June 2016 News

June 2016

6-30-16 Energyglobal.com. New FERC legislation to toughen pipeline oversight? “ReThink Energy NJ and partners has announced that Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ D-12) will introduce legislation to toughen Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight by requiring it to apply more comprehensive procedures to its review of proposed pipeline applications before granting a certificate of public convenience and necessity. Watson Coleman made the announcement during a press conference at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville, New Jersey, which is along the route of the proposed PennEast pipeline project. Every New Jersey town along PennEast’s route has formally opposed the PennEast pipeline, as have a bipartisan coalition of federal and state legislators, citizen groups, and conservation leaders, some of whom were in attendance during the event. ‘The process that FERC uses to approve pipelines is inherently flawed, and genuinely threatens our environment, green spaces and water resources, and public and private lands, doing so without ever proving that these pipelines are necessary,’ Watson Coleman said. ‘The SAFER Pipelines Act would make critical changes to how FERC considers pipeline proposals by creating a comprehensive framework that considers the cumulative impacts of pipelines, and ensures they are truly necessary before approving them. Whether it’s PennEast here in New Jersey, or a proposed pipeline across the country, FERC should only approve applications that are necessary and serve the public good as their first priority.'”

6-29-16 WLWT5. Duke Energy delays gas pipeline to review feedback, find ‘best possible plan’. “Duke Energy announced Wednesday that it is extending its review process of the Central Corridor Pipeline Extension past July. The company said it plans to take the time to meet with community leaders and neighbors, and will review customer feedback. Since the pipeline was proposed, some residents have expressed safety concerns. Duke said it has received nearly 1,300 comments. ‘Our goal is to have the best possible plan with the least impact on property owners, the environment and the communities we serve,’ Jim Henning, president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky, said in a news release…. Glenn Rosen is among those who oppose the pipeline extension in Blue Ash. ‘It’s too big. It’s got way too much pressure. It’s intended to transmit gas, not distribute gas to anybody nearby here,’ Rosen said. He began organizing his neighbors in February to fight the natural gas pipeline. ‘This isn’t really about my backyard or a neighbors’ backyard, it’s about everybody’s backyard. It belongs in a rural area where there is not a lot of people,’ Rosen said.”

6/28/16 The Baltimore Sun (opinion). Banning fracking is the only rational option. “Unconventional gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking, has been intensely debated in our state for almost a decade. Initially promoted as a ‘clean’ fuel that would provide cheap energy, create jobs and help the climate, fracked gas was embraced by politicians of both major parties. States like Pennsylvania and West Virginia welcomed the industry with open arms, setting in motion a vast public health experiment. Maryland wisely waited. When Maryland began studying fracking in 2011, research on impacts was in its infancy. Yet by the end of 2015, there were almost seven hundred peer-reviewed articles on fracking impacts on air, water, seismicity, climate and human and animal health. The emerging picture is clear:Fracking has no place in Maryland. Fracking is bad for our climate. Fracked gas is largely methane, a greenhouse gas 86-times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. These next 20 years will be critical for stabilizing the climate. Methane leakage from gas development, production, distribution and well abandonment is much higher than previously understood, making fracked gas as bad or worse than coal or oil for climate impacts. Climate disruption is a public health emergency.It threatens not only the nature, distribution, and intensity of disease, but also food supplies, national security, the economy and the foundations of civil society. Climate change cost estimates are in the trillions of dollars. And climate disruption is accelerating rapidly. Permitting fracking now is immoral…. It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer money and everyone’s time developing and implementing impotent regulations for an outdated and destructive fuel source. Instead, all resources should be redirected to a real jobs program to enhance our economy and quality of life, while protecting our climate by moving rapidly to a 100 percent renewable energy-based economy, and restoring ecosystems and transforming land-use practices to allow biological systems to put atmospheric carbon back into soils where it’s needed.”

6-28-16 NJ.com. Congresswoman will call for pipeline regulator overhaul. “U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman plans to announce Wednesday a bill that will reform the approval process for natural gas pipelines by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Conservation leaders, citizens groups and a bipartisan group of elected officials are expected to call for the passage of her bill, which would revamp FERC’s review process. FERC is the federal agency that regulates and approves interstate gas pipeline projects. Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio (D-Mercer), as well as elected officials from townships along the PennEast pipeline’s proposed route in will also be present with Coleman, (D-12th Dist.) Both Republicans and Democrats have found common ground for concerns over the growing number of pipelines. Democrats have largely expressed environmental concerns over the state’s increased pipeline infrastructure. Republicans are often opposed to the projects use of eminent domain to secure privately owned land.”

6-28-16 The Roanoke Times. FERC issues schedule for environmental review for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Mountain Valley Pipeline’s initial schedule anticipated that construction of the joint venture’s $3.5 billion, 301-mile natural gas pipeline would begin in December. That won’t happen. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported Tuesday that a final environmental impact statement for the controversial project likely will be available in March. Commissioners would then have 90 days to make a decision whether to approve the project — which means the earliest that construction could begin would be June 2017. That timetable hinges on FERC issuing a draft environmental impact statement for the pipeline in September. Its staff and a consultant have been working on a draft EIS for months, frequently peppering Mountain Valley for more information, clarifications or corrections. The Mountain Valley project, as an interstate natural gas transmission pipeline, needs FERC’s approval to proceed. It applied in October for the required certificate. On Tuesday, the commission issued its ‘notice of schedule for environmental review’ for the project. For some opponents of the project, Tuesday’s announcement by FERC felt like good news. ‘Our hard work and effort as landowners and citizens have been rewarded with a delay,’ said Carolyn Reilly, a co-owner of a family farm in Franklin County that would be impacted by the pipeline’s current route. ‘There is no sense of giving up within me or my family, and this latest announcement from FERC brings us closer to reaching the goal: to stop the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline,’ Reilly said. ‘We will continue to unite in our fight and efforts, side by side.’… In Virginia, the Mountain Valley pipeline would pass through Giles, Montgomery, Craig, Roanoke and Franklin counties en route to the Transco pipeline. Roberta Bondurant, a resident of Bent Mountain in Roanoke County, has been helping to organize neighbors to deny permission to pipeline surveyors to enter their properties to lay out a pipeline route. Bondurant said delays in pipeline development reflect global economic forces and a stagnant natural gas industry but also reflect ‘the force of public opposition.’ On Tuesday, she said such opposition is ‘informed by good science, respect for natural assets of land, air and water that drive our economies, and the will to require our elected leaders to embrace renewable energy and to fiercely extinguish economies built on extraction resources and the backs of those in the sacrifice zones.’ Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline contend it will cause lasting environmental damage, create safety hazards and affect property values along its route. If FERC approves the project, Mountain Valley will have access to eminent domain to acquire easements across private property.”

6-26-16 The Virginian-Pilot (guest columnist). Kate Addleson: Energy policy doesn’t belong in Dominion’s control. “The controversy over energy policy is heating up in Virginia, as the world continues to swelter. May was the 13th month in a row to break a global temperature record. The question of how to balance environmental protection, security and economics with regard to fracked gas is at the heart of this debate…. Unfortunately, Virginia’s energy policies are suffering from the state’s polluted politics. Utility companies block affordable solar and wind power and demand-side energy efficiency from the market. Chief among the big polluters driving the gas rush and crimping growth in renewables is Dominion Resources, led by chief executive Tom Farrell II. As one of the world’s top ten largest utilities, Dominion is parent to a number of smaller companies. These include the familiar Dominion Virginia Power. Equally as important but probably less well known by Virginians is Dominion Transmission, one of the nation’s largest fracked gas storage, transmission and distribution companies. Dominion remains the largest corporate campaign contributor to Virginia politicians, allowing the company unparalleled access to and disproportionate influence over Virginia’s policymakers. The result is state laws that favor fossil fuels and nuclear power while creating barriers to clean, renewable energy. Its latest integrated resource plan shows how Dominion is playing politics. Rather than proposing an increase in affordable, cleaner options that would diversify its fuel mix and protect ratepayers from gas price variability and the worst effects of climate change, Dominion attempts to justify a massive increase in gas generation and a $19 billion nuclear reactor. Other utilities, including Appalachian Power Company, are showing this can be done affordably with zero-carbon resources like solar, wind and efficiency, along with inter-state trading.”

6-25-16 Newsleader. Dominion’s site plans tell a sad story. “As they are wont to do on a Friday, Dominion sent a number of supplemental filings to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on June 17. And so I chose to start last weekend by reading ‘Updated Site-Specific Plans for Residences and Commercial Structures.’ This 92-page report identifies residences within 50 feet of the proposed pipeline construction area and describes how the company will deal with the consequences of construction so close to the homes of real people in the path of this proposed 600-mile pipeline. As I scrolled through the report, I felt moved to tears. These weren’t just sterile lines on paper. I was confronted with real people and real places. I was looking at the destruction of lives, drawn on a drafting table by someone far away from the freshly mown grass and the burgers sizzling on the grills of the real people whose lives will be turned upside down if the pipeline becomes reality…. Here’s what Dominion says they will do for homes that are located with 50 feet of the construction area. First, Dominion will install orange safety fence ‘at a minimum of 15 feet from a residence.’ Just five yardsticks from the front door, a flimsy plastic fence will at least warn the machinery. It won’t stop anything else. In theory, the construction crew will avoid the removal of mature trees and landscaping ‘unless necessary for the safe operation of equipment.’ They will restore lawn areas and landscaping immediately following ‘clean-up operations,’ whatever that means. Finally they will identify locations of septic systems and avoid them or develop a replacement plan.”

6-24-16 WHSV 3. Environmental group asks federal agency to block pipeline. “A group in Virginia is fighting to keep the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from being built here in the Valley. The Sierra Club sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission explaining the harm the club believes the natural gas pipeline would do. The Sierra Club is urging the commission to open an investigation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other pipelines to look into potential conflicts of interest. The club said the project would hurt competition among energy suppliers and potentially trap customers in a monopoly when it comes to the cost of energy. The letter also said, ‘Sierra Club has been urging Dominion to move away from fossil fuels to clean energy, and we are actively opposing the ACP due to the threat it poses to the environment, local communities and ratepayers.'”

6-23-16 Bloomberg Businessweek. Get your pipeline out of my yard. “Thanks to the shale drilling revolution, the U.S. has gone in less than a decade from being woefully short of natural gas to having almost a century’s worth of supplies. But the pipelines that were going to transform American energy use are getting harder to build. To take full advantage of the windfall, the country must fundamentally change the way natural gas flows through the U.S. Yet what used to be seen as a rubber-stamp approval process has turned into a slow-motion headache for pipeline companies, brought on by ecological concerns and the changing economics of natural gas…. As the industry presses for even more capacity, it’s time to consider whether there is both a need for more pipelines and enough political and popular will to go on building them. Since 2009 federal authorities have approved some 5,000 miles of natural gas pipelines. Companies are seeking approval for an additional 3,500 miles, representing an investment of about $35 billion. But environmental and property-rights activists have formed a considerable front against the industry. Emboldened by their win against the Keystone XL crude pipeline, activists have mounted environmental challenges that have slowed or led to the withdrawal of 8 out of 14 major pipelines proposed to take gas out of the Marcellus Shale region…. While the industry still claims the U.S. is desperately short of natural gas pipelines and needs hundreds of billions of dollars in new projects, there’s a growing case to be made that we may be on the verge of building too many in some regions. In a June 7 report, energy analyst Rusty Braziel suggests that by next year there will be enough new capacity to meet growing gas production in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. If all 24 pipeline projects that are proposed for those regions get built, Braziel’s analysis suggests, by 2019 new pipeline capacity will be three times greater than new gas production. ‘I’m not saying that’s definitely going to happen, but it’s a distinct possibility that no one seems to be thinking about,’ he says.”

6-23-16 The Roanoke Times. Bent Mountain property owner files countersuit against Mountain Valley Pipeline. “A 70-year-old Vietnam veteran sued by Mountain Valley Pipeline for allegedly interfering in April with pipeline route surveyors on his Bent Mountain property has turned around and filed a countersuit that seeks $475,000 in damages from the pipeline company. In April, Mountain Valley sued Fred Vest. The company said he had interfered with surveyors who were attempting to study Vest’s property off Mill Creek Road in Roanoke County for a possible route for the natural gas pipeline the company wants to build through parts of West Virginia and Virginia. Mountain Valley sought an injunction barring Vest from impeding subsequent surveying. And it sought $25,000 in damages, alleging that Vest’s interference, which included obtaining misdemeanor criminal trespass charges against four surveyors, had caused the company irreparable harm. Mountain Valley cited a controversial state law, 56-49.01, that allows a natural gas company to survey private property without an owner’s permission as long as the company follows the statute’s requirements for advance notice. And that’s been the bone of contention: Did Mountain Valley comply with the advance notice requirements before surveyors entered Vest’s property April 9, when Vest was out of town? Mountain Valley says it did. Vest says it did not.

6-22-16 The Daily Progress. Dominion helps bankroll state Democrats, GOP at national conventions. “Energy giant Dominion continues to invest heavily in an alternate form of power in Virginia: political power. The corporation gave $100,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia in a lump sum check dated June 14, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in state politics. VPAP said it is the largest single donation since 1997 made by the corporation to a Virginia campaign committee or candidate. Previously the company had donated $50,000 each to the inaugural committees of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and former Govs. Bob McDonnell and Timothy M. Kaine, according to VPAP…. The large corporate contributions raise eyebrows among political and government watchdog groups. ‘It’s reasonable to infer that Dominion wants something,’ said Dale Eisman of Common Cause, an advocacy group in Washington, referring to the DPVA and Republican donations. ‘That is a lot of money, and corporations are no different from you and me in that they typically don’t throw around a lot of money just for nothing.'”

6-21-16 Newsleader (opinion). Landowner on ACP routes asks: Are we free? “This is a question I ask as my family and I face the onslaught of a billion-dollar, for-profit corporation named Dominion Power. With its army of lawyers and huge political contributions that have bought both political parties in Virginia, Dominion Power is coming to my property this week (with workers from Ohio) without my permission to survey and collect any articles of value. All Dominion had to do was send two notices that state after a certain date they would enter my property. So I ask: Would any reasonable citizen be OK with someone coming onto their property without permission and taking articles of value? This is a clear violation of Article IV of the Constitution of the United States, ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.’… The pipeline route is in my backyard, where we dreamed of one day putting a pool and a garage and through a patch of woods my kids play in and enjoy. Once the pipeline comes through, we would not be allowed to build anything else in the large area surrounding the easement. Our woods will be cleared and Dominion Power will determine a fair market value without consideration that the value of my entire property will be greatly diminished. As a billion-dollar corporation, it wants the land as cheap as possible to maximize profits at the expense of we, the people.”

6-20-16 NBC29. Dominion Outlines Why Proposed Alternate Routes for Pipeline Aren’t Feasible. “Dominion Energy is detailing why it says it’s impossible to build several alternative pipeline routes proposed by property owners at Wintergreen Resort. Currently, Dominion’s proposal brings the 3.5 foot-wide Atlantic Coast Pipeline right under the only road in and out of Wintergreen. In May, the group Friends of Wintergreen proposed four alternatives to Dominion’s plan: have it run along Interstate 64 and over Afton Mountain, put it under existing Dominion power lines, have it travel along Route 56, or move the pipeline south of Wintergreen’s entrance.

6-19-16 DC Media group. Anti-Pipeline Activists, Eminent Domain Experts Gather in Atlanta. “Private property rights activists and environmentalists met in Georgia June 14-15 to discuss strategies for fighting energy companies’ growing use of eminent domain to build natural gas, oil and petroleum products pipelines on private property across the United States. Many of the approximately 70 people who gathered in downtown Atlanta at the invitation-only conference came away hopeful that philanthropic organizations and other donors will choose to invest in a national organization as well as grassroots groups seeking to slow down or stop pipeline companies’ growing reliance on eminent domain…. Conference attendees presented case studies on their efforts to stop pipeline projects. Georgia residents who lobbied for the passage of H.B. 1036 explained how they succeeded in getting the favorable legislation passed. ‘We had some of our rock star landowners in the room who either unfortunately went through the entire process of eminent domain and lost and have a pipeline on their property, or landowners who are currently fighting pipelines, like landowners fighting the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. We also had indigenous people who are fighting the Alberta Clipper pipeline in Minnesota,’ Kleeb said…. ‘It was good to get a chance to share our experience and share some of what would have helped us in our situation,’ Holleran said in an interview. Holleran, who said her family still has not been compensated by Constitution Pipeline for the easement or the trees, believes something concrete will come out of the Atlanta conference that will help other landowners who are trying to prevent the government from allowing the seizure of their property. She was particularly impressed with the ideas and enthusiasm of Kleeb.”

6-18-16 Newsleader (opinion). Not all laws are defined by Dominion Power. “In 2004, friendly legislators gave “natural gas companies right of entry upon property.” This addition to the Code of Virginia gave utilities the power to trespass and survey private property against the landowners’ will. However, in so doing it required utilities to seek “the most advantageous location or route.” This caveat was meant to protect landowners from corporate overreach. While the energy companies retain the ability to reach their goals, it ensures that they are held to a standard of true necessity instead of convenience. Unfortunately in routing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion Power has chosen selective interpretation in taking landowner rights without the prerequisite of advancing the most advantageous route. Dominion/ACP suffered a setback when its original pipeline route was deemed unacceptable to the U.S. Forest Service. Its reroute was then directed south of Augusta County. Instead of continuing directly to its ultimate destination, Dominion abruptly and inexplicably turned fully north…. Dominion Power likely will assert all law is written with a ‘as defined by Dominion Power’ clause. Happily the words speak for themselves and, if required, the courts — not Dominion lobbyists, lawyers or lovestruck lawmakers — will sort out their meaning.”

6-17-16 The Washington Post (opinion). Drop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and shift to renewable energy now. “Regarding the June 12 Washington Post Magazine article “Eruption,” about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: The pipeline is not needed, and neither is natural gas. Renewable energy sources such as solar, off-shore wind, geothermal and retrofit-hydroelectric can more than make up for the closures of coal-fired power plants. Once renewable energy systems are in place, and except for minor maintenance costs, the energy they provide is free and inexhaustible and does not emit greenhouse gases. Natural gas is as dirty as coal, from ground to combustion, because of huge losses of methane that won’t be stopped by the new Environmental Protection Agency rule on methane leaks, which applies only to new facilities. Further, besides contributing to climate change, fossil fuels pollute our air, and that pollution has significant health effects.”

6-15-16 The Roanoke Times. Environmental groups protest McAuliffe’s energy policies. “A grassroots alliance of 57 groups chided Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday for, in their view, turning a deaf ear to the concerns of communities facing impacts from natural gas pipelines, offshore drilling, coal ash, climate change and other potential threats to human health, property rights and the environment. The allied groups and supporters plan to take their message directly to McAuliffe in Richmond during a ‘March on the Mansion’ scheduled for July 23 and billed as ‘the biggest rally for climate justice and clean energy Virginia has ever seen.’… Alliance members include county-based groups opposed to the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast interstate natural gas pipeline projects. Each would be a 42-inch diameter, buried pipeline that would transport natural gas at high pressure. During a news conference Wednesday, Roberta Bondurant, an active member of Preserve Roanoke County and Preserve Bent Mountain, was one of seven speakers. Bondurant said that if the pipeline projects move forward, armed with the power to use eminent domain to acquire easements across private property, the projects could result in a massive ‘land grab’ by industry. On Wednesday, the coalition of national, state and local groups contended that McAuliffe ‘has too often ignored the voices of citizens in favor of private corporations whose plans would pollute Virginians’ land, water and climate with new fracked-gas pipelines, oil rigs and more.’… The governor has repeatedly voiced support for the two pipeline projects, emphasizing that they could support economic development and provide a cleaner fuel than coal for generating electricity. During Wednesday’s news conference, Sharon Ponton, an organizer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, said McAuliffe has dodged anti-pipeline activists at public events. Ernie Reed, president of Wild Virginia and Friends of Nelson, said the governor has not responded to invitations to come hear the concerns of Nelson County residents about the Atlantic Coast project. Separately, on June 8, Wild Virginia and the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition asked McAuliffe to form a citizens advisory panel to help review the pipeline projects. They said they never received a response.”

6-15-16 Richmond Times-Dispatch. New coalition targets McAuliffe energy policies as pipeline fights draw national interest. “Gov. Terry McAuliffe has become a target instead of an ally of environmental organizations frustrated by his support of proposed natural gas pipelines across Virginia and energy policies they say fail to protect the state in the face of climate change. A coalition of almost 60 organizations — including a handful of national groups — delivered an open letter to McAuliffe on Wednesday that challenged him to change his positions on what it called ‘the biggest, most polluting issues of our times.’ Those issues include offshore oil drilling, disposal of toxic coal ash from electric power plants, and pipelines that would carry natural gas produced in the Marcellus shale fields of West Virginia. They include the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which the governor announced enthusiastically almost two years ago with the leader of Dominion, the Richmond-based energy giant that is managing the proposed $5 billion, 600-mile project. The organizations vowed to pay the governor a personal visit in a march on the Executive Mansion on July 23. ‘We have tried repeatedly to speak to the governor, but he has refused to listen,’ said Sharon Ponton, an organizer with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, in a conference call with reporters. ‘Our only choice is to take it to his doorstep.’ McAuliffe’s office responded with a forceful defense of his record on clean energy initiatives and environmental protection, such as promotion of solar power, investment in water quality improvements, and addressing climate change…. ‘This is happening all over the country,’ said Lorne Stockman, a Staunton resident and research director of Oil Change International. The Washington-based organization helped organize a series of protests last week against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, proposed by EQT/NextEra through western Virginia. ‘Virginia is becoming an epicenter with these two pipelines,’ Stockman said.’… But property rights is one of the issues that unites pipeline opponents, in Virginia and nationally. ‘This is the largest land grab in years in this country by private industry,’ said Roberta Motherway Bondurant, representing several Roanoke-area organizations opposed to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The letter to McAuliffe — titled ‘A New Vision for Energy Justice, Democratic Renewal, and Healthy Communities in Virginia’ — is signed by 13 ‘initiating groups and leaders,’ including the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance; 38 local, state and regional groups, many of which are based in areas that would be crossed by the proposed pipelines; six national organizations; and several individuals and small businesses.”

6-15-16 The Washington Post. Environmental groups to protest McAuliffe’s energy policies. “Several environmental groups are calling on Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to do a better job protecting the environment and promote renewable energy sources. The groups released an open letter Wednesday and announced a protest at the Executive Mansion on July 23. McAuliffe, a Democrat, ran in 2013 with strong support from the environmental community. But several environmentalists have said the governor has grown too cozy with the state’s largest electric utility, Dominion Virginia Power, whose parent company wants to build a large natural gas pipeline that would traverse much of the state. The open letter calls on McAuliffe to reconsider his support for that pipeline, stop supporting offshore oil drilling and prevent Dominion from releasing treated coal ash water into the state’s rivers.”

6-13-16 The Richmond Times-Dispatch. New coalition targets McAuliffe energy policies as pipeline fights draw national interest. “Gov. Terry McAuliffe has become a target instead of an ally of environmental organizations frustrated by his support of proposed natural gas pipelines across Virginia and energy policies they say fail to protect the state in the face of climate change. A coalition of almost 60 organizations — including a handful of national groups — delivered an open letter to McAuliffe on Wednesday that challenged him to change his positions on what it called ‘the biggest, most polluting issues of our times.’ Those issues include offshore oil drilling, disposal of toxic coal ash from electric power plants, and pipelines that would carry natural gas produced in the Marcellus shale fields of West Virginia. They include the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which the governor announced enthusiastically almost two years ago with the leader of Dominion, the Richmond-based energy giant that is managing the proposed $5 billion, 600-mile project. The organizations vowed to pay the governor a personal visit in a march on the Executive Mansion on July 23. ‘We have tried repeatedly to speak to the governor, but he has refused to listen,’ said Sharon Ponton, an organizer with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, in a conference call with reporters. ‘Our only choice is to take it to his doorstep.'”

6-12-16 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Federal agencies hold key to proposed route of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The circuitous path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline now loops through nine properties protected by Virginia conservation easements on its way to a critical proposed crossing of the Blue Ridge Mountains above the Wintergreen resort in Nelson County, where the natural gas transmission line would traverse at least one other state conservation easement. All but one of the affected easements came into the 42-inch pipeline’s path under a new route proposed this year in response to concerns expressed by the U.S. Forest Service. That is the same federal agency that holds the key to the proposed crossing of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail by drilling through the mountain near Wintergreen’s sole entrance. Dominion, the Richmond-based energy company that leads the $5 billion pipeline project, has proposed to compensate for crossing state-protected properties by offering conservation easements on an 1,100-acre farm in Highland County and 85 acres along the Rockfish River in Nelson…. Early this month, the public comment period closed on the revised route, which for the first time would extend the pipeline through part of Bath County before looping northeast to rejoin the original alignment in Augusta County. The new route also would extend the pipeline through nine conservation easements in Bath, Augusta and Highland counties…. The proposed new route is opposed by the boards of supervisors in Bath and Augusta, which oppose the easement swap and accuse the pipeline company of failing to fairly address a possible southern alternative that would take the route out of the county entirely and into northern Rockbridge County…. Opponents in Nelson also question why the pipeline route would go south through Bath and then turn to the northeast to rejoin the original alignment, which leads to the proposed Blue Ridge crossing from Augusta to Nelson next to Wintergreen…. Friends of Wintergreen and other pipeline opponents have argued for a pipeline route that relies more on existing utility and highway corridors and bypasses critical economic, environmental and historical resources, including a pair of early-1800s mills that Preservation Virginia recently included on a list of the most endangered places in Virginia…. But moving the pipeline inevitably affects other property owners and interests, as the organization learned after proposing another alternate south of state Route 664, or Beech Grove Road, which winds down the mountain past Wintergreen to the valley…. Ultimately, however, Goodrich-Arling said the Forest Service would have “the yea or nay” over the drilling proposal, as well as the contingency plan, because it owns and administers the land on both sides of the trail at the proposed crossing.”

6-12-16 The Roanoke Times (opinion). Hincker: Why doesn’t public have more say on ‘public need’? “These pages are replete with commentary on the controversial proposed pipelines that would traverse our region. Most writers, both pro and con, dwell on the nation’s need for more self-dependent energy supplies and, in the case of natural gas, energy sources cleaner than coal – albeit just a little. Do we need it? Do we need it here?… What about the delegation of authority from government to a private company? Looking at the Virginia constitution, most bodies with condemnation power are public. They are either directly controlled by the people, like town councils or school boards, or loosely controlled by the people, like water and sewer authorities, VDOT or public service corporations. It’s the delegation of power to railroads and, in the current controversy, to private pipeline companies that has me perplexed. It seems that there’s no public leverage. Sure, public utilities wishing to take property for a pipeline must get permission from the SCC…. If a private company wants someone’s land, why can’t they petition a public body and, after due process and deliberation, the public body proceeds with condemnation? Granted, it’s not feasible for multiple counties or cities to exercise oversight for interstate pipelines. But why not state legislatures? In the case of the MVP, only two states are involved. The law, particularly laws related to eminent domain, are complex and not always consistent. So, maybe those with deeper knowledge on the topic can chime in. But from a layman’s perspective, the decision making is far removed from elected bodies, even nominally controlled by the public.”

6-12-16 The Times Tribune (opinion). Gas pipelines violate private property rights. “Starting in the late 1800s, state and federal legislatures began delegating their sovereign eminent domain police powers to oil and gas pipeline companies. A growing nation needed a dependable supply of fossil fuels. Since then, even now as evidence mounts that burning fossil fuels is a threat to the well-being of the Earth itself, private property owners who do not want their land used for the construction of new oil or gas pipelines are routinely served court orders favoring the pipeline company’s demand for land. Political resistance against the construction of new pipelines is building: Last year, President Barack Obama rejected the 1,179-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying, ‘America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And, frankly approving this project would have undercut that global leadership.’ Further east, finding it fails to meet the state’s water quality standards, New York state recently denied issuance of a Clean Water Act water quality certificate for the proposed, 124-mile Constitution Pipeline. There is another, even more fundamental, reason for ending the oil and gas pipeline industry’s dependence on eminent domain. In America, governments are bound to protect, not abuse, the rights of private property owners. Taking private property to support a corporate activity that is harmful to the public welfare is un-American…. While the Constitution limits a government’s eminent domain power to the taking of private property for public use — for public roads, public schools and other uses — over the years legislatures and the courts have broadened the use of eminent domain to include the taking of private property for public purposes. John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Co. was among the first to misuse public eminent domain powers to drive out competitors by building and controlling oil transportation facilities. Closer to home, Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul and presumptive Republican presidential nominee, boasts that eminent domain is a ‘wonderful’ tool for moving his big projects forward. It seems, with the passage of time, that today’s pipeline operators and real estate moguls consider the courts business partners and have forgotten that their long-standing use of eminent domain is a public trust, not a private power.”

6-10-16 The Washington Post (opinion). Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has an abysmal climate record. “On April 28, a coalition of clean-energy advocates gave Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) an alarming D-plus grade for his policies on climate change and renewable power. A week later, the governor marched off to the mountains of Bedford County for a tree-planting ceremony. He planted one chestnut tree and posed for photos to emphasize the importance of trees to our environment. But local landowners and organizers with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League were there to yell about hypocrisy. The governor supports a massive new pipeline for fracked gas that would destroy hundreds of thousands of trees in that area. It would plow through farms, endangering drinking water. Advocates increasingly say this is McAuliffe’s policy world in microcosm. He ran as a clean-energy candidate ready to fight climate change. But he has served as a mere planter of occasional trees. On clean energy, he’s supported minor measures on solar power, efficiency and grid improvements. Sapling policies. But when it comes to the dirty fossil-fuel industry, he has embraced massive projects that harm people and the environment. Take hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The governor supports two pipelines that would bring this violently extracted gas from West Virginia into Virginia. The proposed pipelines would require the seizure of a 900-mile strip of public and private land. Worse, a recent study showed that leaking methane from the pipelines and the fracking rigs could trigger greenhouse-gas pollution nearly double what Virginia’s current power plants produce combined. The governor is just dead wrong when he says fracked gas is meaningfully cleaner than coal for the atmosphere.”

6-9-16 The Washington Post. A country’s need for natural gas, a woman’s beloved farmland, a pipeline that tore a county apart. “…There are four large natural gas pipelines underway in the Eastern United States, what some energy experts have described as a ‘natural gas race’ to bring gas to the East Coast. Energy companies are being incentivized by Environmental Protection Agency regulations championed by the Obama administration called the Clean Power Plan . The plan would essentially regulate coal-fired power plants out of existence, replacing them with gas-powered facilities. The goal is a dramatic overhaul of America’s energy grid and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions…. ‘One out of every 15 tons of carbon dioxide emissions that goes into the atmosphere anywhere in the globe is from the United States power sector,’ says Susan Tierney, a former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy. ‘[That’s from] us plugging in our iPhone chargers. We’ve got to do that more cleanly, got to do it much more efficiently.’… Heidi Cochran’s best guess, based on Dominion’s route maps, was that the pipeline would come 100 feet behind her house, running through a field, then making an abrupt right turn before her pond, traversing instead through a patch of large locust trees to Glass Hollow Road…. The restrictions were devastating for Cochran: ‘There will be no building sites left,” she said. And ‘it’s really hard to even hope my children would come back and live on a piece of property that they will die in if there’s ever an explosion. I’ll protect them with everything I’ve got.’… ‘NO PIPELINE’ yard signs proliferated through the county, and informal networks sprung up to spread information. Several anti-pipeline groups organized, each with a slightly different flavor of resistance…. ‘These connections have to go through private property,” Susan Tierney says. “People feel like their constitutional rights are being taken away.'”

6-8-16 WVFX10 Clarksburg. ‘Seeds of Resistance’ Planted in Pipeline Protest. “Seeds of resistance are growing in Lewis County, quite literally. On Wednesday a group of people fighting against natural gas pipelines planted sacred corn on private property where several pipelines have been proposed to go around. For those at the gathering, planting the sacred corn of the Ponca tribe isn’t just a symbol of personal property rights. They say it’s a symbol of community and shows that those in the fight are not alone. On the other hand, a company working on one of these pipeline projects says there’s also support for them and that they do a lot of studies before choosing a route. Tom Berlin, the landowner of the site where the seeds were planted, says his land has been threatened by several pipelines. He refused to let the Stonewall Gathering line through his property when it was built and now the proposed routes for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Dominion Resources’ Atlantic Coast Pipeline are right around his home. He says this gathering is a statement that they have other values such as clean water and air and taking care of their land. ‘We think that the current development is not sustainable and it is environmentally destructive and destructive of community values and of quality of life,’ he said.”

6-8-16 WMRA radio. Planting Seeds of Resistance to Pipeline. “Activists who helped bring an end to the Keystone XL pipeline from crossing Nebraska have come to Virginia to help local landowners do the same with Dominion’s Atlantic Coast pipeline. The alliance is staging six protests across Virginia and West Virginia, planting sacred corn along the route of the proposed pipeline. WMRA’s Jessie Knadler attended one event in Stuarts Draft to learn more about these ‘seeds of resistance.’… Nancy Sorrells is co-chairman of the Augusta County Alliance. She was on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors for eight years and is opposed to the pipeline that will cut a 55-mile swath carrying natural gas through Augusta County. ‘It’s irrefutable this gas is not needed. It’s a redundancy that Dominion is building in to get money for their shareholders. It’s not even needed. For us, it’s all pain, no gain.'”

6-8-16 CBS19 Charlottesville. Petition asks for state administration to review pipeline projects. “Wild Virginia is asking Governor Terry McAuliffe to review the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline projects. The organization has started a petition calling for a Citizen’s Advisory Panel to discuss the proposed pipelines with administration officials. Both pipeline projects will run through U.S. National Forests in West Virginia and Virginia. In the petition, Wild Virginia says they will ’cause irreversible damage to mountain brook streams, public and private water supplies, sensitive species, and areas of great natural and historical importance.'”

6-8-16 The Daily Progress. Local farmers help save the Bay. “Even though Augusta County is about three hours from the Chesapeake Bay, the Valley still leaves quite the impact on the waterway. Animals on the region’s many farms can easily get into local streams and rivers, allowing waste and pollutants to contaminate the water. And all that water eventually winds up in the Bay. On Wednesday, local farmers and members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation gathered together with state Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, at David Surratt’s farm on Long Meadow Road to celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness week. Hanger is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the local Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Augusta County Farm Bureau. He has formed a great relationship with the farming community and its efforts to help protect the bay, according to Rick Shiflet, chairman of the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District. ‘We want to work for the Chesapeake Bay,’ Hanger said. ‘And by celebrating awareness for it this week, the community can learn more. The efforts in the commonwealth have proven to be helpful, as local farmers are eager to work with the Chesapeake Bay foundation to help improve the Bay’s health.'”

6-7-16 Thinkprogress.org. For-Profit Pipelines Are Growing And So Are Eminent Domain Battles. “When an oil pipeline now poised to cut through four Midwestern states was first proposed in 2014, the project quickly got pushback from environmentalists and some landowners on the pipeline’s route. For one group, this piece of fossil fuel infrastructure was a poor investment in a time of human-caused climate change and increasing pollution. For the other, it was a threat to their land and their property rights. Residents thought it was clear from the beginning that Dakota Access, the developer, intended to claim land by condemning it via eminent domain if allowed to, and build a line to transport oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Formation to a market hub near Patoka, Illinois. The project, known as the Bakken pipeline, is one of many fossil fuel lines across the nation that traditionally raise concerns about their environmental and safety risks. That’s because oil transportation largely relies on trains and pipelines and out of those two, pipelines spill more often than trains. Yet since the Bakken pipeline mostly avoids wildlife, it has become an example of how for-profit developers in need of private property ignite disputes when awarded the controversial use of eminent domain…. ‘It is very discouraging, and I’m not sure what would happen if it got to the point where they have condemned the land, and taken it, and then the court says they shouldn’t have done it,’ said Richard Lamb, who recently turned down an offering of $300,000 for the land he leases to a farming family…. Indeed, while the Midwest has the Bakken pipeline, eastern states like the Virginias have the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, itself one of four other similar projects proposed in the region by different companies. South Carolina, too, was recently dealing with a Kinder Morgan-owned oil pipeline that would have run all the way to Florida. And that’s not counting the countless pipelines inside Pennsylvania, North Dakota, or Texas, which are, with low oil and gas prices, enjoying a production glut…. However, some states have in recent months looked into revising eminent domain laws in relation to oil pipelines — which are regulated differently than gas pipelines — and do fall under state jurisdiction. Last week, South Carolina lawmakers approved a bill that bans private, for-profit oil pipeline companies to condemn land during the next three years.”

6-7-16 Common Dreams. In Powerful Action, Anti-Pipeline Activists Sow Sacred ‘Seeds of Resistance’. “In a powerful display of opposition to the fossil fuel economy, activists in Virginia this week are planting traditional ‘seeds of resistance’ along Dominion’s proposed natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline route. The action began Monday in Stuarts Draft, when residents met with anti-pipeline activists and members of national environmental groups to sow the sacred blue corn seeds, which were brought by a member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. ‘We stand on this common ground that we care about and love,’ said Mekasi Horinek Camp, Ponca Nation member and coordinator with Bold Oklahoma, which is part of the anti-pipeline Bold Alliance campaign…. Federal regulators have yet to give their final determination, but landowners oppose the inherent dangers of the pipeline as well as the government’s claim of eminent domain. Environmental groups such as the Alliance, Oil Change International, and others that are taking part in the action say this project is another example of fossil fuel development when oil, gas, and coal must in fact to be instead be kept ‘in the ground.'”

6-7-16 BlueRidgeLife. Nelson / Wingina: Seeds Of Resistance Planted In Opposition To Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Within just a few hours land belonging to Samuel Woodson Sr. in Wingina, Virginia was turned into a more sacred ground. Members of Bold Nebraska along with dozens of volunteers, including many from Free Nelson’s no pipeline movement, visited his land on Monday to plant a sacred corn.”

6-7-16 ThinkProgress. For-Profit Pipelines Are Growing And So Are Eminent Domain Battles. “When an oil pipeline now poised to cut through four Midwestern states was first proposed in 2014, the project quickly got pushback from environmentalists and some landowners on the pipeline’s route. For one group, this piece of fossil fuel infrastructure was a poor investment in a time of human-caused climate change and increasing pollution. For the other, it was a threat to their land and their property rights. Residents thought it was clear from the beginning that Dakota Access, the developer, intended to claim land by condemning it via eminent domain if allowed to, and build a line to transport oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Formation to a market hub near Patoka, Illinois…. ‘I’ve been paying on this land for 35 to 40 years … and within four or five years since paying for it, somebody is trying to take it away to put a pipeline across it,’ said William Smith, an Iowa farmer who refuses to lease away 200 acres of the land he uses to grow corn and soy. ‘It just doesn’t sit very well with me,’ he told ThinkProgress.
Smith, 66, is part of small group of Iowa landowners who are challenging Dakota Access’ eminent domain power in court. ‘We are still not giving into the company,’ he said. At issue is whether the pipeline company deserves eminent domain powers given that it’s not a public utility. In addition, plaintiffs claim giving eminent domain powers for the Bakken pipeline is not a public improvement or serves any public use, according to court documentation obtained by ThinkProgress.”

6-6-16 Nelson County Times. Pipeline opponents plant ‘seeds of resistance’. “Activism opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has often taken place on social media or in courtrooms, but the battle took a different form Monday. Off Va. 56 in Wingina, about 75 people from Nelson County and the surrounding area planted sacred Ponca Tribe corn — or ‘seeds of resistance’ — in the proposed path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a move Friends of Nelson President Joanna Salidis called a ‘tangible way to express our connection with the land and the people in Dominion’s crosshairs.’ They were joined by Mekasi Horinek Camp, a member of Ponca Nation, and two others associated with Bold Alliance, a multi-state coalition with the goal of promoting environmental responsibility and clean energy…. ‘These seeds would become not only a symbol of resistance, but that they would stand there for us, put their roots in the ground and be there and stand strong while we couldn’t be there,’ Camp said. ‘The times that we weren’t there, the plants were gonna stand there in front of the pipeline for us.'”

6-6-16 WHSV3. Pipeline demonstrators plant ‘seeds of resistance’. “Dozens of demonstrators took a stand against a proposed natural gas pipeline project on Monday by planting corn seeds. The ceremony, called “Seeds of Resistance,” was organized in part by the Augusta County Alliance. The corn seeds were first planted in Nebraska by the Cowboy & Indian Alliance to protest the Keystone XL pipeline in 2014. The seeds hold sentimental value to those in the Ponca tribe, out of Oklahoma. ‘It’s not only used as food [and] nourishment, but also as medicine,’ said Mekasi Horinek, a coordinator with Bold Oklahoma and a member of the Ponca tribe. ‘This corn is a sacrament.’ The seeds were planted on land in Stuarts Draft that is part of the proposed route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

6-6-16 NewsLeader. Activists plant ceremonial corn against pipeline. “Dozens of people gathered at a Stuarts Draft farm, dug into the earth and planted their resistance. To take a stand against the Atlantic Coast pipeline, area activists held a ceremony Monday morning where they planted ‘Seeds of Resistance’ of corn sacred to the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma on land that lies in the proposed path.They didn’t have far to walk. The pipeline’s route could take it just 125 yards away from the Stuarts Draft Farm Market, where the ceremony took place…. The corn comes from the Ponca Nation, a group of Native Americans driven off their Nebraska land on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. The ceremony comes from when Camp, Nebraska farmer Art Tanderup and Bold Nebraska’s Jane Kleeb planted the corn on the land that lies in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Trail of Tears…. ‘We can beat these pipelines with three fundamental things,’ Kleeb said. ‘One, is to stop eminent domain for private gain. There should be no reason why in America that a private corporation can take somebody’s land for their private gain. Two is a climate test. And third is an unlikely alliance.’… ‘Two words come to mind here — community and unity,’ said Nancy Sorrells, of the Augusta County Alliance. ‘All across the country communities like ours are standing up and pushing back in the face of corporate greed and utter disrespect for our land and our people, but that’s going to stop.'”

6-6-16 NBC29. Protesters Plant Symbolic Corn in Path of Dominion’s Proposed Pipeline. “Land owners are taking a new approach to demonstrate their disapproval for Dominion’s plans to run a natural gas pipeline through their properties. A group of roughly 75 protesters met in Stuarts Draft Monday, June 6, to get their message across that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will not take root in Augusta County. The protesters planted rows of blue corn seeds as ‘seeds of resistance’ against the planned path of the energy company’s project. The future corn field in Stuarts Draft is in the direct path of the natural gas pipeline. ‘Keep this pipeline out of our community and make this a place that our children and our grandchildren will want to call home and be proud of,’ said Nancy Sorrells with the Augusta County Alliance. A member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, who did the same thing to defeat a pipeline project there, prayed over the seeds. ‘This is a sacred site that should be federally protected as a sacred site of the Ponca Nation, the Ponca people,’ said Ponca Tribe member Mekasi Horinek.

6-5-16 Times Union(opinion). Gas firms pay FERC, get results. “Longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda once said, ‘Sometimes you’ve just got to let an umpire know that you’re not satisfied with his decision. … Not that it’s going to do you any good, but you’ve got to let them know.’ But what if the umpires were paid by the opposing team? What if the opposing team was never penalized? What if instant replay showed that the umps had made a bad call, but the game went on anyway to see who would win? What if the other team always won? Does this seem unsportsmanlike to you? Does it seem downright un-American? Well, your team is you and your kids, your house, your farm and office, your ballfields, your kids’ school. The other team is the gas pipeline company and the umps are the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)…. A couple of years ago, Delaware Riverkeeper and other organizations sued FERC for failing to consider impacts of all parts of a project when approving it. FERC issued a tolling order, which allows construction to continue while the case goes to court, and although FERC lost the legal decision, by then the pipeline was completed.”

6-3-16 The Roanoke Times. Students’ support helps re-energize pipeline opponents. “Creative, bright, selfless and gritty. That’s how Bent Mountain resident and pipeline opposition organizer Roberta Bondurant described the college students who recently participated in the student-led Mountain Valley Pipeline Resistance Road Trip. Many college students celebrated the end of the school year with beach trips. Yet from May 15 to May 20, 21 students from three Virginia universities opted instead to learn more about the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline by meeting people along the 301-mile route of the proposed natural gas pipeline. Fifteen students traveled the project’s full route, from its start in Wetzel County, West Virginia, to its termination at the Transco pipeline in Pittsylvania County…. Millie Smith, 21, a rising senior at Virginia Tech, helped organize the road trip through Tech’s affiliation with the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition. Students from coalition affiliates at the University of Virginia and the University of Mary Washington also participated. They traveled on their own time, without expectation of earning course credits. Smith said she had been working on the pipeline resistance campaign for a year and a half but felt there had been a disconnect between communities fighting the pipeline and like-minded college students. ‘The [Virginia] Environmental Coalition at Virginia Tech did not do enough this past school year to stand with the community, and I thought it was time that we show our support in a more radical way,’ Smith said.”

6-3-16 EENews. Pipelines:Developers face ‘new reality’ of protests, longer reviews. “Pipeline developers are struggling with longer approval times as environmentalists throw up more regulatory and legal roadblocks as part of a nationwide movement to frustrate and ultimately halt fossil fuels projects, said a top industry executive. The amount of time it takes companies to get a new gas project approved and operational — from the proposal phase to steel in the ground — has grown from three years to four, Donald Santa, CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, said during an interview this week. The principal causes for delays are the host of substantive, fact-based questions about pipeline routing and emissions that activists, landowners and other stakeholders are bringing up during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission review process, Santa said…. In March, Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum filed a lawsuit accusing FERC of violating the Constitution’s due process requirements through its approval process for natural gas pipelines…. Van Rossum, in an interview, said the advent of hydraulic fracturing and the spread of gas pipelines had fueled the increased attention on FERC and that she welcomed any slowdown in FERC’s reviews. ‘The longer time frame in the decisionmaking process, to me, what that means is that we have more time to prove the point that we as a nation need to be off fracked gas or fracked oil and these extreme fossil fuels,’ she said. ‘It gives us the time to win the bigger point … which is clean energy versus dirty energy.'”

6-3-16 The Energy Collective. Complaint: Utilities’ Role in Atlantic Coast Pipeline Violates Antitrust Laws. “Dominion Resources’ plan to use the captive ratepayers of its electricity subsidiary to guarantee a customer base for its Atlantic Coast Pipeline venture has caused critics—including me—to complain that the scheme presents a clear conflict of interest. According to a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it’s also a violation of federal antitrust laws. Lawyer Michael Hirrel, who retired last year from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, has asked the FTC to investigate ‘whether ACP’s project constitutes a prohibited monopolization by Dominion, Duke and Piedmont, under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, and an unfair method of competition, under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.’… Where there are gas plants, there must be gas, and this massive build-out means a guaranteed stream of income for the lucky owners of gas transmission pipelines. The fact that one such pipeline is partly owned by Dominion Virginia Power’s parent corporation is clearly a conflict of interest. Because Dominion holds a monopoly on electricity sales, its customers will be stuck paying for gas—and guaranteeing a revenue stream for pipeline owners—for decades to come. This is a bad deal for customers and the climate, but according to Hirrel, it is also anticompetitive and warps the normal decision-making of the companies involved.”

6-2-16 The Roanoke Times. Archaeologists uncover artifacts in Mountain Valley Pipeine’s path. “Just a few minutes after archaeologists began their slow, careful walk through a freshly plowed plot of land in Franklin County, the ground was speckled with bright orange flags, each indicating the discovery of a Native American artifact. Dale Angle’s property is full of them — arrowheads, tools and pottery. Archaeologists believe it once was a Native American village site. On May 24, Mark Joyner and Buddy Hearn with the Association for the Study of Archaeological Properties were in Rocky Mount to examine Angle’s property and document its history, which may be threatened by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The 301-mile, $3.5 billion natural gas pipeline is slated to run through Angle’s property. With the help of the archaeologists, Angle is working to obtain a historic designation for his land in the hope that it will prevent the pipeline from running through it. Joyner, the group’s founder and project director, said he questions how thorough an inspection sanctioned by Mountain Valley would be, given that the company seeks to find a clear path to development…. Seeking a historic designation is another tactic landowners can use in attempts to thwart the project or at least slow things down, Reilly said. ‘But it’s also doing something that is important to the people who are connected to the land here, who have lived for generations on these farms and these places that they’ve called home for years and years and years,’ she said. Angle’s property is a prime example: The farm will soon pass on to the fourth generation of his family. Angle said he hopes the artifacts, which he’s been finding since childhood, will prevent the pipeline from coming through the property.”

6-2-16 EIN News. Friends of Wintergreen Calls Atlantic Coast Pipeline Routes “Irresponsible”. “On May 16, 2016, Friends of Wintergreen submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a 128-page analysis of four alternate routes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) using analysis from its national environmental, legal and pipeline engineering firms. ‘We have laid out in great detail the significant environmental, economic and safety problems Dominion’s proposed route will create for Virginia’s largest resort and the nearby tourism corridor of wineries, breweries, cideries, and restaurants,’ said Jonathan Ansell, Chairman of Friends of Wintergreen. ‘Our pipeline engineers also developed several alternative routes that are less damaging.’ Ansell continued, ‘We favor the greater use of colocation and existing rights-of-way, especially since Dominion’s ACP has one of the worst records in America. This is irresponsible to Virginians. ‘Within hours of Friends of Wintergreen’s formal submission to the FERC, Dominion issued a response rejecting the proposals. Dominion claimed they gave ‘these alternatives the careful consideration they deserve.’ ‘As Dominion rejected our alternatives within hours, we don’t see how a thoughtful evaluation was possible,’ Ansell said.”

6-2-16 Newsleader. Group demands formation of pipeline panel. “A number of private citizens, conservationists and environmentalists are demanding that the governor create a citizen’s advisory panel to review the Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal. ‘The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition calls on Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, to order the formation of a citizen’s advisory panel to study and make recommendations on state government’s regulatory review of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline proposals,’ the organization said in a press release. ‘We trust others will join in this call,’ said Rick Webb, coordinator of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition. Attempts to contact the governor were unsuccessful…. One of the problems the organization says its has encountered is a failure to get information requested through public access laws. ‘They are not willing to talk to us about state policies and practices,’ Webb said. ‘They are simply hanging up on us. That is not universally the case, but it has happened in some cases.'”

6-1-16 The Roanoke Times (commentary). Sligh: McAuliffe stifles discussion of pipelines. “Thousands of Virginians are concerned about the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. There is vigorous discussion and debate — the kind of open, public conversation that should surround proposals affecting the lives of so many people.
But there’s a problem with this conversation. Officials in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration are not communicating freely about the government’s activities related to the pipelines. They seem uninterested in hearing what citizens have to say. Sadly, the governor set this pattern but he can reverse course. The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) calls on McAuliffe to order the formation of a Citizen’s Advisory Panel to study and make recommendations on state government’s regulatory review of the proposals. We trust others will join in this call…. Governor McAuliffe: Live up to the principles you’ve espoused. Make the people partners in this process. Show us all the respect we deserve. We think we speak for local governments along both pipeline routes, businesses and community groups, families and property owners when we insist this request be deemed ‘response needed.'” -David Sligh is an investigator for the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, an environmental attorney and a former senior engineer at the Virginia DEQ.

6-1-16 The State. Oil companies banned from seizing property for pipelines in South Carolina. “Oil companies that want to lay pipelines through South Carolina will have to do so without seizing people’s land, according to legislation approved this week by state lawmakers…. The measure says private, for-profit oil pipeline companies won’t be allowed to condemn land during the next three years. Over that time, lawmakers will study the issue and decide whether to continue the ban. ‘It’s a landmark decision and affirmation in the state of South Carolina that we won’t allow unregulated pipeline companies to abuse their authority,’ said Benton Wislinski, a lobbyist for the state Sierra Club and the Savannah Riverkeeper organization, both of which supported the legislation.”

6-1-16 C-ville magazine. Amelia Williams uses sculpture and poetry to protest pipeline. “Artists-turned-activists typically use their work to amplify awareness about an issue. Increased publicity, the thinking goes, inspires action in the field. But poet Amelia Williams has found a way to leverage art as a direct blocking and delay tactic in the fight against fracked gas pipelines and compressor stations. ‘In 2014, when we learned about the prospect of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline coming through Nelson County and other counties and wild areas in Virginia, I wanted to do something,’ Williams says…. The lifelong poet reviewed her work and found a large number of poems with roots in Nelson County. Next, she set about creating sculptural containers and assemblages that would integrate her writing with the landscape. ‘I wanted to make land art like the projects of Andrew Goldsworthy, whose works are intended to fade back into the landscape because they are created out of natural elements like twigs and leaves,’ she says….. All proceeds from Walking Wildwood Trail: Poems and Photographs, a book of poetry and photography documenting her project, benefit Friends of Nelson and Wild Virginia. The significance, she hopes, reaches everyone. ‘The words of poets speak to people’s hearts’, she says. ‘It allows them to figure forth their own attachments to the trees and the water and the land.'”

6-1-16 Appalachian Mountain Advocates. Groups Force Stronger Pollution Protections on Dominion’s Proposed Greensville Fracked-Gas Plant. “In response to extensive comments from citizens and conservation groups, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has imposed precedent-setting protections against greenhouse gases and other air pollutants from Dominion Power’s proposed gas power plant in Greensville County, VA. Appalachian Mountain Advocates prepared the comments on behalf of Appalachian Voices and the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club. The groups are pleased with DEQ’s action, and they say the agency must apply the same scrutiny to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The DEQ outlined these stronger protections in the revised draft air permit for the Greensville Power Station, a proposed 1,558-megawatt power plant. If built, the gas plant would be the largest in the state. It would burn fracked natural gas supplied directly by another Dominion project — the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — a nearly 600-mile long large-diameter pipeline that would take private property and destroy forests and streams in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Based on Appalachian Mountain Advocates’ analysis of the draft permit, DEQ will force Dominion to employ the ‘best available control technology’ at the plant as required by the Clean Air Act…. ‘The impacts of this decision could ripple through the energy sector,’ said Evan Johns, staff attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. ‘By strengthening efficiency requirements, this permit will serve as the new benchmark against which all similar Clean Air Act permits must be measured in the future.’ The groups will continue to push DEQ for similarly strong protections against the massive quantities of methane that could leak from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ‘DEQ’s revisions to the permit demonstrate how important the Clean Air Act is in curbing greenhouse gas emissions,’ Johns said. ‘That’s why we’re urging regulators to follow the Act’s clear requirement that the pipeline and the power plant be treated as a single, integrated source of air pollution.'”

6-1-16 Chatham Star-Tribune. Students follow pipeline trail to highlight concerns. “Approximately 20 students from the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, Virginia Tech, Mary Washington College, and the University of Virginia followed the trail of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline last month and concluded their tour with a stop in Chatham on Friday, May 20. The group met for breakfast at Kim’s Kitchen, where they listened to a presentation by Mark Joyner, Pittsylvania County Historical Society board member, and Buddy Hearn, Preserving Our Indian National Treasures president…. ‘They toured parts of the actual pipeline to witness firsthand the type of environmental damage caused by the building of the pipeline. They looked at the erosion along the path, saw defoliated areas of the easement, and the damage caused to our creeks and rivers here in the county. They were shown one of the creeks where the Transco Pipeline was washed out and exposed to debris along with the repair ordered by the Army Corp of Engineers,’ Joyner said.”