The Gas Industry’s Playbook

The December 5, 2017, Huffington Post reports that a Leaked PowerPoint Reveals The Gas Industry’s Playbook For Waging Pipeline Fights. Earlier revelations in the November 29, 2017, Washington Post on Dominion’s ‘Campaign to elect a pipeline:’ Va.’s most powerful company ran multi-front fight, said, “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.’ Numbers from an industry presentation suggest the scope of the effort: As of early October, Dominion had compiled a ‘supporter database’ of more than 23,000 names, generated 150 letters to the editor, sent more than 9,000 cards and letters to federal regulators and local elected officials, and directed more than 11,000 calls to outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia’s U.S. senators.”  The Post also posted Dominion Energy’s Power Point to industry insiders detailing its campaign to build support for its controversial pipeline. See Dominion’s 10-slide PowerPoint here.

The new Huffington Post article builds on the Washington Post’s November 29 article about the role of manufactured pro-energy front groups like Energy Sure and Your Energy Virginia, and includes additional examples of their promotional materials. For the gas industry, “it’s like, ‘We have to do something, we have to counter this narrative, or at least we have to muddy the waters and make it seem like there’s protests on both sides,’ said Josh Stanfield, executive director of the progressive group Activate Virginia, which has opposed pipelines.”

Nelson County Property Tax Assessments

Has the value on your recent property tax assessment gone up? Is your property on the proposed ACP route? Are you in the blast zone? Will your view be ruined if the proposed right-of-way is cleared?

Of course, we are still fighting the pipeline and, in the end, we believe justice will prevail and keep this monstrosity from being built. However, until the project is cancelled once and for all, it is hard to believe that lands impacted by the pipeline should be assessed at an increased value over the what their assessments were before the ACP was announced to be coming through.

We never thought that the ACP would increase the value of our lands, and the 2016 Key Log Study confirmed our fears. Indeed, we are convinced that just the threat of the ACP has already lessened the market value of many Nelsonian’s land. Among the potential negative impacts of the ACP that could affect your property value are things like:

  1. the risk of losing your home (or worse) to an explosion should there be a leak in the pipe,
  2. a 50′ perpetual right of way limiting your use of your land
  3. the removal of all trees along the 125’ clear-cut construction right-of-way
  4. further clear-cut areas for the hundreds of “additional temporary work spaces” that are scattered along the route
  5. additional clearing for of miles of access roads which may make it easier for trespassers to come onto your private property
  6. the damage to nearby stream ecosystems and possible disruption of groundwater sources,
  7. the noise and destruction during construction and the likely erosion problems that we anticipate will last long after the construction crews leave
  8. loss of scenic views…which can even be the case for some properties that are relatively far off the route

If you want to appeal your new property assessment, YOU MUST DO THAT BY THIS FRIDAY, December 8, 2017. To file an appeal, call the number that is on the back of your assessment notice: 800-393-5128. They will take your information and either make a determination over the phone, or give you further information about the next steps.

You have the right to appeal your property tax assessment — even if you have signed an easement with ACP — we strongly encourage you to do so.

If you have questions about whether your property is on the route, on an access road or in the blast zone, please send us an e-mail ASAP, friendsofnelson@gmail.com, with your phone number and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Press Release: Water Testing Planned Along Gas Pipeline Route


Friends of Nelson Press Release, December 5, 2017: Water Testing Planned Along Gas Pipeline Route

Contact: Ernie Reed, lec@wildvirginia.org, 434-249-8330, Lisa Lefferts, llefferts@earthlink.net, 434-361-2349

Some 20 households in Horizons Village near Nellysford in Nelson County, Virginia, will be testing their groundwater quality to gather baseline data suitable for legal action if and when the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline begins. The proposed pipeline route goes through the residential village.

The purpose of the testing is to document how clean the residents’ drinking water is to allow a comparison to any later contamination from activities related to the pipeline’s construction or operation. Other testing projects to establish baselines on surface water in the village and elsewhere are underway, according to Lisa Lefferts, a resident of Horizons Village who holds a Master of Science in Public Health degree.

“Ideally we want to test for anything that could possibly contaminate our water as a result of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Unfortunately, there are many unknowns. For example, we don’t know what specific blasting agents or herbicides might be used, if any. Water is called ‘the universal solvent’ because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid, and we cannot test for everything; there are practical and cost constraints,” Lefferts said.

The testing project will cover a list of 87 parameters, ranging from coliform and fecal coliform bacteria to inorganic metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury, and organic chemicals such as benzene and toluene. The project will also offer optional testing for dissolved methane/ethane and possibly glyphosate at an additional cost to the homeowner. Natural gas, which the ACP would carry, is primarily methane and to a lesser extent ethane.

The cost of testing for the 87 parameters listed by Lefferts is a group rate of $250 per sample. Testing for dissolved methane/ethane and glyphosate will each add about $150 to that cost.

Lefferts said, “After consulting with our lawyer and others, we have decided to conduct one round of well water testing prior to any pipeline-related construction or land disturbance. While more testing is always desirable, we expect fairly clean results, given that we are an eco-development (e.g., our covenants restrict use of toxic chemicals) in a fairly remote area. Previous homeowners have done water testing in the past. Also there are practical (cost) reasons.”

“This baseline water testing project does not include assessing how the pipeline may affect water quantity/flow rate. We are separately investigating the best way to do this at a reasonable cost,” Lefferts said.

Property owners in the path of the pipeline, and owners of adjoining properties who are interested in such testing can contact Friends of Nelson, PO Box 33, Nellysford, VA 22958, 434-260-3298, for additional information and possible financial help. Testing through a group would save individual property owners a good deal of money, according to Friends of Nelson.

Virginia’s State Water Control Board and Department of Environmental Quality are currently considering whether to grant a permit to the ACP and Mountain Valley Pipeline and will hold hearings on the matter on Dec. 6 and 7 for the MVP and Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 for the ACP at 9:30 a.m. each day at Trinity Family Life Center, 3601 Dill Road, Richmond, VA 23222.

Needed Scrutiny of the ACP

Needed scrutiny of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the December 4, 2017, editorial in the Raleigh NC News and Observer says it all:

“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will face many hurdles from gaining permits to burrowing through 600 miles of terrain from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina. But its biggest obstacle may be time. The project is already more than a year behind schedule and now faces further delays as it waits for environmental permits. The project’s backers don’t like it, but the delays are a helpful test. If the project is truly needed, time should make that clearer. If it’s not – as many argue – then time will reveal that as well. …. There’s no doubt North Carolina needs reliable sources of energy, but there is doubt about whether it needs a massive new pipeline carrying natural gas from fracking operations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Whether it does will become clearer as DEQ and the public has time to assess the environmental and economic impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

We hope the Virginia DEQ & Water Control Board take heed of North Carolina’s caution: ask the questions now so your negligence doesn’t cause disaster later.

Report from Water Is Life Rally


Late on December 2, 2017, Blue Virginia posted commentary as well as a set of videos and photos from the Water Is Life rally that afternoon in Richmond.  Over 800 Virginians from all across the state joined with elected officials, a statewide coalition of environmental advocates, and indigenous tribal leaders (and a giant water puppet!) for a historic demonstration against the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.  Also included in the Blue Virginia article is a press release from the groups who organized the rally. Other early press coverage included articles in the Augusta Free Press and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Here’s a video of the activities from the Water Is Life folks:
 

And here’s a video from CCAN showing protesters and organizers assembling a human chain in a huge circle around the State House and the Governor’s Mansion, the entire perimeter of the Capitol grounds – a first for any rally in Richmond.
 

End of the Line: Episode 10, Watershed

End of the Line:  Episode 10, Watershed.  The State Water Control Board will vote on water certification for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines during the week of December 6-12, 2017. In this episode, we visit Bottom Creek, one of the few Tier 3 streams in Virginia which would be crossed by the MVP. Additionally, we look at whether the DEQ’s process has really been “scientific and transparent” for the public. Original Air Date: 12/01/17

Have you missed previous episodes? Find links to all of them here.