October 2015 News

10-31-15  The Roanoke Times.  Natural Gas Pipeline May Be Rerouted for Salamanders.  “The energy company Dominion said Friday it would run a proposed natural-gas pipeline through a mountain to avoid harming a rare creature called the Cow Knob salamander.  The federally protected amphibian lives only on a few high ridges along the Virginia-West Virginia border northwest of Staunton.  As previously proposed, about 5.5 miles of the 564-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have run through land inhabited by the salamander, in the George Washington National Forest in Augusta and Highland counties in Virginia.  But national forest officials said the pipeline should be routed around the salamander’s land or under it by drilling through Shenandoah Mountain, a key salamander haven.  Friday’s announcement means Dominion is going with the second option. The route shift is one of a handful outlined in a filing to federal regulators…. Pipeline opponent Rick Webb of Highland County, a retired University of Virginia watershed scientist, said he didn’t know enough yet to say if the new proposal would help the salamander. But Webb said drilling through a mountain would require the clearing of land for equipment.  That ‘huge disturbance’ could create an opportunity for storm water to run off the cleared land and pollute streams, Webb said.”

10-30-15  Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Dominion to Run Pipeline Through Mountain to Avoid Rare Salamander.  “The energy company Dominion said Friday that it would run a proposed natural-gas pipeline through a mountain to avoid harming a rare creature called the Cow Knob salamander.  The federally protected amphibian lives only on a few high ridges along the Virginia-West Virginia border northwest of Staunton.”

10-30-15  Nelson County Times.  A Time When Nelson Residents Vowed to ‘Keep Fighting’ Power Plant Proposal.  “On an evening in late July, a group of 120 Nelson County citizens met in a recreation center to plan a protest against a proposed utility by a large power company.  Although this sounds like a recent story about citizens organizing against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the meeting was reported in the Daily Progress on August 5, 1978, and occurred in response to news of a nuclear plant that Appalachian Power Company proposed to bring to Central Virginia…. Readers will note that over time, Nelson County, a rural, lower-income area in Virginia, has been seen as a ‘prime’ location for building a large utility. In these cases, citizens have organized, expressed concern over safety and requested more information about the environmental impacts the proposed utility would have on their community. With both the nuclear plant and the GWEN tower, citizens’ groups bought time, ultimately leveraging changes in national debates about security and energy to deflect the issue locally.  ‘If you keep fighting, things can happen,’ Wyatt said in a recent interview.  Things can happen.”

10-29-15  Cville Weekly.  Gubernatorial Invite: Will McAuliffe Visit Pipeline Foes?  “Over 1,200 Virginia residents signed Friends of Nelson’s request for McAuliffe to join locals and business owners on a tour of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed route through the county. McAuliffe outwardly supports the development of the pipeline…. Along with jeopardizing the economy, which depends on agricultural, tourist and recreational dollars, the letter also cites the threat a 42-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline poses to the mountains, watershed and overall livelihood of Nelson County.”

10-29-15  Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Marty Chase: Pipelines in National Parks Not the Best Idea.  Editorial.  “Our national Parks have been widely praised as America’s best idea.  That being the case, pending proposals to build as many as 10 natural gas pipelines through some of our National Parks and National Forests in the eastern U.S. has to rank as one of the worst ideas ever, as the environmental group Friends of Blackwater has noted.  Of all the zany ideas floating around Capitol Hill, this power grab by the Big Energy barons should be near the top of the list. Their ‘pipe dream’ of building pipelines criss-crossing many of West Virginia’s most scenic areas is absurd on every level.  Ripping up parts of the Monongahela and George Washington Forests. the Appalachian Trail and hiking paths to accommodate natural gas pipelines should be a total non-starter…. If that’s not bad enough, Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project initially planned to ram their pipeline through 22 miles of the Monongahela National Forest, a direct threat to the red spruce northern hardwood ecosystem. That audacious proposal now has been modified somewhat with a new option which would run the pipeline through about five miles of that forest. But it still puts several endangered species, including the Cheat Mountain salamander, the northern flying squirrel, rare mussels, eagles and other species at risk.”

10-29-15  Charlotte Business Journal.  Shakeup in Ownership of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Looms After Duke Energy’s Piedmont Deal.  “Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas will have to relinquish some of their 50% combined stake in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline when the companies’ merger deal closes.  Dominion Resources spokesman Aaron Ruby says when Duke (NYSE:DUK) and Piedmont (NYSE:PNY), both based in Charlotte, close on the deal, ‘Dominion intends to exercise provisions of the ACP partnership agreement that would allow the company to retain its leading ownership percentage.’… ‘The Duke-PNG deal will have no impact on the management or operation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,’ he says. ‘Dominion will still be responsible for permitting, building and operating the pipeline, as well as owning the largest ownership percentage of ACP.’  Virginia-based Dominion owns 45% of the proposed 564-mile pipeline. Duke owns 40% and Piedmont has 10%. The remaining 5% is owned by Atlanta-based AGL Resources (NYSE:AGL)…. Ruby says the agreement specifically prohibits any partner from acquiring a controlling interest in the venture. And it provides Dominion with mechanisms to remain the largest owner.  Duke says decisions on how that will be accomplished do not have to be made immediately. Closing the merger deal is likely a year away.”

10-28-15  Politico.  PHMSA Leaves out Leak Detection.  “The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration may be getting tougher with pipeline safety regulations, but its most recent rule does not address what many see as low-hanging fruit: New standards for leak detection technology.”

10-27-15  C-Ville Weekly.  FERC Receives Letter from 30 Concerned Organizations.  “In a letter sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee October 26, 30 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia called on FERC to do a single, comprehensive review of all four of the major natural gas pipeline projects currently proposed in the Blue Ridge and central Appalachian regions, rather than doing them separately.  This review, called a programmatic environmental impact statement, would evaluate the need for each of the projects in relation to the others.”

10-26-15  The News & Advance.  Pipeline Opponents Want Broader Look.  “Pipeline opponents and elected representatives are calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study the combined impact of several proposed pipelines instead of doing each individually.  On Monday, a coalition of advocates and General Assemblymen including Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, and Del. Joseph Yost, R-Pearisburg, called on FERC to look at four pipelines proposed to carry natural gas through Virginia, including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Nelson County, as if they would all be approved.  The coalition wants a ‘programmatic environmental impact statement’ rather than the normal piecemeal approach, citing short term concerns such as sediment erosion caused by construction and long term consequences to water supplies as well as property rights complaints…. Joanna Salidis, president of Friends of Nelson, said FERC’s plan to consider each pipeline individually is ‘absolutely negligent in light of ACP’s and other pipelines threats,’ to property rights, ecology, health and safety…. Rep. Robert Hurt, whose 5th District includes Nelson County, expressed a similar opinion in a recent editorial board meeting with The News & Advance he wants the country to be energy independent while protecting the environment, public safety, health and property rights.  Hurt said the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines should be reviewed as if they would both go in, although the ultimate decision is left to ‘experts’ at FERC.  ‘They have an obligation to look at things in that context. You can’t look at them separately, because what’s the consequence if they’re both approved? We’ve made that clear to FERC as well,’ Hurt said. ‘That’s something that the pipeline opponents have demanded and I think they’re right.'”

10-26-15  The Roanoke Times.  Combine 4 Pipeline Projects into Single Environmental Review, Coalition Asks.  “A coalition of 30 groups in Virginia and West Virginia contends that the federal agency reviewing a slew of interstate natural gas pipeline projects is obligated by law to conduct a single, comprehensive review of the projects’ cumulative environmental impacts.  The coalition on Monday said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates interstate natural gas pipelines, has been inundated with separate pipeline proposals tied to the boom in natural gas extraction. The group said FERC should step back and examine the potential environmental consequences of four pipeline projects with potential impact for Virginia and West Virginia in a programmatic environmental impact statement, or EIS.  An initial response to that view from a FERC spokeswoman suggested such a review is unlikely…. On Monday, the coalition urged FERC staff to halt work on individual draft environmental impact statements for the proposed 301-mile Mountain Valley and 564-mile Atlantic Coast pipeline projects…. The coalition said FERC should begin work instead on a programmatic environmental impact statement, which would examine the anticipated environmental impacts of both pipelines and also consider the potential impacts of two other projects — the WB Xpress and the Appalachian Connector…. The coalition also urged FERC to consider whether existing pipeline infrastructure could transport the volume of natural gas necessary to meet the demand cited by the companies that want to build new pipelines.  Joe Lovett, a lawyer with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, said the multibillion-dollar pipeline projects are unnecessary and will divert spending and attention from renewable energy sources.  Lovett participated in a news conference Monday with Joanna Salidis, a member of Friends of Nelson, a group opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and Tammy Belinsky of Preserve Craig, to describe why a programmatic EIS is warranted…. Salidis said FERC’s focus on market conditions ‘translates directly into [project] approval by private companies’ bottom lines.’  She added, ‘The current unprecedented build-out of natural gas infrastructure we are facing, and its associated detrimental effects to our environment and prosperity, make it imperative that FERC change course now to serve the public’s needs with a programmatic EIS.’”

10-26-15  Daily Press.  Environmental Groups Oppose Four Natural Gas Pipeline Projects in Virginia.  “A coalition of environmental and citizens groups is urging federal regulators to collectively assess the need for four regional pipeline projects that would carry fracked natural gas through Virginia, including one that would spur off into Hampton Roads.  The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Environment Virginia and Sierra Club Virginia are among 31 groups that submitted a letter Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission calling for a comprehensive Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement of the pipelines, rather than individual reviews.  ‘We believe the pipelines are unnecessary,’ environmental attorney Joe Lovett told reporters in a conference call Monday. ‘And that if FERC reviews them together, and together with existing infrastructure, it will determine there is currently enough capacity in pipelines that are already in place to carry the gas from the Marcellus (shale) region south to Virginia and North Carolina.'”

10-26-15  USA Today.  Duke Energy Buys Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9B.  “Duke Energy said it would buy natural gas distributor Piedmont Natural Gas, its partner in the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, for $4.9 billion in cash.”

10-25-15  Charlottesville Newsplex.  Nelson County Residents Stood Against Pipeline in a Protest of Prayer.  “Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed 564-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would carry natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia is still causing some upset.  Despite Dominion’s efforts to re-route the pipeline, some groups are still in opposition and they demonstrated their stance on Sunday.  Dominion has said they are working to find the best possible pipeline route, but some Nelson County residents said they felt Dominion wasn’t listening to them and they responded with a protest of prayer.  ‘I do the prayer flags a lot with kids at schools and different events,’ said Nelson County Artist Jill Averitt. ‘They’re a great way to reach out to everybody, every kind of religion and thought.'”

10-25-15  The News Virginian.  Protesters Call for and End to Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “Organizers in Nelson County demonstrated peacefully Sunday with small prayer flags, calling for an end to plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

10-25-15  Blue Ridge Life.  Nelson: Group Shows Where Pipeline Will Go Through as Part of Prayers Not Pipelines.  “Despite a cool damp day, organizers with Prayers Not Pipelines took to Route 151 to show how the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would affect the area. Part of the event was stringing a large banner with flags on 151 at Spruce Creek to vividly show where the pipeline would go.”

10-25-15  WDBJ 7.  Nelson County Residents Protest Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Jill Averitt these pictures are worth a lot more.  ‘It’s astonishing actually,’ said Averitt. ‘We wanted to do something positive to just make a statement, they can’t take our land and they can’t force anything on us.’  On Sunday, Averitt and Dima Holmes encouraged people to draw and sign small flags to protest Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  They hung the flags on a make-shift wall along the route of the pipeline and held hands to show their strength.  Averitt says that route runs through part of her property and she won’t stand for it.  ‘They can’t take our land and they can’t force anything on us and we’re just not going to have it and we believe Dominion is going to chose a better solution than to come through Nelson County,’ said Averitt.”

10-25-15  The Roanoke Times.  Karst Landscapes Bring Challenges, Concerns for Pipeline Projects.  “The Mountain Valley Pipeline and the separate Atlantic Coast Pipeline project would feature 42-inch diameter pipelines. Burying pipelines of this size would require clearing wide swaths of brush, digging trenches both deep and wide, as well as boring, drilling, blasting and use of fuels and lubricants for heavy equipment — all activities that can affect karst landscapes.  ‘Ground disturbance of any kind in karst terrain can lead to complications, and trenching involves a lot of ground disturbance,’ the Virginia Cave Board observed.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline project officials have estimated trench depths likely would range from 6 feet to more than 13 feet. Mountain Valley has said most trenches would be 7 feet to 8 feet deep.  Groundwater associated with karst terrain can be especially vulnerable to pollution because contaminants can travel quickly through conduits dissolved by mildly acidic rainwater in the soluble bedrock…. And blasting can alter or disrupt water flow.  The Virginia Cave Board said that if changes in water quality or quantity occurs in karst landscapes, ‘it is highly improbable that the previous groundwater conditions can be restored.’  Opponents of the two pipeline projects have cited potential impacts to groundwater as a key concern, especially for rural counties where residents rely on wells or springs for drinking water and watering livestock.”

10-23-15  Popular Resistance.  Most Significant Barrier for Pipeline Construction: Protests.  “The Black and Veatch survey of the gas industry, 2015 Strategic Directions: U.S. Natural Gas Industry Report, found: ‘Respondents felt the most significant barrier associated with the construction of new pipelines was delays caused by opposition groups.’  According to the report, the expansion of pipelines is ‘not without challenges. Regulatory authorization wait times and limits on capital recovery along with entrenched opposition from environmental and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) present challenges to the successful execution of projects.'”

10-23-15  WDBJ 7.  Environmental Group Files Challenge to Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “Appalachian Mountain Advocates says it represents numerous groups in Virginia and West Virginia.  Its challenge argues that the pipeline is not needed and would cause irreparable harm to the environment.”

10-23-15  Appalachian Voices.  Environmental Groups Plan Legal Challenge of Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “The proposed 564-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would carry natural gas fracked in West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina is not needed, would cause irreparable harm to the environment and private property, and should be denied, according to documents being filed today by 16 environmental groups.  On behalf of numerous groups in Virginia and West Virginia (listed below), Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a motion to intervene in the permit process for the project and a formal protest. In addition, the groups are asking for an evidentiary hearing.”

10-22-15  Climate Progress.  How Offshore Wind Can Beat Natural Gas in the U.S.  “For as much as we hear about the untapped reserves of natural gas waiting to power our cities, it’s our abundant wind resources that should drive the conversation around clean energy. Winds along the coasts of the United States could provide four times the energy needed to power the whole country. And while wind still ranks among the costlier forms of power, in Europe — the world leader in offshore wind — prices have fallen markedly. Said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, ‘In the New England region, New York and even into New Jersey, building a new gas plant… is just about the same price as building a new offshore wind farm in Europe today.’  In the long term, natural gas can’t compete with offshore wind. That’s because any new investment in natural gas has to be weighed against our climate goals. If we are to keep global warming to less than 2º C, we will have to abandon fossil fuels completely, and we will have to do so sooner rather than later. That means that new gas power plants, new pipelines, and new drilling operations will likely come with an expiration date. And when gas-fired power plants are closed down before they reach the end of their operating life, consumers will foot the bill. Moreover, investing in 20th century fuels like natural gas will only slow the transition to 21st century energy, as wind and solar operators work to reach the economies of scale needed to further drive down the price of electricity.”

10-22-15  WTOP.  Natural Gas Pipeline at Center of Virginia Court Case.  “Virginia landowners are squaring off in court with attorneys representing energy companies over land surveys for a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina.  Attorneys for the landowners were in Augusta County Circuit Court on Wednesday defending their clients’ decision to refuse access to their land to surveyors plotting a route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

10-21-15  Nelson County Times.  ‘Prayers Not Pipelines’ Event Set for Sunday.  “On Sunday, drivers on Virginia 151 might be surprised to find a large white ‘wall’ made up of white gauzy fabric wrapped around trees.  ‘You can see through to the trees but blocked enough to imagine their loss,’ said Jill Averitt, organizer of an event called ‘Prayers Not Pipelines’ event planned this weekend.  The wall is not a form of protest but rather is intended to send out a peaceful message in hopes Dominion Resources will change the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline planned to run through Nelson…. The wall would be on both sides of Virginia 151 in Nelson County near the Rockfish Valley Foundation. It is planned to be the width of the proposed pipeline path, which is 125 feet.  ‘This will be a visual of how many trees will be eliminated; the idea is to give people a visual of how big this thing is going to be,’ she said.  Averitt calls on people to come and stand in front of the wall, behind the guardrails, and hold hands, making a human chain.  Friends of Nelson, a group in opposition of the pipeline, also will be on hand to give out information about the pipeline to visitors.  Attendants can sign and create their own Tibetan prayer flag. The flags will be sewn together to create a giant prayer flag to be posted along the road where the proposed pipeline would go.”

10-21-15  Nelson County Times.  Nelson Supervisors to Register as Interveners in Pipeline Proposal.  “The Nelson County Board of Supervisors will register as an official “intervener” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission during its review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project, the board decided at last week’s meeting.  County Administrator Steve Carter told the board that registering as an intervener gives the county the right to access all documents sent in by other interveners as well as stay up to date with the FERC process…. An intervener also has a right to appeal decisions made by federal agencies…. Joanna Salidis, president of Friends of Nelson, a group opposed to the proposed pipeline, said she was very pleased that the board voted to take the property and safety threats posed by the ACP seriously.”

10-21-15  News Leader.  Arguments Heard in Pipeline Survey Access.  “Attorneys representing several landowners who so far have refused to allow surveyors for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to enter onto their property argued Wednesday in Augusta County Circuit Court that their clients are acting within their rights to refuse access…. In Augusta County Circuit Court on Wednesday, defense attorneys representing property owners in Stuarts Draft, Churchville, Lynchburg and Roanoke said Atlantic Coast Pipeline is essentially seeking a right to trespass in its petitions, and said it is relying on a 2004 Virginia statute that defense attorneys feel is superseded by a 2012 amendment to the Virginia Constitution that strengthened the rights of property owners…. It was also argued that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is headquartered in Delaware, which attorneys feel should disallow it the power to operate as a public service company in Virginia. Attorneys argued as well that the petitions to survey are unconstitutional because they don’t fall under ‘public use.'”

10-20-15  StateImpact: NPR.  Lawyers Say FERC Hinders Appeals on Pipeline Projects.  “Environmental lawyers say they may have to craft new legal strategies to effectively challenge interstate pipeline construction decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Activists continue to accuse FERC of acting as a rubber stamp when it comes to approving pipeline projects. They argue the agency does not do an adequate environmental review that includes regional and indirect impacts associated with natural gas production, and the cumulative effect of thousands of miles of new pipelines. FERC denies this, repeatedly saying their environmental reviews are rigorous and any impacts from natural gas production are not the result of pipeline construction.  Either way, some environmental attorneys say the deck is stacked against them when challenging FERC’s decisions. Although the federal Natural Gas Act requires the agency to issue a decision on appeals within 30 days, FERC can extend the deadline indefinitely by issuing what is called a ‘tolling order.’  In some recent cases, FERC issued its decision after the pipes were already in the ground with the gas flowing…. ‘When the pipe is in the ground, is the court going to order a pipe to be ripped up out of the ground?’ asked Talbott. ‘No. Their strategy is to [allow pipeline construction] nonstop to facilitate fracking. There’s no downside as far as they’re concerned.’  Talbott says FERC is abusing its power and this is in effect a denial of due process.  ‘The point of due process is to provide a fair hearing before a deprivation occurs, not after,’ wrote Talbott in an email.  ‘If FERC is still “reviewing the record” during rehearing, it should not be allowing construction that impacts landowners and the environment to occur.  What possible legal or factual basis does FERC have for emphasizing the applicant’s “need” to start construction over the requirements of due process?’”

10-17-15  Truthout.  The Federal Agency Behind the Gross Expansion of Fracking Pipelines.  “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a national agency with wide jurisdiction over gas industry projects, used to be one of those unseen government organizations that go quietly about their business, creating no headlines and flying under the public radar. But mounting citizen alarm about the high-volume hydraulic fracturing industry has changed all that, and FERC’s opponents have publicly accused the agency of being a spearhead for fossil fuel corporate domination of the United States and its resources….. While FERC’s own mission statement describes it as ‘an independent agency,’ it approves most of the projects that come to its door. In December 2012, after a 3-2 vote to license a major East Coast pipeline, the majority explained why so many corporations get its thumbs up: ‘Given the significant expense sponsors incur to prepare applications, there is no incentive for a project sponsor to present an application that cannot meet our standards for approval … the high approval rate for pipeline proposals demonstrates prudence on the part of the industry and consistency on the part of the Commission….’ [our emphasis]. Translation: money talks.”

10-16-15  C-ville Weekly.  People’s Climate Movement Brings Dominion Pipeline into Question.  “On Wednesday, October 14, the People’s Climate Movement called environmental activists to Charlottesville’s downtown mall to rally on climate change.  Among the most relevant issues brought up at the rally was Dominion Power’s potential installation of a pipeline that would run throughout Virginia wildlife areas. The free speech chalkboard was filled with ‘No Pipeline’ signs, buttons, and stickers in opposition to Dominion Power…. For those in attendance, though, Dominion Power’s pipeline is not a part of this plan for the future. Kirk Bowers, another speaker at the event, mentions that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would push them back in tackling climate change by 20 or 30 years.  ‘But,’ Bowers says, ‘We don’t have 20 or 30 years to wait.’”

10-15-15  Nelson County Times.  DCR: Nellysford Wetlands ‘Rare.’  “Horizons Village, an ecovillage in Nelson County, is just one of the areas that could potentially be affected by the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  The community has been protecting its forests and wetlands for 20 years now.  With the potential threat of the pipeline destroying those wetlands, those living in Horizons Village reached out to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to help them protect the area, according to Dima Holmes, a Horizons Village resident. DCR filed a comment with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Friday requesting that the ACP avoid such areas that could cause damage to the wetlands in Horizons Village. DCR also discovered that these wetlands are rare.”

10-15-15  The Farmville Herald.  Judge Hears Pipeline Suits in Circuit Court.  “Circuit Court Judge Donald C. Blessing heard several civil suits during a hearing Tuesday afternoon filed by Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), LLC as the firm seeks to gain access to properties to conduct surveys for a proposed route.  The hearing included attorneys representing landowners from Cumberland, Buckingham and Prince Edward counties and lawyers representing ACP.  At the end of the hearing, Blessing ruled that the Virginia Code section ACP was suing under to attempt to gain access to the properties is constitutional.”

10-14-15  NBC 29.  Activists Rally for Climate Change Response at Downtown Mall.  “Activists all over central Virginia were calling on state leaders for environmental change Wednesday.  Around 100 people filled Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall near the free speech wall to support action on climate change. The group Appalachian Voices organized the rally and was joined by Friends of Nelson and the Sierra Club, among others…. This rally was one of more than 170 happening across the country Wednesday.”

10-14-15  The Roanoke Times.  Worried About Pipeline-Related Erosion and Sediment, Counties Seek DEQ Involvement.  “DEQ has previously informed a partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a similar natural gas pipeline seeking FERC approval, that the agency will exempt it from filing erosion and sediment plans under the oil and gas exemption in the U.S. Natural Gas Act for interstate transmission pipelines regulated and inspected by FERC during construction.  FERC requires that an environmental inspector, who can be a FERC employee or the employee of a contractor working for FERC, be on-site during pipeline construction to monitor such things as erosion and sediment controls.  But the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, a grass-roots group opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, argues that FERC standards should not nullify Virginia laws, which might be stricter in some instances.  ‘We are trying to make an argument that the DEQ not only has the authority but also the legal responsibility to ensure compliance with state law [governing erosion and sediment standards],’ said Rick Webb, coordinator of the coalition.  Webb said an erosion and sediment plan filed with DEQ should demonstrate how the pipeline projects will comply with Virginia laws and standards and be available for public review.”

10-12-15  Cornell Chronicle.  ‘Bridge’ Fuel May Escalate Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas.  “While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests there has been a decline in measurable atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the U.S. for the past seven years, a Cornell scientist says the EPA’s computation may be in error – by a wide margin – due to problematic accounting for natural gas, the so-called ‘bridge’ fuel.  Instead, thanks to a heavier dose of methane emissions resulting from increased use of shale gas, greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. may have been rising rapidly over that time…. Howarth said methane accounts for 40 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Shale gas development over the past 8 years may be further increasing the rising average temperature of the Earth, compared to the pre-industrial baseline.  Methane resides in the atmosphere for just over a decade, a relatively short time compared to carbon dioxide, which lasts for hundreds of years. However, methane is 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent in the atmosphere. Curbing methane emission reductions leads to instant atmospheric concentration reductions that significantly slow global warming rates almost immediately, said Howarth…. The natural gas industry is the largest source of methane emissions in the U.S. By reducing methane and soot (black carbon) emissions, society can buy time while moving aggressively toward a renewable energy economy, said Howarth…. ‘Methane emissions make it a disastrous idea to consider shale gas as a bridge fuel, letting society continue to use fossil fuels over the next few decades,’ Howarth said. ‘Rather, we must move as quickly as possible away from all fossil fuels – shale gas, conventional natural gas, coal and oil – and toward a truly sustainable energy future using 21st-century technologies and wind and solar power.’”

10-12-15  Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Salamander Found Nowhere Else in the World Lies in Path of Proposed Pipeline.  “The Cow Knob salamander is standing — well, crawling — in the path of progress.  The little amphibian lives nowhere in the world but a few mountain ridges in a wild and scenic region along the Virginia-West Virginia border northwest of Staunton.  That area, however, also is where the Richmond-based energy giant Dominion and others propose to run a $5 billion natural-gas pipeline.  A froglike creature might seem a poor match for the cogs of commerce, but the salamander has an important ally — the federal government.  Under a first-of-its-kind pact made between federal agencies in 1994, the salamander and its rocky, forested habitat are protected in the George Washington National Forest. The deal was designed to keep the salamander from declining so badly that it would have be protected under the Endangered Species Act.  As proposed, 5.5 miles of the 564-mile pipeline would run through land inhabited by the salamander in the national forest in Augusta and Highland counties in Virginia.  Scientists say the salamander is struggling for survival already. And national forest officials say a pipeline through the creature’s home is unacceptable.”

10-11-15  NBC 29.  Virginia Certifies Globally Rare Habitats in Nelson County.  “The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) named two wetland areas in Nelson County as official conservation sites of Virginia. The wetland areas, designated as the Spruce Creek Tributary Conservation Site and South Fork Flats Conservation Site, lie within Horizons Village, an environmentally sensitive subdivision located in the Rockfish River Valley. The official designations come just weeks after Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC filed its formal application with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The proposed pipeline route directly intersects one of the conservation sites in Horizons Village, and comes within a half mile of the second site. Experts have concluded that, if the pipeline were built, the Spruce Creek Tributary Conservation Site would be destroyed.”

10-11-15  NBC 29.  Augusta Co. Official Says Dominion’s New Path for Proposed Pipeline is Partial Victory.  “The Chairman of the Augusta County Service Authority is claiming a partial victory against Dominion’s proposed natural gas pipeline.  The company shifted the route for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline around the Lyndhurst Well after hearing concerns from the service authority. The well is Augusta County’s largest water supply…. Pyles says the county is very relieved that the route no longer directly affects the well. However, he says the pipeline project – as a whole – remains a concern.”

10-10-15  NBC 29.  Dominion Shifts Path for Proposed Pipeline to Avoid Well in Augusta Co.  “There are new details in the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through the Shenandoah Valley.  Dominion is shifting the route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through part of Augusta County.  Dominion says – after hearing concerns from the Augusta County Service Authority – its engineers found a route that will avoid the Lyndhurst Well.”

10-10-15  Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Numerous Gas Projects in the Federal Regulatory Pipeline.  “While these seven pipeline projects are being eagerly pursued by companies like Dominion, EQT Midstream, Energy Transfer and Columbia Pipeline Group, the projects are running into resistance from landowners, environmental groups and some local, state and federal officials.  Thousands of public comments have been submitted online for several of the projects, all of which have filed preliminary or final plans with the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, the federal body responsible for oversight of interstate pipeline projects.  Several of those commenters, including officials with the U.S. Forest Service and the Southern Environmental Law Center, have questioned whether all of the pipelines, several of which run through national forests in eastern West Virginia, are needed.  Those groups have asked federal regulators to conduct a regional environmental impact assessment for several of the projects, including the Atlantic Coast, WB Xpress and Mountain Valley pipelines, arguing the need for such projects should not be considered individually, especially since they cross what the forest service referred to as the ‘the wildland core of the central Appalachians.’  ‘When multiple proposals are pending for the same region, separate environmental review for each project presents the serious risk that a federal agency will overlook important alternatives that could avoid or minimize impacts for the region as a whole,’ lawyers for the Southern Environmental Law Center wrote.  Combined, the seven projects — not all of which run through Forest Service land — would be capable of transporting around 12.25 billion cubic feet of gas per day from the Marcellus Shale region. According to data from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, that volume is more than four times the amount produced by the entire state of West Virginia on average in 2014. In December 2014 — the most recent data available — West Virginia produced 3.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day on average from both horizontal and conventional wells.”

10-9-15  News Leader.  Officials Reveal New Route for Pipeline.  “Nearly a year after Augusta County leaders raised concerns over the possible contamination of a protected water supply from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion is working to address the issue — with a new route…. The proposed change takes the route to the west of the originally designed route and effects dozens of new landowners. Dominion said they have provided ACSA with information about the changes and continue to evaluate the route…. Augusta County officials requested a change to Dominion’s pipeline route to avoid the Lyndhurst recharge area and to ensure private wells are not damaged by the route.”

10-9-15  The News Virginian.  Dominion Proposes Alternative Pipeline Route Through Augusta.  “A new alternative for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s route through Augusta County would steer clear of the area’s largest water source. Dominion Resources released the proposal on Friday, saying that after months of communication with county officials, they believed the new option addressed local concerns.… Concerns were raised about the route in the summer, with residents and officials worried that a pipeline so close to the Lyndhurst Well would contaminate the area’s water source. All total, the well produces 1 million gallons of water for people in Stuarts Draft and Fishersville, both local homes and companies like Hershey and Augusta Health. The area where the original version crossed was the water recharge area, where groundwater flows into the well. There was also a concern that blasting to build the pipeline route would create problems, due to the number of sinkholes in the area.”

10-9-15  The Washington Post.  McAuliffe as U.S. Commerce Secretary?  “The notion came up again Friday after McAuliffe gave a lengthy rationale for building the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  A consortium of companies led by energy giant Dominion Resources wants to build a 550-mile natural gas pipeline, which would run through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. McAuliffe announced last year that he supports the project, which faces opposition from some environmental groups and federal regulatory review. He said the plan is already helping him attract new business to the commonwealth…. McAuliffe went on to credit the proposed pipeline with helping him land the biggest economic development deal of his administration: Chinese-owned Shandong Tranlin Paper Co. plans to create 2,000 jobs in suburban Richmond with a $2 billion plant that makes paper from corn stalks and other agricultural field waste.”

10-7-15  The News & Advance.  Friends of Nelson to Hold ‘Intervenor Workshop’ in Pipeline Fight.  “The Friends of Nelson will be holding a workshop for anyone who wants to become a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Intervener in the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Oct. 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Nelson Memorial Library in Lovingston.  Registering as an intervener, or someone with a direct stake or interest in the project, will give teeth to any comments that person files with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Friends of Nelson President Joanna Salidis said at a Sept. 27 meeting.  ‘The only way to legally enforce anything is to become an intervener,’ Salidas said. ‘It gives your comments or anything you say or do some teeth.'”

10-8-15  Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition.  Dodging Clean Water Act Mandates.  “On September 15, 2015, Dominion Resources asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cover its proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project under a ‘Nationwide Permit’ that is insufficient to protect water quality in Virginia and West Virginia and cannot ensure that Clean Water Act (CWA) mandates will be met.  In its application Dominion attempts to get a ‘rubber stamp’ approval from the Corps and, thereafter, to largely ‘self-regulate’ itself in regard to federally-administered Clean Water Act protections. Such a proposal is entirely inappropriate and the undersigned organizations call on the Corps to reject this approach. Twenty-nine concerned groups, representing thousands of individuals and businesses, insist that these public servants, who are obligated to protect our communities and resources, meet their obligations fully.”

10-6-15  C-ville Weekly.  Judge Sides with Pipeline Surveyors over Landowners.  “Five Nelson County landowners filed a suit against Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC to block members of the company from entering and surveying their properties without written permission. A federal judge dismissed the suit September 30…. A Virginia code allows natural gas companies to enter private property to survey without a landowner’s written permission, according to the memorandum opinion by the judge. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon ruled in favor of motions to dismiss the suits because she says the code does not deprive a landowner of constitutionally protected property rights.”

10-1-15  The News & Advance.  Federal Judge Upholds State Law Allowing Surveys of Private Property for Gas Pipeline.  “A federal judge has dismissed two lawsuits that aimed to block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from surveying private property without the landowners’ permission.  In a pair of opinions issued late Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon dismissed suits filed by landowners in Nelson and Augusta counties that challenged a 2004 state law giving natural gas companies the right to enter private property without landowner permission to survey proposed pipeline routes.  Dillon rejected claims by five Nelson landowners that the state law violated the U.S. Constitution by taking their property, seizing their property rights and failing to give due legal process.  ‘Consistent with common law, Virginia has long permitted governmental entities and authorized utilities to conduct surveys on private private property before exercising eminent domain authority,’ she states in her 35-page opinion.  Dillon said ‘the court therefore concludes that a landowner has no constitutionally protected property right to exclude an authorized utility from entering his property for survey purposes.'”