FERC is turning a cold shoulder to landowner’s property rights


ACP’s Restoration Plan does not deal with the issue of restoring landowners’ property rights.  Easements held by Dominion are a serious, continuing and completely unwarranted burden on as many as 250 properties in Nelson County.  The easements seriously burden an owner’s ability to use or sell property since they are prohibited from erecting structures such as a house or barn, planting trees and moving earth within the easement.  Peace of mind also is affected due to the threat that Dominion/ACP could someday transfer the easement to the developer of another project.

FERC says ‘not my department’ in a recently published Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS). Friends of Nelson, as well as lawyers at the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Niskanen Center and others have submitted multiple comments pointing out that ACP’s Restoration Plan does not deal with the issue of restoring landowners’ property rights.  

ACP has indicated that they will not release ANY of the temporary easements until after ALL restoration work is completed on ALL properties along the pipeline route.  This despite the fact that 376 miles of the pipeline (and all but one parcel in Nelson) had no tree-felling or construction impacts on them whatsoever.  This could take 3-5 years, or more.   This is ridiculous and unfair. 

ACP has stated publicly that they have no intention of voluntarily releasing the permanent easements, but that landowners MAY, at some unspecified time in the future, have the opportunity to negotiate with them some reduction in the restrictions.  Again, this could take 3-5 years, or more.

Friends of Nelson finds ACP’s plan is unacceptable. And because FERC is the one who granted eminent domain to ACP in the first place, now that project has been cancelled, we believe that FERC has an obligation to step up and help landowners get released from these easements.   Landowners shouldn’t have to fight Dominion on their own (again)!

In the newly released DSEIS, FERC staff asserts that because the easements are not an “environmental” issue, they are outside the scope of the environmental review process.  In other words, FERC is saying “not my department”.  We must not let them shrug our concerns off this way.  

Please submit comments to FERC and state that — regardless of whether staff thinks they are appropriate for inclusion in the EIS process — they must be forwarded to the Commissioners so that concerns about the easements can be taken into account when the final Order is issued later this year.  

If you need help filing your comments, you can refer to the Guide we have prepared with step-by-step instructions, or commenting and/or becoming an intervenor.  

Possible talking points include:

1) ACP must IMMEDIATELY release the temporary easements on all properties that had no tree-felling or other impacts from the project.  It is grossly unfair to force landowners to wait YEARS for this relief when no actual restoration work is required on their land and their land is not needed for access to the areas being restored.

2) FERC granted eminent domain to ACP, which enabled ACP to coerce easement agreements with landowners who felt they had no choice but to sign.  Because of their role in this, FERC is morally obligated to help landowners regain control of their lands now that the project has been cancelled (and thus the original justification for granting eminent domain no longer applies).  The Commissioners should make permanent easement release a condition of any restoration order.

3) Simply excluding our easement concerns from the EIS on the grounds that they are “not an environmental issue” is unacceptable and a dereliction of FERC’s recently touted duty to make its process more easily navigable for landowners.   Stakeholders must be given a way of bringing their legitimate concerns before the Commissioners so that they can be taken into account when the final order is crafted.   If the EIS process is not the right venue for that, FERC should clearly lay out for landowners what other recourse is available to them.

Friends of Nelson

“Zombie Easements” story featured on NPR

It’s been just over a year since Dominion and its utility partners announced they were scrapping plans for a pipeline to carry natural gas from the fracking fields of West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina. Opponents were thrilled, but the fight isn’t over yet.

Audio and written story by Sandy Hausman forRadio IQ. August 5th, 2021

1 year later… Let’s Celebrate the Cancellation of the ACP!

Please join us to celebrate our incredible Nelson Community and our incredible collective victory over the ACP project.

The focus of the event is on the fact that this was done by ALL of us, that ALL the contributions large and small added up to the outcome.

This is our chance to say thank you to each other and to honor the connections we’ve built over the last 6-7 years, as well as to set an intention for the connections and community spirit we built to continue into the future, even in the absence of a “common enemy” like the ACP.

The celebration will be from 5pm-9pm on Saturday, July 10th at the Rockfish Valley Community Center and will include libations, musical entertainment, guest speakers, and even a food truck.

Plastic bag taxes have the potential to generate real behavior change among Virginians

From the Roanoke Times

the city of Roanoke became the first Virginia locality to institute a 5-cent tax on single-use plastic bags at grocery, convenience and drug stores. The Roanoke ordinance will go into effect on Jan. 1st. A share of the revenue will help merchants implement the tax.

This is made possible by the General Assembly passing legislation just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving cities and counties the option to levy the disposable bag fee. The Code of Virginia states revenue must go toward environmental cleanup efforts, waste reduction education programs, pollution and litter mitigation initiatives, or the provision of reusable bags to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) recipients.

300 million tons of plastic are generated each year across the globe and half of that volume is for single-use purposes. That’s roughly the weight of the global human population and items like bags often land in our rivers, oceans, streams and other waterways.

As of February, eight states had banned single-use grocery bags altogether, with limited allowances such as those distributed in produce, meat, deli and bulk food departments. Roanoke’s ordinance carries that same exception. 

Keystone XL Pipeline is Cancelled!

The company behind the Keystone XL pipeline announced on Wednesday June 9th that it’s officially scrapping the project after President Biden nixed a border-crossing permit for it.

From The Hill

TC Energy said that after “a comprehensive review of its options, and in consultation with its partner, the Government of Alberta, it has terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.”

Biden argued that the proposed oil pipeline “disserves” the U.S. national interest and that “leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives.”

 

Save the Date! – Celebrate the End of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

SAVE THE DATE: JULY 10, 2021


ON JULY 5, 2020, THE ACP WAS CANCELED. WE WANTED A
REAL CELEBRATION, BUT THE PANDEMIC MADE THAT IMPOSSIBLE.


NOW MANY OF US ARE VACCINATED AND THE RESTRICTIONS
ON LARGE GATHERINGS HAVE BEEN LOOSENED.

SO…. IT’S TIME TO PARTY!!!

VENUE: ROCKFISH VALLEY COMMUNITY CENTER—OUTSIDE,
WITH TENTS, TABLES AND SEATING

TIME: 5-9 PM
FURTHER DETAILS TO FOLLOW.


JOIN THE FUN AND FELLOWSHIP—WE’VE EARNED IT!