July 2015 News

7-31-15  State Impact NPR.  Pipelines’ Paths Remain a Risky Mystery Beneath Our Feet.  “This story began with a simple task: Let’s make a pipeline map!  Everyone wants to know where all the new Marcellus Shale gas pipelines are or will be. The new proposals have been piling up.  Many have poetic names like Atlantic Sunrise, Mariner East, and Bluestone. There got to to be so many they started to get numbers: Mariner East I, Mariner East II…. Pipeline companies know exactly the routes for all the pipelines they maintain or plan to build.  But  they aren’t required to share that information with public.  Instead they release vague maps with colorful lines swooshing across Pennsylvania, showing where a proposed line might go…. we contacted Mark Smith, who runs a map-making company called Geospatial Corporation. We told him what we wanted to do: map the web of pipelines beneath our feet.  He laughed at us.  ‘Well, it’s not universally mapped,’ said Smith. ‘In fact it’s probably the last piece of infrastructure out there that’s not mapped.’  Wait, this stuff is highly flammable right?  ‘Yes.’… Even when it comes to interstate pipelines, the large ones that carry lots of gas at high pressure across multiple states, those are only required to be mapped within 500 feet of accuracy. So even if the public did have access to the PHMSA maps that give the best approximation of a pipeline’s path, it could still be off by 500 feet…. even the relatively recent pipelines are not always where they are supposed to be.  ‘We’ve been called into a multitude of projects where within one right-of-way there was supposed to be a pipeline installed ten years ago. Workers come in to that right of way, they move over what they think is 50 or 75 or 100 feet, they drill in another line and they end up hitting the original pipeline that’s supposed to be 75 feet away. That happens a lot.’  And it happened a couple of weeks ago in Armstrong County, north of Pittsburgh, where a routine construction job put a man in the hospital. He was in a bulldozer digging out a route for a new gas pipeline when he struck another unmarked pipeline full of natural gas. Pictures of the explosion show a crater where the bulldozer sits, charred and mangled. The man who was running that machine is now in the hospital with 70 percent of his body burned.  Turns out the worker hit a medium-sized, 12-inch line carrying gas at a pressure of 60 PSI. His company did what they were supposed to do before digging, contact the state’s Pa. One Call service to check whether it was OK to dig where it planned.  One Call gave the company the all clear. Problem was: The line that blew up wasn’t mapped…. Left to itself, natural gas doesn’t smell like anything. That odor you smell when the pilot light is out on your stove is called mercapton. Companies are required to put that nasty smelling compound in their pipelines so people can smell when its leaking. But there’s an exception. If a pipeline runs through areas with little or no population, a so-called ‘Class One’ line, no mercapton is required…. Although interstate pipelines in rural areas are regulated by the federal government, they don’t have to have mercapton in them…. And again, the interstate lines only have to be mapped within 500 feet of accuracy.”

7-31-15  NBC 29.  Sen. Kaine Asking FERC to Consider Changes to Pipeline Projects.  “Senator Tim Kaine is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to consider some major changes to plans for proposed pipelines.  In a letter to FERC, Sen. Kaine asks if some  proposed pipelines should utilize the same, shared land… Leaders from Friends of Nelson, an opposition group, say they want to hear more suggestions like this one.  ‘Dominion has failed to consider any really reasonable alternatives, which would include using existing infrastructure and easements and other pipeline routes to build pipelines. And also to consider an alternative that doesn’t include building the pipelines,’ said Ernie Reed with Friends of Nelson.”

7-31-15  NGI’s Shale Daily.  Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Backers Nixing Collocation Idea.  “FERC staff will consider at least three possible alternatives for two proposed natural gas pipelines that would serve the Appalachian Basin, including having them share the same right-of-way, but the companies backing both projects say such alternatives are not viable.”

7-31-15  The Daily Progress.  Virginia Law Shrinks Refunds for Dominion Customers, Negates Possibility of Rate Cut.  “Customers of Dominion Virginia Power won’t be getting as large a potential refund or see a rate reduction they otherwise could have been entitled to because of actions by the General Assembly in the last two years, according to a witness hired by the attorney general’s office.  Ralph Smith, an accountant hired by Attorney General Mark Herring to review Dominion’s base rates, said in testimony filed Thursday that Dominion customers paid too much for electricity during 2013 and 2014 and should get a collective refund of $11.2 million.  That refund, Smith noted, would have been at least $188.4 million if the General Assembly hadn’t passed a 2014 law allowing Dominion to write off costs associated with a proposed nuclear power plant. Smith also said Dominion’s base rates, which make up a majority of a customer’s bill, are currently too high by about $230 million a year and could have been subject to a future rate decrease if not for legislation the General Assembly passed earlier this year that suspends regular rate reviews until 2022.  Dominion pushed hard for both pieces of legislation…. But critics of both pieces of legislation, including Herring and some large customers of Dominion, said they were corporate giveaways that will lead to higher-than-necessary rates.  Dominion is the state’s largest electric utility and is widely viewed as the most politically powerful entity in Virginia.”

7-30-15  Nelson County Times.  Letter to the Editor: Historic Sites Are Still Threatened.  Letter to the editor by Robert A. Carter, president of the Nelson County Historical Society.  “The Nelson County Times’ July 23 article announcing that the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline will avoid the Norwood-Wingina Rural Historic District is indeed good news for property owners in the Norwood-Wingina Rural Historic District and for people who worked over the past three years to document and nominate that district for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. But Dominion’s latest decision is bad news for property owners along the proposed alternative routes situated east of Virginia 56 and Wingina and bad news for the significant historic and prehistoric resources on those eastern routes and on other proposed routes in Nelson County.These resources include Native American sites; two historic villages; 18th and 19th century plantation dwellings and related agricultural and commercial sites; burials of enslaved people; post Civil War African-American dwellings, churches and cemeteries; other family cemeteries; industrial sites; canal locks, culverts, bridges and other transportation-related sites; and the James River Wildlife Management Area.

7-30-15  Daily Hampshire Gazette.  Residents Group Files Suit over Pipeline.  “A group of Franklin County residents whose property would be crossed by the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline has filed a civil lawsuit against the federal government in U.S. District Court in Springfield.  The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, asks the government to halt all activity of any federal agency related to approval of the pipeline project and argues that a related 2005 amendment to the federal Natural Gas Act is unconstitutional…. The lawsuit claims that the 2005 change, which gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the authority to regulate the exportation of natural gas, is unconstitutional because it allows for the taking of private property for projects that transport natural gas for export.”

7-30-15  The Roanoke Star.  A Challah of Protest.  “Reasons abound for any levelheaded person to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project…. this has been a work of madness from the start: ever-changing routes; a company unresponsive to citizens whose properties it threatens to take; a proposal contrary to the advice of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; public hearings sometimes more theater than truth; pledges aplenty about engineering and safety, all without substantiation; inflated promises about job creation and tax revenues; the right of eminent domain gifted to a private multi-billion-dollar corporation for an interstate project in a Commonwealth where property rights otherwise reign supreme.  No wonder that we have this Challah of protest. Citizens from many walks of life have stepped forward with their deep concerns, woven together in a common cause about stewardship, property rights, and energy. And about a wide-ranging distrust in a utility giant with a less-than-mediocre environmental record.”

7-30-15  News Leader.  Could Two Pipelines Be Combined?  “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline wants to use Augusta and Nelson County real estate to transport natural gas. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to use other Virginia lands to do the same.  Now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that blesses both of them has said it will consider whether two of these projects – Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley – could or should share one pipeline, or route, to avoid doubling the amount of properties and resources they affect…. The Alliance and other groups are pushing for FERC to ask, ‘What are the energy needs? Is there really a need for four pipelines, or two, or one, and is there a way of putting them together to avoid as many natural resources as possible,’ Sorrells said.  ‘These separate pipeline plans are reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in isolation, without consideration of the best way to meet the regional needs in the most streamlined and least harmful way,’ Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in an e-mail. ‘What we need right now in Virginia is a regional plan.’  A letter to FERC from U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Tuesday agreed.”

7-30-15  Forbes.  Which Is Cheaper — Rooftop Solar or Utility-Scale Solar?  “The Brattle Group,with support from the Edison Electric Institute, just released a study concluding that utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States are more cost effective than residential-scale (rooftop) PV systems in achieving the economic and policy benefits we all expect to come from the widespread use of solar energy.”

7-29-15  The Roanoke Times.  Pipeline Discussion Considers Combining Routes.  “One big pipeline buried in one corridor?  Or perhaps two large-diameter natural gas pipelines interred in a single, sprawling right-of-way?  A conference call in early July confirmed that a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline will include consideration of a ‘one pipe, one right-of-way’ alternative.  The one pipe option would push enough natural gas through a transmission pipeline to serve customers for both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the separate Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  An unlikely outcome? It would seem so.  Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff will do the analysis.  Theoretically, at least, this alternative could reduce the number of property owners affected and mitigate the environmental damage wrought by two separate multibillion dollar infrastructure projects.  But neither Mountain Valley nor Atlantic Coast likes the idea, according to filings with FERC, which will determine whether one or both pipelines will be built.”

7-29-15  Richmond Times-Dispatch.  One Pipe, One Corridor? Pipeline Discussion to Consider Combining 2 Projects.  “A conference call in early July confirmed that a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline will include consideration of a ‘one pipe, one right-of-way’ alternative.  The one-pipe option would push enough natural gas through a transmission pipeline to serve customers for both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the separate Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. Meanwhile, in a letter to FERC dated Tuesday, Sen. Timothy M. Kaine, D-Va., acknowledged that “new pipeline capacity may be necessary” because of natural gas production in the Appalachian Basin.  ‘The question is how much,’ Kaine wrote…. Kaine’s letter suggests that FERC should determine ‘the extent to which natural gas demand and capacity projections justify the need for all four of these projects.’ The senator recommended analysis also of the pipelines’ cumulative environmental impacts.  Kaine described the public comment process for the Mountain Valley project as inadequate, a deficiency he said ‘has contributed to a perception that the project is a ‘done deal’ and that FERC and the companies view the public comment process as a pro forma, box-checking exercise.’”

7-28-15  The News Virginian.  Pipeline Route near Major Well Worries Augusta County Leaders, Service Authority.  “An alternative route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline near the Appalachian Trail comes close to Augusta County’s largest water source, raising concerns about contamination.  The route, which Dominion Resources introduced earlier this year, would cross the water recharge area for the Lyndhurst Well. The well generates 1 million gallons of water per day for Augusta County Service Authority customers in Stuarts Draft and Fishersville…. ‘The route went through what we felt is a very vulnerable area. It’s the biggest water supply in the county,’ Fanfoni said.  He said the water recharge area is where groundwater feeds into the well. Fanfoni said the blasting needed for the pipeline also could cause issues with sinkholes in the area.  ‘The threat is disturbing the pathways of groundwater,’ Fanfoni said…. Pyles, who represents the Pastures District in western Augusta, said he has been frustrated by Dominion’s previous refusal to address the route coming close to the well.  ‘This is the poster child for what is wrong with what Dominion is trying to do in our area,’ he said.”

7-26-15  The Daily Progress.  Opinion/Letter: Dominion’s New Plan Needs New Thought.  Opinion piece by Doug Hornig.  “The front-page story ‘Dominion Outlines Its Power Plans’ (The Daily Progress, July 3) says that Dominion must plan how to generate enough electricity to ‘meet growing demand … during the next 15 years.’ This claim is endlessly repeated in the media as if it were obvious and irrefutable. In truth, however, the assumption at its core — growing demand — is false.  Probably the vast majority of Americans believe that electricity demand, which has steadily risen since the Great Depression, is continuing to do so. It isn’t. Demand in the U.S. peaked in August of 2008, seven years ago. It’s lower today than it was then.  This is not a blip, not some anomaly. It is a trend that will see the century-old business model for utility businesses completely upended over the next few years. Not just here, but across the globe…. Given the reality of the energy world, Dominion’s claim that it needs massive new infrastructure projects because of ‘growing demand’ rings hollow. And it causes informed people to ask what the company really wants to seize all that land for.”

7-26-15  NBC 29.  Pipeline Opposition Works to Expand Its Reach.  “One Nelson County group is beefing up its battle with the feds to block Dominion’s plan for a natural gas pipeline.  The group Friends of Nelson says it’s making progress and expanding the reach of pipeline opposition into communities across the south side of and southwest Virginia.  Friends of Nelson says more people are sending letters to Virginia politicians in opposition to the pipeline. The group says it used to average 70 letters a week, now it’s at 170 a week. Leaders call that increasing participation an encouraging sign in a scary battle…. ‘We’re trying to wake up the federal government that FERC is a rogue agency and they need to be stopped from stealing people’s private property,’ says Craig Stevens, a fracking expert from Pennsylvania.”

7-23-15  WVTF Public Radio.  Pipeline Construction: What It Means for Water Supply.  “The ultimate routes of natural gas pipelines that would run through Virginia have yet to be determined.  Among the concerns that raises, is; what effect could pipeline construction have on people’s well water?  In most counties in Virginia, a majority of families rely on well water, according to the state department of health.  Most of them are in rural areas. And that’s also where many of the hundreds of miles of proposed natural gas pipelines would run.   Mark Jones of Clear Creek Water Works in Christiansburg says most of the problems that could affect well water would come from the physical work of putting in pipelines. And that means, that at least in certain parts of Virginia…. ‘They’re going to be doing a lot of blasting and when you do blasting in rock, the shock waves travel a long way.’  Jones, a certified Master Water Specialist says those shock waves can affect private wells. And there’s no way to know exactly how near they have to be to have an impact.”

7-23-15  The Farmville Herald.  Opposition Group Will Protest Pipeline on August 5.  “Friends of Buckingham (FOB), a group opposed to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), will protest on the steps of the Buckingham Courthouse on Wednesday, August 5 at 12:30 p.m.  Several landowners have court appearances that day as part of civil suits filed by the ACP to gain access to survey on their property.  ‘August 5 marks an important moment in the movement to stop Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline project from defiling our land, our rights and the quality of our lives,’ the release noted.  FOB, joined by supportive citizens, will assemble ‘to demand justice for landowners committed to protecting their property rights from Dominion’s attempt to use the courts to force landowners to permit Dominion survey teams on their land,’ according to the release.”

7-23-15  Popular Resistance.  FERC Teaches Oil and Gas Industries to Silence Protest.  “That FERC operates as an arm of the fracked gas industry comes as no surprise to many communities that have contended with FERC-approved projects firsthand. Ann Nau is a member of Myersville Citizens for a Rural Community, a group in Myersville, Maryland that has unsuccessfully fought FERC for years to stop fracked gas compressor stations in their town.  ‘FERC holds free three day interactive seminars where it teaches the industry to ‘successfully’ navigate the FERC Process,’ Nau said. ‘They go so far as to invite the industry to sponsor snack times and evening social gatherings. They hold ‘pre-conferences’ where FERC staff ask ‘Do you have conflict in your pipeline  work – maybe with a property owner’ and offer to ‘strategize for dealing with difficult behavior using your examples.’  Affected communities on the other hand get a brochure. It is obvious FERC looks at communities, at people, who are adversely affected by these projects as problems.’”

7-23-15  Transition Voice.  Could Fracking Finally Kill off Rural America?  “Rural areas have had it tough for decades, losing family farms to industrial agriculture, losing Main Street shops to Walmart and losing young people to the allure of the big city. Yet these days, judging by all the back-to-the-landers, homesteaders and greenhorns fleeing corporate cubicles for fields of produce and pigs, you’d think that rural America was on the verge of a renaissance, ready to step up and provide the nation with wholesome food, natural carbon sequestration and a sense of community that our alienated citizenry yearns for.  Then — bam! — enter the frackers to put the kabbash on this happy ending and put rural areas back in their place as sacrifice zones for polluting industries.  By contaminating water supplies from sea to shining sea, the industry’s final desperate gambit to keep the fossil fuel party going for a few more years could render much of rural America uninhabitable. As despoiled rural communities shut down, families will have no choice but to seek housing and work in the city. And the cruel joke at the end of it all is that natural gas may turn out to be a bubble, with fracking ruining millions of acres of perfectly good land for only a few years of gas supply. The wells may run dry in five or ten years and the drillers will take the money and run. But the pollution will remain for decades.”

7-23-15  Bacon’s Rebellion.  Pipelines and Property Lines.  Opinion Blog.  “The lawsuits are shaping up as the Old Dominon’s biggest battle over property rights in years. The courts will be called upon to define the balance between landowners like Rea who wish to be left alone and utilities like the four corporate partners of the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline — including Virginia energy giant Dominion, Duke Energy, AGL Resources and Piedmont Natural Gas — who argue that there is a compelling public need to build more gas pipelines as electric utilities replace coal with gas in their fuel mix. The legal outcome could influence other pipeline projects as well. Three groups besides ACP have expressed possible interest in building pipelines from the West Virginia shale fields to markets in Virginia and points south.”

7-22-15  NBC 29.  Governor McAuliffe Addresses Leaders, Avoid Protestors in Staunton.  “The governor had to walk by some protesters as he stepped out of his car at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel.  Opponents to Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) stood in solidarity, chanting at times, as the governor made his way past them.  McAuliffe is supportive of the natural gas pipeline, saying it will create jobs.”

7-22-15  The News Virginian.  Protestors Call for McAuliffe to Reject Pipeline.  “Augusta County residents stood side-by-side with those from Nelson and Buckingham counties, among others, as each made it clear they want the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects shut down.  ‘Call it off McAuliffe!’ and ‘No Pipeline!’ the protestors chanted as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s car rolled up to the hotel. McAuliffe went inside to give a speech, as the protestors stood outside.  Ron Enders, a landowner in Afton, said he just wanted the governor to take time and listen to another side of the argument.  ‘I’m very disappointed. He is a professional politician,’ Enders said. ‘I would expect that he would have been willing to meet with us, talk about his side, and hear about our side. We elected him, not Dominion, but he doesn’t seem to be willing to meet with us or talk with us.’”

7-22-15  NC WARN.  Debunking Duke Energy Deception over Emissions, Coal Plant Closures—News Release from NC WARN.  “Over the past six years, Duke Energy has repeatedly gotten away with major deception by trumpeting its closure of coal-fired power plants while building more coal and fracking gas plants and still claiming – with straight corporate face – that its carbon emissions have trended downward since 2008.  In fact, Duke remains the nation’s largest utility polluter, the coal plants it’s closing were barely being used, and its claims of carbon emission reductions ignore well-documented methane leakage during the natural gas life-cycle…. In claiming its overall carbon emissions are down, Duke doesn’t count the well-documented leakage of methane during the mining of natural gas.  Multiple researchers warn that even ordinary natural gas operations allow 5.4 percent leakage of methane, and that fracking wells can leak up to 10 percent.  Even at the lower rate, the leakage makes the use of natural gas even worse than coal in terms of global warming potential (GWP) over the next few decades – a crucial period for the climate crisis.4  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently determined that the GWP of methane is 86 times higher than that of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period…. To protect its monopoly control, Duke Energy has chosen to try to limit the growth of solar power instead of joining the rapid national transition toward renewables and energy efficiency.  While CEO Good claims “We’re not in the fracking business,” natural gas is a fungible product, so regardless of the specific sources of Duke’s supply, the increased burning of gas is helping drive the fracking boom that is poisoning local communities and fueling climate change.”

7-22-15  Business Insider.  Debt Is Destroying the Fracking Revolution.  “The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has been warning the banks it regulates about these oil & gas loans. Their collateral has plunged with the price of oil and gas. And as banks begin to fret while investors lick their wounds, after all these years, a strange phenomenon in the world of ZIRP is showing up on the horizon: a cash crunch.  Devastating for the permanently cash-flow negative shale revolution.  Most drillers survived the last redetermination by their banks of their oil & gas credit lines. That was in April. These loans are backed by the value of the drillers’ reserves. But low oil and gas prices have knocked down that value, and drillers had to pay down their credit lines with money extracted from other investors. That’s where some of the new money went that drillers have raised.  The next redetermination cycle is in October. And hedges are now expiring which have partially protected drillers’ revenues from the oil price plunge. So it’s going to be tough. But turning off the money spigot will push these companies off the cliff. And banks would end up with the oilfields and have to get their hands dirty. So they’re not eager to pull the ripcord. But they can’t afford to play this “extend-and-pretend” charade for too long either, or else they’ll get sucked down too.”

7-22-15  Roanoke Times. Cutler: Pipeline Industry Attempting to Bypass Important Review Procedures; What’s the Rush?  Opinion piece.  Commentary on important bills pending in Congress. H.R. 2295 is particularly dangerous regarding designation of 10 energy corridors through public lands. Communities surrounding these areas would be assaulted by who knows how many pipelines and other projects. “HR 2295, S. 411 and S. 1196 also would breach the ‘firewall’ provision of the National Environmental Policy Act requiring preparation of an environmental impact statement on every major federal action affecting the environment. Instead, they declare that energy corridor designations shall not be treated as actions under NEPA.”

7-20-15  Bloomberg.  Wall Street Lenders Growing Impatient with U.S. Shale Revolution.  “Bank regulators have issued warnings on the risks involved in lending to U.S. drillers, threatening a cash crunch in an industry that’s more dependent than ever on other people’s money. Wall Street has been one of the biggest allies of the shale revolution, bankrolling thousands of wells from Texas to North Dakota. The question is how that will change with oil prices down by half since last year to $50.36 a barrel.”

7-20-15  Appalachian Chronicle.  A Plea to West Virginians: Throw Off Your Oppressors. Excellent article includes the following quote: “No matter how the companies spin it, the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines are not for public benefit (the standard FERC must apply before granting the companies the right of eminent domain); they are for the companies’ shareholders. Most significantly, the gas that would be shipped through the pipelines will end up in foreign countries, which should be the fact that causes FERC to deny the company’s applications. That, however, would take a miracle.”

7-20-15  Farmville Herald.  Potential Compressor Station Property Purchased By Pipeline Venture. “Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) LLC has purchased 147 acres of property in Buckingham County to potentially build a 40,000 horsepower gas-fired compressor station.”

7-20-15  The News & Advance.  Pipeline Becoming Part of General Assembly Candidates’ Campaigns. “As an anti-pipeline song rose from a banjo and acoustic guitar beneath the overlook of Three Ridges Wilderness, a few General Assembly candidates searched for constituents. They made their way through the crowd, shaking hands and honing stump speeches, while bluegrass played on stage at Devil’s Backbone for the ‘Music for the Mountains’ fundraiser Saturday…. Candidates began weaving pieces of the resistance movement focused on property rights and environmental issues into their broader platforms… Challengers [to incumbents] say their opponents can do more, particularly about a 2004 bill that gave interstate natural gas companies the right to survey private property without permission. They want to install stronger state protections for eminent domain, while their opponents have varying views.”

7-19-15  Blue Ridge Life.  Large Crowd Turns Out: Music for the Mountains Festival to Oppose Pipeline.  “A huge crowd turned out for the Music for the Mountains Festival held on the grounds at Devils Backbone Brewing in Roseland this past Saturday. A wide range of entertainers hit the stage including: Trees on Fire, The Will Overman Band, The Sally Rose Band, Gene and Gayla Mills – and a special appearance by Robin and Linda Williams.

7-18-15  The Roanoke Times.  Regulators Want Another New Path for Pipeline in Nelson County.  “Federal regulators want the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to consider another route for the proposed natural gas pipeline that will not affect either a pending historic district or a state wildlife management area in southern Nelson County.  In other words, an alternative to the alternative route that the pipeline developer announced on Wednesday to avoid the Norwood-Wingina Rural Historic District — soon to be listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register…. The request for a new alternative was among 220 comments and questions posed by regulatory staff to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline company to address either within the next 45 days or in its final application in September for approval of the $5 billion, 550-mile project.”

7-18-15  News Leader.  Mountain Music Draws Hundreds to Area.  “Helen Kimble, a volunteer at Music for the Mountain said organizers of the festival anticipated 900 people would attend the event featuring live music from Trees on Fire, The Will Overman Band, The Sally Rose Band and Gene and Gayla Mills. Robin and Linda Williams made a special appearance and speakers at the event told people how to voice their opposition to the pipeline.”

7-17-15  Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Dominion Workers Give Big to Sponsor of Company-Backed Bill.  “Employees of Dominion Resources Inc. are giving big to the state lawmaker who sponsored legislation favorable to the company and passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.  Campaign finance records filed Wednesday show that 21 workers at the Richmond-based energy conglomerate gave Virginia Beach Republican Sen. Frank Wagner $23,000 for his re-election campaign on June 30. It’s one of the largest collective gifts by company employees to a legislative campaign in recent years, according to an Associated Press analysis of data collected by the Virginia Public Access Project.”

7-17-15  The Roanoke Times.  McAuliffe Rebuffs Anti-Pipeline Protests in Roanoke.  “Greeted by pipeline protesters during a visit to Roanoke, Gov. Terry McAuliffe stuck by his support for the construction of new natural gas lines Friday — but he stressed the final call isn’t his to make.… McAuliffe, who was also asked about pipelines during Friday’s breakfast event, said in an interview that the lines can be responsibly built and will aid the state in its pursuit of new businesses.”

7-17-15  WVTF Public Radio.  Pipeline Protestors Greet Governor McAuliffe at Hotel Roanoke Meeting.  “Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline continued their fight today in Roanoke, as protestors sought to greet Governor Terry McAuliffe with signs as he attended a business council meeting at the Hotel Roanoke…. ‘Governor McAUliffe, who supports the Pipeline, is coming through and we want to let him know the pipeline is a very bad idea,’ says Sue Crenshaw…. McAuliffe told reporters that he supports the pipeline as it would bring Virginia the ‘cheapest energy in the country,’ and has said it would provide a cleaner alternative to coal-generated power.”

7-16-15  Nelson County Times.  Nelson County Wants More Scrutiny of Pipeline’s Erosion Control Plans.  “The Nelson County Board of Supervisors is petitioning Governor McAuliffe and the Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward to provide public access to erosion and sediment control plans for the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  During a board meeting on Tuesday the supervisors voted unanimously to pass the resolution…. The resolution reads that the pipeline would require excavation of over 21.6 miles of highly erodible soils with slopes greater than eight percent in Nelson County.  The required excavation is unprecedented and will cause severe erosion in vertically steep and inhospitable mountain terrain, the resolution states.  The resolution also says the pipeline would cause runoff from seasonal downpours and would cause major soil loss for those water supplies.  ‘We are deeply concerned that construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline will impact the quality and quantity of water supplies due to erosion, sedimentation and impacts of hydrology, and Nelson County’s agricultural-tourism based economy is highly reliant on abundant, clean water,’ the resolution states.”

7-16-15  The Recorder.  Feds Tell Dominion to Address Highland’s Pipeline Worries.  “The ball flew back in Dominion’s court early this week.  Tuesday, federal regulators responded to Dominion’s resource reports for the proposed $5.5 billion  Atlantic Coast Pipeline, paying specific attention to karst and concerns voiced by elected officials in Highland…. In its set of directives posted Tuesday, FERC told Dominion that within 45 days it must file draft versions of the karst monitoring and mitigation plan; spill prevention, control, and countermeasures plan; winter construction plan; invasive plant species management plan; and blasting plan.”

7-16-15  Nelson County Times.  Pipeline Opponents Launch Festival.  “Jennifer Lewis, president of Friends of Augusta, said an important goal of the festival is to converse about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and remind people that the fight is long from over.  ‘We hope to spread education to those who may have questions and to give people hope that we will keep this pipeline from being constructed,’ Lewis said. ‘We need people to get and stay engaged and informed, that’s how we will keep the pipeline from happening.’”

7-16-15  The News Virginian.  Pipeline Opponents Launch Festival.  “They want to get a message out to all local residents, answering questions while listening to music. A coalition of groups that oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will gather together on Saturday to hold the ‘Music for the Mountains’ festival at Devils Backbone in Nelson County.

7-15-15  The Tidewater News.  Greater Good Shouldn’t Require Surrender of Individual Freedom.  Opinion piece by Andrew Page.  “On the other side of the coin, a pipeline has to go through land. That land belongs to someone. Perhaps it’s someone who has had that land in their family for several generations. Perhaps it’s someone who is leery about having a pipeline with the potential for explosion running underneath their property. These people have the right to voice their objections. These people have to right to ensure that their property is being taken for a public purpose. And these people are entitled to just compensation for their loss of land rights.”

7-15-15  The News & Advance.  New Pipeline Route Bypasses Wingina Historic District.  “The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has adopted a new route variation in Nelson and Buckingham counties to avoid the Norwood-Wingina Historic District, Dominion Resources announced Wednesday.  The district is proposed to be listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and is nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.  The area contains historic sites and buildings as well as history from early European settlers and even earlier. It once was occupied by the Monacan Indian Nation…. The new path, to be called the Wingina District Route Variation, is now 6.1 miles and has been adopted as part of the proposed route. It will cross 1.1 miles of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fishery’s James River Wildlife Management Area in Nelson.  The previous route affected 18 tracts — 14 in Nelson and four in Buckingham. The new route affects 19 tracts of land.”

7-14-15  Appalachian Chronicle.  Standing Their Ground.  “Justin McClain is a farmer. At 35, it is all he has ever done in this small Doddridge County community since before he was a teenager. It is also all he plans to ever do. However, recent damage he says was caused to his crops by the company building the Stonewall Gas Gathering pipeline has him questioning if he will be able to keep his farm going. It also has him and his father, Robert, concerned about the farm’s future if the larger and longer Mountain Valley Pipeline is approved, and has left them both with a bitter taste about the industry as they have tried to get the companies building the 55-mile Stonewall Pipeline Project to compensate them for the loss of Justin’s spring hay crop.”

7-14-15  Bloomberg Business.  Fracking Jobs Encouraged American Teens to Become High School Dropouts.  “That burst of employment generated by fracking in the past decade may not have been all good news for the U.S.  Jobs offering low-skilled American teenagers a chance to earn big bucks in the shale oil and gas industry also made it less attractive to finish high school, causing a jump in dropout rates, a new study showed. It was published this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  The sobering takeaway: fracking raises the risk that some workers at the bottom of the skills and education ladder may end up being stuck there, because they made bad schooling choices in a rush to be part of the industry.”

7-12-15  Beckley Register-Herald.  Reality of Pipelines.  Editorial.  “When Dominion Resources announced a joint investment for a 550-mile interstate Atlantic Coast Pipeline, it promised major economic impacts on many struggling counties in the way of jobs, tax benefits and operating the pipeline…. Last week, a study commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center refuted two reports the energy companies are disseminating about the economic benefits of the pipeline…. the Law Center study says those claims are ‘based on flaws’ and likely ‘overestimate the benefits’ of the pipeline…. With that information, and that of other studies, we find troubling efforts of utilities that urge Congress to pass three bills aimed at fast tracking the approval process for pipeline rights of way on public lands.  The proposed legislation would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue a right of way on National Park Service lands, reversing a longstanding prohibition on allowing such pipelines in national parks.  We think Congress needs to slow down and consider the potential damage that could be the end result of allowing pipelines access to park land.  What we fear would happen if pipelines were to be constructed in parks is the potential loss of beautiful landscapes, abundant animals and birds, the free-flowing waters that lend themselves so well to the pursuits of adventure.  Those characteristics are what set those park lands apart from other sites that are torn apart to make roads, mine coal, construct buildings or any other number of pursuits that damage or destroy the very things that make our mountains a destination for people who enjoy the outdoors.… Killing — or even wounding — an industry such as tourism to make way for a pipeline that, it appears, is not guaranteed to bring the boon that has been [promised] is foolhardy.  We urge you to contact your representatives in the House and the Senate and tell them to proceed with caution on these bills that would accelerate the process for gaining rights of way in national parks.”

7-10-15  FracTracker Alliance.  An Urgent Need? Atlantic Coast Pipeline Discussion and Map.  “Post Carbon Institute estimates that Marcellus predictions overstate actual production by 45-142%. Regardless of the model we consider, production starts to drop off within a year or two after the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would go into operation. This downward trend leads to some serious questions about whether moving ahead with the assumption of three-fold demand for gas along the Carolina coast should prompt some larger planning questions, and whether the availability of recoverable Marcellus gas over the next twenty years, as well as the environmental impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, justify its construction.”

7-9-15  The Recorder.  Can’t See for the Fog.  Editorial.  “If you’re going to build a huge, interstate gas pipeline, take note from Dominion Resources — the key to success is a powerful PR machine, boatloads of money, and the real trick: obfuscation. If you know how to obscure (confuse, make unclear, be evasive), you’re all set.”

7-9-15  Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Study Says Power Bills Could Fall Thanks to New Federal Rules.  “New federal regulations on reducing carbon emissions could result in lower electricity bills in Virginia that save customers up to $145 a year, according to a report released Thursday by an advocacy group that is in stark contrast to estimates made by the state and its largest utility.… Richmond-based Dominion Virginia Power has estimated that complying with the plan will cost billions of dollars and could cause bills to spike by 30 percent. The State Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, also has warned that the federal rules mean Virginians ‘will likely pay significantly more for their electricity.’  But the report from the nonprofit Public Citizen group predicts that power bills could drop about 8 percent if state lawmakers, who decide how Virginia will reach its carbon reduction goals, focus on energy efficiency. If that’s the case, the lower electricity usage in most households would result in lower bills even if electricity rates rise slightly.  ‘Even if the raw cost of electricity goes up, people might use so much less that their bills go down,’ said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program. ‘Virginia’s efficiency goals today are extremely weak.’”

7-9-15  EcoWatch.  Internal Documents Expose Fossil Fuel Industry’s Decades of Deception on Climate Change.  “Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse created a stir recently when he speculated that fossil fuel companies may be violating federal racketeering law by colluding to defraud the public about the threat posed by carbon pollution.  Whitehouse likened their actions to those of the tobacco companies that conspired to manufacture doubt about the link between smoking and disease when they were all too aware of it. In 2006, a federal district court ruled that the tobacco industry’s deceptive campaign to maximize its profits by hoodwinking the public amounted to a racketeering enterprise.  Whitehouse may be among the first to suggest that the fossil fuel industry is flouting the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), but he’s not the first to point out the parallels between the tobacco industry’s fraudulent campaign and the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to quash government action on climate change.”

7-9-15  NewsChannel 5.  Permit Application Reveals Danger of Natural Gas Line.  “They have been shocking predictions — a half mile wide explosion, with deaths nearby.  That’s what an energy company told the state could happen if a natural gas line ruptured in Northern Davidson County.  It was in a document obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.  The company, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, has been hoping to build a compressor station in Northern Davidson County that would pump even more natural gas under the county.  But Tennessee Gas Pipeline and its new parent company Kinder Morgan have been trying to distance themselves from what it told the state five years ago after the 2010 flood.  Tanya Dennis couldn’t believe what happened to Sycamore Creek during the flood.  ‘It was amazing, so I got out my camera,’ Dennis remembered.  The creek raged across her property.  But she was most alarmed by what she found days later, after the water went down.  ‘I had a lot of concerns about how exposed that pipeline had become,’ Dennis said.  Her video showed a large section of natural gas pipeline was suddenly above ground.  But Dennis said she never knew just how serious the situation was.  A 2011 permit application filed by the owner, Tennessee Gas Pipeline, revealed the exposed pipeline put the neighboring community at risk of a devastating explosion.  The company warned if the pipeline wasn’t repaired it could lead to a potential explosion that would impact an area an ‘approximate 1/2 mile in diameter.'”

7-8-15  NBC 29.  New Study Questions Economic Benefit Claims of Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “Agencies opposed to Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline are picking apart some the company’s arguments that the 550-mile line will have economic benefits.  In a benefits review released this month, the Charlottesville-based Southern Environmental Law Center says researchers it hired are essentially debunking Dominion’s claims the pipeline is a good thing. It reviewed two major reports the power company provides to lawmakers.  According to Synapse Energy Economics, Dominion’s conclusion that energy savings from the pipeline will result in new jobs is not a reality. The firm also found that the pipeline would not produce net benefits until 10 years after its construction.”

7-8-15  News Leader.  Opponents’ Report Casts Doubt on Pipeline Benefits.  “A study released Wednesday by the Southern Environmental Law Center casts doubt on the economic benefits claimed by Dominion Resources for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  The study commissioned by SELC attorney Greg Buppert finds the benefits promised by Dominion in two reports are “likely overestimated” and aren’t supported by data that can be verified. The proposed pipeline would run through Valley communities and natural resources on its way from West Virginia to North Carolina.  ‘We suspected Dominion’s economic benefits from the ACP were largely public relations pieces,’ said Buppert, who hired Synapse, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, energy economics think tank, to check Dominion’s numbers.  ‘What we have are glossy end-product numbers without any way to question the analysis,’ Buppert said. ‘Dominion needs to release the data it used to model these benefits.’”

7-8-15  News Leader.  Music for the Mountains Festival.  “The Music for the Mountains festival is July 18 at Devil’s Backbone Brewery in Roseland…. The festival was created to raise funds to fight the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. There will be speakers and information tables set up at the festival. Money raised will pay for a tri-county economic impact study, to help offset landowner legal costs and to support organizational costs moving forward.  Sponsoring organizations are Friends of Augusta, Friends of Nelson, Free Nelson, Augusta County Alliance, Wild VA, Pipeline Education Group, Friends of Buckingham and the Chesapeake Bay Group Sierra Club.”

7-8-15  Nelson County Times.  Pipeline Threatens Plans for $35 Million Nellysford Resort.  “Richard Averitt envisions Nelson County to be one day much like the Napa and Sonoma valleys in California — a bucolic atmosphere with a culture that includes wineries, breweries and distilleries.  With the vision in mind, Averitt purchased 100 acres of land across from Bold Rock Hard Cider in Nellysford with his father, Dick Averitt, in October 2013. There, he planned to develop a $35 million “boutique resort” that would spotlight the beauty of the Rockfish Valley and the Virginia marketplace of wine, cider, beer and handmade goods.… But he said those plans could change — and even cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost planning expenses — with the potential arrival of Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposed to run through his property…. Averitt said Nelson County has a specific niche unlike anywhere else in Virginia that he worries the pipeline will disrupt.  ‘There is a very unique thing happening in Nelson, a nexus of relaxation, a place of peace, to have drinks and food that are hand-crafted and have conversations with friends,’ he said. ‘To put the pipeline through that wipes out what is one of the most compelling, economic tourism engines this state has. I don’t know any other place in Virginia that has this kind of momentum.’”

7-8-15  The Daily Progress.  Dominion Makes Changes to Pipeline Route.  “Dominion has made some alterations to the pipeline route through Southside Virginia, to make it more closely follow the right of way.  The developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has proposed changes to its route to rely more upon existing utility rights-of-way in Southside Virginia, but not yet in the western part of the state where public opposition is fiercest…. The effort to rely more on existing rights-of-way is what pipeline opponents insist should happen in western Virginia, where the project is proposed through Highland, Augusta, and Nelson counties before crossing the James River into Buckingham County and through Cumberland, Prince Edward, Nottoway, and Dinwiddie counties before reaching Brunswick…. Sorrells, who has helped lead the fight against the pipeline in Augusta, thinks the company can do much more to use existing corridors for the pipeline instead of relying on private property and national forests.  ‘I have no doubt they have the top engineers money can buy,’ she said. ‘Why can’t they figure this out? It seems to me it is not an impossible task.’  Sorrells also hopes the new alternatives are a sign that Dominion and its partners are getting the message from landowners and public officials that they want a different approach.  ‘It tells me they are beginning to feel the public pressure,’ she said.”

7-7-15  Sierra Club.  Wind and Solar Cheapest Way for East Coast Energy Producers to Comply with Clean Power Plan.  “Last week we saw the future of clean energy begin to unfold in Appalachia. Two of the East Coast’s largest power producers announced that investing in wind and solar energy is the most affordable way for them to comply with the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the proposed first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants.  Dominion, which provides energy to states across the East Coast and the Midwest, announced yesterday that after examining many options to address the expected reductions in carbon pollution required by the CPP, they have concluded that the most cost-effective solution is to invest in nearly 4,000 MW of solar energy by 2030, while retiring coal plants across Virginia. Solar beat out nuclear and natural gas co-firing, demonstrating clearly that clean energy sources are now cheaper than dirty and dangerous options. Just six years ago Dominion’s plans included no coal retirements, no wind, and no solar.  While these solar cost projections mark significant progress, Dominion’s resistance to renewable energy remains an obstacle. Their estimate for the cost of wind is many times higher than one provided by Appalachian Power Company (ApCo), a subsidiary of energy giant AEP, the very same day. For ApCo, investing in 1,350 MW of wind by 2030 is the least-cost path forward. Regardless, the message is clear: even in states where coal is mined, electric companies acknowledge that renewable energy options are the most affordable options for customers.”

7-7-15  The Roanoke Times.  Dominion Makes Changes to Pipeline Route in Southside Virginia.  “Dominion has made some alterations to the pipeline route through Southside Virginia, to make it more closely follow the right of way.  The developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has proposed changes to its route to rely more upon existing utility rights-of-way in Southside Virginia, but not yet in the western part of the state where public opposition is fiercest…. The pipeline, as originally proposed, would use existing utility and highway rights-of-way only for 6 percent of its length, with the rest private property and about 30 miles of national forests in Virginia and West Virginia. Using the three alternatives, the project would use existing rights-of-way for 12 percent of its length.”

7-7-15  Roanoke Free Press.  Appalachian Trail Conservancy Opposes Legislation Expediting Pipeline Construction in National Parks.  “The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) strongly opposes legislation that would expedite pipeline construction in national parks, including the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.). Three bills—H.R. 2295 in the House of Representatives and S. 411 and S. 1196 in the Senate—would accelerate review of natural gas pipeline approvals and would allow the Secretary of the Interior to issue natural gas pipeline rights of way on National Park Service (NPS) lands.  ‘National Park Service land—including major portions of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail—is set aside for the preservation and enjoyment of the American people. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy believes the current requirement that only Congress can approve these pipelines across national park units such as the A.T. should continue to be the law of the land,’ said Ron Tipton, the ATC’s executive director/CEO…. ‘The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is concerned about the cumulative impacts that multiple pipelines, and associated infrastructure, could have on the Appalachian Trail, its recreational value, and surrounding public lands,’ said Laura Belleville, the ATC’s director of Conservation. ‘Although the ATC recognizes that the demand for energy resources is increasing, we also believe this demand should be met first with increased energy conservation and a renewable energy supply. Expediting new pipelines on public lands without a thorough analysis of impacts is not the answer.'”

7-7-15  The Guardian.  Billions in Gas Projects Stranded by Climate Change Action, Says Thinktank.  “More than $280bn (£180bn) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects being planned over the next decade risk becoming “stranded” if global action is taken to limit climate change to 2C, according to a report by the thinktank Carbon Tracker.  LNG projects allow gas to be compressed into tankers and sold around the world, making it key to hopes in the US, Canada and Australia of fully exploiting their gas reserves.  But the new analysis shows that if emissions are cut to keep global temperature rise below the internationally agreed target many LNG projects being considered will not be needed…. ‘Investors should scrutinise the true potential for growth of LNG businesses over the next decade,’ said James Leaton, Carbon Tracker’s head of research. ‘The current oversupply of LNG means there is already a pipeline of projects waiting to come on stream. It is not clear whether these will be needed and generate value for shareholders.’… ‘The golden age of gas once mooted by energy commentators has not arrived in most regions,” the report states. ‘With the costs of renewables falling, gas is already struggling to compete in some markets, or could be priced out soon in others.  The shale gas revolution in the US has been the exception, but this has not been replicated in Europe where the swing has been from coal to renewables.'”

7-6-15  Southern Environmental Law Center.  Dominion Doubles Down on Leaking Coal Ash Storage at Possum Point Power Station.  “Two national news outlets (Washington Post and Associated Press) recently investigated the handling of coal ash at Dominion’s Possum Point Power Station in Dumfries, VA, where approximately 3.7 million cubic yards of the toxic waste is being stored in leaking pits near the Potomac River.  Potomac River Keeper Network and SELC recently discovered that Dominion has begun to consolidate coal ash into a pond that has been leaking heavy metals, such as cadmium, for decades. Dominion plans to excavate and transfer over 1 million cubic yards of coal ash into one leaking pond in an attempt to close all ponds at Possum Point before more stringent federal coal ash regulations take effect this fall. The company is moving forward without any public notice and without an approved long-term closure plan from the state environmental agency. Last April, Dominion announced it was planning to close the coal ash ponds at Possum Point and three other power plants in Virginia by simply covering up the problem, without addressing the leak of contaminants out of the bottom and sides of the ponds.  ‘What the company will establish, if they do that, is a permanent pollution problem at this site,’ said Gregory Buppert, a senior attorney.”

7-5-15  The Roanoke Times.  Our View: The Big Picture on Pipelines.  Editorial.  “Now here’s a thought experiment: FERC says it analyzes each pipeline proposal separately. But how close would another proposed pipeline have to be before FERC analyzed them together and not separately? One mile? Five miles? Fifty miles? One hundred miles?  It’s not a silly question (at least we don’t think so). And here’s why: There already is another pipeline that’s been proposed that would appear to run pretty darned close to the route for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. That’s the Appalachian Connector pipeline. The company behind it hasn’t filed the formal paperwork yet, so we really don’t know anything other than the general maps that have been released that show it starting in the same West Virginia county where the MVP would start and then winding up in the same place — Chatham.  About 90 miles to the north is another proposed pipeline — the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which wants to cut through Highland, Augusta, Albemarle and Nelson counties on its way east.  Some, especially opponents, look at all these and ask: Shouldn’t FERC analyze all these pipelines together? Diana Christopulos of the Roanoke Cool Cities Coalition put it this way in a recent commentary piece on these pages: ‘If we compare it with the interstate highway system, it would be as if we allowed private turnpike companies to build large highways through our region with no entrance or exit ramps and no overall sense of which highways are most needed — with private companies taking property from local residents and businesses and reaping all the profit.’”

7-4-15  NBC 29.  Anti-Pipeline Group Holds Protest Aiming for Gov. McAuliffe’s Attention.  “Nearly 70, anti-pipeline protesters from the organization, Friends of Nelson, lined up along Route 20 Saturday morning hoping to catch the attention of pipeline supporter, Governor Terry McAuliffe, as he made his way to Monticello.  ‘We feel like the 4th of July is a wonderful occasion to come out and say we value our place as American citizens and what does it mean to be an American with liberty and justice for all. We are seeking justice and we are trying to raise awareness of the injustice that we’re facing,’ says Joanna Salidis, President of Friends of Nelson.”

7-4-15  The State.  Pipeline Stirs Unrest in Lower Richland.  “Not long from now, an energy company hopes to dig a trench beneath the Congaree River for a natural gas pipeline that would extend 28 miles through the farms and forests of Lower Richland.  The pipe … would cross dozens of streams, wind past a nuclear fuel plant and cut through a string of private nature preserves known locally for good hunting. All told, some 160 acres would be cleared for the project, records show…. Dominion Carolina Gas Transmission is trying to acquire rights to a strip of their land for the pipeline, but landowners say it will disrupt the pastoral landscape….’I told them I don’t want them to do it,’ said real estate executive Joe Edens, who owns a 2,200-acre preserve where the pipeline will cross. ‘They keep persisting, trying to get us to agree to something – but the money has nothing do with it. I don’t want the disturbance on the property and I don’t want the damned thing in the river.  Pipelines burst. They are not infallible.’… Dominion’s foray into Richland County comes during a time of public concern nationally about the intrusion of oil and natural gas pipelines onto private land.  Many pipeline critics say they don’t understand how private energy companies can condemn property when it’s mostly for private profit – and not always a public need.  Landowners through the Great Plains have opposed the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline that would extend from Canada across their property. Regionally, property owners from Virginia to Georgia have expressed concerns about pipeline projects this year.  That includes a 554-mile-long natural gas project through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina that Dominion is affiliated with.”

7-3-15  Augusta Free Press.  Nelson County Residents Rally for Independence from Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “Friends of Nelson, a citizen’s group in Nelson County opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, plans to rally in celebration of American Independence and the rights our founding fathers conferred on citizens, as well as protest the erosion of property rights this fourth of July.  ‘Up at Monticello, they’re having a naturalization ceremony for new Americans. As part of that ceremony, everyone will recite the Pledge of Allegiance, concluding, ‘… with liberty and justice for all.’ We believe in those words,’ says Eleanor Amidon, an organizer of the rally. ‘But, what kind of justice is it when energy companies can trample on people’s property rights? What kind of justice is it when they can pollute the environment with impunity, because the state agency that should inspect their operations is so short staffed that the energy companies are left to ‘self-inspect’? We live in a great country, and we must be constantly vigilant to protect it from neglect or abuses by all levels of government.'”

7-3-15  The Daily Progress.  Documentary Highlights Opposition to Pipeline in Nelson, Augusta Counties.  “The documentary shows the heavy opposition to the project from Nelson County residents who are angered by Dominion Resources, the proposed 550-mile pipeline and that eminent domain could be used to construct on private land.  “Nelson County is very unique in its opposition, that’s why it was such a great story to tell,” said Riggleman…. Though Dominion spokesman Frack Mack is featured once, the majority of the film features personal stories from landowners and how they would be affected.”

7-2-15  WSET ABC 13.  Dominion: 29 Landowners Change Their Minds After Lawsuit.  “Dominion says 29 landowners have changed their minds since the company took legal action – to allow Dominion to survey their land. Earlier this month, the company filed 22 lawsuits against residents for preventing Dominion from doing the surveys.  Among those that changed their mind are 2 landowners from Nelson County. Dominion says they will be filing another round of lawsuits through July.”

7-1-15 Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Pipeline Survey Lawsuits Transferred to New Federal Judge, New Hearing Likely.  “A new federal judge will consider the same issues debated before a different judge four months ago in lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of a state law used by developers of a proposed natural gas pipeline to allow surveyors onto private property without the owners’ permission.  U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon will schedule a new hearing in one suit, brought by four Nelson County landowners against Dominion Transmission Inc., the leader of a limited liability company proposing to construct the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline to the Virginia and North Carolina coasts.  None of the parties in the second lawsuit — brought against Dominion by Augusta County resident William W. Little II — requested a new hearing before Dillon, who assumed responsibility for both cases last week from Judge Michael F. Urbanski, also on the bench in the Western District of Virginia.  Urbanski held hearings on the cases in February in federal court in Harrisonburg and indicated then he would issue a consolidated ruling on a motion by Dominion and the state to dismiss the lawsuits. Dillon’s office said Urbanski transferred the cases because of criminal cases that required him to trim his docket…. The transfer of the cases came as a surprise to all of the parties in the two suits, which seek to block use of the state surveying law as the developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline proceeds with a second round of lawsuits against landowners who have refused to allow surveyors onto their properties for the $5 billion project…. Only the Nelson residents asked for a new hearing. ‘If I were the judge, I would want to ask my own questions,’ Walters said.”