Happy new year! We are pleased to share with you this article in the Nelson County Times recently about the return of landowner easements on the canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Dominion Energy has agreed to return all easements to landowners. Landowners will keep all compensation.
For two and a half years the Niskanen Center, along with Joyce Burton (landowner liaison for Friends of Nelson) helped to turn this tide. This effort included a year-long partnership with Senator Tim Kaine’s office.
If you are a landowner on the canceled ACP route and want an expedited release (for example if you have plans for the property or you want to sell) please see the link below to contact the land agent in your area.
Virginia ACP Land Supervisor counties of Augusta, Bath, Buckingham, Cumberland, Highland, Nelson, and Prince Edward contact:
Please note that your land agent may be different than the one you initially worked with. For all counties on the ACP route see the link here for your land agent.
Together we are stronger!
As the holiday season is upon us, we are pleased to share some good news with our community!
The ACP easement release situation has changed dramatically since Aaron Ruby’s January 2021 statement to the Associated Press that ACP did “not intend to voluntarily release the easements.”
Despite FERC’s refusal to hold ACP’s feet to the fire on the easement/land use issue, in Nelson and Augusta courthouses, we are now seeing easement releases being filed for the individual landowners that participated in a year-long, focused advocacy initiative that included invaluable intercession by Senator Kaine’s office.
Even better, it looks like ACP may FINALLY be committing to what we have been asking for all along: release ALL of the easements! The ACP website now states “For properties that do not require any restoration work, we are developing a plan to coordinate with landowners to release their easements.”
Although ACP is STILL not offering landowners with undamaged properties specific “how to” instructions to follow in order to get released — except to “keep waiting” — this statement is better than what their site had posted in early November. It is our hope that a turnkey process will follow quickly.
But our work is not over yet. Now we need to ensure ACP actually lives up to this commitment. We will continue to work to find ways to get the word out to landowners so that they will know release is finally happening and can follow up with ACP as appropriate. (As we all know, ACP does not have a good track record re diligent follow-up when it is only the landowners who stand to gain from that effort.)
Please feel free to spread the word through your networks!
Together we are stronger,
Friends of Nelson continues the fight to convince FERC to order Dominion to cancel all easements in Nelson County and elsewhere on the proposed path of the now abandoned Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Although Dominion has abandoned the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and will never build it, they stubbornly refuses to cancel the easements that it acquired to build the Pipeline. These easements were obtained by suing landowners, with the blessing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) or by threatening to sue them in Federal Court. Since the Pipeline was cancelled 14 months ago, there is no justification for Dominion to keep the easements. The easements held by Dominion are a serious, continuing and completely unwarranted burden on as many as 200 easements in Nelson County.
FERC then decided to produce a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to evaluate the Restoration Plan and assist the FERC Commissioners in deciding whether or not to issue an Order approving ACP’s plans. They opened a “scoping period” to formally solicit comments from stakeholders that would help FERC do its environmental analysis.
On July 23, 2021, FERC published published the Draft SEIS and basically said ‘not my department’ and they continue to duck the easement issue. Friends of Nelson refuses to allow FERC to sit on the sidelines.
On Monday, September 13, Friends of Nelson filed its third set of comments with FERC regarding these issues.
In a summary of those comments, Friends of Nelson, argues that:
‘These comments present the Commission with a clear choice – that is, the Commission may act “in the public interest” and “for the public convenience and necessity” and order Atlantic to immediately release all easements that it obtained for the now-abandoned ACP if requested by the landowner. In so doing, the Commission will end the serious burdens on private land that are imposed by these easements, easements that were obtained by Atlantic by legal force or coercion when the Commission issued the certificate of public necessity and convenience for the ACP (the “Certificate”). Or, the Commission may act “in the private interest” and “for the private convenience and necessity” of Atlantic and permit Atlantic to retain the temporary and permanent easements for many years to come and to extract further financial or other concessions from the affected property owners even though the sole reason for the easements to exist, and the sole “public interest” justification for the easements – the construction of the ACP – no longer exists. We submit that it is the Commission’s responsibility to act solely “in the public interest” and “for the public convenience and necessity,” and to reject Atlantic’s attempts to retain the easements “in its private interest.”’
Lawyers at the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Niskanen Center also
have submitted multiple comments on behalf of Friends of Nelson and others, pointing out that
Dominion refuses to deal with the issue of restoring landowners’ property rights.
Friends of Nelson will continue to press FERC at every point to require Dominion to cancel the easements, and leave our neighbors alone to enjoy their land unfettered by Dominion’s heavy-handed restrictions.
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
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.
On April 14, 2021, the Board of Supervisors of Nelson County unanimously directed that a comment letter be filed with FERC to address the many “zombie” easements that afflict landowners in the County following the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In the comment letter, the Board stated that “we submit that it is the responsibility of FERC to require Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC to release the thousands of easements that were obtained by Atlantic from private landowners on the proposed path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” including 250+ easements in Nelson County. The Board added that “these easements impose a significant burden upon these landowners which has been proven to be unwarranted. They significantly diminish and limit the owner’s use of their properties and, therefore reduce its value.” Moreover, “it is inevitable that the county tax assessments on these properties will be reduced due the limitations that the easements put upon the landowner’s
properties, costing a loss of county tax revenue on these properties.