The Air Pollution Control Board meeting scheduled for Monday December 10, 2018, has been rescheduled to Wednesday December 19 at 10:00 am. The meeting will be held in the same location: First Floor House Committee Room, Pocahontas Building, 900 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219
The following is an account posted on Facebook by Water Is Life. Protect It on July 26, 2018.
Stand with Union Hill: The story of stark environmental racism gains and needs new allies to be told, to be shouted from the mountain top. This week’s meeting [week of July 23, 2018] between Union Hill and Dominion/ACP brought new allies and a terrifying glimpse of a complete disregard for safety on the part of Dominion Energy.
One Buckingham County witness wrote of the photos here: “Reverend Kevin Chandler, President of the Virginia NAACP came to Union Hill to announce that the powerful civil rights organization has taken a position against the ACP pipeline and the proposed Union Hill compressor station.
The uneasy looking group of white men in the foreground of the next photo—those are Dominion executives. They and five others had come to a community meeting in Pastor Paul Wilson’s Union Hill Grove Baptist Church to try to reassure the African-American community that the compressor station and the pipeline would be safe and would not hurt them. However, they seemed increasingly anxious when they were asked to describe the size of the kill zone in the event of a pipeline leak or a compressor station disaster. They said they just couldn’t answer the question which they were asked in three different ways. They also were forced to admit that they hadn’t even drafted their emergency response plan in the event that something were to go wrong at the compressor station they want to build in within yards of the homes of Union Hill—an historic African-American Community.
Meanwhile, a US Justice Department official, Suzanne Buchanan of the federal community relations service (with Pastor Paul) showed up. She said she realized that the people of Union Hill were feeling frustrated and unheard. She watched with what appeared to be astonishment when the dominion executives were unable to describe the dimensions of the Kill zone.
If the people of Union Hill were skeptical and even frightened at the prospect of the compressor station and its pipeline coming to their community before tonight by the time the meeting was over they were much more wary.
A report from Appalachians Against Pipelines on actions in Roanoke court on July 26, 2018: Pipeline fighters from all along the MVP’s path of destruction rallied outside the courthouse after four defendants accepted plea agreements. Fern was taken into custody and will be confined for 2 days for occupying an 11-day blockade that prevented further destruction. The three folks arrested for attempting to resupply Nutty at the monopod all received $100 fines. For details see the Roanoke Times article.
WVNews reported on May 13, 2018, that “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday approved a June 8 request from Dominion Energy to conduct work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and supply header projects in some waterways before the July 1 end of warmwater fish spawning season.”
Apparently, all those laws we enact to protect wildlife and endangered species don’t hold a candle to a big oil company appetite for profit.
Appalachians Against Pipelines reports that for well over a week, Mountain Valley Pipeline and the US Forest Service have been driving ATVs up and down the Appalachian National Scenic Trail on Peters Mountain.
On April 30, 2018, the Roanoke Times story, ATV traffic on the Appalachian Trail is the latest Mountain Valley Pipeline controversy, reported that “After receiving a complaint Sunday about ATV traffic on an approximately quarter-mile section of the trail that runs along the edge of Giles County, Downs contacted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is overseeing construction of the natural gas pipeline. A FERC official looked into the matter and was told that the Forest Service authorized the use of ATVs, according to FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen. Forest Service officials have also been four-wheeling on the trail, she said. Joby Timm, the Roanoke-based supervisor of the Jefferson National Forest, said through a spokeswoman only that his agency was looking into the matter.”
This video — which shows the view from Symm’s Gap meadow, a famous and popular viewpoint along the AT — is just one example of many documented instances of motorized vehicle use on the AT & the accompanying trail damage.
According to the Forest Service’s website, ATV use is strictly prohibited on all National Forest land in West Virginia. Even the project plan for MVP’s boring under the AT specifically states, “No motorized vehicle traffic is permitted between the Appalachian National Scenic Trail bore pits.” On top of that, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy says, “To protect the Appalachian Trail and the A.T. experience, certain incompatible activities, such as … use of motorized vehicles, are prohibited.”
What can you do?
Call the Forest Service! Report this abuse of the trail, and DEMAND that they stop destroying public lands on behalf of MVP, and that they stop protecting MVP over land and communities!
• USFS Office in Atlanta – 888-603-6430
• Joby Timm, Forest Supervisor – 540-265-5118 – email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Forest Supervisor’s Office (use employee directory to reach Timm) – 540-265-5100
• Jessica Rubado, Contact for Closure Orders – 503-314-0767 – email@example.com
• Rebecca Robbins, Public Affairs Specialist – 540- 265-5173 – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note added on May 2: On May 1, the day after their headline story about Trail damage, the Roanoke Times reported that Forest Service apologizes for damage to Appalachian Trail during patrols of pipeline protests. “The U.S. Forest Service apologized Tuesday for damaging the Appalachian Trail with all-terrain vehicles driven during patrols of a pipeline protest. In a news release, the agency admitted that its law enforcement officers used the ATVs from April 11 to April 30 on a short stretch of the scenic footpath that follows the ridge of Peters Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest.”
Property Values Plunge for Some Landowners Who Signed Easements for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Highland and Nelson Counties
Lovingston, VA-A property records search conducted in Highland and Nelson Counties by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League reveals property values plunged on parcels whose owners sought relief through the reassessment hearing process. Three properties in Nelson County with signed easement agreements with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) for pipeline construction and/or roads to access the pipeline route, received reductions in property values averaging 32.5%. Many of these house owners and those alike will now be wondering how to increase property value on their home.
“The construction of the proposed pipeline and resultant losses in property value are devastating for directly affected landowners,” stated Sharon Ponton, a Nelson resident and the Stop the Pipelines Campaign Coordinator for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. “It is also important for every property owner to understand these reductions will affect them, too, whether they are looking to sell their property with the likes of realtors Lynchburg or stay put. The governing bodies of these localities will be forced to increase real estate tax rates for every property owner to offset the difference in lost values caused by the proposed ACP. Lower property values will cause higher tax rates for all,” Ponton stated.
When the prices fall, even people from abroad may look for investment options in such areas. The benefit could be that once the price drops, the property can be bought as an investment at a low price, and sold a few years later after full development of the area when there is potential for an increase in property rates. That being said, it can be difficult to decide on the right properties to invest in, which is why the assistance of a mortgage provider and finance management company like Simon Conn can be beneficial. From sound legal advice to property investment benefits, financing, and re-financing the real estate, the aid of experts can make the process much smoother.
“The assessors for Nelson only considered pipeline easements in their computations if a landowner came forward during the hearing process. Property owners with signed easement agreements who did not come forward were unknown to county assessors. Therefore, pipeline easements have not been considered for those properties,” Ponton explained.
In Highland County, while some properties with signed easements increased in value, many were devalued, from a high of 75% to a low of 2%. The average overall loss on those properties with signed easements was 8%. Interestingly, in Highland, consideration paid by the ACP to landowners was approximately $1.3 million for 172 acres. In Nelson, the ACP has paid just $1.8 million for easements covering 316 acres. The acreage figures include permanent and temporary rights-of-way, as well as extra work space and access roads.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dismissed the concerns of affected landowners, citizens, and grassroots groups regarding lower property values along the path of the proposed ACP in its Final Environmental Impact Statement. “Plainly, FERC was wrong. Property values are affected,” stated Ponton. “Blowing off our mountain tops and cutting millions of trees which can never be replaced while building a pipeline affects property values. We implore all landowners who have signed easement agreements with ACP and who did not seek relief during the reassessment hearing process, to present their cases before the Boards of Equalization in their specific counties. These directly affected landowners shouldn’t be abused twice–once by having their land taken by ACP and then a second time by being required to pay taxes on inflated property values,” Ponton concluded.
If you are concerned that the value of your property will have been affected by the pipeline construction, you could speak to a property valuation company and ask them to value your property. This will take any guesswork out of the process and will confirm whether or not Ponton is correct.