 175,000 tons of the potent greenhouse gas annually, as well as reduce the emission of associated toxic pollutants. The rules took effect Jan. 17, just three days before President Trump’s inauguration. The Interior Department had been delaying enforcement as it mapped out a strategy to rescind the new rules, which industry has complained are onerous. An earlier push by opponents of new methane restrictions to kill them in Congress fell short of the needed votes amid a backlash from environmentalists and landowners adversely affected by pollution from drilling. The ruling was the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the Trump administration, as the courts find flaws in its plans for dismantling executive branch actions taken under President Obama to confront climate change.”  [Much better news than the earlier story below.]

10-4-17 CNBC. Trump Interior Department will delay methane emissions rules for oil and gas industry. “The Interior Department will delay for one year implementing rules meant to capture methane emissions from oil and gas operations. The department is seeking to water down or scrap the rules and wants to avoid imposing compliance costs on energy firms since it may ultimately kill the regulations.”

10-4-17 WUNC. Contrary To Original Plan, Atlantic Coast Pipeline May Extend Beyond North Carolina. Lead-in for a 12 minute audio story: “When Dominion Energy applied for approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the publicly-unveiled plan indicated that the natural gas line would end in the middle of a field in Robeson County, North Carolina. But according to a new Associated Press report, developers are considering extending the pipeline through Lumbee territory and into South Carolina. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Triangle Business Journal reporter Lauren Ohnesorge, and Ryan Emanuel, professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, an enrolled member of Lumbee Tribe, and a member of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs Environmental Justice Committee Member about the economic and cultural impact of the potential change.”

10-4-17 AltDaily. Op-ed: Governor McAuliffe: Don’t Let Hampton Roads Become the Next Houston. “If we want to avoid becoming the next Houston, Texas of flooding, we have to fight back now. Already, with every downpour and high tide, many of our streets in Hampton Roads become creeks, our cars flood, and our homes become islands. Whatever we call it – nuisance flooding, sunny-day flooding, tidal flooding – scientists say the situation is linked to climate change and will get worse if we burn more fossil fuels. But Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe doesn’t seem to get the connection. He says he wants to save the Virginia coast, but he also wants to build two massive pipelines for high-polluting fracked gas: the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. For us in the Hampton Roads area, flooding has become an expensive and even dangerous routine.”

10-3-17 Lexington Herald [KY]. Pipeline wins federal OK to carry hazardous liquids across Kentucky. “The proposed conversion of a Kentucky natural gas pipeline has received federal authorization despite opponents’ concerns that the 70-year-old pipe was hazardous. In a decision released Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said converting the Tennessee Gas Pipeline from carrying natural gas to natural gas liquids does not ‘constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.’ … [O]pponents say they will now go to local planning authorities to ensure that there is some control should the project go forward. ‘It’s going to be up to local governments, because there really isn’t any state regulation of pipelines carrying hazardous liquids like natural gas liquids,’ Danville [KY] attorney Mark Morgan said.” This could happen here if the proposed ACP and MVP are approved.

10-3-2017 Roanoke Times. DEQ to make pipeline recommendations in December. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality plans to disclose in December its recommendations to the State Water Control Board regarding water quality certification for two deeply controversial natural gas pipelines. DEQ said it will recommend conditions that the seven-member citizens board should consider attaching to any Clean Water Act 401 water quality certification the board grants the projects. Ann Regn, a DEQ spokeswoman, said it is also possible the agency will suggest that one or both projects not be granted certification.”

10-2-17 WVTF. Pipeline Expansion Could Mean Additional Compressor Stations. “Hadwin says if the pipeline were to expand, more compressor stations would be needed. ‘Either in southern North Carolina or northern South Carolina,’ he says. ‘And perhaps another where the pipeline first comes into Virginia to add some more capacity in Bath County.'”

10-2-17 The Chronicle [Duke University]. They’ll be singing Kumbaya. “What do gun totin’ conservatives and hip liberal environmentalists have in common these days? Not much frankly. That is, unless we zoom in on two states on the brink of transforming the United States’ energy future. Inside Virginia’s town halls, outside North Carolina’s state capital, and deep in the hollers of the Blue Ridge Mountains, property rights fundamentalists are standing arm in arm with tree-hugging Berniecrats to oppose the biggest, most expensive corporate infrastructure project you’ve never heard of: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).”

September 2017

9-30-17 Robesonian [SC]. Dominion denies plans for pipeline to extend to SC. Dominion’s response to the AP news reports on September 29 (see below) includes this, “‘From the very beginning we have been clear and consistent that the infrastructure could be expanded in the future, while continuing to meet the needs already identified in Virginia and North Carolina…. Absolutely no decision has been made about a potential expansion beyond what has been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,’ the statement continued. ‘And, any expansion would have to go through a full regulatory review process. If the ACP were expanded at some point in the future to reach new markets, that would have absolutely no impact on our public utility customers in Virginia and North Carolina. We have 20-year contracts with those utilities, and those contracts are binding.’ Robeson County opponents to the pipeline said that they are not surprised that the proposal would be extended. ‘We couldn’t understand why Dominion would choose a route through the most vulnerable environment and vulnerable populations, including over 30,000 Native Americans along the proposed route,’ said the Rev. Mac Legerton, the executive director of the Center for Community Action in Lumberton. ‘But the information today makes full sense of this route. It’s just passing through. It’s not coming here for us at all. The environment and people of rural counties are being used as sacrifice zones for gas pipelines.'”

9-30-17 Nyack News & Views. Earth Matters: What the FERC? A long report that takes a good look at how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission works – and it is not in the public interest. “Once an obscure federal consumer protection agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is now a star in the Trump Administration’s fossil-fuel firmament.”

9-29-17 APNewsBreak. Disputed East Coast pipeline likely to expand. “The developers of a disputed natural gas pipeline on the U.S. East Coast are considering a major expansion of the project into South Carolina, according to remarks made by an energy company executive and interviews with others in the industry. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said that raises questions about whether Dominion Energy, the project’s lead developer, has withheld important information from the public and whether the pipeline is even needed as initially proposed. But business leaders say the pipeline would help lower energy costs and boost economic development in South Carolina. Dan Weekley, Dominion Energy’s vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations, told attendees at a recent energy conference ‘everybody knows’ the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — currently slated to pass through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — is not going to stop there, despite what the current plans say.”

9-29-17 Washington Examiner. FERC takes first step in accounting for climate change. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is officially accounting for climate change in its pipeline environmental reviews after a major court defeat last month. The commission issued an updated draft supplemental environmental review on Wednesday after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said it must account for downstream greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas power plants in pipeline permit decisions. FERC had not accounted for the emissions from a power plant, or another secondary source, in permitting a new pipeline project since the commission was created 40 years ago. The new draft supplement now ‘estimates the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the [Southeast Market Pipelines] Project’s customers’ downstream facilities,’ according to a commission statement. The new draft also describes ‘the methodology used to determine these estimates, discusses context for understanding the magnitude of these emissions, and addresses the value of using the social cost of carbon tool,’ according to FERC. The social cost of carbon metric is something the Trump administration is trying to remove from regulations. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the agency to redo its environmental review in responding to litigation against the agency.”

9-29-17 WDTV. EQT statement says cause of station incident still unknown. There was an explosion at a compressor station in WV on September 29. “EQT Midstream Partners has issued the following statement on the explosion that happened Friday morning: ‘On Friday, September 29, 2017, at approximately 7:00 am, a condensate tank ignited at EQT Midstream Partners’ Saturn compressor station located in West Union, Doddridge County, West Virginia. The Saturn facility was immediately locked down and all emergency services personnel, as well as the WV DEP were notified. Emergency services were dispatched to the site and the flow of gas to the station was terminated. There were no injuries and, out of an abundance of caution, approximately 20 homes located within a half-mile of the station were evacuated as a safety protocol. At approximately 11:15am, the incident was fully secured and stabilized; the evacuation was lifted by the local emergency coordinator and neighbors were returned to their homes. All liquid remained in the concrete containment area and there was no impact to groundwater sources or nearby streams. Together with EQT personnel, emergency services crews have begun the process of evaluating and isolating the ignition source to ensure the incident remains under control. At this time the cause of the ignition is unknown and a full root-cause analysis and investigation of the incident has begun.'”

9-28-17 Who.What.Why. Op-Eds Endorsing Atlantic Coast Pipeline Came from Big Power, Activists Charge. “In North Carolina, activists recently charged that Duke Energy, one of the partners in the venture, is behind recent op-eds in one of the state’s leading newspapers. As our earlier reporting makes clear, big power is doing all it can to move along the pipeline — and it has the political clout and the resources to do that.”

9-28-17 Roanoke Times. Pipeline companies anxious to begin tree clearing. “The two joint ventures planning to route 42-inch diameter natural gas pipelines through forests and fields long to hear the whining roar and chatter of chainsaws felling trees. Both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline hope to start clearing trees in mid-November from construction rights-of-way for the buried pipelines. There is an urgency to get started: The projects plan to suspend felling trees after March 31 to comply with federal conservation guidelines tied to potential impacts to the Indiana bat, a federally endangered species, and the northern long-eared bat, a threatened species. Restricting tree clearing to the period from mid-November to the end of March also protects some species of migratory birds that nest during other months of the year. Aaron Ruby, a spokesman for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, said Wednesday that the project’s timeline, and the project itself, could suffer if tree clearing activities don’t get underway during this period, which could mean waiting until mid-November 2018 to fire up chainsaws and other tree-felling equipment. ‘It’s important that we do all the tree clearing and grading this season,’ Ruby said. ‘It’s an important window and we’ve got a lot of work to do.’ Each project plans to clear all vegetation from a temporary construction right-of-way that would be 125 feet wide in most terrain. The permanently treeless rights-of-way would be 50 feet in most places.”

9-27-17 Southern Environmental Law Center. Dominion doesn’t deny preparing to charge customers $2B for pipeline construction. “Virginia regulators just finished hearing three days of testimony about utilities’ long-term plans across the Commonwealth. Most notably, testimony established that Dominion Energy’s own data show construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cost Dominion customers around $2 billion.”

9-27-17 S&P Global-Platt. Gas pipeline executive laments ‘wobble’ in US regulatory climate. Pipeline executives complain about regulations that slow them down. “Conflicting court decisions about federal authorities over natural gas pipelines, as well as recent state actions impeding water permits, create an unstable regulatory climate that could chase away investment, a top gas pipeline executive has warned.”

9-26-17 Power to the People.  New pipelines report shows the ACP is part of a widespread, systemic market failure.  “Anyone who examines the corporate deals that underlie the Atlantic Coast Pipeline comes away with a strong sense of looking at a broken regulatory system. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is supposed to approve only those pipelines that can demonstrate they are actually needed. Pipeline companies demonstrate need by showing that customers have contracted for most or all of the pipeline’s capacity. In the case of the ACP, Dominion Energy and its partners manufactured the need by making their own affiliates the customers of the pipeline.” Article goes on to discuss the new report from Oil Change International, saying “the U.S. is currently building unneeded fracked-gas pipelines as a result of FERC’s regulatory failures, including its failure to police self-dealing. The result will be excess pipeline capacity, paid for by regulated utility customers.”  The article also discusses the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) acceptance of self-dealing.

9-26-17 Daily Herald [Roanoke Rapids NC]. Heaton Construction to break ground in area for pipeline. “After years of planning and discussion about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, construction will soon begin on the compressor station and its regional office in Northampton County. Building the office will be Heaton Construction Inc. of Roanoke Rapids, which is a local company that formed in the mid-1980s. Bruce McKay, senior energy policy director of Dominion Energy, made the announcement Monday morning at the Northampton County Cultural & Wellness Center in Jackson. McKay said the plan is to start the office’s construction in the second quarter of 2018….  As for the actual compressor station, McKay said they will announce who will be working on it in about a week. McKay said he expects the site to be operational by the end of 2019.”

9-26-17 E&E News. Rover cited for new water violation days after construction restarts. “Just three days after winning federal energy regulators’ approval to restart certain construction operations after a series of environmental violations, the Rover pipeline was cited with a new environmental notice by Ohio regulators Friday. The Ohio EPA cited an Energy Transfer Partners LP subsidiary for spilling contaminants into a waterway in Carroll County, Ohio, saying Rover spilled soap wastewater discharge and soil and sediment into a tributary of Irish Creek…. In a statement Friday, Ohio EPA blasted the company for incurring another violation so soon after getting permission to resume construction work at several horizontal drilling sites along the right of way. ‘lthough Rover’s arrogance and blatant disregard for Ohio’s environmental laws is no longer surprising, we will remain vigilant in holding the company accountable,’ agency Director Craig Butler said.”

9-26-17 E&E News. Appalachian pipeline capacity to outpace demand — report. “Appalachia gas pipeline capacity will outpace demand in the coming years, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., even as the U.S. energy market and overseas buyers consume more gas produced in the Northeast. In the short term, electric power plants will balance the market as they continue switching from coal to natural gas. But in Goldman’s analysis, researchers predict that rising gas demand simply as a function of
fuel-switching tails off in time, as efficient combined-cycle power plants, wind power, solar panels and a declining number of coal retirements cut into the rise in gas demand.”

9-25-17 LittleSis. Pro-Atlantic Coast Pipeline Op-Ed Fails to Disclose Funding from Duke Energy. “In a September 21st op-ed in the News & Observer entitled ‘Atlantic Coast Pipeline would Fuel Growth of NC Manufacturing,’ author Steve Yost advocates strongly for North Carolina’s approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. However, readers of the op-ed in the News & Observer — the paper of Raleigh, North Carolina’s second largest city — wouldn’t know that Yost makes his bread and butter advancing the interests of Duke Energy, the Charlotte-based fossil fuel corporate giant that has a 47% stake in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. Yost’s close ties to Duke Energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline also helps explain his unsourced claim that the pipeline will create 4,400 jobs in North Carolina. The number, in fact, comes from PR material promoted and paid for by Dominion Energy, who has a 48% stake in the pipeline. The jobs number is also being pushed by an astroturf front group that is funded by the American Petroleum Institute.”

9-21-17 Highland Recorder. States flag water quality issues from pipe projects. “Environmental agencies in North Carolina and West Virginia this month delayed their decisions on whether to approve the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, respectively. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality was reviewing comments from public hearings last month. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration deferred until mid-December a decision on whether to permit the ACP. Last Thursday, the state issued a four-page “request for additional information” under the federal Clean Water Act to ensure the gas pipeline would not harm more than 320 North Carolina rivers and streams. Pipeline foes applauded the action, which seemed to justify their objections to the project. ‘The current application leaves out critical information,’ said Geoff Gisler, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. ‘There are literally hundreds of streams and wetlands that the company has asked to dig through with hardly any analysis.’ Pipeline opponents in Virginia hoped the DEQ would boost its review of the projects and adjust a timetable described as rushed.”

9-20-17 Star-Telegram [Ft.Worth TX]. Ohio increases fines to $2.3M against pipeline developer. “Ohio’s environmental regulators have more than doubled the proposed fines against a company building a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Michigan, saying Wednesday the two sides are at an impasse. The fines now stand at $2.3 million and stem from what the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says are numerous water and air pollution violations during construction of the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline.”

9-20-17 WVTF. Pipeline Opposition Groups Making Every Effort to Stop Proposed Projects. “Opponents of the two projects were encouraged last week when West Virginia pulled its permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and North Carolina put off its decision on the ACP. Still the fight is not over, and some have been training to physically resist construction. About a hundred people met on a large piece of land in Nelson County for a direct action boot camp.” [Scroll down to the second sound segment for the report on the September 16-17 No Pipeline! Training Camp.  For photos from the camp. see the Greenpeace Flickr album.] The in depth report also discusses Oil Change International’s new study showing more pipelines aren’t needed, that demand for electricity is flattening or declining, but that high rates of return for stockholders push overbuilding.

9-20-17 WSLS10. Franklin County landowners allow court-ordered pipeline surveyors. “Mountain Valley Pipeline workers started surveying a Franklin County property Wednesday after a judge granted the company an injunction to enter the land last week. WSLS 10 got an exclusive look as crews accessed the property with the owners’ permission for the first time. Carolyn Reilly is fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline and is now forced to welcome unwanted visitors. ‘We’ve said no for three years and today is the first day we’ve had an onslaught of surveyors onto our property,’ Reilly said.”

9-20-17 Washington Examiner. Anti-pipeline protestors sing ‘We shall overcome’ at FERC meeting. “More than 100 organizations planned and endorsed the protest on Wednesday, mostly local and national environmental groups. There are more than 40 pipelines set to be considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Anti-pipeline protesters on Wednesday interrupted the first meeting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has held since January. The FERC’s agenda was light at it faces a backlog of pipeline cases, but that did not stop demonstrators singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ and shouting ‘you should be ashamed’ as the commission returned to business after being shut down for six months due to a lack of members.”

9-20-17 S&P Global Platts. FERC picks up where it left off, tackles backlog. “The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission renewed its monthly meetings Wednesday, with commissioners applauding efforts that kept the agency moving through its workload during the unprecedented six-month lapse of a quorum and acknowledging the still-hefty backlog of draft orders awaiting their decisions.”

9-20-17 Chesterfield Observer. Letter to Editor: Virginia water more important than golf trips. The letter discusses (with examples) “Dominion’s historical lack of being held accountable by our state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ),” and then says, “It is hard to think of a reason that the DEQ, the department charged with protecting Virginia’s water, would have to lavish Dominion with such immunity to compliance with environmental laws. The reason is here: David Paylor, DEQ director, was found to have received thousands of dollars in gifts from Dominion, including a paid trip to the Masters golf tournament, and Dominion makes five- to six-figure donations to influential, politically connected charities and to politicians, like Gov. McAuliffe. Dominion then charges us ratepayers for these donations, over $1 million in recent years, because Dominion customers generally have no choice in where they get their power. Whether liberal or conservative, climate change acknowledger or denier, every Virginian should agree that this type of influence by big money companies cannot be allowed to continue. A start would be to demand of the DEQ, at the very least, an extension of the review on the two pipelines and ultimately the denial of permitting the projects. Virginia water must be valued over golf trips and campaign donations.”

9-20-17 Roanoke Times. We don’t need either pipeline. “‘The two pipeline — one route alternative,’ (Sept. 14 commentary) clearly was written by someone who only cares about western Virginia and is willing to dump on the part he doesn’t live in. He has not explored the damage the extra-wide one-route would do to land it crossed and ignores the fact that while ‘saving’ property here, it would add to the damage there…. Those of us fighting the pipelines avoid such divisive suggestion. None of us want to get rid of the danger and loss by dumping it on someone else. Instead, we focus on whether the pipelines are needed at all. According to the Department of Energy, they are not.”

9-19-17 Farmville Herald.  Letter to Editor:  Pressing need to ‘increase profits.’  Irene Leech condenses Thomas Hadwin’s analysis (see our September 10 story) into tightly scripted soundbites.

9-19-17 DeSmog. Exclusive: Here are the Energy Companies Represented by Trump’s Nominee to Head FERC. “President Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has, as a corporate attorney, personally represented a host of energy and utility companies, many of which do business that is directly impacted by FERC’s decisionmaking. According to Kevin McIntyre’s financial disclosure — obtained by DeSmog and published here for the first time — these include major utilities, fracking companies, pipeline builders, and international energy corporations.”

9-19-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Virginia’s environmental agency to press ahead on pipeline permits as other states hit the brakes. West Virginia rescinded their permit to allow further review. North Carolina delayed their decision to allow further review. “Yet in Virginia, the state Department of Environmental Quality, which has been heavily criticized for its handling of the water-quality risks posed by the two pending natural gas pipelines, says it has no plans to slow down the process for either project. The pipelines face major resistance from environmental groups and some landowners and state lawmakers of both parties have asked the DEQ to slow the process.” Greg Buppert, lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center, says, “‘Virginia is an outlier. Those two states have said this project has serious potential implications for water quality in our state and we’re going to take our process seriously. … Virginia appears stuck on Dominion’s time frame. And unless the agency backs off its timetable and gets more information from Dominion, gets more information from the public, they’re racing ahead with a defective permit.'”

9-18-17 Roanoke Times. Editorial: The argument that won’t sway FERC on pipelines. Developers keep saying the pipelines are needed to meet domestic needs.  The editorial discusses international exports of fracked natural gas from the MVP and ACP.

9-18-17 Herald-Dispatch [Huntington WV]. Editorial: Agency must be thorough in assessing gas projects. “With numerous pipelines proposed for carrying natural gas through the state, West Virginians should expect that one of the state’s chief regulatory agencies in such matters – the Department of Environmental Protection – conducts its duties thoroughly. As its name implies, the agency should work hard to ensure that such projects don’t cause any undue harm to the environment…. The DEP’s job is to apply the law in determining whether a pipeline project meets environmental protection requirements. Its role in this regard will only get bigger, as it rules on an ever growing list of proposed pipelines, including several in the southern part of the state. It must not cut corners on doing the due diligence required of it.”

9-18-17 Charleston Gazette. “Significant delays” projected as DEP takes steps toward additional review of pipeline project.  “The developers of the proposed 303-mile long Mountain Valley Pipeline still cite late 2018 as the target in-service date for the natural gas pipeline despite planned additional review from West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.” BUT – “Last week, the DEP formally filed a motion in federal court to invalidate its earlier approval on the water quality component of the large project that, as proposed, would cross 631 streams total. It was not immediately clear when there would be a ruling on that motion. Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, predicted any additional DEP review would take several months causing ‘significant delays’ in planned construction which hinges on state certifications that the interstate gas pipeline will not have significant effects on water quality. The target date for the start of construction had been before the close of 2017.”

9-15-17 Blue Virginia. Pipelines Bombshell: West Virginia Revokes Approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline as Legal Terrain Shifts [UPDATED]. “In another stunning bombshell that came out right after this article [the initial article on WV vacating the 401 certificate] went to press, North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality JUST ANNOUNCED that it is delaying its own review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until at least mid-December. In a detailed 4-page letter to the pipeline developers, the department said that ‘to continue to process your application…site-specific detail is necessary to ensure that downstream water quality is protected,’ including a ‘restoration plan for all stream crossings,’ and an analysis of ‘cumulative impacts” of the pipeline’s 180-mile route through the state.'”

A few days earlier, the lengthy Blue Virginia article on the WV action began, “As public attention was focused on the destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey and the unfolding disaster of Hurricane Irma, West Virginia dropped a bombshell on what has become a nationwide battle over fracked gas pipelines. On September 7, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection revoked its previous approval of the 300 mile $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). In a terse two sentence letter, West Virginia stated that it ‘hereby vacates and remands the Section 401 Water Quality Certification issued on March 23, 2017.’ West Virginia provided no reason for this extraordinary action, saying only that it needed to ‘reevaluate the complete application.'”

This story also appeared nationally in the Huffington Post.

9-15-17 Washington Examiner. FERC overrules New York regulators to allow construction of natural gas pipeline. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday overruled New York state regulators who had blocked construction of a 7.8-mile natural gas pipeline. FERC ruled that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation waived its right to review the Valley Lateral Project by failing to act within a year of receiving Millennium Pipeline Co.’s application for an important water-quality permit.”

9-15-17 Earth First! Journal. Community Resistance in the South is Throwing a Major Wrench in Pipeline Plans. “In the past week the West Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced that it is rescinding the water quality permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to be built through their state, while North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper just announced that his DEQ will be delaying a decision on granting water quality permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until December.  While neither of these decisions are the final death blow for these destructive pipeline projects, they do represent major victories for the grassroots efforts throughout the South to fight dirty energy projects. It is important to understand that these decisions did not come out of the goodness of the hearts of state governments. They came because strong social movements have forced them to do so.”

9-15-17 UtilityDive. Mountain Valley Pipeline faces new scrutiny, citizen lawsuits. “Problems continue to mount, for EQT Corporation’s proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. In addition to losing a water quality certificate, the project now faces at least two citizen-led lawsuits focused on developers’ use of eminent domain.”

9-15-17 Southest Energy News. North Carolina delays decision on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Faced with a Monday deadline and a lopsided number of public comments opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has delayed until mid-December its decision on whether to permit the controversial project. Without fanfare or press release late yesterday, the state issued a four-page ‘request for additional information,’ part of its duty under the federal Clean Water Act to ensure the natural gas pipeline won’t harm the over 320 rivers and streams and hundreds of acres of wetlands in its path.”  Also reported in IndyWeekNC and other media sources.

9-15-17 Virginian-Pilot. Editorial: Pipeline is still a cause for concern. “There is ample cause for caution and care when it comes to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the proposed 600-mile conduit that would bring natural gas from Harrison County, W.Va., to Virginia and North Carolina. The route floated by the partnership of energy companies advancing the plan would bring the line over picturesque mountains, through protected national forests, and across pristine waterways. It would traverse public land and bisect private property, bringing with it a host of challenges. For those reasons, it’s reasonable to be wary about the push for quick approval being made by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas. Pipeline opponents have protested that these efforts are an attempt to sidestep the regulatory process. They are correct to raise the alarm and, honestly, these companies should know better.”

9-15-17 WMRA/WEMC. ACP Protesters Descend on State DEQ Offices. “Across Virginia this week people gathered at offices of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, to voice their concerns and demands about the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast natural gas pipelines. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz attended Thursday’s [Sept. 14] gathering just outside of Harrisonburg at the Valley Regional DEQ Office.” The 4.5 minute report includes voices of protestors and the song, “We Don’t Want Your Pipeline” woven through the report.

9-14-17 Miami Herald. Virginia Supreme Court upholds electric rate review law. “The Virginia Supreme Court issued a ruling Thursday [September 14, 2017] upholding a state law that has blocked millions of dollars in refunds to electric customers. The court ruled 6-1 that the General Assembly is within its constitutional authority to temporarily suspend state regulators’ ability to adjust a portion of electric rates.” [Dominion wins the case that allows them to keep $130 M in overcharges to Virginia consumers. Thanks, VA Legislature]

9-14-17 The Robesonian [NC]. ACP supporters deny pressuring. “A letter from the developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline requesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to certify their project as quickly as possible is not “unique,” according to Tamara Young-Allen, a commission spokesperson. Since Aug. 10 when two new commissioners joined the five-member commission that has not had enough members to form a quorum for six months, a number of applicants of pipelines across the country have made similar requests to expedite their projects, said Young-Allen. Without a quorum, the commission can’t act on applications. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is proposed to run about 600 miles from West Virginia, through Virginia and North Carolina, before ending in Pembroke, are using the letter to accuse the three companies involved in the project of trying to get commission approval of their pipeline before all federal and state agencies have finished their review of the effect there will be on humans and the environment.”

9-14-17 Richmond Times Dispatch. Nineteen protesters issued summonses after anti-pipeline demonstration outside Virginia DEQ main office. “Dozens of demonstrators, taking aim at how the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has handled water quality permitting for a pair of controversial natural gas pipelines, blockaded the agency’s office in downtown Richmond during a peaceful protest Thursday afternoon. After about an hour, a representative of the owner of the building DEQ leases at Seventh and East Main streets asked the protesters to leave. They refused, and police gently led away 19 protesters who had lined up along the building and volunteered themselves for arrest. They were issued summonses for ‘obstruction of free passage,’ a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to a year in jail.”

9-14-17 Bristol Herald.  Washington County group protests Virginia pipelines. Protesters at Abingdon DEQ office.

9-14-19 InsideNoVa. Local environmentalists protest pipelines at state office in Woodbridge. Protestors at Woodbridge DEQ office.

9-13-17 Augusta Free Press. Faith leaders protest pipelines statewide. “In an unprecedented mobilization of clergy and other faith leaders, Virginia congregations turned out in seven cities today with music, prayer, and silence to honor recent hurricane victims while protesting Governor McAuliffe’s Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines for fracked gas. newspaperKicking off two consecutive days of statewide protest, faith leaders gathered outside of seven regional Department of Environmental Quality offices in Richmond, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Virginia Beach, Abingdon, Glen Allen, and Woodbridge. Observers cannot recall such a large organized faith protest on any environmental issue in the history of Virginia.”

9-13-17 WHSV3. Pipeline Protests Across Virginia. Protesters at Harrisonburg DEQ office.

9-13-17 ABC13News. Protesters speak out against Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Protesters at Virginia Beach DEQ office.

9-13-17 IndyWeek. N.C. Climate Activists Hold Prayer Vigil and Fast in Opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “For the past nine days, Yost and other pipeline opponents have been taking part in a water-only fast in front of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality office. The agency has a deadline to approve or deny a water quality permit necessary for the pipeline’s construction by September 19. If approved, the pipeline, which is being built by Duke Energy, Dominion, and Southern Gas Company, would traverse Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, and Robeson counties.”

9-13-17 EcoWatch. Momentum Building to Stop Gas Pipelines. Article reviews game-changing court victories for pipeline opponents. “FERC will have its first meeting in months on Sept. 20. Thus far, the agency has served as nothing more than a rubber stamp for gas projects, and we expect that it will try to rush forward approvals for fracked gas pipelines. But we aren’t going away.”

9-13-17 EnergyWire.  Burgeoning legal movement pits landowners against pipelines.  “The rapid spread of new natural gas pipelines across the country has led to rising tension between developers and landowners. Recent lawsuits take aim at the use of eminent domain for those projects and, if successful, could set a new legal precedent on the issue.”

9-12-17 Washington Post. Letter to Editor: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline costs much more than dollars. A “Sept. 9 letter, ‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has answers for consumers,’ contained the same old arguments in favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: supposed need, reduction of energy costs to consumers, cleaner air by using natural gas and, of course, jobs. Independent studies indicate that gas and utility companies are overbuilding natural gas infrastructure; air quality will be worsened from various emissions during construction; and there will be only 39 permanent jobs for Virginians when the pipeline is completed…. The project’s estimated $5.1 billion cost does not include the cost to all in its path.”

9-11-17 Roanoke Times. Judge’s ruling permits pipeline surveying of Franklin County farm.  At a hearing on September 11, 2017, Franklin County Circuit Court judge William Alexander granted the injunction sought by Mountain Valley to prohibit interference with their surveying of Four Corners Farm in Franklin County. The family that owns and operates the farm, David and Betty Werner, their daughter, Carolyn Reilly, and her husband, Ian Reilly, have been fighting repelling surveyors since May of 2016.  The judge said, “I think this whole statute is a legislative failure, frankly,” but that he felt compelled to enforce it.  Surveying will likely be over three days next week.  “The bottom line for me is that money talks,” Carolyn Reilly said. “It’s another win for money.”

9-9-17 Lynchburg News & Advance. Atlantic Coast Pipeline developers ask FERC to OK project this month as opponents file lawsuit aiming to prevent approval. “As progress continues on the development of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, opponents have offered a new challenge in hopes of stopping the project, while developers are asking the agency reviewing it for federal approval this month.”

9-8-17 Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). IEEFA Update: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Risk Is Being Borne Not by Dominion and Duke, but by Their Customers. “[I]n the three years since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was first proposed, Duke and Dominion have revised their projections of future electricity demand substantially. By 2025, Duke’s forecast is lower by 10,800 gigawatt-hours (GWh) and Dominion’s by 7,700. These are not small numbers. For context, the 1,585-megawatt combined-cycle gas plant under construction by Dominion in Greeneville, Va.—a not-insignificant project—will generate 11,000 GWh per year. The total downward revisions in demand by Duke and Dominion—18,500 GWh —works out to about 400 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, a sizeable chunk of the pipeline’s daily 1,500-million-cubic foot capacity.”

9-8-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. WV DEP vacates permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Faced with a deadline to defend their permit approval against a federal court challenge, West Virginia regulators moved this week to back off their certification that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would not violate the state’s water quality standards. The state Department of Environmental Protection said in a Thursday letter to the pipeline developers and other state and federal agencies that it ‘hereby vacates and remands’ its water quality certification for the controversial natural gas pipeline. Scott Mandirola, director of the DEP Division of Water and Waste Management, said in the letter that the move would allow DEP ‘to revaluate the complete application to determine whether the state’s certification is in compliance’ with the federal Clean Water Act. ‘We’ve been asking DEP to take a closer look at the more than 600 streams affected by this massive project from the beginning, so DEP’s letter is a positive step,’ said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.”  This story was also covered by the Roanoke Times, WDTV5, and WVVA, and by other media.

9-8-17 Virginian-Pilot. As protests loom, Atlantic Coast Pipeline partners push for federal approval. “Developers of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline are asking federal regulators to approve the project this month, now that the commission in charge of the decision has enough members to vote on the project. Executives with Dominion Energy, Duke Energy and Southern Company Gas made the request in a letter Thursday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…. Lewis Freeman, chair of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 52 opposition groups, said in a statement Friday that the companies’ request is ‘a blatant attempt to evade Virginia’s regulatory process and ram the approval of this pipeline through, especially as community opposition continues to grow.’ He noted that the Virginia State Water Control Board hasn’t yet scheduled a meeting to review the pipeline.”

9-8-17 Facing South. Resisting the South’s pipeline building boom. “The U.S. South is at the epicenter of the nationwide push to build new onshore natural gas pipelines, which carry serious environmental and economic risks. Of the 56 projects that have applied for permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) since 2013, 31 run through Southern states. But the building campaign is meeting resistance in the region, with anti-pipeline organizers holding a series of protests and other events this month targeting both state and federal regulators.”

9-7-17 Courthouse News Service. Pipeline Challengers Call for Eminent-Domain Overhaul. “Fighting to stop two massive pipeline projects, dozens of landowners claim in a federal complaint that the outdated eminent-domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act no longer satisfy constitutional requirements…. Demanding an injunction, residents say ‘a challenge is long overdue’ against the process by which federal regulators confer eminent-domain powers on private, for-profit companies.”

9-7-17 Progressive Pulse. Dominion, Duke try to sweeten Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal with butterflies and bees. “Faced with tenacious public opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the project’s owners are trying an old tactic: greenwashing. Duke Energy and Dominion Energy have announced that they will plant new habitats for butterflies, bees and other pollinator insects on up to 750 acres along the route of the proposed pipeline, including in Eastern North Carolina. The ACP website correctly notes that pollinator populations, particularly bees and butterflies, have sharply declined in recent years due to the loss of suitable habitat. (Another factor is neonicotinoid pesticides, which the website omitted.) … The utilities fail to mention that the ACP itself will destroy vital habitats. Nor does it discuss any herbicides that would be necessary to keep the rights-of-way accessible and clear of unwanted plants.”

9-7-17 RTO Insider. McIntyre to Senate: ‘FERC does not Pick Fuels.’ “President Trump’s nominee for FERC chair brought little comfort to Republican senators seeking assurances that, under his leadership, the commission would look into shoring up uneconomic coal plants. ‘FERC is not an entity whose role includes choosing fuels for the generation of electricity,’ Kevin McIntyre, co-head of law firm Jones Day’s global energy practice, said at his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing Thursday. ‘FERC’s role, rather, is to ensure that the markets for the electricity generated by those facilities proceed in accordance with law.’ … The other nominee being considered for the commission, Richard Glick, echoed McIntyre’s position.”

9-7-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Sit-ins, prayer circles, and sidewalk rallies:  Pipeline opponents plan statewide protests at environmental agency offices in Virginia.  “Opponents of two natural gas pipelines that are awaiting state and federal approval will stage demonstrations at Virginia Department of Environmental Quality offices next week, though the agency says only people on ‘official business with DEQ’ will be allowed on the premises of its regional offices…. The first day of the protest will involve lunchtime rallies on public sidewalks outside DEQ offices in Virginia Beach, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Richmond, Abingdon, Glen Allen and Woodbridge. On the second day, faith leaders and ‘spiritual elders’ will pray for McAuliffe ‘as he makes a decision of historic consequences very soon.’ The third day will feature a ‘nonviolent sit-in,’ Bakhtiari said. Anne Havemann, CCAN’s general counsel, said the demonstrations will be held on public spaces surrounding DEQ offices. She said the last day will include delivering a letter to DEQ offices. She added that the group is ‘working with DEQ to make sure people have the opportunity to express themselves.'”

9-7-17 Augusta Free Press. Radio ads target negative impacts of pipelines on rural communities. “The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has launched a two-state radio ad campaign centering on the risks of natural gas pipelines on rural communities…. The League’s three-year investigation into pipeline impacts provided the foundation for the radio ad claims. For example, federal pipeline construction and safety standards allow less robust pipe, half the thickness required in urban areas. Gas transmission shut-off valves are twice as far apart, increasing the time and difficulty for emergency responders. An independent analysis by real estate experts indicates up to a one-third loss in property values where pipelines are located.”

9-6-17 C-Ville.  Dividing Line: the ACP Will Change the Lay of Our Land.  The cover story in the C-ville issue for September 6-12, 2017, is a lengthy and carefully researched article on ways in which the proposed ACP, despite assertions to the contrary by Dominion and Duke Energy, would change forever the lay of the land along its route. The article includes extended interviews with Richard Averitt, Nancy and David Schwiesow of Wintergreen, and Ernie Reed, along with comments by C-ville Rising’s Lee White and pipeline supporter Carlton Ballowe. There are photographs and a large map, plus a set of questions, each answered (quite differently, as one might imagine!) by both Dominion’s Aaron Ruby and Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Greg Buppert.

9-6-17 WVTF. If Approved, Virginia’s Gubernatorial Candidates Would Support Pipelines. “Two of Virginia’s candidates for Governor were in Richmond Wednesday at an environmental forum hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam talked rising oceans, energy and oysters…. Both candidates say they would support the construction of two controversial natural gas pipelines, if approved by state regulators.”

9-6-17 Roanoke Times. Chisholm: Who is David Paylor? The man who will decide our pipeline fate. “Paylor considers himself a longtime steward of the environment. He is a biologist and aquatic ecologist, and the mission of his department is to protect and enhance the environment, and to promote the health and well-being of Virginia’s residents. The department’s official vision is that Virginians will enjoy cleaner water and better air by the end of the decade. But signing off on the Mountain Valley Pipeline would be a betrayal of that mission and that vision.”

9-6-17 Roanoke Times. City officials discuss pipeline’s impact on Roanoke River. “One conservative estimate calculates that construction and operation of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline could increase the sediment load in the Roanoke River by 2 percent. That would translate to about 1,039 more tons of sediment per year — and the potential for the city of Roanoke spending tens of millions of dollars more on erosion and sediment controls and managing stormwater to improve the Roanoke River. That scenario raised hackles Tuesday among members of Roanoke City Council.”

9-5-17 Augusta Free Press. Landowners sue FERC to stop eminent domain on pipelines. “A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington D.C. federal district court on behalf of 57 landowners challenges the constitutionality of the eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act, and seeks to end the unconstitutional and unconscionable process of taking citizens’ private property via eminent domain for a corporation’s profits — and not for ‘the public good’ as the Constitution intended.”

9-5-17 Roanoke Star. Landowners Sue FERC to Stop Abuse of Eminent Domain for Private Gain for Proposed Pipelines. “A group of over 50 landowners from the region whose farms and homes are in the path of the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines will hold a press conference on Wednesday outside the D.C. offices of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to announce their filing of a lawsuit against FERC to end the abuse of eminent domain for private gain for pipelines. The lawsuit, filed this week in Washington D.C. in federal district court, challenges the constitutionality of the eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act, and seek to end the unconstitutional and unconscionable process of taking citizens’ private property via eminent domain for a corporation’s profits — and not for ‘the public good’ as is intended.”

(Additional coverage of the landowners suit against FERC is in the Roanoke Times and the Charlottesville Daily Progress.)

9-5-17 Style Weekly [Richmond]. A Floating Protest Against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Arrives in Richmond Sept. 8. “Row your revolt, gently down the stream. On Wednesday, Sept. 6, a group of about 40 kayakers will paddle towards Richmond as gubernatorial candidates arrive for a debate. The group, Journey the James Flotilla, is organized by the Earth Folk Collective and says Ed Gillespie and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam should address how the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could place Richmond’s drinking water in jeopardy.”

9-5-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Don’t let pipelines jeopardize public health. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) presented the public with rushed, flawed hearings and comment schedules for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Only five hearings were held for those dangerous, unnecessary infrastructure projects, convened in locations difficult for residents along the proposed paths to attend. The public schedule was released and comment period began before the Atlantic Coast Pipeline applicant had submitted an erosion and sediment control plan. At the July 19 State Water Board meeting, DEQ head David Paylor announced that ‘within the authority we have we are absolutely committed to keeping the water clean.’ Prove it.”

9-4-17 NBC29.  Kayakers ‘Paddle Against the Pipeline’ on the James River. “A group of kayakers is paddling the James Rover to highlight the effects proposed pipeline projects could have on the water. The ‘Paddle Against the Pipeline’ is working its way towards Richmond to communicate the consequences of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines.”

9-2-17 Blue Virginia. A Few Examples Dominion Energy Should Follow…but Probably Won’t Unless Forced to Do So. “Dominion Energy is an arrogant, wealthy, centrally-planned, state-protected/coddled, corrupting, polluting monopoly monstrosity. For more on the corrupting part, see Vivian Thomson’s superb, must-read book, Climate of Capitulation, which among other things focuses on ‘the outsized power of the commonwealth’s largest utility, Dominion Energy, over Virginia politicians and regulators.'” The article lists projects and actions by many other utility companies around the US (including in Republican-dominated states) for expanding renewables, addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, and exploring decentralized electricity generation.

9-2-17 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley Pipeline highlights construction and safety risks on steep slopes in Roanoke County. [Although this article is about the MVP, the same issues of steep slope construction will be faced by the ACP. MVP essentially says, “If you don’t let us do what we want, things will be even worse.” We are sure Dominion would say the same.] “Mountain Valley Pipeline reacted forcefully after its plan to establish a permanent access road through a conservation easement on Poor Mountain was nixed by the federal commission reviewing the project. The company’s protest, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, offers a glimpse of some of the challenges and risks Mountain Valley could face burying a 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline on remarkably steep slopes in Roanoke County. For example, Mountain Valley described scenarios “that would require up to 10 winch tractors daisy-chained together to move a single load of materials, equipment, fuel or personnel up and down the slopes” if use of the access road is denied.”

9-1-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Dominion would owe $133 million if not for rate freeze. “Dominion Energy got a one-two punch Friday [September 1, 2017] from state regulators: A report said the monopoly utility is holding as much as $133 million it would be required to return to customers but for the 2015 rate freeze law. Another ruling severely curtails a pricey plan to recoup from customers the cost of putting more power lines underground. The line burial decision could raise the ire of state lawmakers who have supported Dominion’s plan.”

9-1-17 National Review. Opinion piece by Doug Hornig – Pipelines: Where Even Conservatives Support Eminent-Domain Abuse. “Where is the conservative commitment to property rights? At first, this might seem a silly question. Of course conservatives defend the right to private property, arguably the single most important principle upon which the nation was founded. But it’s not so silly in light of what’s happening in Virginia…. Now, a consortium of companies — led by Dominion Energy — is attempting to force a major natural-gas pipeline down the throats of our people, whether or not they agree to yield their land. … [There] are serious practical objections, but there is also a key issue of legitimate governance here. Since there is no provision for our ‘public use’ of the gas being transported, what could possibly justify the exercise of eminent domain? Nothing. This is about money, pure and simple. Dominion Energy is the largest and most influential corporation in the Commonwealth and donates heavily to officials from both parties. It also gets a FERC-guaranteed 14 percent return on equity. Ratepayers will bear the risk of building the pipeline and will pay above-market rates for the privilege.”

9-1-17 Washington Post. Questions remain on Dominion’s proposed pipeline. “Federal regulators are poised to approve the hotly contested Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would stretch for 600 miles from West Virginia, through Virginia and on to North Carolina. The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has completed a generally favorable final environmental impact statement for the $5 billion project that is likely to get a thumbs-up from FERC commissioners this month or next…. Yet after several years of intense fighting between Dominion and Virginia property owners whose land would be taken for rights of way and ecologists worried about destruction of fauna and flora, there still are major, unanswered questions about the project. They include how the pipeline deal is structured, what ratepayers will be charged for and who pays if something goes wrong.

9-1-17 UtilityDive. New York denies gas pipeline permit for CPV power plant over climate concerns. “The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has rejected a natural gas pipeline that consumer advocates say would have threatened upstate residents’ health, water quality and communities, citing climate change concerns. The 8-mile Valley Lateral Pipeline would move shale gas from the existing Millennium Pipeline to the 680 MW Valley Energy Center in Orange County, N.Y., being developed by Competitive Energy Ventures. In its rejection, the DEC said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had failed to take into consideration the environmental and health impacts of the power plant that the pipeline would supply. A ruling from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month has given additional ammunition to opponents of pipelines. The court ruled in August that federal regulators should have considered the impacts of climate change when considering whether to approve the Southeast Market Pipelines Project last year. According to the Times Herald-Record, the New York DEC cited that ruling when it called FERC’s review of the Valley Lateral ‘inadequate and deficient.’ A letter from DEC to project backers cited the ‘lack of a complete environmental review.’ ”

 


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:

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

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March 2017

February 2017

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