December 2014 News

12-30-14 Reuters.  Exclusive:  Oil Price Crash Claims First U.S. LNG Project Casualty.  Dominion’s plans are similarly built on sand… we are waiting for the investors to wake up!  “Back when LNG and crude oil prices were riding high in February, Excelerate, founded by Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, applied for permits to build the facility.  Eleven months on, its submission to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 23 said that uncertainty generated by a steep decrease in oil prices has forced it to conduct a ‘strategic reconsideration of the economic value of the project’ and to suspend all activities until April 1, 2015.”

12-29-14 C-Ville Weekly: C-Ville’s newsmakers of 2014. Residents of Nelson County were one of C-Ville’s three “Newsmakers of 2014” because of our fight against Dominion’s proposed pipeline.  The pipeline was the second of the area’s top 2014 stories in the Staunton News Leader.

12-29-14 Cetology: Dominion Leans on Landowners to Survey for Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ” Dominion is playing hardball and taking landowners who won’t cooperate to court to get access to their land.”

12-28-14 Hampton Roads Pilot: Dominion Takes the Easy Route. A Letter to the Editor in response to Dominion’s claim they always try to work with landowners. “While Dominion’s public relations department is obviously well funded, the company’s actions speak louder than its words. Dominion is not trying very hard: Only 4 percent of the pipeline’s proposed route, running more than 500 miles from West Virginia to Hampton Roads, is located within existing rights of way.”

12-27-14 NBC29: Friends of Nelson to Raise Money for Pipeline Impact Study. Please share this story and contribute (instructions here) towards this study. We are relying on you, our community, to bring the facts to light that will stop this pipeline. “Members of Friends of Nelson say they want objective data to show the real cost to the county and people who live there. They say the data offered by Dominion Resources only tells one side of the story. Joanna Salidis, the new president of the Friends of Nelson group, says right now there is no real way to measure the financial impact on businesses and landowners. “What are the costs? What are the costs in lost revenue to businesses? What are the costs in lowered property values? … FERC tends to weigh economic factors really, definitely the highest, so that’s why we want this study to present to them to say look we are being harmed by this pipeline. We want objective numbers for that,” she said.”

12-26-14 Staunton News Leader: Letter to the Editor – Pipeline exacerbates climate change. “Landowners in the path of the proposed pipeline will have no legal say-so to prevent the pipeline construction crews from invading their property by right of eminent domain. Is this justice? We have here a private, for-profit corporation with the authority to confiscate private land for its own self aggrandizement.”

12-26-14 Staunton News Leader: The ACP as parasitic worm. Opinion piece by Chris Bolgiano, distributed by Bay Journal News Service. “Burrowing beneath the skin of the earth all across America, new oil and gas pipelines are erupting in a rash of environmental destruction…. The arguments in support of these new pipelines are like home remedy myths: They persist despite scientific facts.”

12-25-14 Roanoke Times: Groups offer to help Nelson County with pipeline research. Local groups in opposition of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline have offered help to the Nelson County Board of Supervisors in providing information and research on subjects concerning the project that could potentially run 35 miles through the county.  This story appeared first in the (paper) edition of the Nelson County Times, and also was published in the Washington Post, the Charlottesville Daily Progress, and was covered by NBC29.

12-24-14 Charlottesville Daily Progress: Opinion/Letter: Private owners harmed by pipe plan. “There has been much debate on the public benefit of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. I believe one fact that cannot be debated is that private property owners will bear an unfair burden if this pipeline is built on its currently proposed route.”

12-24-14 Bacon’s Rebellion: Dominion’s Pipeline: The Battle Is Joined! “Fight on Pilgrims!” Is the battle cry sounded in this Bacon’s Rebellion blog post as Peter Galuszka urges opponents of Dominion’s proposed pipeline to continue the battle!

12-23-14 Pipeline company begins suing landowners to allow surveys.  Earlier this week, Dominion Resources filed lawsuits against 27 Augusta County residents and 20 in Nelson County, requesting the court’s permission to come onto the properties and survey potential routes for the natural gas pipeline.  Read the story in the Roanoke Times,  the Waynesboro News Virginian , the Charlottesville Daily Progress, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and watch the report on NBC29.

12-23-14 Staunton News Leader: Dominion pipeline route unsafe – Letter to the Editor. Dominion “submitted a route that counters the U.S. Geological Survey report (99-0518) and other USGS reports generated since the 1969 flood in Nelson County. They also seem to have been unaware or disinterested in, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s report in 2010 that includes maps of the state citing specific ‘high risk’ areas for debris flows (mudslides) quoting ‘energy pipelines’ as specific hazards, recommending special land use permits in these areas.”

12-23-14 NBC29: Gas Leak Prompts Evacuations, Road Closures in Charlottesville. “Fire officials say around 11 a.m. a construction crew doing utility work on Hampton Street hit a high pressure natural gas line and water line. Officials say no one was hurt, but it was a big interruption on a hectic day.” A quick google of gas leaks and Charlottesville indicates that there have been 5 separate leaks around town since 2012 – good thing these are just small, 4 to maybe 10 inch, low pressure lines. Should we feel safe thinking about the 42 inch, high pressure line they want to put in our backyards?

12-22-14 C-Ville: As Dominion makes the case for its pipeline to feds, locals say they’ll keep fighting it. “Dominion’s plans for a 550-mile natural gas pipeline through Virginia are marching ahead, and with the release of the company’s first reports to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), anti-pipeline activists in Nelson County are finding more reasons to rally opposition to the multi-billion-dollar project.”

12-22-14 New York Times: Natural Gas Glut Isn’t Deterring Southwestern Energy. “After so much hype and billions of dollars in investment, the nation is deluged with gas and not enough pipelines to carry the bounty to consumers. One energy company after another, year after year, has written off or slimmed down its investments here and in Texas and Louisiana…. And in October, Mr. Mueller [CEO of Southwestern] doubled down on gas by committing $5 billion to develop 413,000 acres of reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shale fields of West Virginia and Pennsylvania previously owned by Chesapeake.”

12-22-14 New York Times: Natural Gas: Abundance of Supply and Debate. “Natural gas is the Rorschach test of energy policy. Depending on one’s point of view, it can be either an essential tool for meeting the challenge of climate change or another dirty fossil fuel that will speed the planet down the path to calamitous warming.”

12-20-14 No Fracking Way: The Blast Radius: What Does it Mean For Your Neighborhood? Here’s an article indicating what we have believed to be accurate information about explosion zones, isn’t really so accurate. It seems high hazard areas are actually 45% to 50% larger than previously reported. Take a look and see what it means for your neighborhood. You don’t have to be a landowner where the pipe might be laid, you could be a neighbor and face devastating consequences.

12-20-14 Hampton Roads Pilot: Environmentalists threaten Chesapeake coal-ash suit. “The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing the Sierra Club, notified Dominion of its intent to file a lawsuit in 60 days unless Dominion cleans up coal ash ponds at its Chesapeake Energy Center. The ponds are leaking arsenic and other chemicals into the groundwater and the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, said Deborah Murray, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.”

12-19-14 Daily Progress: Money talks in Europe and Virginia. “If pipeline opponents in Western Virginia want to be successful, their best bet is to put together a business case for why these companies are as wrong about the market as Putin had been.”

12-18-14 Connection Newspapers [Northern Virginia]:  Letter to the Editor: Opposing the Pipeline.  “[McAuliffe] and Dominion Power both claim this pipeline is a result of rising energy demands by Virginians and an effort to tackle climate change and improve environmental health. If that is their mission, why are they trying to achieve it by building through national parks and mountain valleys, instead of focusing on renewable and actually environmentally friendly sources of energy?”

12-18-14 Roanoke Times: Salem pipeline open house an example of conviction, unity of opponents. “The industry’s open house meetings have revealed a unified resistance.” And the description of attendees’ difficulty in getting firm answers from company representatives for the Mountain Valley Pipeline certainly mirrors our experience here in Nelson. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this article is the statement by Paul Friedman, FERC’s environmental project manager for that pipeline, who participated in the open houses this week. “Friedman said Tuesday that FERC is ‘very interested’ in considering whether the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, proposed by Dominion and partners, might ultimately be able to share a single corridor – an alternative he said would obviously lessen the projects’ environmental effects.”

12-17-14 Roanoke Times: Letter: Get a firsthand look at the destruction after a gas pipeline is laid. A very interesting perspective from a once pro-pipeline citizen who has recently had a pipeline installed on his property.

12-17-14 WDBJ7: Lessons learned from former pipeline projects in Southern Virginia. Two pipelines proposed more than a decade ago had different outcomes.

12-17-14 Nelson County Times – Letters to the Editor. Letters about the proposed pipeline, both pro and con.

12-17-14 Waynesboro News Virginian: Dominion rejects Stuarts Draft alternatives. “Dominion has rejected as a preferred route two Stuarts Draft alternatives suggested by the Augusta County Board of Supervisors that would have increased the distance between the pipeline and three Stuarts Draft schools.” Two Augusta County supervisors who represent the Stuarts Draft area expressed disappointment about the rejection of the Stuarts Draft alternatives on Tuesday. If Dominion won’t heed requests to avoid areas like schools, we should not expect that they will give any weight to the safety of residents anywhere along this route.

12-16-14 American Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) press release: ANGA Comments on Senate Confirmation of Colette Honorable as a FERC Commissioner. “We applaud the Senate’s confirmation of Colette Honorable as the newest FERC Commissioner. Ms. Honorable brings to the commission extensive knowledge and a long record as a leader in solving complex energy issues. As demonstrated through her role as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and vice chair of NARUC’s Gas Committee, Ms. Honorable clearly understands the need for responsible development of our nation’s natural gas resource and for a robust, safe and reliable infrastructure that can transport natural gas where and when it is needed.” Another instance of the fox gaurding the hen house?

12-16-14 Are Natural Gas Compressor Stations Good Neighbors? We Don’t Think So. Read this piece posted on the folks fighting to preserve the New River Valley (threatened by the Mountain Valley Pipeline). Dominion won’t say where they plan compressor stations on the ACP.

12-16-14 WDBJ7: Dominion releases alternative route for proposed natural gas pipeline. “Back in Nelson County, pipeline opponents say they’ve already suggested alternative routes. They’d like to see the pipe located along the same path as an existing utility line or highway, to limit the impact on landowners. That idea has been rejected by Dominion as being too costly. ‘It’s more expensive to make deals with other energy companies or deal with VDOT,’ said Ernie Reed with Friends of Nelson, an organization that opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

12-16-14 CNN-Money: Dominion Agrees To Acquire Carolina Gas Transmission. “Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE: D), today announced that it has agreed to purchase Carolina Gas Transmission (CGT) from SCANA Corporation (NYSE: SCG) for approximately $492.9 million. CGT owns and operates nearly 1,500 miles of FERC-regulated interstate natural gas pipeline in South Carolina and southeastern Georgia. The company plans to close on the acquisition in January 2015.”

12-15-14 News Advance: Alternative pipeline route would bypass Nelson County. “An alternative route for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would avoid Nelson County has been submitted by Dominion Resources in its “Route Alternatives” resource report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”  This story also appeared in the Nelson County Times and the Charlottesville Daily Progress.

12-14-14 The Recorder [Greenfield MA]: Deerfield may seek pipeline royalties. Local Massachusetts government officials are stepping forward to seek more just compensation for landowners whose property is taken under eminent domain, since properties through which pipelines pass suffer great losses, but are not adequately compensated for eminent domain takings. Royalty payments would be required for all natural gas leaving the state. This might encourage these corporations to use existing easements for transmission across state lines, and would help alleviate the burden placed on these landowners.

12-14-14 Virginia Pilot [Hampton Roads]: Property rights outweigh pipelines. “Three natural gas pipelines proposed to pass through Virginia are being hailed as economic boons, bringing thousands of jobs and luring manufacturers to the commonwealth…. Few want to talk about what is likely to accompany them: the largest exercise of condemnation power in the commonwealth in decades, all without the constitutional protections Virginians ensured for property owners in 2012.” “Virginia’s legislators, who have championed property rights and pushed for their inclusion in the state constitution, must step in.” We agree our state legislators should step in and protect the rights of private landowners. Will they? Write and urge them to do so!

12-12-14 Staunton News Leader: Eminent domain: Easy for you to say. “Do you think you own your home because you bought the land, built the house and paid taxes on them both? So did 200 of your neighbors in Augusta County [and about 170 of your neighbors in Nelson County], until Dominion Transmission announced it will take their land for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) using eminent domain.” Read this excellent column to find out more about eminent domain and its costs.

12-12-14 UPI: Dominion Resources target of suits alleging toxins used in construction.  CPM Virginia, owners of the Battlefield Golf Club in Chesapeake, Have sued Dominion, accusing it of using toxic coal ash to build the facility. “An outside contractor, URS Corp., was brought in to test the groundwater supplying nearby residents and found over twice the amount of arsenic safe for drinking, high levels of chromium, lead, beryllium, manganese and zinc that would contaminate area drinking water ‘for 200 years or more.'” And Dominion wants us to believe that they can safely build an unprecedented 42″ pipeline?

12-10-14 Nelson County Times: Pipeline raises water concerns; Dominion says it will protect waterways. Dominion’s assurances leave us a little cold, especially in light of their recent water pollution fines in WV. Also, forget about them tunneling under most streams: “Most streams will be crossed using a dry crossing technique such as a ‘dam and pump’ method.” Translation: blasting through the river bottom because we all know they are solid rock around here. A big thank you, though, to Taylor Smack, owner of Blue Mountain Brewery and Blue Mountain Barrel House for advocating so publicly against the pipeline, and for his fellow citizens: ” ‘Not much sacred when money sets the laws.’ Smack said. ‘But every American – Democrat and Republican – can appreciate that a for-profit company should not be able to take personal property from private citizens when the goal of the project is not verifiably for the common good.’ ”  This article also appeared in the Charlottesville Daily Progress on 12-15-14.

12-10-14 Nelson County Times. Letters to the Editor. Three good letters opposing the pipeline.

12-8-14 Roanoke Times: Mountain Valley Pipeline eyes Roanoke County as site for compressor station. The proposed “location would put the above-ground compressor station about 2,000 feet from the Spring Hollow Reservoir, a key source of drinking water for the Roanoke Valley, according to Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for Mountain Valley Pipeline.” Compressor station and water source? Do energy companies purposefully choose inappropriate paths and places for their infrastructure so they can claim they worked with the public if they move the location?

12-8-14 WMRA: “Pipeline Air Force” Scrambles Against Dominion’s Plan. WMRA’s Andrew Jenner went along for the ride with a group calling itself the Pipeline Air Force… and he also got Dominion’s view from the ground. Listen or read the script.

12-7-14 CBS – 60 Minutes: The Spill at Dan River – Leslie Stahl reports on how Duke Energy is handling over 100 million tons of coal ash waste in North Carolina. Duke is one of Dominion’s major partners on the ACP. Responding to their spill of coal ash (full of heavy metals) in the Dan River, Duke’s CEO, Lynn Good said, “It was an accident. It didn’t work the way it should have worked. It didn’t meet our standards or our expectations.” That’s a constant refrain; Dominion said the same thing about being fined for multiple violations of West Virginia water quality laws in its G150 pipeline construction: “In this instance, Dominion did not meet its own expectations….”

12-6-14 Lowell [MA] Sun: Natural gas pipeline shifts to N.H. “Kinder Morgan Energy Partners is officially shifting its preferred route for a natural-gas pipeline north into New Hampshire, bypassing several Nashoba Valley and North Central Massachusetts towns, in response to months of protest from property owners, environmental groups and elected officials.” Much of the route has been moved to co-locate along existing right-of-ways along power line corridors. Demanding co-location along existing right of ways is one of the most important points we can make to our elected officials and FERC. Write a quick letter today and point out this article, and that the Mountain Valley Pipeline also was moved to take advantage of co-locating.

12-6-14 Staunton News Leader: Letter: Dominion must pay all pipeline costs. “Is Dominion’s $20 per resident in property taxes adequate compensation for: (1) the disruption construction activities will cause; (2) the extra burden placed on public services, including police, fire and EMS, both during and after construction; (3) the impact on Service Authority costs; (4) the visual and other effects on the landscape and plant and wildlife; (5) the increased risks the pipeline imposes on public safety and flora and fauna; (6) the impact on county-wide property values which in turn will affect total property tax receipts? The answer is a resounding ‘No!'”

12-5-14 Roanoke Times: Letter: Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents will not surrender without a fight. “This is the worst editorial that I’ve read in a long time (“Friendly advice for pipeline opponents,” Nov. 23). You’re telling citizens to surrender to those who would destroy our homes, communities and lives. Suppose that in 1776, the American colonists had shrugged and said, ‘The king is all powerful, and there is nothing we can do but pay his tax on tea.’ We would still be saluting the British flag. I can tell you right now that the citizens of Southwest Virginia are not going to roll over and play dead the way you are asking them to do.”

12-3-14 Nature: Natural gas: The fracking fallacy. “The United States is banking on decades of abundant natural gas to power its economic resurgence. That may be wishful thinking.” Brand new article in prestigious scientific journal on how the government and everybody else is way overestimating supplies of shale gas.

12-3-14 Pocahontas Times (WV): Dominion cited for water pollution violations. “…violations, impacting 12 waterways, involved the G-150 pipeline, a 60-mile, eight-inch, natural gas liquids pipeline, built by Dominion in the Northern Panhandle two years ago.”  If there are that many violations with an 8 inch line, imagine the possibilities for a 42 inch line!

12-3-14 News Leader: Dominion rep.: Company learned from citations. “Dominion learned from the pipeline construction problems that led to an environmental citation stemming from underground energy lines in West Virginia, a company official said Wednesday.” More likely, Dominion considers the $50,000 fine simply part of the cost of doing business.

12-2-14 Lynchburg News Advance: Dominion: Pipeline means $25M in property taxes
The 1.5 million that Nelson is projected to receive by 2025 pales in comparison to the LOSS to our economy that this pipeline would cause – eg. Nelson County’s forests alone are estimated to contribute 3 million annually to our economy. “Joanna Salidis, a member of Friends of Nelson, a local group opposed to the pipeline, said the group finds Dominion’s projections suspicious. “Any increase in Nelson County’s [personal] property taxes would be more than offset from the loss in revenue from our tourism and agricultural-based economy and from lowered [real estate] property values,” she said.” ” The sentence the reporter chose to paraphrase was actually, originally, “We find Dominion’s financial projections regarding revenue from property taxes, and others from the Chmura report, to be highly suspect for several reasons, including their failure to include any of the costs the public would directly or indirectly incur due to this pipeline.”

12-2-14 Style Weekly (Richmond): Lines Drawn – Dominion says a 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Virginia will help it counter a reliance on coal. But rural residents and environmentalists are worried.

12-1-14  Scientific American.  Rooftop Solar Cost Competitive with the Grid in Much of the U.S.  “Prices for solar are expected to keep falling as technologies improve and financing becomes more affordable. Solar leasing has helped hundreds of thousands of Americans realize the dream of going solar without breaking the bank. The companies behind such programs—SolarCity, SunRun and others—take care of installation, maintenance and upgrades while the customer ends up paying about as much for clean, green power as for grid power from coal or other fossil fuels.”

12-1-14 Charleston Gazette [WV]: Dominion fine worries opponents of future pipeline. “The investigation that led to the consent order does call into question Dominion’s ability to build, in an environmentally responsible manner, the planned 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline from Harrison County to North Carolina, [Rick Webb, coordinator of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition] said.” Additionally, “Dominion’s $55,000 fine is simply the cost of doing business, and it’s certainly much cheaper than if Dominion’s contractors had done the work properly and avoided the damage to begin with.”

12-1-14 Staunton News Leader: Tobacco commission lavished money on Dominion project. Apparently, government subsidies in the form of obtaining private property on the cheap is not sufficient to make natural gas transmission profitable … they need direct handouts of 30 million dollars of public money, too! Another point this article makes is that the Transco Southside Expansion pipeline now under construction not only will supply Dominion’s plant in Brunswick, but was mainly subsidized “to get a new pipeline built so that southern Virginia can attract energy-hungry manufacturers along the pipeline’s route.” Exactly the economic justification for the ACP! AND it’s going to North Carolina, too! “Not all of the new gas capacity will stay in state. After the commission approved the first $10 million installment, Transco signed a contract to provide additional gas from the new pipeline to a North Carolina-based energy company.” This story also appeared in the 11-30-14 Washington Post, Tobacco commission grant above recommended amount.

12-1-14 Staunton News Leader: Dominion: Pipeline would mean $1.5M for county. “Dominion’s proposed natural gas pipeline would bring in about $1.5 million a year in taxes for Augusta County within a few years of operation, the company claims in an analysis released Monday.” BUT – the media accepts Dominion’s statement as if there are no consequences for those who live along the proposed route of the ACP. We who do live on the route would have asked how localities should handle the devaluation of landowner property? Or how localities should deal with the decreased revenue to local business and its tax base from tourism? Or how localities will pay for increased emergency services needs?

12-1-14 Dominion Press Release about tax revenues – Local Property Tax Payments From Atlantic Coast Pipeline Expected To Top $25 Million A Year. By 2020 they project Nelson will receive $1.5 million annually. Without knowing the basis for these projections we have no way of knowing their accuracy. They don’t share that info with us. But if it’s anything like Chmura’s economic analysis, we think these numbers should be looked at with an extremely suspicious eye.