May 2016 News

May 2016

5-30-16 NBC29. Wintergreen Community Holds Meeting on Proposed Pipeline. “Residents of Wintergreen Resort are banding together against Dominion’s proposed route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Nelson County neighbors are offering the power company, as well as federal regulators, four alternative plans to move the natural gas pipeline away from parts of the resort. ‘It really shows at the end of the day that there are better ways to create a less damaging pipeline route than what Dominion has done,’ said Friends of Wintergreen Chairman Jonathan Ansell. ‘If this was being done in Richmond at King’s Dominion, it would be an issue because it’s in Richmond. But here in Nelson County it isn’t getting the attention it deserves,’ said Wintergreen Fire & Rescue Chief Curtis Sheets. The Friends of Wintergreen (FOW) organization is getting property owners updated on the situation since many of them are visiting the resort for the Memorial Day holiday. It was a standing room only crowd Monday morning as several hundred people attended a community meeting at the resort. Right now, Dominion’s proposal brings the 3.5 foot-wide pipeline right under the only road in and out of Wintergreen. Some residents says that path threatens the resort’s safety. ‘We’re a venue that attracts 10,000 people a day with one exit, and to lay a pipeline across that doesn’t make any sense,’ said Sheets.”

5-29-16 Newsleader (opinion). Unlikely allies join to protest pipeline. “History has long venerated the victory of the small, unlikely hero over the big bully who claims power by force. The well-known biblical story of David and Goliath has been invoked in recent months to describe the battle between Dominion Resources’ proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and citizens who want to keep the pipeline off their property. However, the latest pipeline resistance chapter looks more like Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ The forging of unlikely alliances between previously opposing groups is creating a strong front. And if success in Nebraska is any indication, there is good reason to believe it will work…. This June, the Cowboy and Indian Alliance is headed east. Lorne Stockman of Staunton recently connected the Augusta County Alliance and Friends of Nelson with Jane Kleeb of the activist group Bold Nebraska. When Kleeb told locals about the “seeds of resistance,” the response was overwhelming. ‘Jane brought some red corn seeds to the meeting. Afterward, I let people know I had some to distribute and I was totally rushed,’ said Stockman. Everyone came forward with outstretched hands, eager for the chance to plant ‘seeds of resistance’ in the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. Throughout literature and history, the actions of a giant have had unintended consequences. Dominion’s greediness and disregard for the rich history of the region has united unlikely allies — tea partyers and tree huggers, cowboys and Indians, descendants of slaves and plantation owners — to stand against corporate bullying in defense of sacred land, by working to restore and preserve the land instead.”

5-26-16 The Recorder. DEQ, Corps under pressure from pipeline opponents. “Frustration is mounting among those concerned about how the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline might affect the environment. This week, coalitions opposed to the project are reviewing a letter from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality to Dominion, which will construct the ACP. DEQ told Dominion the department is reviewing Dominion’s annual Standards and Specifications for Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management. The ACP will be covered under this these specifications, but DEQ has additional requirements. They include that: an individual project-specific plan be submitted for DEQ to review and approve; the plan must be posted on Dominion’s website for public view; Dominion’s inspection reports, complaint logs, and complaint responses be submitted to DEQ; and Dominion must pay DEQ to cover the costs of hiring additional technical expertise to assist the department in plan review and compliance, as authorized under the state’s erosion and sediment control law.Has anything changed? It’s not clear, said Rick Webb of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition this
week…. ‘Will there be site-specific Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management Plans for every
piece of disturbed ground, hillside, stream crossing, access road, and staging area, just as is required of other
construction projects?” he wondered. ‘DEQ has said it doesn’t have the resources to review plans for all the miles involved, but now DEQ has acknowledged that it can assess the companies for the cost. They can contract out the work if needed, and more importantly, citizens and localities can also review or arrange for review of
the plans themselves,’ Webb said.”

5-26-16 NBC29. Augusta County Supervisors Rally Against Dominion. “Augusta County supervisors are the latest group rallying against Dominion. This new twist is part of the fight against the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Supervisors say they’re working on a letter outlining some concerns about a proposed new route. They first say Dominion hasn’t fulfilled its legal obligations to begin surveying…. Augusta County Supervisor Tracey Pyles thinks it doesn’t make sense for the pipeline to touch Augusta County at all. ‘This was a crazy route, if you will, to come up through Augusta County with it’s 120,000 people with a county and two cities, instead of continuing along Bath into Rockbridge and Nelson County where it’s mostly open space.’ said Pyles.”

5-26-16 Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition. Obscure, confuse, and mislead. “In what seems to be a step in the right direction, the Virginia DEQ has advised ACP and MVP developers that ‘project-specific’ erosion and sediment control plans will be required. The move to require project-specific plans, while seeming to be an improvement, is really a smokescreen that obscures a continued failure by DEQ to regulate the pipelines properly and legally. Rather than project-specific plans, the DEQ must require submittal of site-specific plans at each site where discharges may damage waterbodies and, most importantly, DEQ must review those plans before approving the projects…. Without knowing details of construction methods, specific resources needing protection, and pollution control measures proposed for each circumstance (waterbody crossing, discharge from other construction activities, roads, etc.) the DEQ cannot possibly fulfill its responsibility to ensure that all water quality standards will be met on all waters. No single waterbody can be ‘written-off.'”

5-26-16 WVTF radio. Feds Seek Comments on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The federal government is again asking for comments on plans to build a natural gas pipeline from the fracking fields of West Virginia to North Carolina…. The original route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline passed through some especially sensitive areas in the George Washington National Forest. Now, Dominion Resources is back with another plan, and environmentalists like Glen Besa at the Sierra Club are again speaking out. ‘They’ve avoided the more sensitive areas of the George Washington National Forest because of objections from the Forest Service, but much of the original route remains the same, and citizens are very concerned about the impacts on their families farms, on their water, on their air and the impacts to climate change.'”

5-24-16 C-ville magazine. ‘Death by 1,000 cuts:’ A win for Nelson pipeline opponents. “Companies surveying for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline must provide property owners sufficient written notice before setting foot on their properties, a Nelson County judge ruled May 9. Though this doesn’t stop the project, pipeline opponents say any ruling in favor of landowners is a success. ‘It gives us much more control over our property and the ability to protect ourselves,’ says Randy Whiting, who lives in Horizons Village at the foot of Wintergreen, a strip of Nelson County that may soon be sliced by the proposed $5 billion natural gas pipeline, which is currently slated to run just under 600 miles through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, including several historically sensitive areas, national forests and private properties…. ‘When you try to stop a pipeline, it’s death by 1,000 cuts,’ Whiting says. ‘It’s very rarely one thing that stops a pipeline. Any little thing added to another little thing makes a difference. It is anything but over….’ Ernie Reed, a media contact for the 1,000-member group of pipeline opposers called Friends of Nelson, says any time a judge rules against Dominion or the ACP, it is significant, and it ‘demonstrates that Dominion is not above the law.'”

5-24-16 Richmond Times- Dispatch. State DEQ tells pipelines to expect project specific environmental standards. “Virginia environmental regulators have informed the developers of two proposed natural gas pipelines that they will have to meet erosion and sedimentation standards specific to their projects, if they build them. he Department of Environmental Quality sent identical letters last week to Dominion Transmission Inc., the leader of a limited liability company that proposes to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and EQT, the lead developer of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. Both proposed pipelines would transport natural gas from the shale fields of West Virginia through Virginia to different markets on the East Coast. ‘The basic point here is we want to make sure that if we do end up with pipeline construction, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the environment around the commonwealth,’ DEQ spokesman Bill Hayden said Tuesday. Both proposed pipelines are pending approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the face of intense opposition from some of the communities in their paths. The letters represent the first indication that state environmental regulators will enforce current erosion and sediment control standards, rather than rely on a general permit without standards specific to the projects.”

5-24-16 The Roanoke TImes. DEQ letter to pipeline companies ‘a significant first step,’ say project opponents. “The state’s Department of Environmental Quality recently advised a Mountain Valley Pipeline partner that the agency could require the project to pay for hiring additional technical expertise to monitor erosion and sediment plans for pipeline construction. The May 16 letter from DEQ to Megan Neylon, senior environmental coordinator for EQT Corp., suggests the department won’t relinquish its watchdog role if the interstate natural gas transmission pipeline project moves forward. DEQ sent an essentially identical letter to Dominion, a partner in the separate but similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Opponents of both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast projects have worried the department would abdicate its authority because of the projects’ large scope and Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s support for both. The May 16 letter has helped ease those fears to some extent. But concerns remain along the routes. ‘We’re encouraged that DEQ is finally requiring minimum standards for sedimentation and erosion control,’ said Tammy Belinsky, an environmental lawyer active in two groups opposing the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Belinsky and many others in the Bent Mountain area have emphasized that the pipeline project could degrade the watershed for Bottom Creek, a portion of which is considered to be an exceptional state waters stream. ‘This is a significant first step, but conservation of a Tier III stream and its watershed demands more,’ including water quality monitoring, Belinsky said.”

5-23-16 WWLP22 news. Application withdrawn, Kinder Morgan pipeline project “officially dead”. “After suspending work in April, Kinder Morgan on Monday fully pulled the plug on its controversial Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline project. In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, J. Curtis Moffatt, deputy general counsel at the Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, notified the agency that the pipeline application was being withdrawn…. Bob Croce, a candidate for the Massachusetts House seat in the district currently represented by Rep. Ted Speliotis of Danvers, said in an email Monday that he chaired the Peabody Citizens United to Stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and his activism led him to run for state rep. ‘What this means is that the project is now officially dead,’ Croce wrote. ‘Needless to say, our resident opposition groups across the Commonwealth are rejoicing today!'”

5-23-16 Public News Service. FERC Called ‘Biased Against Local Concerns’. “The federal agency that approves or denies gas pipelines is oriented against the concerns of landowners and communities, according to people working on the issues…. Spencer Phillips, chief economist for Key-Log Economics, studied the impact of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). He estimates it will hurt folks along the line to the tune of more than $8 billion. But Phillips says FERC is not designed or inclined to consider those costs. ‘FERC’s approval process for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is really a rigged game,’ says Phillips. ‘The agency’s procedures themselves, as well as their track record, mean that they ignore some really important cost to people and communities.’… Phillips says when it comes to determining if there is a need for the MVP, it’s still unclear if the agency will listen to the landowners and local communities, or just the power company.’The firm obviously wants to make money for its shareholders,’ he says. ‘However, it has not been demonstrated that there is any public benefit, outside of the corporation itself, that there would be any public benefit.'”

5-23-16 The Register-Herald. Study: Pipeline could cost communities billions. “A study was released last week which dampened the economic benefits that EQT’s Mountain Valley Pipeline would have on the region, stating the project would negatively hit key sectors and property values. The report, commissioned by POWHR, Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights, estimates the total cost to an eight-county region in southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia is between $8 billion and $8.9 billion in present value terms. That figure includes between $65.1 million and $135.5 million in the short term as construction strips forests and other productive land bare and as private property values will decline due to the dangers and inconvenience of living near the pipeline’s route. Additionally, the counties could lose between $119 million to $131 million each annually after construction due to permanent changes in land cover, lost property tax revenues and hindrance to economic growth in key sectors…. ‘FERC’s procedures and its track record show a blatant disregard for established economic principles as well as clear evidence that pipelines reduce property values, discourage business development, and diminish the capacity of the natural environment to provide clean water, beautiful scenery, and other valuable services to people,’ said Spencer Phillips, the study’s lead author.”

5-22-16 The Virginian-Pilot(Guest Columnist: Sen. Louise Lucas). Political unity over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “In today’s polarized political climate, we don’t often see Republicans and Democrats unified on how to solve the most pressing challenges. It’s an unfortunate reality of modern politics, one that voters often lament. So on those rare occasions when Republicans and Democrats actually do unite, we speak with a powerful voice. Republicans and Democrats in Hampton Roads are unified on the region’s energy future. We face a challenge in meeting the growing energy needs of our economy and our citizens while at the same time reducing our impact on the environment. That’s why Republicans and Democrats across Hampton Roads are united in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In a rare display of political unity, earlier this year all 33 members of the Virginia General Assembly from Hampton Roads — Republicans and Democrats alike — announced support for this project. We did so because we believe the ACP is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a foundation for lasting economic prosperity and environmental stewardship…. We are united by a common desire to see more economic opportunity, a healthier environment and a more affordable cost of living for our people. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline won’t solve all of our challenges, but it’s a major step in the right direction.”

5-22-16 Augusta Free Press. Richmond activists blow the whistle on Dominion greenwashing at Riverrock. “On Saturday evening, the biggest night of Dominion Virginia Power’s widely promoted Riverrock event, dozens of activists demonstrated outside the main entrance and literally ‘blew the whistle’ on the utility company’s greenwashing of its dirty power and dirty politics. While Dominion spends big bucks to sponsor the annual celebration along the James River, the company is facing increasing public backlash for its contamination of the James and other treasured Virginia rivers from leaking, toxic coal ash dumps. Dominion’s massive proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline for fracked gas would also threaten more than 500 streams, rivers and wetlands across Virginia.”

5-22-16 The Roanoke Times (opinion). Our view: Is McAuliffe green or not green? “Terry McAuliffe has thrilled his supporters on many things — most recently, of course, restoring the civil rights of some 206,000 Virginians with felony convictions on their records…. McAuliffe has disappointed one segment of supporters, though: Environmentalists. To be more precise, some environmentalists. The Virginia Conservation Network lauded McAuliffe for vetoing an extension of tax credits for the coal industry, among other things. But the Chesapeake Climate Action Network issued a ‘report card’ that graded McAuliffe at a D-plus. Subject by subject, McAuliffe’s lowest grades came on ‘cleaning up a toxic legacy of coal ash’ – an F – and ‘keeping fossil fuels in the ground’ – a D-minus…. ‘Terry McAuliffe owes his election as governor of Virginia, by just 2.5 percentage points over Ken Cuccinelli, in no small part to environmentalists. Yet since McAuliffe became governor, not only has he failed to act like a committed, passionate champion for environmental protection, climate action and clean energy scaling, he’s continued to support the inexcusable: offshore drilling and fracked natural gas pipelines.’ Ah yes, pipelines. McAuliffe outraged environmentalists when he stood with Dominion Power executives — literally — to endorse the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would transport natural gas from northwestern West Virginia to Hampton Roads…. During a recent appearance in the Roanoke Valley, McAuliffe once again explained his rationale for backing both pipelines: They’re good for the state’s economy. ‘With those pipelines, we’ll have the cheapest gas in America,’ he said.”

5-21-16 NBC29. Activists accuse Dominion of ‘greenwashing’ during protests at Riverrock. “A number of environmental protesters made their way to Brown’s Island and Dominion Riverrock Saturday evening. According to protesters, the aim of their demonstration, which featured dozens of Richmond area activists, and organizers from the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, was to ‘literally ‘blow the whistle’ on the utility company’s greenwashing of its dirty power and dirty politics,’ the CCAN remarked in a press release Saturday…. Protesters at Riverrock said that their efforts were meant to bring attention to what they call ‘greenwashing’ by Dominion. ‘The demonstration is not intended to interfere with this fun event on the James, but only to educate attendees about Dominion’s poor environmental record and its ‘greenwashing.'”

5-21-16 Newsleader (guest columnist). Dominion contractors don’t comfort. “Dominion talks safety a lot. But the boots-on-the-ground people doing Dominion’s work are contractors coming from places far from Augusta County and may not have heard Dominion’s safety message. The result is a chasm of disconnect between corporate mantra and reality…. We know there will be problems with ACP construction and operation. Why are we certain? Because we have witnessed Dominion contractors in action as they upgrade existing transmission lines and survey for the ACP. We have seen a sinkhole that Dominion refuses to repair, a cracked foundation from blasting they refuse to fix, erosion and sediment control violations left unattended, dead cattle from poor field maintenance and piles of human feces and used shop towels left by contractors on private property. And that is just from Dominion’s power line work. To that we add a litany of misinformation, rudeness and deceit during preliminary ACP work…. There is a reason no one has ever run a pipeline, covered with only three or four feet of earth, over such terrain that is subjected with frequent regularity to catastrophic flooding and mudslides that occur when hurricanes dump massive amounts of rain in mountain streams. Hurricane Sandy caused 1,300 natural gas line breaks. It only takes one break to wreak havoc.”

5-18-16 The Roanoke Times. Study backed by Mountain Valley Pipeline opponents suggests negative economic impacts for region. “Grace Terry’s calculation of the potential economic costs for her family of the Mountain Valley Pipeline requires no sophisticated formula for estimating the value of an ecosystem. For Terry, a sixth-generation landowner on Poor Mountain and Bent Mountain in Roanoke County, the calculation is visceral. She said the 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline and related access roads would bespoil wildlife habitat, including forest, pasture and complex wetlands, springs and trout streams. ‘The pipeline would devalue and destroy ours and our neighbors’ agricultural and livestock operations, homes, barns and studios — the interdependent fabric of our small community,’ Terry said. A pipeline rupture likely would kill or severely injure her family, she said. On Wednesday, eight county-based groups in Virginia and West Virginia and an alliance of organizations opposing the pipeline released a report that suggests it would have significant negative economic repercussions for the region. The study, prepared by Charlottesville-based Key-Log Economics and commissioned by pipeline opponents, examines the potential for adverse economic impacts of the proposed pipeline and its right-of-way on forests, croplands, streams, drinking water, scenic views, property values, tourism, economic development and more…. Roberta Bondurant, a resident of Bent Mountain, has helped rally opposition there to the project. Bondurant said the prolonged, expensive effort that yielded the Livable Roanoke Valley plan described building a healthy economy through education, workforce development, promotion of wellness and ‘preserving our natural assets and showcasing our outdoor amenities.’ The plan encouraged the embrace of renewable energy, Bondurant said. ‘Gov. McAuliffe and our state and federal leaders have a choice: They can work with us fiercely toward a legacy of clean energy, or they can continue to try to ram the MVP across our treasured landscape at the behest of the natural gas industry, leaving generations of our rural citizens, and so many others who rely on our land and water, as a new class of economic, cultural and environmental refugees,’ she said. ‘That would not be good for business,’ Bondurant said.”

5-18-16 WV MetroNews. New study calls into question long-term economic benefits of Mountain Valley Pipeline. “A study commissioned by community groups in eight counties in West Virginia and Virginia finds significant costs to local economies in the EQT Mountain Valley Pipeline construction project that they feel the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) overlooked. Dr. Spencer Phillips, principal at Key-Log Economics, was one of seven presenters who felt the study showed significant cost to economic vitality of the communities in the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. ‘FERC’s approval process for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is really a rigged game economically because the agency’s procedures themselves as well as their track record mean that they ignore some really important economic costs to people in communities along the path of interstate natural gas transmission lines,’ Phillips said in a tele-conference Wednesday morning…. Leslee McCarty of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association believes that this may have had an impact on one of her neighbors in the Greenbrier County area. ‘He had had a piece of property up for sale, and they were about to close on it, but when the pipeline specter appeared he had to disclose that and he lost the sale of his property,’ McCarty said. ‘I wonder how many times that has happened. It’s hard to quantify that.’ McCarty believes that the pipeline would disrupt some of Greenbrier County’s most valuable assets: tourism, travel, and small business. ‘If you look at the summary for Greenbrier County, and speaking about what’s important economically in Greenbrier County, we see that entrepreneurs and small business owners are a large part of what’s driving the economy as well as travel and tourism,’ she said.”

5-18-16 WVTF radio. Study: Mountain Valley Pipeline Will Cost Billions to Locals. “In our region, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has aroused controversy. So has another proposed natural gas line through Southwestern Virginia. A new study takes a look at local costs of the pipeline that would stretch from West Virginia to a compressor station in southern Virginia. The gas companies behind the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline have estimated it would cost $3.5 billion to construct the 42-inch-wide pipe through eight counties along the Virginia/ West Virginia border. But a new study released today attempts to look at the secondary costs of the pipeline, the costs incurred by residents, businesses, and governments in the area. Those costs, it says, are at least $8 billion.”

5-17-16 Augusta Free Press. Bath County BOS approves letter opposing proposed pipeline. “Bath County submitted a letter on Monday May 16 stating opposition to the proposed 600-mile, high-pressure Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). County Supervisors voted unanimously to file the letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) signaling their opposition to the gas pipeline, which in February was re-routed through Bath County as it crosses from West Virginia, through Virginia, and into North Carolina. In addition to expressing outright opposition to the project, the letter raises concerns about the pipeline’s risk to Bath’s fragile karst topography (caves and sinkholes), the possible contamination of private wells and springs, safety risks at federal and state road crossings, and sediment and erosion run-off during pipeline construction. Bath joins nearby Nelson County and the City of Staunton in opposing the ACP. It also joins neighbors Augusta County, Highland County, and Pocahontas County (W. Va.) in raising concerns about the impacts of the proposed pipeline on local communities. ‘Why should our region bear the brunt of a pipeline that Virginia does not need?’ asks Mary Hodges, co-chair of Voices from Bath, a local organization formed to protect resources and communities from impacts of the ACP. ‘The costs to residents and natural resources are high, and the benefits are few. We applaud our county Supervisors for voting to oppose this destructive pipeline.’… ‘I am pleased to see that Bath County Supervisors have also signaled their opposition,’ says Connie Brennan, a Supervisor from Nelson County, which has expressed its outright opposition to the project. ‘The more our local citizens learn about the ACP—the safety risks, the threat to groundwater and streams, the local economic costs—the more concerned they are. Momentum is building across our region to stop this unneeded pipeline.'”

5-16-16 Bay Journal. Officials vow VA will protect watershed if pipeline goes ahead.  “As Dominion presses ahead with plans to build an interstate natural gas pipeline across Virginia, state officials vow to have new regulations and staffing in place to limit the massive project’s environmental impact. Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward said the state will ensure that the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline does not add to the sediment fouling the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Quality said new rules should be in place before construction begins. Some environmentalists remain skeptical, though, contending that the state has done little to ride herd on such projects to date. Though the state’s erosion and sediment control regulation already applies to pipeline construction, environmental activist Rick Webb asserted that the DEQ has failed to enforce it, other than to approve variances from the rules. Moreover, Webb, coordinator of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition and a retired University of Virginia environmental scientist, said that he believes current erosion and sediment control best management practices are ineffective, particularly on the steep mountain slopes the pipeline would traverse in western Virginia…. Environmentalists, though, contend that the forest loss and construction would produce significant detrimental impacts. Construction would require extensive land disturbance, much of it on hilly or mountainous terrain, which environmentalists fear could produce major sediment pollution. If construction coincides with unusually heavy wet weather, they warn, the project could reverse Virginia’s progress toward meeting the sediment reduction requirements of the Bay cleanup blueprint. Ward dismissed those fears. ‘After all Virginia has done to reduce sediment pollution, we’re not going to let that happen,’ the natural resources secretary said while attending the 27th annual Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington.”

5-16-16 Richmond Times-Dispatch(Opinion). From the Mountains to the Sea: McAuliffe is hurting people with his energy policies. “If Gov. Terry McAuliffe lived in Virginia Beach or owned a farm in the fragile mountains of central Virginia, maybe he wouldn’t cheer so loudly for dangerous fossil fuel projects in our state. We do live along the coastline (Caywood) and in the Virginia mountains (Reilly). And we’re strongly opposed to offshore drilling for oil in Virginia and to massive new pipelines for fracked gas built across our mountains. We live in harm’s way but the governor can’t seem to hear the voices of average citizens like us. In 2013, he ran as a clean-energy candidate. But he’s turned out to be surprisingly bad on climate change and clean power issues. Indeed, a coalition of clean-energy advocacy groups last month gave McAuliffe an alarming D+ grade in a report card on energy issues…. The governor is cheerleader-in-chief for the now-notorious Atlantic Coast Pipeline (courtesy of Dominion Resources) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (courtesy of NextEra, EQT Midstream, et al.). These proposed pipelines would require seizing an 861-mile strip of public and private Virginia land to bring fracked gas from West Virginia into the commonwealth and into North Carolina. The MVP would plow right through Carolyn Reilly’s 58-acre farm in Franklin County and harm hundreds of other landowners with erosion, damage to waterways and the clear-cutting of trees along valley floors and atop fragile forested ridges. And for what? Even modest gains in energy efficiency and investments in wind and solar power would make the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — and others like it — unnecessary. But Dominion can charge ratepayers for the pipeline construction costs, so it prefers the handsome profit.”

5-16-16 NBC29. Friends of Wintergreen Offers Alternative Routes for Proposed Pipeline. “Nelson County’s largest community is urging federal regulators to force Dominion to move its proposed natural gas pipeline away from their property. Dominion’s current route for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline takes the project right through the only road in and out of Wintergreen Resort. Property owners and the resort are now providing their own proposed routes for officials to consider. David Schwiesow’s Fortune Point property at Wintergreen is in the path of the proposed pipeline. ‘Up to this point, Dominion has completely ignored the concerns for Wintergreen,’ he said. Schwiesow and the Friends of Wintergreen group have come up with four proposals to take the pipeline away from their area: 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. ‘Each route either completely takes care of the damage we’ve identified, eliminates it, or substantially reduces it,’ Schwiesow said. The group filed these alternatives with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Monday. ‘We believe the most recent filing makes a compelling case for Dominion to find a different route for the pipeline,’ said Wintergreen Resort General Manager Hank Theiss.”

5-16-16 The Roanoke Star. Wintergreen Proposes Alternative Routes For Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Friends of Wintergreen Inc. submitted four alternative routes for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Compared to the route proposed by Dominion, these alternatives are less damaging to Virginia’s environment, economy, communities and public safety. Dominion has proposed that its 42-inch, compressed natural gas pipeline would cut through the heart of the Blue Ridge mountain communities of Wintergreen and Nelson 151, one of the most popular tourism destinations on the East Coast. If approved by FERC, Dominion’s pipeline in the Wintergreen area would cause the loss of $75 million in new investment, over 250 new tourism jobs, and a 20% decline in tourism business and property values to Nelson County’s largest employer and taxpayer. Furthermore, Dominion wants to place the ACP immediately in front of the Wintergreen community’s only entrance and exit, a location through which 10,000 or more residents and tourists pass on a busy day. With a 1,100-foot blast radius and a 3,500-foot evacuation zone, an explosion of a 42-inch compressed natural gas pipeline at this location would be catastrophic. ‘We fully support the need for clean energy,’ said Jonathan Ansell, Chairman of Friends of Wintergreen, ‘but there are much more responsible ways to achieve this. Dominion’s proposed actions here are reckless and harmful not only to our local communities and businesses, but to Virginians and the Commonwealth as a whole.’

5-16-16 Newsplex CBS19. Wintergreen Resort proposes new location for Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The current plan for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline runs right through the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the businesses it briefly runs along is the Wintergreen Resort. ‘The economic impacts are truly significant for Nelson County and Wintergreen,’ said Hank Thiess, Wintergreen’s General Manager. He says that the resort is especially nervous about what would happen if something went wrong with the pipeline. ‘The pipeline would run right along the only paved entrance to Wintergreen Resort,’ said Theiss. ‘In the event of a fire, or a blast from the pipeline, we could trap tens of thousands of people at the resort, without any means of escaping.’ The organization Friends of Wintergreen, along with Wintergreen Resort, submitted a 128-page technical filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday, which they say would prevent the pipeline from being built near Wintergreen.

5-13-16 Newsplex CBS19. Atlantic Coast Pipeline lawsuit: Judge rules in favor of landowners. “Sitting on the steps of his Nelson County home, Randy Whiting from Friends of Nelson is calling a judge’s ruling a small victory against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. On Thursday, a Nelson County judge ruled that Dominion and the ACP need to provide landowners with specific dates on when they plan to survey properties, instead of a general time frame. Whiting says while it will not stop the pipeline, the judge’s ruling does send a message that Friends of Nelson and other anit-pipeline groups will hold Dominion to the letter of the law. ‘Somebody is watching them. And that somebody, Judge Garrett, held them to the law,’ Whiting said about the ruling. In Virginia, companies like Dominion are allowed onto a landowner’s property to survey for projects like pipelines. However, the companies need to tell landowners when they plan to survey a property.”

5-12-16 The Farmville Herald. Pipeline ‘endangers’ Union Hill. “The Union Hill community in Buckingham has been named one of Virginia’s most endangered historic places by Preservation Virginia due to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s (ACP) proximity to the area. Dominion and three other partners are seeking federal approval to construct a 42-inch natural gas pipeline through Buckingham County through the Union Hill community, located near Route 56. Dominion plans on constructing an over 53,000 horse power natural gas-fired compressor station near the community. The facility would be constructed between Union Hill and Shelton Store Roads in Buckingham County. The area includes a large population of African Americans. ‘Friends of Buckingham is grateful to Preservation Virginia for recognizing the proposed ACP compressor station district Union Hill/Woods Corner as a Most Endangered Historic Place,’ said Lakshmi Fjord, a Friends of Buckingham spokeswoman.”

5-11-16 The State. Virginia power company draws protest in Columbia. “Protesters showed up Wednesday at a national energy company’s annual shareholders meeting in Columbia as part of a campaign to stop a nearly 600-mile-long natural gas pipeline through Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. Pipeline opponents carried signs and banners outside the Hilton on Senate Street, where Dominion Resources shareholders met. Some dressed as corporate executives as part of the protest. Dominion Resources, which recently established an office in Columbia, has been under fire over a pipeline that critics say will disrupt Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia communities, while increasing safety and pollution concerns. Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas chose Dominion to build and operate the proposed pipeline for them…. ‘Dominion’s plans to invest billions in fracked-gas power plants and pipelines will shackle its customers and its shareholders to the health and financial risks of dirty energy for generations to come,’ Appalachian Voices campaign coordinator Hannah Wiegard said in a news release.”

5-11-16 Richmond Times-Dispatch. In victory for landowners, judge finds pipeline’s survey notices ‘legally insufficient’. “In a written ruling issued Monday, Nelson County Circuit Court Judge Michael Garrett found the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s survey notices were ‘legally insufficient.’ The ruling in the suit filed by 37 landowners found the Notice of Intent to Enter to survey those properties was not reasonable enough for the owners to protect their interest. The notices were sent by Dominion Resources, the company proposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, to residents whose land it intends to survey to determine the route of nearly 600-mile pipeline through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Garrett’s ruling said ACP sent the notices with language indicating intent to begin surveying ‘on or after’ a specified date. ‘A notice that someone will appear ‘on or after’ a state date, by its very terms, implies that in all likelihood it will not be on the stated date,’ Garrett wrote in the ruling. ‘… A notice that the actions will take place ‘on or after’ does not enable the landowner to protect their interests and thus is not notice at all.'”

5-11-16 Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Protest Greets Dominion CEO at Annual Meeting in South Carolina.  “Activists from across the Southeast converged outside Dominion Resources’ annual shareholder meeting in Columbia this morning, urging the company to abandon its drive for decades of more dirty energy investments and instead lead the region’s transition to renewable energy. Under banners reading ‘Our Climate, Our Democracy. SOLD to the highest bidder: Dominion,’ and ‘No more business as usual. Keep it in the ground,’ roughly 20 protesters greeted the arriving utility executives, board members and shareholders by staging a mock auction of citizens’ clean air, clean water, climate and democracy. ‘Dominion officials’ repeatedly outbid ‘the people,’ using their deep pockets to buy off elected leaders and block meaningful clean energy solutions. Inside the meeting, activist shareholders presented five separate environmental resolutions aimed at forcing the company to clean up its act. ‘Dominion is putting short-sighted profits ahead of our right to clean air and water, a stable climate, and a functioning democracy,’ said Dyanna Jaye with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and one of the protest organizers. ‘As Dominion pours cash into our political system, it gets a license to keep pouring toxins into our waters and pumping heat-trapping pollution into our atmosphere.’… Lusby residents were joined by activists from Virginia, where Dominion is facing public backlash and a lawsuit for polluting the state’s rivers and drinking water with toxic coal ash. In February, more than 600 people marched through the streets of downtown Richmond to protest state permits allowing Dominion to dump half a billion gallons of coal ash wastewater into the James River and a tributary of the Potomac River…. ‘Dominion’s plans to invest billions in fracked-gas power plants and pipelines will shackle its customers and its shareholders to the health and financial risks of dirty energy for generations to come,’ said Hannah Wiegard, Virginia Campaign Coordinator at Appalachian Voices. ‘With the solar industry booming, energy efficiency immediately at hand, and the costs of climate change rising, clean energy is the safest and savviest investment today.’ Activists from Columbia and nearby North Carolina joined today’s action in solidarity against Dominion’s multi-billion-dollar pipeline plan that would trample property rights and worsen climate change.”

5-10-16 Newsleader (Letter to the editor). Do not give up fight against pipeline. “Regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion has acted from the start as if people losing their rights and land are a nuisance along the way to bolstering its bottom line. The voices of opposition are gaining in volume, frequency and professional credibility. For example, a recent economic impact analysis from Charlottesville-based Key-Log Economics showed that one-time costs of property value depreciation, lost property tax revenue, and ecosystem service incurred during construction would amount to tens of millions of dollars for Augusta and Nelson Counties alone. Furthermore, local residents will be required to pay millions of dollars’ for ongoing costs to service the ACP annually. These numbers do not include the termination of several business projects that would bring tens of millions in income to local workers, provide hundreds of full time jobs, and generate millions in tax revenue for the counties. Such realities render insignificant Dominion’s projected pipeline tax gains for Nelson and Augusta counties.”

5-10-16 WVTF (NPR). The Long Haul: Dominion Virginia Power. “On Wednesday(5/11), Dominion will hold its annual meeting, and some observers expect fireworks, as activist shareholders propose changes in the way the company is run.  The push for more green power was launched by one woman who’s been crusading for years. Dominion Virginia Power is the state’s largest producer of greenhouse gases that are changing the planet’s climate.  That bothered Hampton Roads resident Ruth McElroy Amundsen, and in 2008 she decided to do something about it. An engineer from NASA and the mother of two, she asked other shareholders to approve a series of resolutions urging Dominion to address climate change and sustainability issues. ‘I think the most ones that involve clean energy have ever gotten is about 5%. Last year, we got 22% on one that asked Dominion to just take a look at the financial, physical and reputational risk of climate change, and asked Dominion to do something to address them, and that got 22%.’ And that’s huge, according to Jeff Gramm, a hedge fund manager who teaches business at Columbia University. ‘That’s billions of dollars of share value that voted in favor of her resolutions. It’s pretty impressive.  It speaks to the fact that the big investors are beginning to equate the climate change issues with their long-term profits.'”

5-9-16 Newsleader (Letter to the editor). Pipeline: All pain, no gain. “Dominion Power claims to be piping needed jobs and domestic energy production through the Shenandoah Valley. Unfortunately, the benefits are as transitory as the natural gas pumped out of state while the proposed pipeline itself would pose multiple dangers which are not offset by the benefits…. If we were consuming the fuel traveling through this pipeline, it might be worth the risk but the fuel piped through our valley would be transported out of state and potentially out of the country. By Dominion’s own estimation, it would cost somewhere between $5 million and $8 million to connect to this pipeline even if that option becomes available. Meanwhile, the risks to our property values and our homes themselves, as well as the cost of a potential emergency, stay right here at home.”

5-9-16 The News Virginian (Letter to the editor). More pipelines aren’t needed. “In response to Victoria G. Kearney’s article on April 24, referring to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, I believe that there should not be a pipeline built because the country is moving towards a more eco-friendly approach to living and the risk of defacing the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley is too high…. Furthermore, the pipeline construction (with possibly devastating complications) could ruin our valley’s beautiful ambiance, as well as our own property. Instead of seeing such magical horizons and the mountains, we could be staring at caution tape, traffic cones, and huge machinery. Personally, I do not want to risk spoiling the natural greatness of our valley home to be a construction site for a project that won’t have any benefits for citizens in the area. In the article about the pipeline on May 3 by Emily Brown, she mentioned how the pipeline would cause unnecessary harm to landowners affected. If something were to go wrong in the process of construction or during its use, the effects could be catastrophic both on the land and in the reaction of the public. The pipeline could hurt the majestic valley we live in today.”

5-9-16 Occupy.com. Keep it in the ground: thes 10 victories show a growing, winning climate movement. “The growing rallying cry of the climate movement, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, is taking hold, and not just in the form of chants and headlines, but in the form of cancelled gas pipelines, rejected LNG terminals, shelved lease sales – all of which would’ve perpetuated the fossil fuel status quo, but which faced mounting and unprecedented public opposition. Emboldened by the successful campaign against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and motivated by the growing scientific consensus that we must keep at least 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we hope to avoid a climate disaster, communities are increasingly pushing back against fossil fuel projects that would not only threaten their backyards, their water, and their health, but threaten our very ability to maintain a livable planet. And this movement is winning. People are standing up and saying no to projects that would’ve once been deemed inevitable – such as the fracked gas pipelines across the east – with mounting vigor. We saw thousands of concerned individuals join rallies, offer comments, give testimony, formally intervene in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process, and engage in protests to demand that these projects be stopped and that the dirty fuels they would’ve carried stay in the ground…. Atlantic Coast Pipeline – Forest Service permit denied 1/22/16. This proposal would bring fracked gas across Virginia and North Carolina. Although the Forest Service denied this particular route permit and there is growing public opposition to the project, the company is currently exploring a new route and still actively pursuing the project.”

5-9-16 Lebanon Daily News. FERC gives Atlantic Sunrise pipeline environmental approval. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project its environmental stamp of approval, moving it an important step closer to construction…. Although it determined there would be some adverse environmental impacts, the study concluded most would be ‘reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of Transco’s proposed mitigation’ and the additional measures recommended in the environmental analysis.”

5-7-16 The News Virginian (Letter to the editor). Pipeline not needed. “…the planned route for the pipeline crosses into watersheds, rivers, streams, and other natural habitats. These areas will be affected by the construction of the pipeline, so if something were to go wrong all of these areas would be polluted and destroyed. In addition to the destruction of natural habitats, the pipeline is destined to run through 249 landowners’ properties in Highland, Augusta, Bath, and parts of West Virginia. From one obstacle to the next this pipeline seems like a disaster waiting to happen. So you should ask yourself the next time you’re out walking the trails; was that a coyote den, or is that the pipeline? If the pipeline does succeed, many animal habitats will be destroyed and they will have to relocate somewhere you may not want them to be, like your backyard!”

5-6-16 Ecowatch.com. People Power Over Corporate Power = Canceled Pipeline Projects. “A long-standing fight for the public’s right to their land and waterways came to an end April 22 when Gov. Cuomo’s New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the proposed Constitution Pipeline…. This landmark decision in New York was the latest in a flurry of victories over pipeline projects across the country within the past two months. In Oregon, a proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal in Warrenton and the Jordan Cove Energy project were defeated. The Jordan Cove project would have crossed nearly 400 waterbodies, a number of which are critical habitat for endangered coho salmon. Further, the Jordan Cove LNG terminal would have become Oregon’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. Kinder Morgan pulled the plug on its Northeast Energy Direct pipeline and its Palmetto Project. And in Georgia, the legislature moved to block easements for the Sabal Trail Pipeline and Gov. Nathan Deal approved a moratorium that prohibits eminent domain for pipeline companies through July 2017…. These defeated pipeline projects are a testament to the power of the growing bottom up movement for change. They are stories of communities galvanizing around the notion that we must leave polluting fossil fuels in the ground and invest in a clean energy future.”

5-6-16 The Roanoke Times. Judge denies MVP request for injunction against Bent Mountain property owner. “A circuit court judge on Friday denied Mountain Valley Pipeline’s request for an injunction against a Bent Mountain property owner who the pipeline company alleged had interfered with attempts to survey his land for a possible pipeline route. Instead, Judge David Carson ordered the property owner, Fred Vest, 70, and his attorney, Scott Austin, to meet with Mountain Valley’s attorney and a project manager to agree to a date when Vest would allow surveying to occur. Friday’s hearing focused solely on Mountain Valley’s request for an injunction barring Vest from interfering with efforts to survey his property off Mill Creek Road in Roanoke County…. Mountain Valley Pipeline wants to build and bury a 42-inch diameter pipeline to transport natural gas at high pressure from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to connect with another pipeline in Pittsylvania County. Survey crews working for Mountain Valley returned to the field in Virginia in recent weeks to resume attempts to identify a proposed route for the pipeline, which, as currently mapped, would cross Bent Mountain before entering Franklin County. Many landowners who could be impacted by a pipeline route have refused to give permission for surveying. Virginia law allows natural gas companies to access property without an owner’s consent if the companies provide required notification. On Bent Mountain, in Franklin County and elsewhere along the route, surveyors are encountering resistance from landowners who insist the pipeline company’s notices to them do not fully comply with the relevant state law, 56-49.01. Those notices became a key focus during Friday’s hearing, even though Carson made it clear his courtroom was not the proper forum to contest the statute — which has been found constitutional by other court rulings — or to debate the merits of the pipeline project.”

5-6-16 News Leader (Guest columnist: Nancy Sorrells). Pennsylvania explosion exposes realities. “As catastrophic as the Salem Township explosion was, it could have been worse. A lot worse. As in Pennsylvania, we in the Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta area are extremely fortunate to have incredibly brave and well-trained emergency services personnel. However, there is only so much they can do in a situation like this…. It is worth listening to a WTAE television interview with Forbes Road Volunteer Fire Chief Bob Rosatti, who was in charge of the situation in the Salem Township. ‘It looks like a bomb went off,’ he said, adding that when something that big is burning it is ‘way above our scope’…. As Rosatti briefed the press about the incident, he emphasized how lucky the community was despite the devastation. What if the neighborhood had been more densely populated, if people had been home and not at work, or if the explosion had happened near one of the major thoroughfares? Those ‘what ifs’ are exactly the thoughts that should be running through everyone’s mind in our area. What if the ACP is built? Remember that the Pennsylvania line was a 30-inch transmission line. The ACP would be a 42-inch transmission line, carrying almost twice the volume of natural gas, at higher pressure, and with a wider blast radius. The blast radius of the ACP would be 1,100 feet on each side of the high-pressure line. Another word for ‘blast zone’ is ‘incineration zone.’ If the ACP would suffer an explosion, everyone within 1,100 feet on each side of the line would be incinerated. Everyone within .7 miles of the pipe would be in the evacuation zone where significant property damage and bodily injury is highly probable.”

5-5-16 WSLS. Pipeline protesters interrupt State tree-planting ceremony. “Landowners from counties all over the state came to say the four trees planted Thursday pales in comparison to the thousands that will be cut down for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, both projects the Governor supports. Though he was scheduled to attend the Governor did not come to the event…. The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, the group protesting the pipelines, says it just wants to have an open discussion with the Governor. ‘Groups have written letters, and we haven’t gotten much of a, as much as a turning of the head, I mean he didn’t even show up today, and we’re wondering is he scared of us? We’re not here to hurt him, we’re here to give a message of concern for our homes, our trees, our water here at the lake especially,’ said BREDL member Carolyn Reilly.”

5-5-16 News Leader. Feds limit pipeline input to 30 days. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is requesting public comments regarding potential environmental effects and reasonable alternatives for an interstate natural gas pipeline to be submitted on or before June 2. The alternative route added about 250 landowners to the pipeline’s path, but unlike the 60 days of public input allowed during the first proposed route, FERC has cut the comment period to 30 days…. The abbreviated time frame for public comments has angered groups in opposition of the pipeline. The organizations said the complexities of the natural gas infrastructure is challenging and time consuming for citizens unfamiliar with the review process. Conservation groups including the Shenandoah Valley Network, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Virginia Wilderness Committee, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, and Natural Resources Defense Council say the shortened scoping period is unfair. The groups said they need time to engage experts to prepare new technical information on water sources and other environmental issues along the modified pipeline route.’Landowners and communities affected by the new route must have the same opportunity to review and comment on the project as others had for the original route,’ the groups stated in a letter to FERC…. ‘Other communities deserve this same opportunity to investigate the impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and develop the technical information that will improve where this project is sited.'”

5-4-16 Newsplex. FERC seeking comments on ACP on national forest lands. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has just opened a scoping period and scoping meetings to take comments on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. FERC wants to know if area residents think the pipeline should be allowed to cross in the national forests. There are two questions FERC is asking: Should the U.S. Forest Service issue a right of way for the pipeline, and Should the George Washington National Forest amend its ten-year plan to allow the ACP to cross the forest?… Comments must be submitted by June 2”

5-4-16 The News Virginian. New public comment period opened for Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “People in three western Virginia counties and other parts of the state will have their say to federal regulators about the proposed new path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through their properties and communities. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a notice on Tuesday that it will open a new ‘scoping period’ to collect comments from the public and agencies, including state historic preservation offices, on changes to the $5 billion natural gas pipeline proposed to extend 600 miles through three states by a company led by Richmond-based Dominion. The company revised its proposed route in February to avoid sensitive animal habitat in national forests in Virginia and West Virginia. The new route would affect about 249 additional landowners in three Virginia counties — Highland, Augusta, and, for the first time, Bath — and parts of West Virginia…. ‘We are specifically seeking comments on the proposed new pipeline route and facility modifications to help the commission staff determine what issues need to be evaluated’ in the environmental impact statement, the notice of intent said Tuesday.”

5-3-16 Nelson County Times. Opponents say pipeline a threat to local history. “As part of what they called a ‘surprise attack’ on utility companies Tuesday, pipeline opposition groups and leaders of the Nelson County community held a press conference at the Natural History Center in Nellysford to voice disapproval of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Representatives for the pipeline project were not notified of the event and were not present, making it a surprise, according to organizers. In front of about 50 guests and concerned residents, Rockfish Valley Foundation President Peter Agelasto, with the help of Board of Supervisors Chairman Allen Hale and Nelson County Historical Society secretary Woody Greenberg, spoke on the threat they believe the Atlantic Coast Pipeline poses to the community…. The currently proposed route cuts through Nelson County. ‘Let’s face it, the pipeline made us get our act together,’ he said. ‘… What Dominion doesn’t appreciate is this is a very, very special place.’ Explaining the significance of the area, Agelasto told the crowd Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently recognized the Old Wintergreen Village and Coleman Mills as historic treasures…. Will Glasco, assistant director of development for Preservation Virginia, said the proposed pipeline projects provide motivation to protect the area’s history. ‘Conflict often brings attention to the things that matter…the integrity of Virginia’s historic places,’ Glasco said. ‘It’s up to us to maintain and keep those.'”

5-3-16 The Daily Progress. Pipeline proposals put two local sites on most-endangered list. “It’s not easy business trying to preserve and save endangered historic sites. Luckily for preservationists and history buffs, the rollout of Preservation Virginia’s annual Most Endangered Historic Places list may create the sense of urgency that could alter the fate of local and state history. This year’s list includes several regional sites, including the Daughters of Zion Cemetery in Charlottesville, Union Hill in Buckingham County and Coleman Mills in Nelson County…. Coleman Mills and Union Hill are both on the list this year because proposed routes for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines could impact various communities and often-visited historic districts where those sites, and others like them, are located. ‘What we’ve got here is a complex layer of history and culture,’ said Peter A. Agelasto III, president of the Rockfish Valley Foundation. As the pre-industrial era Coleman Mills near Wintergreen requires an unaltered landscape to ‘open a window into our past,’ according to Preservation Virginia, the possibility of a pipeline running through its viewshed is spurring action. Agelasto noted that archaeology studies are still needed to identify what’s at Coleman Mills, but many other historic sites — some of which are on the National Register of Historic Places, with others that are eligible — in the surrounding Wintergreen community also could be impacted.”

5-3-16 The Roanoke Times. MVP sues Bent Mountain property owner over surveying dispute. “Scott Austin, the attorney representing Bent Mountain resident Fred Vest, described Mountain Valley Pipeline’s lawsuit against his client as ‘a pretty blatant intimidation tactic.’ The lawsuit, filed Friday in Roanoke County Circuit Court by Mountain Valley, asks the court to prohibit Vest, 70, from interfering with efforts by survey crews to establish a route for the natural gas transmission pipeline across his property…. Bent Mountain has been a hotbed of resistance to survey crews. Some residents whose properties could be affected by a pipeline route have said that Mountain Valley’s letters providing notice of survey crew arrivals do not comply with the relevant state law, which directs pipeline companies to ‘set forth a date’ — singular — when they will be on the property. Mountain Valley’s letters, like the one sent to Vest, have specified a range of dates. Property owners have said the range makes it difficult for them to know when to be at their property in order to meet survey crews. Others have reported that surveyors occasionally have shown up on dates that were outside the range described in the certified letters…. The Mountain Valley project, along with the similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, has stirred stiff opposition but also garnered support from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, business groups and others who say added access to natural gas can support economic development.”

5-3-16 NBC29. Virginia Nonprofit Working to Protect Coleman Mills from Proposed Pipeline. “The ruins of a Nelson County mill from the 1800’s are on the list of the most endangered historic places in Virginia. Preservation Virginia, says Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline threatens Coleman Mills in the Rockfish Valley. Dozens of pipeline opponents gathered Tuesday at the Rockfish Valley Foundation as Preservation Virginia announced its endangered list. Preservation Virginia says utility infrastructure projects like the pipeline threaten natural, historic, and cultural resources. The nonprofit group is concerned these projects would also hurt Virginia’s tourism industry. ‘The historic fabric of Nelson County is evident just when you travel through here. It’s the fields, the mountains, the forests, it’s beautiful. There’s a lot of history here. Unfortunately we think that the energy needs of the state seem to be trumping the historic fabric and the needs to maintain that,’  said Will Glasco, assistant  director of development at Preservation Virginia.”

5-3-16 Appalachian Mountain Advocates. Dominion Signals Change of Course, Landowners May Have Just Won Round in Pipeline Fight.  “Facing a legal challenge from Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Dominion Energy may have just backed down from one of its most intrusive pipeline survey practices. Dominion attorneys filed a muddled notice with the Supreme Court of Virginia that may promise to finally provide several landowners living in the footprint of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline with notice of the specific dates its surveyors will enter their private property. It is unclear based on Dominion’s filing just how specific its new notice letters may be. Notice with specific dates would reverse course from Dominion’s common practice of providing only a date after which surveyors would enter…. ‘You can’t plan to be there if you don’t know when they’re coming,’ said Mike Huntley, one of the landowners. ‘It’s my land, and I don’t want them on it in the first place. I should have the right to know what’s happening on my own property.’ The surveys are very intrusive. Surveyors would spend several days on each parcel surveying for boundaries, endangered species, plants, animals, streams, wetlands, caves, historical sites, cultural artifacts and cemeteries, among other resources…. It is unclear at this time whether Dominion intends to reform its practice statewide. Doing so may further delay the entire project. Dominion just last month pushed back the project schedule by nearly a year, citing delay caused by requests for additional study of environmental issues.”

5-3-16 Nelson County Times. Historic preservation group takes aim at threat from utility pipeline, power line projects. “A state historic preservation organization is sounding the alarm over the potential threat posed by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other proposed utility projects to a trio of sensitive assets in their paths — an early 19th-century archaeological site at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County, a community rooted in post-Civil War emancipation in Buckingham County, and a scenic crossing of the Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay. Preservation Virginia, in a pair of news conferences scheduled today in Nelson and Buckingham, released a list of Virginia’s Most Endangered Scenic Places that includes the three sites as one entry under a new category of ‘cultural resources threatened by utility infrastructure projects.’ ‘The potential cumulative negative effects on Virginia’s heritage tourism industry are substantial and unprecedented,’ the Richmond-based group said in an announcement of the list…. ‘We’re trying to look in an over-arching way at the collective threat to these resources on the ground, below the ground, and in terms of viewshed,’ said Justin Sarafin, director of preservation initiatives and engagement. At the center of their concern is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a $5 billion project proposed by a Dominion-led company to cross 600 miles in three states to supply electric power plants and gas distributors in Virginia and North Carolina. The project is one of several natural gas pipelines proposed to carry low-cost gas from the Marcellus shale fields in West Virginia to markets along the East Coast…. Preservationists say the proposed route would make a ‘direct hit’ on a series of historic sites within the pending South Rockfish Valley Rural Historic District near Nellysford. The proposed pipeline would cross the Blue Ridge at the entrance to Wintergreen Resort and sweep down the ridge line to state Route 151 at Spruce Creek at the site of the old Wintergreen Village and Coleman Mills, a pair of early 19th-century grist mills being excavated by the Rockfish Valley Foundation. ‘If culture and history are all important, this is the mother lode of the entire pipeline,’ said Peter A. Agelasto III, president of the foundation, which first proposed to create the historic district in 2009.”

5-3-16 The News Virginian (guest columnist). Who speaks for the opposition? “At some point this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will issue a ruling, determining if the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines should move forward or not. That will be it. There’s a lot riding on this for groups in opposition. Some worry the pipeline routes run too close to local schools and fear an explosion. Others are concerned how it would impact the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail, economic mainstays for this part of Virginia. And others just flat out do not want another pipeline here. Instead, they want to see companies make the switch to solar, wind or other options. Regardless of where you stand on the pipeline issue however, it can be hard to feel like there’s someone standing up for the opposition…. So who do you turn to, if you oppose the project? The state government? Gov. McAuliffe has endorsed the project and the Virginia General Assembly doesn’t have the legal authority to interfere with a federally regulated operation. With that in mind, you look at the federal side and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is in charge of approving or rejecting these types of projects. FERC members however aren’t supposed to be the people’s advocate on these matters. They examine the evidence presented and then make a decision. No matter if you feel they do that job well or not, they are not supposed to be the ‘attorney’ speaking for residents…. Realistic groups don’t want an automatic win, but they do want to feel like as taxpaying citizens, they get something out of this government thing, that there is someone, at some level, whose job it is to take their side. Sadly, in many situations, that position doesn’t exist.”

5-2-16 Science Line. Natural gas versus natural beauty: An Appalachian battle rages over a pipeline route through sensitive salamander habitats. “A tiny salamander in the Appalachian Mountains just won a major victory over a proposed natural gas pipeline, with the help of the U.S. Forest Service. But it will take more than a finger-length amphibian to take down the $5 billion project, which will bring fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania to power plants in Virginia and North Carolina that now rely on dirtier coal. In January, the Forest Service rejected the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed route through 40 or so miles of the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests in West Virginia and Virginia, citing a threat to sensitive Cheat Mountain salamander habitats…. Pipelines for fracked natural gas are beginning to emanate from that region like legs from a spider and stopping pipelines could prevent other regions from relying on Marcellus gas. The Forest Service’s decision, though limited in scope, has pipeline opponents feeling more optimistic. ‘The Forest Service has really shown it has some backbone,’ said Ben Luckett, attorney for the Appalachian Mountain Advocates, an organization devoted to fighting fossil fuel development in the region. ‘We’re very happy they’re sticking to their guns’…. Environmental groups argue that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will have significant impacts on Appalachian forests. It would require the permanent removal of a 50- to 100-foot swath of trees along its entire 550-mile length so maintenance workers can access the pipeline. This could damage the habitats of threatened Cow Knob and Cheat Mountain salamanders, said Luckett. He also said the proposed route will pass through porous earth, meaning that gas leaks could seep into the region’s groundwater…. In the meantime, environmental activists plan to continue lobbying lawmakers to oppose the pipeline, hoping other passionate citizens will join them. ‘People are very angry, they’re outraged, they’re mad as hell,’ said the Sierra Club’s Bowers. ‘I came out of retirement to fight these pipelines because I was so concerned.'”

5-2-16 WRIC. Fire on the mountain: Rural residents battle pipeline. “Dominion Power, which has partnered with three other energy companies to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, initially proposed routing the project through the national forests. But because of concerns from the U.S. Forest Service, Dominion offered an alternative: redirecting the pipeline through Bolar and the nearby mountains. Bolar’s long-time residents fear the pipeline would not only mar the area’s beauty but endanger their lives and livelihoods as well. The anti-pipeline sentiment in the area is as visible as the mountain ranges that tower over the farmlands and rivers. The winding road leading up Bolar’s hilly terrain is peppered with pipeline protest signs, many proudly displayed in front of houses and other properties. In Bath, Highland and neighboring counties, there is strong opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ‘Dominion Power: a piping land-grabber,’ declares a sign near Weyers Cave in Augusta County…. Even more urgent than the pipeline’s perceived impact on tourism are the environmental concerns. Bill Limpert, a Bolar resident and former environmental regulator for the Maryland Department of the Environment, believes the pipeline would threaten the area’s environment and residents’ health…. Bath County is sort of the high watershed of the state. So much is unused and wild up here. It seems like, for us, the most destructive place in the world to run a pipeline, and I think the reason is that it’s the most direct and cheapest route. Fighting the pipeline is a big challenge, and a scary impact for people who close their eyes at night.’ -Ryan Hodges, Bath County real estate agent and chairman of the Mountain Soil and Water Conservation District.”

5-1-16 The Virginian-Pilot (Guest Columnist). Ron Enders: Bringing eminent domain abuse back to Virginia. “Thirty-three members of the Virginia General Assembly from Hampton Roads have petitioned Virginia’s U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, requesting they intervene with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to speed the granting of federal eminent domain powers to Dominion Resources. Citing an energy ‘need’ questioned by experts, these legislators expressed their desire that the corporation may more quickly take properties in Nelson County for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This is diametrically opposed to what their constituents actually want…. More than 2.6 million citizens (74.45 percent of the votes cast) approved amending the state constitution to prohibit eminent domain from being invoked if the ‘primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private enterprise, increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue or economic development.’ That precisely defines the ACP. Our own eminent domain prohibition is powerless in the face of federal eminent domain mandates that take precedence over even the state constitution. Nevertheless, the legislators are asking our senators to support the abuse of federal eminent domain to overrule the will of Virginia voters….We, like all responsible citizens, are concerned about the environmental and economic health of our area and the entire commonwealth of Virginia. The proposed pipeline through Nelson County violates both. It would result in major destruction to our environment; present a danger to our citizens; throttle the creation of new businesses; devalue our lands; and provide no benefit, economic or otherwise, to our citizens. If Hampton Roads lawmakers do not see this as an abuse of eminent domain, then we courteously ask that they look a little more closely.”

5-1-16 Suffolk News-Herald (Letter to the editor). Pipeline will not benefit citizens.
“I’m sure many readers have heard about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline taking private property through your area. ACP has a high-powered public relations campaign aimed at convincing the public and the politicians that the pipeline will benefit us. It won’t. ACP claims our region has urgent energy needs. We don’t. Both North Carolina and Virginia have reduced energy consumption during the last decade. I am convinced ACP will ship gas from this pipeline overseas from their branch line to Norfolk, as they are planning to do from a facility in Maryland. ACP claims natural gas is a clean-burning energy source. It isn’t. It sends more carbon dioxide into our already-polluted atmosphere. In fact, gas leaks along the route could make natural gas as polluting as coal from ground to combustion. ACP claims the pipelines safely transport natural gas. They don’t. During the past five years, there has been on average one gas pipeline incident per week in our country resulting in death, hospitalization or severe property damage. This pipeline is bigger than the XL pipeline, and only 6 inches smaller than the trans-Alaska pipeline. A gas pipeline of this size has never been built through steep slopes and karst terrain before. The impact radius, or blast zone, is 1,100 feet on each side of the pipe. The evacuation zone is 7/10 mile on each side of the pipe. Search Appomattox or West Virginia gas pipeline explosion to see what hell on earth looks like during a gas pipeline explosion. This is not a safe pipeline.”