11-30-17 Reuters. Climate activists delay U.S. gas pipeline approvals: regulator. “National environmental groups waging legal battles against energy projects are delaying approval of U.S. natural gas pipelines, a top federal energy regulator said on Thursday. The groups have lawyers who ‘understand how to use all of the levers of federal and state law to frustrate pipeline development,’ Neil Chatterjee, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), told a meeting of natural gas industry officials” [YES!]
11-30-17 NRDC. Virginia DEQ Wrong; Pipelines Contaminate Clean Water. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently recommended approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). The agency recommended that these pipelines receive certification under the Clean Water Act that they will not violate Virginia’s water quality standards. DEQ officials made this recommendation despite the risks to clean water across Virginia, including rivers, streams, drinking water reservoirs, and wetlands. Fortunately, VA DEQ is not the final decisionmaker on these pipelines. That responsibility lies with the Virginia State Water Control Board, which consists of seven Virginia citizens. The Board has the authority to make a certification decision under the Clean Water Act for these pipelines, and can only make a certification if it has ‘reasonable assurance’ that the pipelines would not violate Virginia’s water quality standards. …. Virginia DEQ made the wrong decision when it recommended that MVP and ACP be approved. The State Water Control Board should make the right decision.”
11-29-17 High Country News. A map of $1.1 billion in natural gas pipeline leaks. “Between January 2010 and November 2017, the nation’s natural gas transportation network leaked a total of 17.55 billion cubic feet of mostly methane gas. That’s enough to heat 233,000 homes for an entire year, and it’s got the same global warming potential as the carbon dioxide emitted from a large coal-fired power plant over the course of a year. Pipeline incidents took nearly 100 lives, injured close to 500 people and forced the evacuation of thousands during that time, while costing about $1.1 billion.” An interactive map allows readers to click and hover for more information about specific locations and incidents.
11-29-17 News & Observer [NC]. Atlantic Coast Pipeline faces another delay as NC officials push for more details. “The planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline, already more than a year behind schedule, could face further delays as North Carolina officials once again seek additional information on the project’s potential impacts to the communities the pipeline will traverse. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality on Wednesday sent the pipeline’s developers a fourth round of questions about the economic benefits and environmental risks of the project. The unusual repeat request gives pipeline officials 30 days to respond and gives the agency 60 days to review their response. …. The Department of Environmental Quality is looking for details on economic benefits to specific areas along the pipeline’s route, as opposed to generalizations about economic benefits. The agency wants a forecast of future economic conditions with the pipeline and without the pipeline, along with an analysis of the two forecasts, and an explanation of the logic on which the analysis is based. The agency also wants additional information on the pipeline’s end point, which was originally proposed in Robeson County. Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials later suggested that the pipeline would be extended to South Carolina at some point.”
11-29-17 Washington Examiner. FERC adds fourth member as it faces crucial vote on coal plants. “Richard Glick was sworn in Wednesday as the newest Democratic member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, nearly restoring the key energy watchdog agency to its full complement of five members. Glick’s appointment gives the commission a two-two split between Republicans and Democrats as it awaits former energy consultant Kevin McIntyre to be sworn in as the new Republican chairman of the commission. …. Glick had served as Democratic general counsel on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee before being appointed to the commission. He also served as government affairs vice president for Iberdrola, the large Spain-based multinational utility company and renewable energy firm.”
11-29-17 Blue Virginia. Can the Virginia State Water Control Board Really Be Trusted? “While the hotly contested Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley (MVP) pipelines have put a considerable amount of focus on Dominion Energy, primary stakeholder in the ACP, the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) is getting its own share of attention as it gears up for making a decision on the two “natural” gas pipelines at December hearings in Richmond. One would think that because the SWCB’s function is to make independent decisions on Virginia water quality, the SWCB and Dominion wouldn’t have any connection outside of ‘independent’ decisions made by the SWCB involving Dominion projects. But upon taking a closer look at individual members of the SWCB, a stunning and disconcerting number of ties between board members and Dominion can be found.”
11-28-17 Wilson Times [NC]. Suit challenges pipeline certificates’ legality. “Property owners in Wilson and Nash counties are part of a federal lawsuit claiming Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certificates issued to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline are in violation of the Natural Gas Act and the U.S. Constitution. Led by Bold Alliance, some seven groups and 95 people, mostly property owners in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, its Chairman Neil Chatterjee, Commissioners Cheryl Lafleur and Robert Powelson, the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC. …. The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the certificates of necessity and convenience for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline as unlawful.”
11-28-17 Washington Post. “Campaign to elect a pipeline:” Va.’s most powerful company ran multi-front fight. “Dominion Energy was taking no chances with the fate of its proposed natural gas pipeline during this year’s election season, even though both major candidates for governor supported the $5 billion project. The state’s most powerful corporation, along with partner companies and the American Gas Association, poured resources into online groups called EnergySure and Your Energy Virginia to whip up what it called a grassroots ‘campaign to elect a pipeline.'” Dominion is apparently distressed that regulators “are being bombarded by general citizenry, by elected officials who have asked to insert themselves into the process, and this debate swirls around” – and sees people opposing the pipelines as “a fragmented group of environmentalists and landowners from some of the most remote parts of the state.” Blue Virginia’s 11-28-17 commentary on the Washington Post article is Dominion Spends “Captured” Virginia Ratepayer Money to Push Its Propaganda, Disparage Pipeline Opponents and the Media.
11-28-17 News Leader. Why Virginia should reject the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. “It’s the responsibility of our elected representatives, and more importantly, Virginia’s State Water Control Board, to look at the full impact of the project. People should look closely at the fact that North Carolina leaders have rejected the ACP’s erosion-control plans. Virginia’s leaders should be doing more to adequately serve as a check on Dominion’s immense power and influence so that the ACP doesn’t threaten our health, environment, and economy.”
11-28-17 Utility Dive. Gas rush: FERC’s pipeline approvals underline persisting controversy over permitting. “The federal agency has approved 8 Bcf/d of pipeline capacity in recent months, resisting calls to expand its evaluation procedures.”
11-27-17 Blue Virginia. Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Environmental Racism, and the Appalling Silence of the Good People. “In April 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested as part of the Birmingham Campaign, an effort to bring national attention to systemic racism in one of America’s most segregated cities. As he sat in a jail cell, King wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which would become a bedrock document of the Civil Rights Movement. Speaking to leaders who, despite good intentions, failed to speak up against injustice, King famously wrote: ‘We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.’ In Virginia, we are now suffering from an ‘appalling silence’ over the environmental racism at the heart of Dominion Energy’s controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. …. The appalling silence over Dominion’s plans comes from many who Dr. King would consider to be ‘good people.’ But the silence has become deafening, particularly with the environmental racism of the linchpin of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline – Dominion’s proposed compressor station in Union Hill in Buckingham County, Virginia.” This story was picked up and published by the Huffington Post.
11-27-17 PRNewswire.com. Pipeline Opponents Bring Constitutional Challenge Against FERC’s Use of Eminent Domain, Says NJ Conservation. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency charged with reviewing applications to permit natural gas pipelines, is acting unconstitutionally by not ensuring that the lands it authorizes pipeline companies to seize are being put to a public use, contends a complaint filed by the Eastern Environmental Law Center (EELC) and Columbia Environmental Law Clinic on behalf of New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation). The first-of-its-kind legal challenge, filed with the U.S. District Court in Trenton against FERC, asks the court to declare that: Under its current evaluation process, FERC’s approval process for pipelines violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for improperly taking land from private parties without a public use; ERC must consider environmental impacts before granting a pipeline company a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which allows the companies to exercise eminent domain; FERC cannot accept private ‘shipping’ contracts as proof of market demand or as proof that the consumers will not suffer economic harm.” Download and read the complaint here.
11/27/17 MetroNews [WV] Pipeline developers say delays in courtroom could result in big delay for construction. “Lawyers for the Mountain Valley Pipeline say if there are delays in the federal court system, the entire project could be delayed by at least a year. The pipeline developers wrote in a recent court filing that they need access to all the property no later than this coming Feb. 1 to comply with a window for tree clearing required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ‘If MVP is unable to gain access to commence work on each respective deadline, construction of the entire MVP project may be delayed for as much as one year given that the window for tree clearing is limited to only a few months each year,’ the lawyers wrote. The Nov. 22 filing by Mountain Valley Pipeline is part of a federal lawsuit to gain eminent domain access to more than 100 properties in nine West Virginia counties.”
11-25-17 The Courier [Findlay OH]. Ohio Asks Rover Pipeline To Stop Horizontal Drilling. “The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has told the company building the massive Rover natural gas pipeline project to stop horizontal drilling after another spill of clay-based slurry. The Repository EPA Director Craig Butler on Wednesday asked Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company building the $4.2 billion project, to halt drilling after 200 gallons of slurry spilled into a river in Ashland County on Nov. 16. Butler told the company the EPA will be asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to intervene. The state Attorney General’s Office earlier this month sued Energy Transfer claiming the company had committed numerous environmental violations in more than a dozen counties. The EPA earlier fined the company $2.3 million over previous spills. A spokesman for the project didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.” [Horizontal drilling is the process the ACP proposes to use to go under the Blue Ridge Parkway near Wintergreen.]
11-24-17 Detroit News. Court orders halt on natural gas pipeline in Ohio. “A city facing long odds of stopping section of a $2 billion natural gas pipeline from being built there was handed a victory this week when a federal appellate court issued an emergency order that temporarily halts the start of construction. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision on Wednesday ruled that the city of Green, in northeast Ohio’s Summit County, is likely to prevail in a federal petition it filed with the court last month claiming that the state Environmental Protection Agency failed to follow its own rules when it granted NEXUS Gas Transmission a clean water certificate for the project.”
11-22-17 Power for the People VA. Sierra Club takes State Corporation Commission to court over failure to review Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal. “Sierra Club is asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to require the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to review a key deal for shipping capacity on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The SCC has thus far declined to exercise its oversight authority over this arrangement, despite a Sierra Club petition filed last May urging that Virginia’s Affiliates Act requires the Commission’s review in this case. In Sierra Club’s appeal filed yesterday by attorneys with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, the law firm representing it in court, the Club argues that the SCC was wrong to reject its petition and seeks an order reversing the SCC’s decision.” [See our October 12, 2017 post, Conservation Groups Argue Dominion Conflict of Interest]
11-22-17 NC Policy Watch. Natural gas leak at Robeson County compressor station adds to anxiety over Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “A compressor station in the town of Prospect in Robeson County leaked natural gas for more than an hour early yesterday morning, before repair crews could stop it. That accident, although minor, underscores the safety concerns voiced by Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents. The Robesonian first reported the story [November 21, 2017]. The paper quoted Talford Dial, who lives about 400 yards from the compressor station, as saying it sounded like a “747 taking off,” even though a woods buffers his home from the site.”
11-21-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Gazette editorial: WV abdicates responsibility in pipeline question. “West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection has essentially admitted the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline could not be legally permitted under environmental protection laws. So instead of sending the plans back for revision and improvements until they comply, DEP just threw the rules away. This is not going to be good for anyone.”
11-21-17 WV MetroNews. Mountain Valley Pipeline developers file federal suit against Fayette County Commission. “Developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are suing the three members of the Fayette County Commission, saying they’ve unreasonably delayed progress on the proposed 300-mile, $3.5 billion project. The pipeline developers dispute the commissioners’ decision last week to deny a rezoning application to build one of three compressor stations along the pipeline route. The developers filed their lawsuit Friday in federal court in Charleston against Fayette County Commissioners Matthew D. Wender, Denise Scalph and John Brenemen. They contend the federal Natural Gas Act and the Pipeline Safety Act preempt Fayette County’s zoning ordinance. They argue that approval of a certificate by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission specifically authorizes construction and operation of the compressor station. The lawsuit asks for the Fayette commissioners to be prevented from enforcing the local zoning ordinance. ‘While MVP has attempted in good faith to cooperate with the Fayette County Commission (consistent with the requirement imposed by the MVP certificate), the Fayette County Commission has now delayed the local permitting process so much that MVP’s construction schedule will be unreasonably delayed if MVP continues to seek issuance of a rezoning approval and required permits under the Fayette County zoning ordinance,’ wrote lawyers for the pipeline developers.” [In other words, “If you don’t do what we want, we will sue you!”]
11-21-17 Detroit Free Press. Massive gas line explosion leaves 18-foot crater in Orion Township. “A ruptured gas line caused an explosion and massive fire that left an 18-foot-deep crater in an area of Orion Township near the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets mall on Monday night, authorities say. A fire was reported shortly after 9:52 p.m., when Consumers Energy noticed a drop in pressure on its gas system, the energy company said in a news release. …. The flames could be seen from downtown Detroit, more than 30 miles away. …. Consumers Energy said that the cause of the eruption and fire is under investigation. What officials do know is that a 22-inch diameter steel transmission line ruptured, and that the fire burned itself out after the flow of gas was cut off on either end of a seven-mile section of the transmission line.The gas was shut off by 11:10 p.m. and the fire was out sometime after midnight or 1 a.m., Consumers Energy spokesperson Roger Morgenstern said.” [This was a 22″ line with shut off valves 7 miles apart. What happens when it’s a 42″ Pipeline with shut off valves 20 miles apart?]
11–20-2017 Washington Post. Letter to Editor: Va. officials are risking a potential water crisis. “[T]he Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) may soon recommend that the Water Control Board approve water-quality certifications for them. This would be a rash and reckless decision that would jeopardize our rivers and streams and our drinking water. …. Instead of DEQ fining pipeline companies for violations and pocketing the proceeds, it should match the amount and give it to the communities that suffer the consequences of water pollution. Furthermore, DEQ should guarantee clean drinking water for everyone within two miles of these pipelines in karst areas so that if their water is destroyed by pipeline construction or operation, DEQ will supply them with clean water and pay for the loss of property value from an artificial, and suspect, water system. DEQ should put its money where its mouth is.”
11-20-17. Roanoke Star. Nearly 1,000 Wintergreen Property Owners To Sue Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Friends of Wintergreen announced today that nearly 1,000 Wintergreen property owners plan to individually sue the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for damages to their property if the pipeline company seizes land used by the Wintergreen community. These actions follow a rare split-decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve the 600-mile, 42-inch compressed natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and grant the private pipeline company the power to use eminent domain to seize private land, including 7-acres of common land at Wintergreen. ‘By approving the ACP, FERC effectively guarantees a 14% profit (or over $200 million a year) to the Dominion-managed pipeline company, a return that comes at the expense of many unwilling, uncompensated or under-compensated Virginia landowners. In the case of Wintergreen property owners, the land to be seized by the pipeline will come with no compensation to individual property owners, but significant inconvenience and damage to their property values,’ said Jonathan Ansell, Chairman of Friends of Wintergreen, Inc.” See the full press release from Friends of Wintergreen here. CBS19 coverage is here.
11-20-17 New York Times. Nebraska Regulators Approve Alternative Route for Keystone XL Pipeline. “Nebraska regulators on Monday allowed the Keystone XL oil pipeline to clear its final major hurdle, granting a victory to President Trump and Republicans who have for years pressed for the project. But the pipeline company will not be allowed to build along its preferred route, the regulators announced, opening up new questions about how the project will proceed.”
11-18-17 [Buckhannon WV] Record Delta. Pipeline starting April 1. It begins, “Construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is expected to begin on April 1, 2018, and that is not an April Fool’s joke. Mike Cozad, a third-party contractor for ACP, came to the Upshur County Commission’s weekly meeting Thursday to provide commissioners with a timeline and update on the building of the 42-inch, 600-mile natural gas pipeline that will extend from Harrison County, West Virginia to Robeson County, North Carolina. …. In the latter part of March, you’ll see a whole lot of people coming in here and getting set up with the anticipated start date (of construction) 1 April 2018. Prior to that, we will be dropping trees, but that’s a much smaller impact – they’re just going out, felling the trees and moving on. …. Each construction spread will be 400 to 600 people, depending on the contractor.” But later in the meeting, after comments by April Pierson-Keating, a member of Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance, Cozad agreed that most benefits would be short term, saying, “The bigger impact is going to be short term, of course, while construction is going on. There will still be some long-term jobs, but she’s correct that the number’s probably not that much.”
11-18-17 News and Observer [Charlotte NC]. Editorial: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will slow conversion to more renewable energy. “The pipeline will not be a lifeline for eastern North Carolina. It will instead delay Duke from more urgently converting to renewable sources. This is not a theoretical issue. Eastern North Carolina has felt the flooding from hurricanes intensified by global warming, and it is feeling the encroachment of rising sea levels. What’s in eastern North Carolina’s best interest with regard to energy sources is the same as what’s in the world’s best interest. Build more wind turbines and solar arrays and encourage the rapidly improving battery technology for storing solar power. Those steps – not running a 50-foot wide swath through eastern North Carolina for the pipeline – represent the best path for the state’s energy future.”
11-18-17 News-Virginian. Letter to Editor from Bill Limpert: FERC Editorial way off base. “Back in October, following the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s certification of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published an editorial in which citizens and groups who were opposed to the pipelines were ridiculed. The editorial stated that the FERC decisions were sound, and cited the length of the documents as proof of their validity. It also stated that opponents were hysterical, and did not base their conclusions about the projects on fact. After seeing all of the work and scholarly research that so many have done to prove beyond any doubt that these projects are not in the public need, I saw red. I sent the following letter to the Richmond Times-Dispatch rebutting the editorial. They chose not to print it. Dominion runs Virginia and, apparently, the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They don’t run The News Virginian, however. My rebuttal follows: I recently read your editorial of October 16th, in which citizens opposed to FERC’s approval of the ACP and MVP were summarily derided. I take great exception with this ignorant and ugly attack. …. The editorial stated that our opposition was based on hysteria, not fact. Quite the contrary. Those opposed to this project bring more expertise to this argument than the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dominion, or FERC. Our unpaid volunteers are fighting against corporate seizure of our property and our rights, and as such, we have the moral high ground as well.”
11-17-17 Utility Dive. FERC rejects New York petition for rehearing over Millennium pipeline project, setting up court battle. “Federal regulators yesterday stuck to their guns, rejecting a petition for rehearing filed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation over the approval of the 8-mile Valley Lateral Pipeline that would move shale gas from the existing Millennium Pipeline to the 680 MW Valley Energy Center in Orange County, N.Y. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week denied a request for a stay by the DEP to block construction. Next month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear arguments over the lateral. Earlier this month, the court approved a temporary stay of construction. In an unrelated proceeding, North Carolina regulators have asked FERC to reconsider the return on equity it granted to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in its October approval.”
11-17-17 Richond Times-Dispatch. U.S. Forest Service will allow Atlantic Coast Pipeline through two national forests. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline won another key approval Friday when the U.S. Forest Service said it would permit the Dominion Energy-led project to be built through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests. …. But David Sligh, an environmental attorney, former Virginia Department of Environmental Quality engineer, conservation director for Wild Virginia and an investigator for the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, called the Forest Service decision disappointing. ‘You have to be disappointed anytime an agency essentially betrays their duty, and that’s what they’ve done,’ Sligh said. ‘It’s certainly not a sound decision, and it certainly doesn’t meet their legal mandates.'”
11-17-17 NBC29. US Forest Service Allowing Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction. “The federal government will allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to run through national forests in Virginia and West Virginia. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service announced its decision Friday, November 17. Twenty-one miles of the pipeline route will cross national forest system lands in the George Washington and Monongahela national forests. Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC expects tree removal to start later in the month. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) responded soon after in a statement that strongly opposes the USDA Forest Service’s decision. The center plans to challenge both forest service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval of the project.” Web coverage includes the release from the Forest Service, as well as releases from SELC and Dominion.
11-16-17 Charlotte Observer. Atlantic Coast Pipeline set to seize private property for 600-mile project. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is set to start seizing private property in North Carolina early next year to build its proposed 600-mile natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina. The energy consortium, which includes Charlotte-based Duke Energy, said this week that about 20 percent of 2,900 landowners whose properties lie in the path of the proposed underground pipeline have not signed voluntary agreements to allow their land to be used for the project, including an estimated 200 property owners in eight North Carolina counties. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline can begin legal condemnation proceedings against holdout property owners as soon as it has received all state and federal permits.”
11-16-17 WeAreCovePoint.org. Back-to-back bad hearings for Dominion this week. “The last two days saw two hearings about different Dominion Energy gas infrastructure projects in Southern Maryland. Tuesday night, there was a zoning permit for a compressor station Dominion wants to build near Accokeek, and Wednesday, there was a hearing to change Dominion’s largest state-level permit for its export terminal being built at Cove Point in a way that would allow more pollution into the surrounding community. Dominion representatives left both hearings with grumpy faces.”
11-16-17 DeSmog. Did Northam’s Office Try to Hide the Dominion Executives and Lobbyists Sitting on His Transition Team? “Virginia’s Democratic governor-elect, Ralph Northam, announced his transition committee this week. In a press release, his office listed 85 individuals who will comprise the ‘bipartisan’ committee, representing Virginians ‘from across the Commonwealth who will join him over the course of the next two months to lay the groundwork for a successful administration.’ But there is something odd about the list of people and their affiliations, or lack thereof. Dominion Energy — the state’s most powerful corporate player who will need certifications from the Northam administration for its pivotal Atlantic Coast pipeline — doesn’t appear once on the list. …. Yet a closer look at the people on the transition team reveals that some have been presented in a selective way that fails to mention their various affiliations with Dominion.”
11-16-17 Washington Post. Keystone pipeline spills 210,000 gallons of oil on eve of permitting decision for TransCanada. “The Keystone pipeline running from Canada across the Great Plains leaked Thursday morning, spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil — or 210,000 gallons — southeast of the small town of Amherst in northeast South Dakota. The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada. The spill on the first Keystone pipeline is the latest in a series of leaks that critics of the new pipeline say shows that TransCanada should not receive another permit.”
11-16-17 Charleston Gazette. Judge taps on brakes in Mountain Valley Pipeline land easement case. “A federal judge on Thursday tapped on the brakes — at least for now — in Mountain Valley Pipeline’s effort to fast-track one of two lawsuits against hundreds of landowners seeking to use eminent domain to gain easements for construction of its more than 300-mile natural gas project across West Virginia and Virginia. U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver indicated that he would not be granting a request from MVP lawyers that all of the landowners in the company’s West Virginia lawsuit be forced to respond by Dec. 4 to the company’s motions for summary judgment to force unwilling landowners to allow surveys of their property and to ‘immediate access and possession’ of those properties to begin construction of the pipeline. ‘There is no prospect that the court is going to require an answer by December 4 to those motions,’ Copenhaver said during a morning status conference he held in open court in Charleston. Copenhaver also indicated that he is going to press MVP attorneys to personally serve all of the landowners with the lawsuits against them, and demand detailed explanations if the company ultimately says it couldn’t find all of the owners and wanted to rely on a public notice in the newspaper instead. ‘The court wants these people located,’ Copenhaver said. ‘The court is expecting due process.’
11-15-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Suit seeks to stop FERC from blocking pipeline appeals. “A new legal action against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeks to stop the agency from using a procedural maneuver to keep challenges of its approval of new natural gas pipelines from having their day in court. Attorneys for the Sierra Club filed their emergency petition this week with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in a case about NEXUS, a 257-mile pipeline from Columbiana County, Ohio, to Ypsilanti, Michigan. But the underlying legal issues focus on procedures that are also likely to play out in the months to come in separate challenges to FERC approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia. Essentially, the petition argues that the FERC prevents federal appeals courts from hearing legal challenges to its pipeline approvals by delaying decisions on requests that it reconsider those approvals — required before court appeals can be filed — and then allowing pipeline construction to begin before it decides those rehearing requests.”
11-15-17 Triangle Business Journal. N.C. Utilities Commission asks feds for a ‘rehearing’ on ACP. “A week after state regulators asked Duke Energy and Dominion Energy to come up with a better erosion plan for its 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, another North Carolina agency has lobbed criticism at the project. This time it’s the N.C. Utilities Commission, which has filed a request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission grant a ‘rehearing’ on the $5 billion pipeline. NCUC is asking the feds to reconsider the certificate it granted the project in October – an issuance celebrated by ACP as its most significant regulatory milestone yet. Bill Gilmore, a deputy director with NCUC, says his group continues to support the project as a whole. NCUC didn’t ask for any kind of stay and doesn’t ‘anticipate’ any delays for ACP stemming from the rehearing request, he says. ‘It would be wonderful to have a competing pipeline,’ he reiterates, noting that Transco has dominated as the state’s primary interstate for more than six decades. What NCUC takes issue with, however, is ACP’s proposed recourse rates, which factor into what ACP could charge for the natural gas it wants to pipe in from Virginia. ACP is calculating its recourse rates based on a 14 percent return on equity estimate, a figure NCUC calls ‘overstated’ in its filing to the feds. Since ACP is a new entity, it’s basing that rate on what Transco uses for its own calculation – an estimate Gilmore also calls ‘ridiculous’ and outdated.”
11-15-17 Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk postpones vote on Atlantic Coast Pipeline easements. “The Norfolk City Council postponed a vote on whether to grant easements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two drinking water reservoirs, the only ones in the project’s path. The Virginian-Pilot reports the council was scheduled to consider the issue Tuesday night but rescheduled the vote for Dec. 19.” [Attendees at the meeting say Mothers Out Front and a local group called Motherboard 757 were in attendance and spoke against the city granting the easement. There were some industry reps in the room but they were outnumbered by people speaking in opposition to the easement.] TV coverage here.
11-14-17 AG-Web. Pipelines and Farmers Battle Over Lifetime Loss. Farmers in Illinois, Georgia, and Iowa talk about their personal experiences with pipelines built across their land. “Pipelines and agriculture are a contentious pair, with a growing number of farmers raising concerns over soil health, drainage issues, and responses from oil and gas companies. ‘Pipelines promise the world and money. Sure, I love energy efficiency, but I’m a farmer and I don’t want this pipeline headache on my property. If you can keep a pipeline from coming through your property, then do it,’ Richter says. ‘If they need to get through your land, they’ll tickle your ear. But once the line is installed, they don’t come back to the table to fix problems. Even if you’ve got it in writing, you’ll still have to go to the legal system for enforcement and spend thousands of dollars,’ Dowdy adds. ‘The only leverage you’ve got is prior to the pipeline.’ ‘You’ve got to get advice from somebody with soil experience, not dirt experience. Don’t let the company put time limits on corrective action and don’t sign off on anything,’ Kelley concludes. ‘Remember, farmers look down and see soil, but the pipeline company just sees dirt.'”
11-14-17 Nelson County Times. Nelson group files request with FERC to halt pipeline. “In an effort to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Friends of Nelson filed a request for rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday on the commission’s recent decision to issue a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the natural gas project. ‘We request that the Certificate Order and deficient final environmental impact statement (FEIS) be withdrawn and the environmental analysis and public convenience and necessity analysis be redone in a manner that complies with FERC’s obligations pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act,’ the 74-page filing says.”
11-14-17 News & Observer [Raleigh NC]. Atlantic Coast Pipeline would hurt black residents most, NAACP says. “Building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through low-income Eastern North Carolina counties would force people of color to bear more than their share of the risks posed by the nation’s power infrastructure, the NAACP said in a report released Tuesday. “African American and other environmental justice communities face heavy burdens because of the millions of pounds of hazardous emissions released by the oil and gas industry each year,” said the report, titled “Fumes Across the Fence Line.”
11-14-17 Blue Virginia. 10 Actions to Oppose Dominion Energy’s Stranglehold on VA Politics. “After last Tuesday’s incredible results, it should be clear that we’re experiencing a democratic moment of transformation. The power dynamics in Virginia are in flux; now’s the time for everyday citizens to go all in, to insist that our representatives put our interests above those of corporate donors. Over the next several months, this struggle can and should be focused on combating the political influence of Dominion Energy in particular. The Richmond-Times Dispatch recently published an eight-article series tracing the origins and transformation of Dominion’s political power. This series, in part, details Dominion’s role as Virginia’s top corporate contributor. Yet in the aftermath of last Tuesday – since 13 candidates won who have pledged never to accept Dominion contributions – we have the momentum. Virginians who’ve had enough of Dominion’s stranglehold over our politics should act now, so I’ve put together a set of short-term actions below.” The article goes on to list the 10 actions citizens should take. See also our main page post listing the actions.
11-14-17 Roanoke Times. Critics of pipeline approval seek new hearing on FERC decision. “One month after it approved the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, a federal agency is being asked to think twice by a chorus of critics. Some 22 petitioners — including landowners whose property the pipeline would dissect, counties it would cross and conservation groups who say it would leave a trail of environmental damage — filed documents Monday asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order a rehearing of its Oct. 13 decision. The requests outline a variety of grounds on which opponents argue that FERC erred when it granted a certificate allowing a 42-inch diameter, 303-mile buried pipeline that would channel natural gas at high pressure through the two Virginias. While some opponents concede that FERC is unlikely to reverse itself, the petitions are a necessary step toward a possible legal challenge that would seek a delay in construction.”
11-13-17 Wichita Eagle. Norfolk leaders voting on Atlantic Coast Pipeline easements. “The Norfolk City Council is set to decide whether to grant easements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two drinking water reservoirs, the only ones in its path. The Virginian-Pilot reports the council will consider the issue Tuesday [November 14, 2017]. Senior city staffers and Dominion Energy, the 600-mile (965-kilometer) natural gas pipeline’s lead partner, say they’re confident it can be safely routed under the reservoirs. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club and other environmental advocates are asking the council to put a hold on the request.”
11-13-17 Fredricksburg Today. Richmond County bans fracking. “Richmond County is the first community to ban fracking in the Rappahannock River watershed, a move which environmental advocates are calling a big win for water quality on the Northern Neck. After several months of research and deliberations, the Richmond County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Nov. 9 to ban gas drilling and fracking in their jurisdictional boundaries. The vote sends a strong message that the communities of Richmond County and the Northern Neck are invested in protecting their land and water from industrial activities that pose a clear risk to clean water and healthy communities.”
11-13-17 StateImpact-Pennsylvania. New gas pipeline capacity sharply exceeds consumption, report says. “Charges that the U.S. pipeline industry is building far more natural gas pipelines than it needs are being fueled by a new report showing that the capacity of lines approved by federal regulators over the last two decades was more than twice the amount of gas actually consumed daily in 2016. The report by the independent Analysis Group for the Natural Resources Defense Council said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved more than 180 billion cubic feet a day (bcf/d) of new pipeline capacity since 1999, when it began its current policy on approving interstate pipelines. The new capacity compares with the average daily consumption of only 75.11 bcf/d last year, the report said. Even during the Polar Vortex of 2013/14 when exceptionally cold temperatures in the Northeast boosted the need for heating fuel, consumption of 137 bcf/d was still significantly lower than the combined capacity additions, the report said, citing data from the federal Energy Information Administration.”
11-13-17 DeSmog. Northam’s Transition Team Leader Has Ties to Companies Behind Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Virginia’s governor-elect, Ralph Northam, wasted no time in organizing a transition team. A day after his November 7th victory, Northam announced that Marianne Radcliff, a former state transportation official with rich experience in local government and politics, will lead his transition team. Over the past two decades, Radcliff has established herself as a prominent lobbyist in the state’s capital. She is currently vice president of the Richmond-based lobbying firm Kemper Consulting. Previously she worked as a lobbyist for Williams Mullen. DeSmog has found that Radcliff and Kemper Consulting have ties to companies behind the Atlantic Coast pipeline, a highly controversial project that loomed large in the gubernatorial race. These include links to Dominion – the energy giant and historically dominant corporate player in Virginian politics.”
11-13-17 The Record Delta [WV]. Water board agrees to gas pipeline deal. “The Buckhannon [WV] Water Board on Thursday approved a preliminary agreement with Atlantic Coast Pipeline that states the company will pay nearly $2 million to enhance the city’s water system. According to a copy of the agreement, ACP will pay for $1,933,085 worth of improvements to the city’s water system — improvements that natural gas company officials say are necessary to perform hydrostatic testing on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. City water board employees will perform the labor required to make the improvements.”
11-13-17 MetroNews [WV]. Waiver aside, WV regulators express confidence in pipeline oversight. “West Virginia environmental regulators drew scrutiny this month by waiving the state’s option to tailor its own requirements within a federal permit for the enormous and controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline. Trying to better explain their rationale, the state’s regulators say they weren’t giving up their say-so but instead were opting for a different form of oversight. Observers with environmental groups have said they need to do more homework to determine if what the Division of Environmental Protection is saying holds water. Others contend DEP’s decision is really a way to deflect criticism while capitulating to the pipeline developers.”
11-12-17 Huffington Post. McAuliffe’s Folly: The Atlantic “Trump” Pipeline. “Is outgoing Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe a climate change denier? Just asking that question is bound to offend the governor and some of his supporters. … Never mind that close observers have called McAuliffe’s record on climate change ‘abysmal’ and ‘marred by contradictions and empty rhetoric.'” See also our main page post on this news story.
11-11-17 Rocky Mount Telegram [NC]. Pipeline critics push against plan. “A local group fighting installment of an interstate natural gas pipeline through Nash County is urging people to voice their opposition at a public hearing next week while utility representatives say the project is on track despite questions from state regulators. The U.S. Division of Air Quality is holding a public hearing Wednesday in Garysburg, the largest town in nearby Northampton County, where builders are planning a compressor station near Pleasant Hill for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Compressor stations can cause dangerous emissions of volatile organic compounds, said Hope Taylor, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina. The pipeline disproportionately targets minority and low-income rural communities, according to advocates at a recent people’s tribunal. Nash Stop the Pipeline and other environmental and social justice groups have been fighting a protracted battle against the pipeline for years.”
11-10-17 Blue Virginia. Virginia Governor-Elect Ralph Northam Should Reject Dominion Money for Inaugural Committee. “In the coming weeks, Dominion Energy will almost certainly try to deliver a $50,000 check to Governor-elect Northam for his inaugural committee. In Virginia politics this is routine–since 1998 Dominion has contributed over $225,000 to gubernatorial inaugural committees. No other corporation has donated more than Dominion to these committees according to records kept by the Virginia Public Access Project. But this might be the first year a Governor-elect considers whether it’s politically acceptable to cash Dominion’s check. A new class of elected officials will enter office in January having pledged not to accept Dominion contributions as a result of a pledge circulated by Activate Virginia. For many political observers, this is a major development in Virginia politics….”
11-10-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Thirteen candidates who refused Dominion money win seats in General Assembly. “Thirteen candidates who signed a pledge refusing to accept campaign cash from Virginia’s two big utilities won seats in the House of Delegates Tuesday. Seven of those support prohibiting Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power from making political donations. The pledge, signed by nearly 60 mostly Democratic House of Delegates candidates, made headlines earlier this year. And in the traditionally business-friendly General Assembly, where no corporate concern has held more sway of late than Dominion, the state’s largest utility, an influx of lawmakers who see the company’s clout as excessive could augur a shift in debate on major issues during the legislative session next year.”
11-9-17 Oil Change International. Burning the Gas ‘Bridge Fuel’ Myth. “This analysis provides five clear reasons why fossil gas is not a ‘bridge fuel.’ It shows that even with zero methane leakage, gas is not a climate change solution. The idea of fossil gas as a ‘bridge’ from coal to renewables has been strongly promoted by the industry over recent years, and echoed also by government leaders including former U.S. President Barack Obama and EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete. In this briefing we show that even in the hypothetical case of zero methane leakage, fossil gas cannot be a bridge fuel. This is not to say that the methane leakage issue is unimportant or that reducing leakage is not essential. However, it is to demonstrate that methane leakage is not the sole determinant of whether fossil gas causes net harm to the climate. To meet climate goals, fossil gas production and consumption must, like that of other fossil fuels, be phased out, and reducing methane leakage does not alter that fact.”
11-9-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Opinion: As McAuliffe heads to Germany, his climate legacy is marred by a pipeline promise. After Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, “Gov. Terry McAuliffe joined 14 U.S. states and Puerto Rico in forming the U.S. Climate Alliance, with the commitment to ‘reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.’ This week, McAuliffe will travel to the U.N. Climate Negotiations in Germany as part of a delegation of U.S. elected officials. McAuliffe’s involvement in this delegation makes for a great headline. But the trouble for the Virginia governor is that his climate legacy is marred by contradictions and empty rhetoric. One of the most glaring examples of this: Despite mounting opposition from Virginians, he continues to support two fracked gas pipelines that would worsen climate change — the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.”
11-8-17 Blue Virginia. Thirteen “Dominion $ Deniers” to Serve in the State Legislature, Countering Climate Deniers. “In a big win for anti-corruption and clean energy advocates, 13 elected House of Delegates members have pledged not to accept campaign contributions from Dominion Energy or Appalachian Power. (Dominion has blocked clean energy progress for years by funding campaigns of candidates in both parties.) Tom Perriello made the pledge famous last summer when he signed it during his campaign for governor. Around that time, 13 House of Delegates candidates who have now been elected—or one-quarter of next session’s Democratic delegation—also signed the pledge, according to Activate Virginia, the pledge tracker.”
11-8-17 DeSmog. How Dominion Energy, Fracked Gas Giant, Lost Big in Virginia Election. “Virginia’s top corporate political contributor, Dominion Energy, had a rough night last night, as at least 14 candidates who pledged not to accept money from the monopoly utility won seats in a surprise wave election for Democrats. Depending on official counts that may take days or weeks, Democrats will likely tie Republicans with a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, leading to a share of power, though they may still control the chamber outright depending on the results of recounts. Democrats won all three statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. In addition to the 13 Delegate candidates who pledged not to accept money from Dominion, newly elected Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax ran a campaign that opposed Dominion’s fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and refused contributions from the monopoly utility. 52 Democratic and Independent nominees who advanced to the general election signed the pledge, organiz
11-8-17 Augusta Free Press. Findings from Charlottesville People’s Tribunal on pipelines. “Low-income rural communities – particularly those with significant African-American, Native-American, and Appalachian populations – will bear disproportionately the environmental, health, and economic costs of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, according to testimony at a People’s Tribunal recently held in Charlottesville. … Based on the relevance of testimony to six principal human rights signed by the U.S. in agreements to protect its people, the environmental justice experts presiding as judges over the Charlottesville tribunal ‘strongly recommend that the states of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina and their environmental agencies 1) suspend all actions [to proceed with the ACP and MVP pipelines]; 2) immediately cease and desist eminent domain actions; and 3) thoroughly investigate the environmental, cultural, and health impacts [of the pipelines and infrastructure] with real voice and real vote from the community.’ The judges also strongly recommended that the United Nations Human Rights Council put the United States on trial for crimes against human – as the U.S. has recommended for other countries in violation of their agreements.”
11-7-17 Huntington Herald-Dispatch. Editorial: DEP’s hands-off stance on pipeline raises valid concerns. “The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s actions – or inactions – again are raising questions about its commitment to doing a thorough job of protecting the state’s environment. … Regardless of how one feels about the [MVP] project itself, the critics do have a point when they condemn the agency as being derelict in its duty in this case. After all, it conceded first that it didn’t do a thorough job in evaluating the project, then decided it wasn’t going to do the job at all.”
11-7-17 Triangle Business Journal. Regulators issue ‘Letter of Disapproval’ for Atlantic Coast Pipeline; Not a rejection, ACP says. “The utilities behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have hit another potential delay with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. ACP spokesman Aaron Ruby confirmed Tuesday that Dominion Energy and Duke Energy received two more information requests from NCDEQ, this time related to the project’s erosion and sedimentation control permit. … Calling the request ‘normal procedure,’ and ‘typical for projects of this size,’ Ruby wrote that the firms are ‘confident’ they can provide the additional information soon.”
11-7-17 Lancaster Online. Work stops on Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Lancaster County, builder seeks court clarification. “Construction has stopped along the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline’s 37-mile route in Lancaster County amid a confusing stay order issued by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., on Monday. A temporary stay was issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in response to an emergency motion filed Oct. 30 by environmental groups opposing the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The emergency motion asks that work cease until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does a comprehensive environmental review on the project’s short- and long-term impacts, as well as whether there is a public need for the pipeline.” UPDATE on 11-9-17: On November 8, the Court denied the motion for emergency stay and dissolved the administrative stay issued earlier in the week. See Atlantic Sunrise pipeline build resumes after court lifts work-stoppage order and Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline construction to resume: ruling
11-6-17 Utility Dive. Massachusetts lawmakers press for law banning ‘pipeline tax.’ “Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a pair of bills that would strengthen gas project reviews and make it explicitly illegal to charge electric ratepayers to develop gas infrastructure. Senate Bill 1855 says the DPU ‘shall not approve any contract for the purchase of gas, gas pipeline capacity or liquefied gas storage where any contract costs could be recoverable from the ratepayers, if such contract requires any construction or expansion of interstate gas infrastructure.’ ‘In paying a surcharge on their utility bills to build the pipeline, ratepayers are taking away the risk of the electric company’s business decision to build the pipeline whether it is profitable or not,’ the lawmaker letter, reportedly signed by 125 legislators, reads. ‘This shields the electric companies from risk and subsidizes the corporate bottom line.'”
11-6-17 ThinkProgress. Environmentalists just gained a new enemy in the fight against natural gas pipelines – Industry is intensifying its campaign against landowners and environmentalists. “The electric utility sector’s top lobbying group is teaming up with fossil fuel trade associations as part of an effort to intensify the industry’s campaign against citizen and environmental groups opposed to fracking and new natural gas pipelines. … From Keystone XL to Dakota Access to ongoing efforts to curtail oil and gas drilling, anti-fossil fuel activists caught the attention of energy companies and their representatives in Washington years ago. Aside from only a small number of victories, however, the activists have largely been unable to stop pipelines or slow down fracking. And yet the gas industry isn’t taking any chances; it wants to ensure its winning percentage remains strong. EEI brings to the table a budget of $90 million and a strong lobbying network in Washington and state capitals that can be used to help squelch fossil fuel resistance. … Lorne Stockman, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, an anti-fossil fuel research and advocacy group, sees EEI’s decision to link with the oil and gas trade groups as an effort to ‘offload their risks and their costs onto the consumer.’ … ‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a classic case where the three utilities that are developing it also own the three utilities that are the primary customers for the pipeline capacity,’ Stockman said. ‘So, they sign these 20-year agreements with themselves or with their subsidiaries and the cost of that long 20-year agreement is being passed along to the ratepayer.'”
11-4-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. DEP pipeline decision at odds with WV’s push against federal overreach. “or years, West Virginia political leaders and regulators have complained about overreach by the federal government. State agencies should be the ones who make decisions about how to best protect the environment within their borders, West Virginia leaders, including Gov. Jim Justice, have argued. But last week, the Justice administration gave up its broad authority under state and federal water pollution rules to approve, reject or require changes in the proposal to build the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline to carry natural gas from Wetzel County into Virginia. Legal experts say such a move is surprising, given the state’s strong public stance about what level of government should make environmental decisions and in the context of a Clean Water Act provision — Section 401 — aimed to ensure states could be the ones to make those determinations.”
11-3-17 River Reporter [NY]. Pipeline construction halted – Federal court steps in. “A federal appeals court has stepped into the ongoing battle between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The US Court of Appeal, Second Circuit on November 2 issued an emergency stay FERc’s “Notice to Proceed with Construction.” FERC had issued the notice to Millennium Pipeline to allow the company to begin construction on the 7.8 mile Valley Lateral Pipeline, which is intended to carry gas from the Millennium Pipeline to the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant in Wawayanda. The stay halts construction of the pipeline, at least temporarily, until the case is heard in court. The issue is whether DEC acted properly when it denied a water quality certificate to Millennium because the environmental review of the pipeline did not include a review of the impact the construction of the pipeline would have on climate. FERC declared that DEC waited too long to act on the permit application and therefore had forfeited the right to deny the permit. The argument from the DEC was that the one-year clock on the permit application began when the DEC determined it had a completed application, not when Millennium began the process of applying. DEC applied to FERC for a rehearing on the matter, but instead of granting that, a FERC official issued the Notice to Proceed, which prompted DEC to take the matter to court. Activists and environmentalists have been fighting both the power plant and the pipeline and considered the stay to be a victory.”
11-2-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. MVP developers suing hundreds of WV, Virginia landowners for easements. “As the state Department of Environmental Protection paves the way for the project, developers of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline are suing hundreds of landowners in West Virginia and Virginia to gain easements through eminent domain rights granted to MVP by a federal regulatory approval. MVP lawyers have filed complaints in U.S. District Court in Charleston and Roanoke to obtain through condemnation the rights of way for the 300-mile natural gas pipeline from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The Virginia complaint lists more than 300 separate pieces of property — with the property descriptions taking up 192 pages of a 196-page complaint — and the West Virginia filing lists more than 140 separate property parcels. ‘Condemnation is necessary because MVP has been unable to negotiate mutually agreeable easement agreements with the landowners,’ the MVP lawyers said in both of their complaints.”
11-2-17 Washington Examiner. Senate approves two Trump FERC nominees. “The Senate on Thursday afternoon approved the nominations of Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Their approvals to the commission, by voice vote, give FERC its full slate of five members for the first time in two years. It comes at a crucial time for the board, which is considering a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to create new rules subsidizing coal and nuclear plants to value the ‘reliability and resiliency’ they offer the electric grid. McIntyre, a Republican former energy industry adviser, will take over as chairman from Neil Chatterjee. Chatterjee, a former staffer of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was also nominated by Trump and has served as chairman in a temporary capacity. He will remain on the board. Glick was a Democratic attorney for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”
11-2-17 WSLS10 News. Montgomery County asks FERC for rehearing on Mountain Valley pipeline, Last week, Roanoke County requested a rehearing from FERC. “Montgomery County is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. At a meeting this week, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution to petition FERC for a rehearing on the authorization of the construction and operation of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. Board members say they are concerned that FERC has not fully addressed the potential dangers the construction of the pipeline might have on the environment and the potential negative impact on citizens’ quality of life. ‘We don’t believe that this pipeline is in the best interest of the citizens in Montgomery County. In addition to that, this company doesn’t have any experience building this size pipeline through karst terrain,’ said Chris Tuck, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors. Roanoke County has also asked FERC to reconsider its approval of the pipeline.”
11-2-17 The Breeze [JMU]. Community members protest approved pipelines. “Local Rockingham County and Harrisonburg community members stand in solidarity with the pipeline fighters across the commonwealth in the anti-pipeline group called Rockingham Alliance for the Protection and Transformation of Our Resources and Society. The emergence of this organization happened a year ago when a number of members became unified through common-interest meetings and the indigenous movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline. The RAPTORS assemble to formulate strategies, educate the public and organize trips to spread awareness about the effects pipelines can have on the land and the community.”
11-1-17 Roanoke Times. W.Va. agency waives water quality certification for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Derek Teaney, an environmental lawyer based in West Virginia, used words like ‘stunning,’ ‘egregious’ and ‘outrageous’ to describe a decision by that state’s environmental agency related to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. On Wednesday, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announced the state has waived the requirement that the controversial pipeline project obtain Clean Water Act 401 water quality certification in West Virginia. ‘This is an outrageous and unprecedented dereliction of duty by DEP,’ said Teaney, a senior attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. ‘After assuring a federal court that it was committed to reconsidering whether the MVP would degrade the hundreds of streams it would impact, DEP has thrown up its hands and admitted that it is not up to the task of protecting West Virginia’s environment,’ he said. The department also announced it has restored a previously awarded stormwater permit it had suspended in September ‘to properly respond to all public comments received.’ The agency said provisions and conditions associated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide 12 permitting process, which will review the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s stream crossings, along with requirements of the stormwater permit, ‘will allow for better enforcement capabilities and enhanced protections for the state’s waters.'”
11-1-17 WDTV5. Environmental organizations outraged at WVDEP decision. “Multiple organizations released statements together Wednesday against the decision by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection announcement to waive the individual 401 Certification of the federal permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline – a decision that the organizations say put the health of West Virginians at risk.”
11-1-17 Rocky Mount Telegram. Pipeline builders to alter plans. “Atlantic Coast Pipeline builders say they will modify plans for crossing waterways based on state requests, while opponents held a recent people’s tribunal condemning the entire project. … Dominion Energy spokesman Aaron Ruby said the pipeline builders will make the modifications requested by the agency in short order so it can complete the approval process in a timely manner. ‘We have every reason to believe the project remains on track, and we’re confident we’ll receive final approval in time to begin construction by the end of the year,’ Ruby said. At about the same time North Carolina environmental officials asked for changes, a panel of human rights advocates and environmental experts hosted a people’s tribunal Saturday in Virginia to address concerns over environmental injustice and racism related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Nearly 50 people spoke out about negative impacts of the pipeline at the meeting in Charlottesville.