March 2017 News

March 2017

3-14-17 Augusta Free Press. Study: Dominion understates pipeline’s landslide potential in Nelson County. “A study of the potential for slope failures and landslides in Nelson County from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, coupled with a review of Dominion’s in-house analysis, has concluded that ‘Dominion has not adequately identified those soils and landforms that are prone to debris flows (and) landslides.’ The report also states that ‘the potential for debris flows in the very steep mountainous portions of Nelson County is underestimated by the reports submitted to FERC by Dominion.’ The author of the report, Blackburn Consulting Services, LLC, was contracted to review, assess, and comment on information submitted by Dominion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as related to the construction and operation of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) through Nelson County. The review was limited to information pertaining to soils/soil structure and slope stability, as well as the associated geohazards and erosion/water quality concerns that the ACP project raises for Nelson County…. The scientists found that Dominion has been using inadequate and inappropriate data sets to assess the soils and identify the landslide risk potential along the pipeline route in Nelson. The report states: ‘(The) review has discovered that, due to the reliance on this regional-based and publicly available information, many of the statements made in Dominion’s FERC filings represent gross generalities. Dominion has not adequately identified those soils and landforms that are prone to debris flows/landslides, nor have they adequately addressed how they plan to mitigate those site-specific hazards that can put people, property and water quality at extreme risk.’… ‘After reading this report, what scares me even more are the places where they want to install the pipeline along our narrow ridgetops,’ said Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson, referring to ridgetops such as those on Roberts Mountain. ‘There is no way to clear and flatten a 125’ construction right-of-way on a ridge that is only 60’ feet wide without severely impacting the landslide-prone slopes on either side.’ ‘We are calling on FERC to rescind the current DEIS and demand that Dominion follow these scientists’ recommendations to perform a more thorough assessment of the landslide risks in Nelson before the approval process is allowed to proceed any further,’ Burton concluded.”

3-12-17 CBS19. Atlantic Coast Pipeline protest in Charlottesville.”Protesters met at the freedom of speech wall in downtown Charlottesville Saturday to oppose construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by Dominion Energy. People chanted and wrote messages on the wall, while speakers from environmental organizations touched on potential effects of the pipeline. The focus of the protest was on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but people also stood in solidarity against the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. ‘We’re trying to raise awareness,’ said John Cruickshank, chair of the Sierra Club’s Piedmont Group. ‘We want everybody to become an activist for the environment because this is where we live. And we want to have our children inherit a healthy planet.'”

3-12-17 Roanoke Times. Pipeline’s passage through the region would add sediment to Roanoke River watershed. “The Roanoke River needs love, understanding and attention and not a new source of sediment. So says Bill Tanger, chairman of Friends of the Roanoke River. ‘Sediment is now the biggest problem on the upper Roanoke River,’ said Tanger, who is also a member of the Upper Roanoke River Roundtable. Dwayne D’Ardenne, storm water utility manager for the city of Roanoke, agreed that sediment already is a worry for the upper river. Sediment that settles in streams can smother aquatic life and can transport bacteria and industrial pollutants like PCBs, he said. Enter the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. Although the pipeline’s current route does not pass through the city of Roanoke, city officials recently acknowledged concerns about how erosion and sediment linked to the infrastructure project could affect the Roanoke River as the waterway winds through the jurisdiction…. ‘Sediment in the river has a direct impact on the number of days we can pump out of the Roanoke River, and we do not want to reduce the number of days that we can pump,’ said Sarah Baumgardner, a spokeswoman for the authority. ‘While the screens on the intake pumps minimize sediments coming into the reservoir, sediment can transport contaminants and bacteria and ultimately collect in the reservoir,’ she said. No one disputes that the Mountain Valley project, if approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, will add sediment to the Roanoke River watershed…. According to a report by Environmental Solutions & Innovations, or ESI, a consultant hired by the pipeline company, increased sediment loads associated with project construction ‘are likely to continue downstream [in the Roanoke River] until the sediment is arrested behind the first dam (i.e. Niagara Dam) or is deposited into Smith Mountain Lake.’… In February, City Manager Chris Morrill provided the council a preliminary report. Morrill noted that the pipeline’s traverse of steep slopes in Roanoke County suggests ‘there is a significant risk for erosion’ and described as legitimate the concern of increased sediment flowing downstream into the city. He said increased sediment could impact the city’s ‘ability to achieve progress in reducing sediment, bacteria and PCBs’ in the river.”

3-11-17 NBC29. At Rally, Anti-Pipeliners Say They’re Growing Tired of Protesting. “Protesters in Charlottesville say they’re growing tired of the back-and-forth fight with Dominion to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dozens of demonstrators took over the Downtown Mall Saturday afternoon to voice their opposition to the proposed natural gas pipeline through central Virginia, and others like it around the country. ‘There’s so many things actually that can be said about today,’ environmental activist Robert Walters said. Walters is one of many people protesting the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ‘We are continuously trying to send a message to those who are in control … we keep trying and trying,’ Walters said. Paul Wilson is pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church in Buckingham County. It sits close to a proposed compressor station for the pipeline. ‘Of course I’m tired. Yes, because it’s almost getting to be a 40 hour week of just dealing with this pipeline, dealing with this compressor station,’ Wilson said. ‘I’ve got two properties that are directly in the bulls eye of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline,’ Richard Averitt said. Those who continue to protest the natural gas pipeline say they want to reach a resolution but refuse to back down…. Opponents of the pipeline all seem to agree that the fighting has become a ‘dragon-sized’ problem. ‘It’s time that we just learn to stop and listen to each other. That’s part of what’s not going on right now,’ Walters said.”

3-10-17 Wilson Times (opinion). Pipeline planners must come clean on local benefits. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline could be pumping pressurized natural gas through Wilson County in as little as 2 ½ years, but residents along the pipeline’s path are already feeling a blast of hot air. Dominion Power and Duke Energy officials have bloviated about supposed benefits to landowners and county residents, but their words have proven to be empty promises. Residents of the Rock Ridge community rightfully feel betrayed. County Commissioner Rob Boyette spoke out for those residents this week, reading a prepared statement during Monday’s meeting that expressed concern about inaccurate information pipeline planners have disseminated and set the record straight. Atlantic Coast Pipeline officials said Wilson County will have a tap to divert gas from the pipeline for local use. There’s just one little problem — there are no natural gas lines along the pipeline’s Rock Ridge route…. This isn’t the first time pipeline planners have come up short in the disclosure department. In May 2015, we wrote in this space that Dominion spokespeople were failing to give property owners the information they needed to make informed decisions. In two years, little seems to have changed. Boyette said ACP planners must provide more ‘transparency and truth’ to western Wilson County homeowners.”

3-2-17 Salem Times-Register.  Actual minimum width of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is approximately the length of a football field.  An opinion piece in the Salem (VA) Times-Register by Lauren Ragland points out that Dominion’s stated 125 foot minimum width for construction meets the requirements set by the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), but that more width could be added to meet federal regulations. She also notes what (so far) has rarely been mentioned: if the pipeline is built, low-flying helicopters could regularly monitor the entire pipeline length for leaks, and spray regularly to keep the corridor clear.

3-1-17 Nelson County Times. Large crowd gives pipeline feedback to FERC. “Following the release of a draft environmental impact statement in December 2016, area residents had the chance to voice their thoughts on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline during a comment meeting last Wednesday at Nelson County High School. After about three hours, more than 100 people made verbal comments while dozens more entered written comments about the draft statement, which looks at potential impacts on the environment and residents from the proposed pipeline project and is issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…. ‘I think this meeting is the one where most of the public and community interest is coalesced,’ Swearingen said. While some would have preferred more of a traditional town-hall setting rather than a chance to enter comments individually, Swearingen said the format made the most sense for collecting substantive comments in a timely fashion. ‘The atmosphere was that people were completely misunderstanding the purpose of these sessions. They thought it was an opportunity to rally support, and we were finding that it was intimidating for people,’ Swearingen said of previous FERC comment meetings. ‘…This way, everybody has a chance to speak their mind…. Blue ‘No Pipeline’ signs were placed inside and outside the school’s entrance, and a series of poster boards that spelled out “no pipeline” in white lights stood out in the darkness that settled on Lovingston just after sunset. In the adjacent Nelson Middle School, members of anti-pipeline group Friends of Nelson occupied the library as they waited to give their comments.”