February 2016 News

2-29-16  WV Public Radio.  Senate Kills Bill Allowing Private Property Survey.  “The state Senate has voted down a bill that would have allowed natural gas company surveyors onto private property without a landowner’s permission.  Senators voted down the bill 23 to 11 Monday.  Under the legislation, natural gas company surveyors would have been allowed on private property to conduct studies to satisfy regulatory requirements when attempting to propose a right-of-way for a natural gas pipeline. Companies would have been required to send notice asking for permission at least 15 but nor more than 60 days before the actual survey would take place.”

2-27-16  The News Virginian.  Judge Moves Ahead with Pipeline Lawsuit.  “Lawyers for several landowners opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline saw their motion to delay the case denied Friday in an Augusta County court.  The issue involves landowners who don’t want to allow officials to survey their land for a potential pipeline route. They feel that it should be labeled as trespassing. The state law however, allows utility company employees to step onto a person’s land to survey, once they’ve given notice. These landowners want to challenge that.  ‘It’s an opportunity for a clear ruling from the Supreme Court,’ Isak Howell with the Appalachian Mountain Advocates of Lewisburg, W.Va. said of the motion to stay. He hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would take up a similar case and set precedent. Once the surveys are done, he added, the motion to stay would be a moot issue.”

2-26-16  News Leader.  Coalition Unveils Pipeline Map with ‘Risks and Sensitivities.’  “An online interactive map has been created by the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition depicting environmental risks and sensitivities associated with a proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Rick Webb, coordinator for the coalition, said the map helps to organize and provide access to environmental information related to the natural-gas pipeline permitting and oversight.”

2-25-16  NBC 12.  Virginia Allows Dominion to Exceed Toxic Limits for James River Dumping.  “Dominion Virginia Power is now allowed to release toxic chemicals at triple the levels considered harmful to aquatic health in the James River, according to a state-approved permit for the corporation’s Bremo Power Station in Fluvanna.  According to an NBC12 review of the permit, Dominion is approved to begin releasing quantities of arsenic and hexavalent chromium exceeding Virginia’s chronic pollution standards. Freshwater fish and aquatic life begin to die a few days after the limits are surpassed.  ‘For a period of time, the river would be out of compliance with the state’s own water quality standards,’ said Pat Calvert, upper riverkeeper for the James River Association. ‘Our concern is that human life and aquatic life are not protected by the discharges that would be coming out of the end of the pipe.’  Virginia allows maximum arsenic concentrations of 150 micrograms per liter in freshwater under the chronic pollution standards. The Dominion permit allows 530 micrograms per liter in the James River…. The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a notice of intent to challenge the permit, even though it is not opposed by the EPA, and was approved by Virginia’s State Water Control Board.  ‘The State Water Control Board clearly broke the law in issuing this permit,’ said Brad McLane, senior attorney with the SELC. ‘The DEQ permit sets lax standards that fail to protect the James.’”

2-25-16  The News Virginian.  Opposition Groups Hold Fundraiser to Fight Pipeline.  “Friends of Nelson, a group staunchly opposed to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, will hold a fundraising event, dance and dinner to raise money for its operational fund Saturday at the Rockfish Valley Community Center.  The event called ‘Get Up, Stand Up for your Rights’ will offer music by reggae band Positive College — whose members are volunteering their time and playing for free — and features a chili dinner, bake sale, cash raffle and cake walk…. ‘We are looking forward to this event,’ Skogen said. ‘We want it to be a positive community event to celebrate the county and everything we stand for as well as raising money for the operation fund that is required to fight this pipeline. … It’s a good time for the community to come together to protect what we love.’”

2-19-16  Citizen-Times.  Guest Columnist: Duke Energy’s Modernization Will Result in Inequality.  “Duke’s ‘Energy Modernization Plan’ is anything but modern: natural gas facilities would wed North Carolina ratepayers to nineteenth- century fossil- fuel infrastructure for decades to come. Recent studies show that methane leakage from drilling sites, pipelines, compressor stations and other infrastructure makes gas-fired power plants worse than coal plants for the climate. The many billions Duke wants to make NC ratepayers pay for new gas power plants would leave little money left over for 21st century solar and wind generation, which are the real solutions to the urgent, deepening climate crisis. For this reason alone, Duke’s plans should be rejected. But there is another reason to oppose Duke’s plan: it would likely exacerbate economic and social inequality, which are already out of control. The rich and prosperous in NC are likely to get richer and more prosperous. And the poor will likely be driven further into poverty.… But continued ‘cheap’ natural gas, is extremely unlikely. As gas supplies diminish, more gas-fired power plants are built, as new pipelines are installed (Duke has huge investments in these as well), and as gas is exported abroad from new Liquid Natural Gas export facilities, the demand for gas will skyrocket, and with it the prices. As Duke’s own former CEO Jim Rogers said, because of its volatility, natural gas is the ‘crack cocaine’ of fossil fuels. The promise of a cheap gas future is a pipe-dream. Gas prices will only rise. But Duke does not care because fuel costs get passed along to customers; Duke does not bear the risk of increasing fuel prices. Duke does, however, get to charge ratepayers, plus a hefty guaranteed profit margin of over 10%, for everything it spends on power plants, other infrastructure, and operations.”

2-17-16  The Guardian.  US ‘Likely Culprit’ of Global Spike in Methane Emission over Last Decade.  “There was a huge global spike in one of the most potent greenhouse gases driving climate change over the last decade, and the U.S. may be the biggest culprit, according a new Harvard University study.  The United States alone could be responsible for between 30-60% of the global growth in human-caused atmospheric methane emissions since 2002 because of a 30% spike in methane emissions across the country, the study says.  The research shows that emissions increased the most in the middle of the country, but the authors said there is too little data to identify specific sources. However, the increase occurred at the same time as America’s shale oil and gas boom, which has been associated with large amounts of methane leaking from oil and gas wells and pipelines nationwide.  ‘I’d say the biggest takeaway is that there is more we — the US — could be doing to reduce our methane emissions to combat climate change,’ said study lead author Alex Turner, a Harvard University chemical engineering PhD candidate…. With the US responsible for as much as 60% of global methane emissions growth, it’s critical that the country reduce natural gas use as quickly as possible, said Robert Howarth, a Cornell University ecologist and methane researcher who is unaffiliated with the Harvard study. Failing to do so could jeopardise commitments made as part of the Paris climate agreement’s goal of keeping global warming to below 2C.”

2-17-16  The Charlottesville Newsplex.  New Study Says Atlantic Coast Pipeline Won’t Be Beneficial.  “Early Tuesday morning, a study done by Key-Log Economics stated that the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline will cost counties millions of dollars.  ‘The counties will be lucky to get a fraction of what Dominion has estimated will be returned,’ said Ernie Reed, Vice President of the Friends of Nelson group.  Friends of Nelson is one of the five groups that commissioned Key-Log Economics to do the study. The study states that up to $141 million will be lost in property value and services. That includes air and water quality…. ‘Nelson and Augusta are the two counties that are going to shoulder the most costs,” said Reed, “and that the costs are really astronomical.’  The study states that Nelson County alone would lose up to $43 million per year.  ‘Most of Nelson’s revenue is based around tourism,’ said Ruby. ‘And that would take a huge hit.'”

2-16-16  NBC 29.  Report Released on Economic Impact of Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “A new report details the potential economic impact Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline could have on the counties it passes through. Opponents of the natural gas project say the costs to property owners and communities far outweigh its benefits…. The report covers Augusta, Nelson, Highland, and Buckingham Counties. It estimates $277 in property value is at risk for landowners in the proposed path of the pipeline.  The report says the annual cost to those counties would range from $96 million to $109 million…. In Nelson County alone, the report identifies $75 million worth of scrapped investments if the pipeline is built, including a new resort. The report also says 200 to 300 employees would not be hired in Nelson County.  ‘Augusta County and Nelson County are the two counties impacted the most by this. Nelson County with tourism and the property values and the really excellent economy that’s been going on there for the last five years, we’re looking at the likelihood that could all turn around and go south. That’s terrible,’ said Ernie Reed of Friends of Nelson.”

2-16-16  The News Virginian.  Economic Study Raises Questions About Pipeline’s Costs.  “Opponents of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline released an economic study Tuesday to bolster their argument that the $5 billion project ultimately would cost more than it’s worth to localities in its path in western and central Virginia.… Opponents already are using the analysis by Key-Log Economics LLC in Charlottesville to bolster their case against the project before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is expected to decide later this year whether to certify the need for the pipeline and allow eminent domain to acquire rights-of-way along the more than 550-mile route from West Virginia to southeastern Virginia and North Carolina.  ‘The decision to approve or not approve the (Atlantic Coast Pipeline) does not hinge on a simple comparison of the estimated benefits and estimated costs,’ the 57-page study concludes. ‘The scope and magnitude of the costs outlined here, however, reflect and are an important component of the full environmental effects that must be considered in making that decision.’  ‘Impacts on human well-being, including but not limited to those that can be expressed in dollars and cents must be taken into account by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and others weighing the societal benefits of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.'”

2-16-16  Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Pipeline Opponents Release Economic Study Showing High Costs to Region from Project.  “Opponents of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline released an economic study today to bolster their argument that the $5 billion project ultimately would cost more than it’s worth to localities in its path in western and central Virginia.  The study, commissioned by five citizen groups in four counties, estimates that construction of the 42-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline would do immediate and ongoing damage to property values, as well as ecological resources, tourism and small business development in Highland, Augusta, Nelson, and Buckingham counties…. The new study estimates up to $141.2 million in one-time costs from construction of the pipeline along a 126-mile stretch through the four counties,  based on diminished property values in the pipeline corridor and loss of ecological services, including aesthetic values.  The analysis also estimates ongoing costs of the proposed pipeline at up to $109.1 million a year, reflecting the effect on local revenues from tourism and other businesses in the four counties, as well as the annualized costs of reduced property and ecological values.  But the biggest numbers presented in the report estimate a loss of up to $7.4 billion in property values in perpetuity because of the effect on viewsheds of the project’s 125-foot-wide construction and 75-foot-wide permanent easement in a region that places a high economic value on its scenic vistas.”

2-16-16  News Leader.  New Pipeline Study Warns of Millions in Lost Revenue.  “Opponents of an Atlantic Coast Pipeline have unveiled an economic study of the pipeline’s effect on Augusta County which they say will come at a cost to everyone if a natural-gas pipeline is built here…. The study, conducted by Key-Log Economics, LLC, estimates more than $62 million will be lost by the county during the pipeline’s construction.  ‘This report attaches hard facts and numbers to what we have been saying for almost two years: the ACP would be a disaster for this county,’ said Augusta County Alliance Co-chair Nancy Sorrells in a press release. ‘People’s lives, livelihoods, property, and the area’s natural resources would be severely compromised.’… ‘Those figures, while conservative and not inclusive of the new route through the Deerfield Valley, are based on loss of subdivision and development potential, loss of property value because of pipeline proximity, loss of property marketability because of location, damage to water resources and loss of agricultural production to name just some of the factors that went into the calculation,’ Sorrells said.”

2-16-16  Think Progress.  New Gas Pipeline Route Tries to Spare Nature But Affects More Landowners.  “Less than a month after a federal agency rejected the route of an interstate gas pipeline for wanting to cut through two national forests, the company returned with a longer route that put more landowners at risk of having land seized through eminent domain.  ‘There is no good place to put this thing,’ said Ernie Reed, president of Wild Virginia, in an interview with ThinkProgress…. legal skirmishes involving the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline have already occurred. Many landowners in multiple counties have been served lawsuits for not letting the companies go into their properties to do preliminary assessments. This comes as states like West Virginia and Virginia allow Dominion and others the right to access private property for surveying land, so long as they follow certain rules.  On Tuesday however, advocates are expected to ask the Virginia Supreme Court to review this law, said Kate Asquith, director of programs at the Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a non-profit public interest law and policy organization. ‘Eminent Domain is typically a tool for government to take private property for public use. There are some real issue that come up when you have a private company, a private for profit company like Dominion, that [seize] it for private gains,’ she said.”

2-15-16  Appalachian Mountain Advocates.  Landowners Seek Highest Court’s Protection from Proposed Pipeline.  “On Tuesday, February 16, Appalachian Mountain Advocates will seek to persuade the Virginia Supreme Court to enforce private property rights against Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (MVP). The group hopes the Court will reconsider a lower court’s decision to allow pipeline surveyors to enter private property over the owner’s refusal. The Court’s decision could impact all Virginia landowners living in the footprint of any one of a number of proposed pipelines.”

2-12-16  The Daily Progress.  Opposition Groups See Even More to Dislike with New Pipeline Route.  “The company behind the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline said it plans to adopt an alternative route that avoids sensitive areas in the Monongahela and George Washington national forests.… A vocal opponent of the pipeline, Ernie Reed, of the Friends of Nelson group, said shifting the route guarantees ‘hundreds of unsuspecting property owners will be affected.’  ‘And as the length, additional compression that may be required (yet to be addressed by Dominion) and other costs increase, payments to counties drop substantially. The cost to land, property and natural resources continues to increase. The story just continues to get worse.’”

2-12-16  Think Progress.  Utility Dumps over 30 Million Gallons of Coal Waste Water into Virginia Creek.  “Allegations of dubious practices are mounting against a Virginia state agency that last month approved the disposal of millions of gallons of partially-treated coal ash water in two Virginia Rivers. This time, however, harsh comments are not coming from environmentalists alone.  Just days after Dominion Virginia Power, a utility company, confirmed it released 33.7 million gallons of coal ash water into a tributary of the Potomac River last spring, county officials say they distrust the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the company alike.  ‘They did not let the public know they were going to do that. They did not let the county know they were going to do that. And it just looks very, very, shady,’ said Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, in an interview with ThinkProgress…. The DEQ has now told ThinkProgress that past discharges into Quantico Creek from a pond at Dominion’s Possum Point power plant were lawful. Yet when presented with that claim, environmental advocates and county officials express disbelief. ‘That is what they said but we don’t believe them at this point,’ Supervisor Stewart said. ‘We feel that Dominion has lied to us. We feel that DEQ is covering up for them.’”

2-12-16  Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline Alters Route Through National Forests.  “Developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline plan to re-route more than 10 miles of the proposed 42-inch natural gas line out of the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests, following objections over its initial route through the forests by several federal agencies….  While the proposed route change ‘avoids impacts to certain species that are emblematic of this wild landscape, it will nonetheless do great damage,’ said Rick Webb, coordinator of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition. ‘The real issue is construction of a major pipeline through the greatest concentration of remaining wild lands and intact ecosystems in the central Appalachian region.’ Webb said the new pipeline alignment does not avoid environmental issues associated with steep terrain and valleys perched on complex limestone karst formations, He said pipeline planners are now proposing to build the pipeline along a path they initially rejected for being too challenging and potential hazardous. ‘The proposed ACP is unprecedented with respect to pipeline size and the level of disturbance that will be required,’ Webb said. ‘There really is no acceptable route.’”

2-12-16  The News & Advance.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline Plans to Change Route, Avoid Sensitive National Forest Areas.  “The Atlantic Cost Pipeline announced Friday it has plans to adopt alternative routes that avoid sensitive areas in the Monongahela and George Washington national forests.… A vocal opponent of the pipeline, Ernie Reed, of the Friends of Nelson group, said shifting the route guarantees ‘hundreds of unsuspecting property owners will be affected.’  ‘And as the length, additional compression that may be required (yet to be addressed by Dominion) and other costs increase, payments to counties drop substantially. The cost to land, property and natural resources continues to increase. The story just continues to get worse.’… The Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance said though the new route avoids Cheat and Shenandoah Mountains, it will traverse some of the Allegheny region’s most concentrated karst topography — characterized by caves and sinkholes.  ‘A pipeline through this area would significantly increase the likelihood of catastrophic erosion and sediment pollution of several significant waterways,’ the release states. ‘Furthermore, the new route opens up to potential devastation a whole new set of cultural and natural resources. The many newly affected landowners and local officials must be carefully consulted before the project should be allowed to continue with the FERC process.’”

2-12-16  Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Follow New Route to Avoid Sensitive Areas of National Forests.  “The developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said Friday they will propose a new route for the 550-mile interstate natural gas pipeline that avoids sensitive areas of national forests that the U.S. Forest Service has put off limits.… The alternative route follows a previous proposal to extend the pipeline south of Cheat Mountain in West Virginia, as well as a new path south of Shenandoah Mountain in Virginia. Portions of the two national forests crossed by the currently proposed route provide habitat for the Cheat Mountain and Cow Knob salamanders, as the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel and sensitive red spruce forests.  The new route would increase the pipeline’s overall length by about 30 miles, but reduce the portions that traverse the George Washington and Monangahela National Forests from 29 to less than 19 miles.  However, the alternative route would affect an additional 249 landowners in Highland, Bath, and Augusta counties in western Virginia, as well as Randolph and Pocahontas counties in West Virginia. Previously, Bath, south of Highland, had not been affected by the proposed route.”

2-12-16  Southern Environmental Law Center.  New Pipeline Route Proposed by Dominion.  “Today Dominion announced its proposed route change for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, following the recent rejection of the prior route by the U.S. Forest Service, which has jurisdiction over the National Forests impacted by the pipeline route.  Dominion’s new route would travel through Bath County, which previously was not impacted by the pipeline plan.  ‘Dominion has proposed a knee-jerk and ill-conceived adjustment to its favored route, rather than a solution that truly attempts to minimize the harm to this region. To prevent unnecessary impacts to our communities and environment, we must understand whether the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is truly needed to meet the regional demand for natural gas in light of the changes to existing pipelines that are already poised to bring more gas into Virginia,’ said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. ‘The new route also raises fundamental questions of fairness. FERC must put the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on hold until the citizens of Bath County and other communities along the route have the same opportunities as others along the pipeline route to understand the project, evaluate its impacts, and make their voices heard.'”

2-11-16  The Roanoke Times.  General Assembly Notebook: Bill to Allow State Inspections of Interstate Gas Pipelines Moves Forward.  “A bill that could lead to a state inspection program for interstate natural gas pipelines is moving through the House of Delegates with no opposition.  HB 1261, sponsored by Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, authorizes state regulators to seek federal permission to conduct their own pipeline inspections.  The State Corporation Commission already inspects all intrastate pipelines as well as interstate oil lines.  But it’s not yet empowered to evaluate interstate natural gas lines. Virginia is currently crisscrossed by more than 2,500 miles of interstate natural gas pipelines, and proposals like the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline could usher in more.  If the state seeks and receives federal authorization, it would be able to inspect pipelines both during and after construction.”

2-9-16  The Roanoke Times.  General Assembly Notebook: House Version of Pipeline Surveying Law Repeal Dies.  “A bill seeking to repeal Virginia’s controversial pipeline surveying law met a quiet death in subcommittee Tuesday.  House Bill 1118, sponsored by Del. Joseph Yost, died due to lack of a motion in a House of Delegates energy subcommittee.  Yost, R-Pearisburg, advocated for the bill as a private property rights measure. The panel heard comments from environmental groups and landowners in support of the bill followed by opposition from energy companies, including Dominion. The subcommittee left the proposal on the table with no debate and no motion for a vote.”

2-8-16  NBC 29.  Virginia Senate Panel Votes Down Pipeline Bill.  “Homeowners likely in the path of the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline unsuccessfully tried to persuade lawmakers to side with their property rights Monday.  Senate Bill 614 torpedoed before the Commerce and Labor Committee Monday afternoon. The bill would have repealed Virginia law allowing interstate natural gas companies to go on property for surveys without the consent of the landowner.  Not one member of the panel voted to support the bill.”

2-8-16  The Roanoke Times.  Bill to Repeal Pipeline Surveying Law Killed in Senate Committee.  “Efforts to scrap Virginia’s controversial pipeline surveying law hit a wall in a Senate committee Monday afternoon.  Senate Bill 614, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, was killed on a bipartisan 13-0 vote.  ‘I thought we had a better chance than that,’ Kirk Bowers with the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, which supported the bill, said afterward.  ‘They’re not listening to the people,’ Bowers said. ‘They’re listening to the industry representatives.’… Edwards criticized the law as an unnecessary intrusion on private property owners. Pipelines were built before the law was in place and can continue to be, he said.”

2-8-16  The News & Advance.  Wintergreen Says Pipeline Proposal Could Slow Resort’s Revitalization.  “The $5 billion pipeline, proposed by a company led by Richmond-based Dominion Resources Inc. and championed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe for its potential to drive economic development, is fueling concerns in Nelson County about potential damage to the county’s single-largest employer and critical source of tax revenue…. Nelson is opposed to the pipeline crossing anywhere in the county, especially near Wintergreen. Current County Administrator Stephen A. Carter called Wintergreen’s success ‘essential to Nelson County’s interests.’… Federal regulators also prodded the company to look at different routes across the state that address the concerns of the U.S. Forest Service about the pipeline’s potential effect on the George Washington and Monongahela national forests.  The forest service recently raised questions about what the company would do if its plan to drill nearly 4,500 feet through the mountain beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail does not work.”

2-8-16  The Virginian-Pilot.  Bill McKibben & Mike Tidwell: Will McAuliffe Honor Paris or Dominion?  “WILL AMERICA live up to its commitments under the recent climate negotiations in Paris? It’s an open question – and an early test will come in Virginia.  By spring, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will make a decision with huge implications for Hampton Roads and the nation. McAuliffe can side with the state’s biggest polluter – Dominion Resources – and decide to increase total carbon pollution from power plants. Or McAuliffe can side with President Barack Obama and the spirit of the Paris climate talks to reduce pollution at the state level under the ‘Clean Power Plan.’… when pressured by big-money fossil fuel interests, McAuliffe has been consistent, siding with polluters almost every time. He supports offshore drilling, even as the City Council in Virginia Beach retreats. He’s been cheerleader-in-chief in supporting fracked-gas pipelines and new power plants. (The associated methane leakage makes those plants nearly as bad as coal.)… Sources say the governor will make up his mind by late spring. In all fairness to Virginia voters and to supporters of the Paris agreement worldwide, he should immediately announce his support of a Virginia pollution plan that reduces total carbon emissions, thus meeting the planet’s needs, if not Dominion’s.”

2-6-16  The Washington Post.  A Dilemma of Development vs. the Prospect of Losing Peace and Quiet.  “The projects have tapped into anger in swaths of rural Virginia where residents worry that their way of life will change. Before maps spread on kitchen tables, they point to schools and scenic areas along pipeline paths that they say would be affected. They fear an explosion could strike, even though such events are rare, or that their drinking water could be compromised and property values could plummet…. The opposition focuses on and around the Shenandoah Valley, where residents are railing against a $5.5 billion, 564-mile pipeline that utility giant Dominion plans to construct from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Residents worry about water quality and soil erosion, species habitats, property values, construction noise and sinkholes…. Leaving Augusta County, the pipeline will travel under the Blue Ridge Parkway and cross the Appalachian Trail, to the foot of Wintergreen in Nelson County…. Hank Thiess, general manager of Wintergreen, said buyers are reluctant to settle in a community near a 42-inch-high pressure pipeline. It will blaze through a corridor of wineries and breweries that attract tourism and plans for a hotel could be at risk, he said.”

2-4-16  The Roanoke Times.  Pipeline Erosion Bill Swept Away in Committee.  “A bill aiming to give local governments some control over pipeline construction was swatted down in committee Thursday.  S.B. 726, sponsored by Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, would have required natural gas pipeline projects to submit their erosion control plans for local approval…. Local communities are the most directly affected by pipeline construction and have an interest in ensuring that erosion and water quality protection standards are met, Edwards argued.  His bill was supported by environmental groups, landowners who have been fighting the pipeline and Roanoke County.  It was opposed by energy companies, including EQT Corp. and Dominion, and the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.”

2-4-16  WHSV 3.  Defeated: Proposed Law Would Have Ended Pipeline’s Exemption from Certain Rules.  “The bill was heard in the in Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. It was defeated by a five to 10 vote. Emmett Hanger voted yes in favor of the bill…. Some are calling it a loophole in the law which benefits large scale projects by utility companies. That’s why some anti-pipeline activists in the Valley hope Senate Bill 726 passes.  Right now erosion and sediment control standards do not apply to projects 50 acres or more in one locality. This bill would require a utility company like Dominion undertaking a project of that size to file an erosion plan specific to the project.”

2-1-16  The News Virginian.  Judge Allows Pipeline Surveys on Two Augusta Properties.  “An Augusta County circuit judge on Monday issued an order allowing the builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to survey the land of two property owners who did not want anyone on their land.  Circuit Judge Charles Ricketts III said the Virginia statute that allows surveying of land restricts what can be done. And the judge further said if the property is damaged during a survey, the statute allows the property owner to recover damages…. Benjamin Perdue, a Hampton Roads attorney representing Augusta County landowners Hazel F. Palmer and Evon Wadsworth, said the issue was ‘what the Atlantic Coast Pipeline intends to do once it is on the property.’  Perdue said it was likely unconstitutional actions could be taken, including subservice soil testing. ‘This crosses the line of a constitutional survey,’ he said.”