August 2017 News

August 2017

8-31-17 Blue Virginia. McAuliffe’s Biggest Legacy: Fracked Gas Pipelines that Would Kill Jobs and Worsen Climate Change. “What people in Virginia and across America will best remember Terry McAuliffe for in years to come is his pending approval of two massive pipelines for fracked gas. Who, after all, could forget an industrial pipe-laying spree so huge that it would constitute the biggest land-clearing and land-seizing project in Virginia since the Federal Highway Program of the 1960s? And who, on a planet hurtling toward climate disaster, would forget two massive pipelines for fracked gas that will trigger new greenhouse gas emissions equal to building 45 new coal-fired power plants in the state?”

8-29-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Letter to Editor: ACP won’t provide that many jobs. At recent DEQ hearings, supporters of the pipeline touted the jobs the pipeline would bring. Dominion claims on its Web page that the ACP would support 17,240 temporary jobs and 2,200 permanent jobs. But these numbers include both the out-of-state pipeline worker and the local store employee who makes a one-time sale of a shirt to that worker. Hardly a measure of real jobs. “The ACP economic impact report given by Dominion itself says that only 39 permanent jobs will be directly created by the ACP in Virginia. Despite what Dominion would have us believe, this tiny number of created jobs does not come close to outweighing the environmental risks and dangers posed by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

8-28-17 Public News Service. Federal Court Ruling Gives Pipeline Opponents New Ammo. “In light of a new court ruling, opponents want to force regulators to look at the climate impact of the gas from two huge proposed pipelines. Last week the Washington, D.C. District Court ruled in favor of the Sierra Club that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have considered the greenhouse emissions from gas carried by a pipeline from Alabama to Florida. Kirk Bowers, pipelines program coordinator for the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, says his group will push for that decision to be applied to the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.”

8-27-17 Roanoke Times. Hincker: Life, liberty, and land: Whose land is it, anyway? “If the government wants the land for a public need, let the people’s representatives in the General Assembly make the decision. Don’t run and hide by giving that authority to FERC, the State Corporation Commission, or MVP [Mountain Valley Pipeline] itself.”

8-27-17 News-Virginian. Dominion vows ‘habitat’ on pipeline route, but critics scoff. “The builders of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline want to establish 750 acres of new habitat for butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects along the pipeline route in southern Virginia and eastern North Carolina once construction is complete. But pipeline opponents say the plan is little more than window dressing, adding that the damage to endangered bees and other insects from the pipeline construction itself will far outweigh 750 acres of new habitat.”

8-26-17 Blue Virginia. The Buck Stops Here: Time for Virginia’s Leaders to Take Responsibility for the Pipelines. “Passing the buck is a political tradition. Why take responsibility for a controversial decision if you can blame someone else for making it? But there’s a risk in this strategy. Sooner or later people catch on. And if you keep telling them things that simply aren’t true, they’re going to get mad…. It’s been a standard response to citizen concerns from up and down the ranks of government: The pipelines are a federal issue. We heard it from Gov. Terry McAuliffe. We heard it repeatedly from Lt. Governor Ralph Northam during his primary campaign against pipeline opponent Tom Perriello. During one of the debates, Northam refused to say whether he was for or against the pipelines, falling back on the notion that his hands are tied…. These issues are not going away, which is why the response of our elected leaders and candidates is so important. It’s time for Virginia’s elected officials to acknowledge what should never have been in doubt: Virginia has all the power it needs to stop the pipelines.”

8-25-17 State Impact – NPR. Federal court ruling could delay major natural gas pipeline projects. “A recent federal court ruling could delay major pipeline projects planned to move Marcellus Shale natural gas to new markets. On Tuesday [August 22, 2017] the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of a climate-related challenge brought by the Sierra Club against federal regulators. The case centers on the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, the cornerstone of which is the 500 mile Sabal Trail Pipeline running through Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The decision forces the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to do a better job quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, which Sierra Club attorney Elly Benson says are a clear environmental impact of pipelines as they deliver natural gas to fuel power plants. ‘FERC has been trying to ignore the full impact of these decisions, while rubber stamping many of these massive pipelines,’ says Benson. ‘It was very gratifying for the D.C. Circuit to say, ‘No FERC, you actually need to look at the full consequences of this.””

8-25-17 Roanoke Times. Virginia Supreme Court agrees to hear another appeal of pipeline surveying law. “The Supreme Court of Virginia has agreed to hear another appeal challenging a controversial state law that allows surveyors for natural gas pipeline companies to enter private property without an owner’s consent. Chuck Lollar, a Norfolk-based lawyer representing six landowners along the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, said he learned this week that the full court will hear the appeal filed in May. A hearing date has not been scheduled.”

8-24-17 CBS19. Initiative to create pollinator habitats along pipeline right of way. “According to a release, the habitats for butterflies, bees, and other similar insects will be established along the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Pollinator Habitat Initiative will reportedly create hundreds of acres of pollinator habitat by replanting the pipeline’s right of way with native grasses and wildflowers attractive to pollinator species. The release says the project has identified 750 acres of suitable locations along the about 50 miles of the pipeline route, with most being located in flatter areas in southern Virginia and eastern North Carolina.” [This project sounds great – for the particular 50 miles, which is approx. 9% of the proposed ACP route. Presumably, such plantings are not suitable for steep slopes or anywhere herbicides will be needed to maintain the right of way.]

8-24-17 Roanoke Times. Virginia pipeline foes eye federal ruling that upholds N.Y. water quality permit denial. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that New York’s denial of the 401 certification was not arbitrary or capricious, “David Sligh, conservation director of Wild Virginia and an investigator for the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, said the court’s decision contradicts repeated assertions by Gov. Terry McAuliffe that Virginia has little say over the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast projects because the pipeline companies must apply to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for environmental review and approval.”

8-23-17 Augusta Free Press. Groups call on Virginia DEQ to deny water certification for pipeline. “The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of more than a dozen conservation groups, is calling on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to protect the water quality of communities across the state. In comments submitted Tuesday, SELC outlined the potential dangers the Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction and operation would cause to sensitive waterways in Virginia and made the case that DEQ has failed to fully exercise its authority to protect water quality.”

8-22-17 WTVR-CBS6. Thousands urge Virginia governor to stop natural-gas pipeline plan. “Several groups protesting the two proposed natural-gas pipelines brought boxes full of public comments to the Department of Environmental Quality in Richmond. ‘DEQ, get a clue,’ a group of more than a dozen people chanted Tuesday morning while holding signs asking Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to help stop construction on the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. The comments, collected by the Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Voices, Bold Alliance, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, and Oil Change International, urged the DEQ to deny a water permit required to begin work on the pipelines.”

8-22-17 The Hill. Court rejects pipeline project on climate concerns. “An appeals court on Tuesday rejected the federal government’s approval of a natural gas pipeline project in the southeastern U.S. [Southeast Market Pipelines Project in Florida], citing concerns about its impact on climate change. In a 2-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not properly analyze the climate impact from burning the natural gas that the project would deliver to power plants. The ruling is significant because it adds to environmentalists’ arguments that analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act — the law governing all environmental reviews of federal decisions — must consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.”  This story was also covered in Miami New Times and Inside Climate News.

8-21-17 Wilson Times. Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents give regulators an earful. “Attendees were unanimous in their opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at a listening session hosted by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality last week in Rocky Mount.”

8-20-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Pressure mounting on Virginia environmental agency to slow down pipeline water certifications. “Pressure from state lawmakers in both parties, as well as from hundreds of people who showed up at a series of public hearings this month, is mounting on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and state Water Control Board to slow or reconsider the water quality certifications it intends to issue for a pair of natural gas pipeline projects.”

8-20-17 Fayetteville Observer [NC]. Our View: More questions arising about the pipeline. “The project’s support here is largely based upon promises of economic development springing from an industrial-scale sources of cheap natural gas. But we’ve not seen any convincing proof that the gas supply would overcome other problems that have prevented large industrial development from happening here. If it turns out that the only real beneficiary of the project is Duke Energy, which will get plenty of gas to run present and future power plants, is it still worth all the disruption to lives and the environment? We’re not sure a lot of people would say ‘yes.’ There’s still time for the state to gather experts to run the numbers used to justify the pipeline and make sure the disruption and potential damage are really worth it.”

8-19-17 NBC29. Anti-Pipeline Groups Hold Third Annual Hands Across our Land Protest. “Several anti-pipeline groups participated in the third annual Hands Across our Land Protest on August 19. Activists stood hand in hand to show their opposition to the pipeline at Humpback Rock along the Appalachian Trail.”

8-16-17 The Recorder. State, county await pipeline showdown. “Beyond drinking and livestock water worries, the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would add to customer power bills, the largest environmental organization in the Southeast claims. Expert analyses filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission Aug. 11 suggest Dominion customers would pay between $1.6-$2.3 billion in unneeded costs if Dominion Energy builds the proposed pipeline, the Southern Environmental Law Center said in a news release. SELC presented the analyses in its testimonies on Dominion Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan filed at the SCC. ‘Today’s filings add to mounting evidence that Dominion Energy is not getting the numbers right in its planning process,’ said SELC staff attorney Will Cleveland. ‘That’s a problem not just from an environmental standpoint but in terms of wasting billions of customer dollars.'” See the press release from SELC.

8-16-17 WHSV. Activist group seeks legal intervention in pipeline approval process. “Days before the public comment period ends for permits designed to protect waterways during pipeline projects, an environmental group is asking the state’s attorney general to intervene in the process. In a letter of complaint, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League urged Mark Herring’s office to require the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issue a water permit for each stream and waterway the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would cross.”

8-15-17 News Leader. Opinion piece by Robert Whitescarver: Pipeline can’t help but bring mayhem to Virginia’s environment. “Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, if allowed to be built, will be the largest disturbance of land and water in the Commonwealth of Virginia since the Interstate highways were built. Is it possible or even probable that Dominion can dig up a 600 mile long, ten foot deep, 125 foot wide swath through three states, crossing hundreds of streams and meet each state’s water quality standards? I do not believe it is possible nor probable.”

8-15-17 DeSmog.  Trump’s New FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson Accepted Gifts from Energy Industry as State Regulator.  “Robert Powelson, President Donald Trump’s newly appointed commissioner to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), received both gifts and reimbursements for travel, lodging, and hospitality from the energy and utility sectors in his previous position as a state regulator. He will now regulate those sectors at the federal level. Powelson, a Republican, began his tenure at FERC last week. Documents and emails recently uncovered by the Energy & Policy Institute, a watchdog monitoring attacks on renewable energy, indicate that he maintained a close relationship with industry groups as a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. In addition, earlier this year, Powelson said pipeline opponents are engaged in ‘jihad,’ a statement which drew criticism from activists and further solidified his pro-industry image.”

8-14-17 S&P Global. Chatterjee’s vision for US FERC includes shoring up coal’s place in fuel mix. “Coal and nuclear generation should be eyed as essential elements of the US fuel mix, the new head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Monday, adding that acting on natural gas infrastructure projects also will be a priority while he is at the helm of the commission on an acting basis.”

8-14-17 UtilityDive. New FERC quorum faces hefty backlog as market issues loom. “After months without enough commissioners to field a quorum, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could be fully-staffed in short order. The new regulators will have little time to settle in. Hefty backlogs of energy projects and complicated market proceedings await their consideration.”

8-11-17 Blue Virginia. Video: Protesting, Speaking Out Against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Farmville Virginia.

8-11-17 Blue Virginia. Doing the Math: Dominion’s and FERC’s Own Numbers Tell Us the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a Budget Buster. “You don’t need to rely on environmentalists’ climate calculations to know the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is carbon budget buster. Just look at the numbers provided in the past month by Dominion Energy Virginia and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. On July 14th, Dominion responded to interrogatories filed in the matter of the power company’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) now being considered by its regulator, the State Corporation Commission. In its responses, Dominion provided estimated carbon-pollution emissions through the year 2042 for eight different scenarios, Plans A – H. Dominion disclosed that its 2017 carbon pollution emissions will be 40 million tons per year, and that every one of its eight alternative plans will increase carbon pollution over the next 25 years.”

8-10-17 Blue Virginia. Dominion Fracked Gas Pipeline Approval Process All a Big “Sham”; “The propaganda of big business is just overpowering.” Article with audio  link of an August 10, 2017 conference call organized by Interfaith Power and Light “about Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast (fracked gas) Pipeline, with Rev. Laura Martin, Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ (Arlington), Jamshid Bakhtiari (Virginia Field Coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) – an environmental group with serious cojones, unlike a certain other big Virginia enviro group starting with the letter “L”); Rev. Morris Fleischer, Newport-Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (in the path of proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline); and Pastor Paul Wilson, Union Hill & Union Grove Baptist Churches (Buckingham County, in the path of proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline).” The article summarizes the comments of the participants and includes a link to the full audio of the conference call.

8-10-17 Roanoke Times. DEQ director hears residents’ fears about pipeline impacts to wells, springs and pristine streams. “David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, listened Thursday afternoon to residents of a small community in Giles County who are destined to live in a “high consequence area” if the Mountain Valley Pipeline project moves forward. Later, on Thursday evening, Paylor heard from residents of Roanoke County and Franklin County who, like their counterparts in and around the village of Newport, fear the pipeline could divert or taint the pristine waters that sustain them…. DEQ agreed to participate in the two meetings Thursday after complaints from Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, and Del. Joseph Yost, R-Pearisburg, and others that the two public hearings [in Radford and Chatham] were both insufficient and inconveniently located for many people along the pipeline route.”

8-10-17 White House Press Office. President Donald J. Trump Announces Appointment of Neil Chatterjee as Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “Neil Chatterjee of Kentucky has been appointed Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”

8-10-17 WVTF. Hydrologist: Appalachian Ridges Worst Place for Pipeline. Scientists have long warned that all construction projects take their toll on underground water resources. Now a water geologist from West Virginia says planned construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, through Appalachian mountain Ridges, could cause major problems for one of the country’s most important water resources.

8-10-17 Highland Recorder. Start pipeline review over, group demands. “In a news release issued Aug. 3, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League recommended DEQ postpone the 401 water certification process until all soil and erosion control and stormwater management plans are made public.”

8-9-17 DeSmog. Virginia Agency May Not Have Properly Vetted Contractor Reviewing Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “At the end of June, DeSmog revealed that a contractor hired by the state of Virginia to review elements of the proposed Atlantic Coast gas pipeline is currently working for Dominion, the company leading the pipeline project. Recently obtained documents and emails from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) indicate that, prior to DeSmog’s reporting, the agency was not aware of this relationship between the contractor, EEE Consulting, and Dominion, despite a contract with strict stipulations intended to avoid conflicts of interest.”

8-9-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Virginia’s environmental agency says contractor’s work for Dominion doesn’t pose a conflict on pipeline review. “Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, which is using a Mechanicsville-based environmental consulting firm to review the reams of plans that lay out how a pair of massive pending pipeline projects will manage erosion, sediment and stormwater during and after construction, says the company’s existing work with Dominion Energy doesn’t present a conflict. However, because DEQ didn’t ask, the agency didn’t initially know about EEE Consulting’s current $44,187 contract with Dominion for environmental work related to microwave towers in Southampton and Suffolk when it hired the company for $2.2 million back in May. Instead, DEQ asked EEE to divulge current and pending projects with Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC or Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, but not the individual companies that comprise the pipeline developers. Dominion is the lead partner in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ‘The agency learned on June 28, 2017, that EEE conducted an environmental review for a Dominion subsidiary,’ the DEQ said in a statement last month. ‘DEQ is assessing information related to EEE’s existing contracts with Dominion as well as other affiliates of Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, and Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC.'”

8-9-17 Roanoke Times. Editorial: Three questions for FERC. “Why hasn’t FERC been willing to hold more public comment hearings? … How accurate are the environmental studies? … Why won’t FERC look at these two pipelines together?”

8-9-17 News Leader. Letter to Editor from Bill Limpert: Dominion misrepresents what’s happening. “I take great exception with Aaron Ruby’s comments in Gabe Cavallaro’s Aug. 2 story regarding Dominion’s treatment of property owners whose property would be taken from them by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Mr. Ruby states that they will be treated fairly and respectfully. That’s hardly the case.”

8-8-17 Seattle Times. Switching from coal to natural gas will not save our planet. “Most magic tricks and confidence games mostly work the same way — a little bit of misdirection to get the audience looking in the wrong direction. And some of the finest magicians at large in America today are its natural-gas salesmen, who have worked hard to reassure us that they’re part of the solution to the global warming crisis. To understand why that’s a ploy — to understand why they’re in fact helping drive the heating of the planet — you have to pay close attention.”

8-8-17 Farmville Herald. ‘Shut this madness down’. “There are no federal, state or local agencies who would do baseline testing of our surface and groundwater, air, noise and health assessments for this highly impactful, toxic construction project. Nor would there be testing during or post-construction unless, we, the people organize and fund it. This testing should be a necessary precondition of issuing a construction permit. But, I say because this extensive and very expensive testing should be done that this is evidence enough that this project would never be worth the sacrifice of our water, air and land. Truly, what are we thinking? And what for: a pipeline that has not proven its need as there is plenty of evidence that existing underutilized pipelines could be used instead. And for 39 permanent jobs? The solar industry employs thousands. What a waste! Who would want to live here when you can’t drink your own water, when you can’t bathe in it or wash your dishes? What about the animals — will they drink bottled water and where does that bottled water come from? The DEQ has the power, but not the political will, to shut this madness down. This is it folks. The costs of this whole project would get passed on to all of us, not the industry. Tell the DEQ to just say no.”

8-8-17 RVA Mag. Losing Peace, Gaining a Voice: The Faces of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  “There’s something magical about standing in a place and realizing that in every direction you look, there are mountains. It’s as if you’re sitting in a natural fortress, or a protected oasis. Walking on the soil that is slated to be uprooted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and recognizing that this land could be stripped of that beauty is unimaginable, especially for the communities of western Virginia.” The article describes the battles of numerous residents trying to fend off Dominion and its proposed ACP, and concludes that “Despite their fears and worries, this perseverant country community continue to rely on their tenacity, faith, and further hope their voices may be heard.”

Coverage of the August 8, 2017 DEQ Hearing in Harrisonburg:

See also the sampling below of Facebook videos of Harrisonburg speakers. The first three videos were made by Jennifer Lewis of Friends of Augusta, the fourth is from Walking the Line.

8-6-17 NBC 29. Anti-Pipeline Group Plans to Attend Public Hearing on Proposed Pipelines.

8-5-17 ABC11. Pipeline protesters paddle for clean water. “Over 60 people joined the Sierra Club, Sound Rivers, and 350 Triangle for a common cause on Saturday. All the participants paddled down Tar River [NC] to protest the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.” [There are 1,556 waterbody crossings on ACP … some waterbodies are crossed more than once.]

8-5-17 Philadelphia Inquirer. After Sunoco pipeline drilling taints private Chester County wells, critics worry: What’s next? “When David Mano bought his home on Valleyview Drive in Exton in 2008, it was primarily for three reasons: the ranch-style house itself, its swimming pool and the water well. For years, the water flowing from the well was ‘nearly perfect,’ Mano said. ‘It was basically spring water,’ he said. ‘But now it’s a moot point.’ That’s because the well and several others in the neighborhood of $300,000-$400,000 homes were tainted last month – possibly with groundwater and sediment – by Sunoco Pipeline LP’s horizontal drilling for the $3 billion Mariner East 2 pipeline project. Because of that water contamination and related spillage concerns, drilling for the Mariner East 2 pipeline in Exton and 54 other locations around the state was suspended last month by an environmental judge. On Friday, a judge ruled that Sunoco can resume work at 16 of 17 locations where Sunoco had specifically requested to continue drilling. Before drilling can resume at other locations, including in Exton, the state’s Environmental Hearing Board in Harrisburg has set three days of hearings that begin Wednesday. The judge ordered Sunoco to halt its horizontal drilling in response to a filing by environmental groups that the process has polluted local waterways in Pennsylvania.

8-4-17 WVTF. Pipeline Prospects: Long-Term Implications. “Dominion Energy has long been considered the most influential corporation in Virginia. Over the last 20 years, it’s given nearly 11 million dollars to candidates running for office in this state, but Dominion may be losing its grip on lawmakers. The company’s decision to dump treated coal ash water into the James River, to build power lines near historic Jamestown and to build a pipeline through national forests and private property has angered many voters. In the final part of our series on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Sandy Hausman looks at the downside for Dominion.”

8-4-17 EcoWatch. FERC Confirmations Threaten to Continue Agency’s Status Quo as Rubber-Stamp for Pipelines. “The Senate voted to confirm Donald Trump’s nominees on Thursday for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson. Chatterjee has a long track record of advocating on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. In his time working for Sen. Mitch McConnell, he spearheaded the push for Senate approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, sought to undermine U.S. leadership on the Paris climate accord, led McConnell’s campaign to convince states to oppose the Clean Power Plan, and worked to lift the ban on crude oil exports.”

8-3-17 E&E News. Senate confirms FERC picks, giving agency quorum. “The Senate this evening confirmed two new members for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, taking a key step toward returning a quorum to the agency, which has been essentially paralyzed for six months. The chamber voted by voice vote for Neil Chatterjee, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and for Robert Powelson, a Pennsylvania state regulator. FERC has been without a voting quorum since Chairman Norman Bay resigned in February, and while staff work has continued on many fronts, the agency has been unable to issue major decisions. There are two more commissioners waiting in the wings to fill the traditionally bipartisan, five-member body.”

8-3-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Another federal lawsuit filed over Dominion’s James River transmission line.  “Another lawsuit has been filed challenging Dominion Energy’s plans to build a transmission line over the James River near Historic Jamestowne. The suit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Virginia. The two groups actively fought the 500-kilovolt transmission line and associated infrastructure — including a switching station near Williamsburg — as it wound its way through the approval process by state and federal agencies and the James City County Board of Supervisors. The lawsuit seeks to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prepare an environmental impact statement for the Surry-Skiffe’s Creek project, which it says is required by the National Environmental Policy Act, rather than the less rigorous environmental assessment that the corps already conducted.”

8-3-17 Inside Climate News. Pipeline Payday: How Builders Win Big, Whether More Gas Is Needed or Not. The Trump administration and its allies, energy-dominance manifestoes in hand, are eager to see [natural gas pipeline] projects approved as soon as the president’s nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are confirmed by the Senate. But are all these new gas pipelines really needed? Critics say that the financial interests of gas and electric companies—not market demand—are driving most of the new pipelines proposed for the region. Those profits are approved by FERC, an agency that is charged with ensuring public interests, but that nurtures “an exceptionally cozy relationship” with industry, as described in a comprehensive investigation published last month by the Center for Public Integrity and StateImpact Pennsylvania, with National Public Radio. ‘At every turn, the agency’s process favors pipeline companies,’ the review found after the groups interviewed more than 100 people, reviewed FERC records, and analyzed nearly 500 pipeline cases.”

8-3-17 WVTF. Pipeline Prospects: Can the Atlantic Coast Pipeline be Stopped? “One of the state’s most influential corporations and 35 banks hope to make money from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Business and labor groups have lined up behind it, as has Virginia’s governor, but opponents say it’s not a done deal. They plan to fight the pipeline in government hearings and in court. Earlier this month, a group of pipeline opponents gathered outside the offices of Virginia’s Water Control Board to hold a water blessing ceremony complete with a Native American healing chant. It was, perhaps, a last ditch effort – a prayer to prevent what some see as a danger to the environment. But opponents of the pipeline are not relying on prayer alone, and there are three places they might yet prevail.”

8-3-17 The Record Delta. Pipeline debated at DEP hearing. “Proponents of — and opponents to — the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline poured into the Buckhannon-Upshur High School auditorium Monday night to talk about the line’s potential effect on one critical resource — water. While some of those who turned out for the two-hour public hearing — one of only two held in the state — said construction of the natural gas pipeline was safe and would have minimal impact on water quality, staunch environmentalists countered that contamination of water was a very likely possibility. The only way to prevent that contamination, they said, is to not build the pipeline…. Paul Richter, with the Buckhannon River Watershed Association, said, ‘This hearing is about only one item — whether the state of West Virginia should issue a 401 certification to the ACP project. That’s the issue —not jobs, not profits, not a lot of other things.'”

8-2-17 WDBJ7. Pipeline opponents prepare for important hearings next week. “Pipeline opponents who were trying to block the path of project surveyors last Thursday will be challenging state officials during meetings next week. ‘They are as important as any process we’ve been through yet,’ said Roberta Bondurant, a Bent Mountain resident who opposes construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled public hearings. And there’s a difference for people who wish to comment on the natural gas pipeline project. ‘If they’re going to Newport, if they’re going to Cave Spring, those are not formally recorded hearings,’ Bondurant told us, ‘so that if they come without written comments those will not be legally considered by DEQ, at least as far as we are informed so far.’ Two weeks ago, Delegate Sam Rasoul stood on the banks of the Roanoke River and called for the DEQ to suspend the hearing process until additional studies can be completed. On Wednesday, DEQ officials told him that won’t happen.”

8-2-17 C-ville magazine. Impact study: Pipeline nears approval, opponents fire back. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its final environmental impact statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline July 21, and it said the proposed 600-mile, $5.5 billion natural gas pipeline will have a “less than significant” impact on the environment. ‘The [final environmental impact statement] paints a terrifying picture of a bleak future,’ says Ernie Reed, the president of anti-pipeline group Friends of Nelson…. Also on July 21, the U.S. Forest Service released a draft of the record of decision, which said the ACP ‘can be implemented with limited adverse impacts,’… ‘It is outrageous that the Forest Service would sign off on a scheme like this with the full knowledge that it will harm endangered species,’ says Misty Boos, executive director of environmental group Wild Virginia, which has also been vocal in its opposition to the pipeline.”

8-2-17 Newsleader. ‘Invasive, insulting’: Dealing with Dominion rankles some pipeline route landowners. “They still own their land on the pipeline route — but it doesn’t feel that way. Landowners Scott Ballin, in Deerfield, and Bill Limpert, in Bath County, have been going through similar experiences fighting off attempts from Dominion Energy to secure easement agreements on their land, through which the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is routed. Many of their neighbors have accepted deals — 70 percent of all landowners on the route, in fact, have already signed agreements and received compensation, Dominion points out…. For Ballin, he feels like Dominion’s ‘subtly twisted’ his arm to accept compensation for an easement on his property, last week sending him a new offer, but saying it would be rescinded if not accepted by Aug. 4…. But Ballin and Limpert still feel powerless, they say, next to a corporate giant like Dominion. Gov. Terry McAuliffe called this a ‘win-win,’ Ballin says — ‘he forgot about us.'”

8-2-17 WVTF. Pipeline Prospects: Questioning the Need. “Dominion Energy claims the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is urgently needed to accommodate growing demand for natural gas. Without it, the company warns Virginia’s economy will suffer. Pipeline opponents say that’s not the case…. Thomas Hadwin says Dominion is mistaken when it claims there’s no more room in the pipelines we already have. ‘That is not borne out by Department of Energy Studies. It’s not borne out by independent consultant studies.’”

8-1-17 Washington Examiner. Senate workload for August doesn’t include Trump’s energy nominees. “A Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee business meeting to move a number of Trump’s energy and interior nominees through the confirmation vote process was postponed after a contentious week of votes on a bill to partially repeal and replace Obamacare…. Several nominees whom Murkowski already moved through committee are awaiting votes from the full Senate. The nominees include two Republican commissioners to be members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has been forced to shut down for lack of members.”

8-1-17 Roanoke Times. Peckman: The public will pay for FERC’s failings. “The EIS process is involved, but it provides a process to tie up all the loose ends so that a project can proceed without being held up in the courts forever. But FERC has not done their job so we are going to give a lot of money to lawyers for lawsuits. Yes, we will pay the money. FERC will take their lawyer money from our taxes while individual citizen groups will have to cough up the money to defend the public property that belongs to all of us as well as the private property of many individuals.”

8-1-17 WVTF. Pipeline Prospects: Ethics and Regulations. “The head of the Department of Environmental Quality was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, a strong supporter of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Under the Clean Water Act, DEQ could block construction of the pipeline if it felt the quality of our water would be damaged, but as Sandy Hausman reports, the agency may not have the will to do that…. To review Dominion’s plans for preventing damage, Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has hired a company, 3E Consulting, but critics discovered 3E also had a contract with Dominion.”

8-1-17 Rewire. Pressure Builds in Virginia Gubernatorial Campaign Over Proposed Pipelines. “Pipeline politics in Virginia have become critical issues in the 2017 governor’s race amid concerns that projects in the state could pose environmental and public health risks.”

8-1-17 News Leader. Guest column by Nancy Sorrells: Insist that Virginia protect its water. “Now, for the first time in this prolonged process, Virginia, not FERC, has power and authority. The line in the sand, so to speak, lies with our water. Congress was very explicit in 1972 when it passed the Clean Water Act – states were given the authority to protect water quality within their borders. Under this act, Virginia then mandated to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the State Water Control Board the job of protecting the quality of Virginia’s waters.