September 2017 News

September 2017

9-30-17 Robesonian [SC]. Dominion denies plans for pipeline to extend to SC. Dominion’s response to the AP news reports on September 29 (see below) includes this, “‘From the very beginning we have been clear and consistent that the infrastructure could be expanded in the future, while continuing to meet the needs already identified in Virginia and North Carolina…. Absolutely no decision has been made about a potential expansion beyond what has been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,’ the statement continued. ‘And, any expansion would have to go through a full regulatory review process. If the ACP were expanded at some point in the future to reach new markets, that would have absolutely no impact on our public utility customers in Virginia and North Carolina. We have 20-year contracts with those utilities, and those contracts are binding.’ Robeson County opponents to the pipeline said that they are not surprised that the proposal would be extended. ‘We couldn’t understand why Dominion would choose a route through the most vulnerable environment and vulnerable populations, including over 30,000 Native Americans along the proposed route,’ said the Rev. Mac Legerton, the executive director of the Center for Community Action in Lumberton. ‘But the information today makes full sense of this route. It’s just passing through. It’s not coming here for us at all. The environment and people of rural counties are being used as sacrifice zones for gas pipelines.’”

9-30-17 Nyack News & Views. Earth Matters: What the FERC? A long report that takes a good look at how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission works – and it is not in the public interest. “Once an obscure federal consumer protection agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is now a star in the Trump Administration’s fossil-fuel firmament.”

9-29-17 APNewsBreak. Disputed East Coast pipeline likely to expand. “The developers of a disputed natural gas pipeline on the U.S. East Coast are considering a major expansion of the project into South Carolina, according to remarks made by an energy company executive and interviews with others in the industry. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said that raises questions about whether Dominion Energy, the project’s lead developer, has withheld important information from the public and whether the pipeline is even needed as initially proposed. But business leaders say the pipeline would help lower energy costs and boost economic development in South Carolina. Dan Weekley, Dominion Energy’s vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations, told attendees at a recent energy conference ‘everybody knows’ the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — currently slated to pass through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — is not going to stop there, despite what the current plans say.”

9-29-17 Washington Examiner. FERC takes first step in accounting for climate change. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is officially accounting for climate change in its pipeline environmental reviews after a major court defeat last month. The commission issued an updated draft supplemental environmental review on Wednesday after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said it must account for downstream greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas power plants in pipeline permit decisions. FERC had not accounted for the emissions from a power plant, or another secondary source, in permitting a new pipeline project since the commission was created 40 years ago. The new draft supplement now ‘estimates the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the [Southeast Market Pipelines] Project’s customers’ downstream facilities,’ according to a commission statement. The new draft also describes ‘the methodology used to determine these estimates, discusses context for understanding the magnitude of these emissions, and addresses the value of using the social cost of carbon tool,’ according to FERC. The social cost of carbon metric is something the Trump administration is trying to remove from regulations. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the agency to redo its environmental review in responding to litigation against the agency.”

9-29-17 WDTV. EQT statement says cause of station incident still unknown. There was an explosion at a compressor station in WV on September 29. “EQT Midstream Partners has issued the following statement on the explosion that happened Friday morning: ‘On Friday, September 29, 2017, at approximately 7:00 am, a condensate tank ignited at EQT Midstream Partners’ Saturn compressor station located in West Union, Doddridge County, West Virginia. The Saturn facility was immediately locked down and all emergency services personnel, as well as the WV DEP were notified. Emergency services were dispatched to the site and the flow of gas to the station was terminated. There were no injuries and, out of an abundance of caution, approximately 20 homes located within a half-mile of the station were evacuated as a safety protocol. At approximately 11:15am, the incident was fully secured and stabilized; the evacuation was lifted by the local emergency coordinator and neighbors were returned to their homes. All liquid remained in the concrete containment area and there was no impact to groundwater sources or nearby streams. Together with EQT personnel, emergency services crews have begun the process of evaluating and isolating the ignition source to ensure the incident remains under control. At this time the cause of the ignition is unknown and a full root-cause analysis and investigation of the incident has begun.’”

9-28-17 Who.What.Why. Op-Eds Endorsing Atlantic Coast Pipeline Came from Big Power, Activists Charge. “In North Carolina, activists recently charged that Duke Energy, one of the partners in the venture, is behind recent op-eds in one of the state’s leading newspapers. As our earlier reporting makes clear, big power is doing all it can to move along the pipeline — and it has the political clout and the resources to do that.”

9-28-17 Roanoke Times. Pipeline companies anxious to begin tree clearing. “The two joint ventures planning to route 42-inch diameter natural gas pipelines through forests and fields long to hear the whining roar and chatter of chainsaws felling trees. Both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline hope to start clearing trees in mid-November from construction rights-of-way for the buried pipelines. There is an urgency to get started: The projects plan to suspend felling trees after March 31 to comply with federal conservation guidelines tied to potential impacts to the Indiana bat, a federally endangered species, and the northern long-eared bat, a threatened species. Restricting tree clearing to the period from mid-November to the end of March also protects some species of migratory birds that nest during other months of the year. Aaron Ruby, a spokesman for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, said Wednesday that the project’s timeline, and the project itself, could suffer if tree clearing activities don’t get underway during this period, which could mean waiting until mid-November 2018 to fire up chainsaws and other tree-felling equipment. ‘It’s important that we do all the tree clearing and grading this season,’ Ruby said. ‘It’s an important window and we’ve got a lot of work to do.’ Each project plans to clear all vegetation from a temporary construction right-of-way that would be 125 feet wide in most terrain. The permanently treeless rights-of-way would be 50 feet in most places.”

9-27-17 Southern Environmental Law Center. Dominion doesn’t deny preparing to charge customers $2B for pipeline construction. “Virginia regulators just finished hearing three days of testimony about utilities’ long-term plans across the Commonwealth. Most notably, testimony established that Dominion Energy’s own data show construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cost Dominion customers around $2 billion.”

9-27-17 S&P Global-Platt. Gas pipeline executive laments ‘wobble’ in US regulatory climate. Pipeline executives complain about regulations that slow them down. “Conflicting court decisions about federal authorities over natural gas pipelines, as well as recent state actions impeding water permits, create an unstable regulatory climate that could chase away investment, a top gas pipeline executive has warned.”

9-26-17 Power to the People.  New pipelines report shows the ACP is part of a widespread, systemic market failure.  “Anyone who examines the corporate deals that underlie the Atlantic Coast Pipeline comes away with a strong sense of looking at a broken regulatory system. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is supposed to approve only those pipelines that can demonstrate they are actually needed. Pipeline companies demonstrate need by showing that customers have contracted for most or all of the pipeline’s capacity. In the case of the ACP, Dominion Energy and its partners manufactured the need by making their own affiliates the customers of the pipeline.” Article goes on to discuss the new report from Oil Change International, saying “the U.S. is currently building unneeded fracked-gas pipelines as a result of FERC’s regulatory failures, including its failure to police self-dealing. The result will be excess pipeline capacity, paid for by regulated utility customers.”  The article also discusses the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) acceptance of self-dealing.

9-26-17 Daily Herald [Roanoke Rapids NC]. Heaton Construction to break ground in area for pipeline. “After years of planning and discussion about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, construction will soon begin on the compressor station and its regional office in Northampton County. Building the office will be Heaton Construction Inc. of Roanoke Rapids, which is a local company that formed in the mid-1980s. Bruce McKay, senior energy policy director of Dominion Energy, made the announcement Monday morning at the Northampton County Cultural & Wellness Center in Jackson. McKay said the plan is to start the office’s construction in the second quarter of 2018….  As for the actual compressor station, McKay said they will announce who will be working on it in about a week. McKay said he expects the site to be operational by the end of 2019.”

9-26-17 E&E News. Rover cited for new water violation days after construction restarts. “Just three days after winning federal energy regulators’ approval to restart certain construction operations after a series of environmental violations, the Rover pipeline was cited with a new environmental notice by Ohio regulators Friday. The Ohio EPA cited an Energy Transfer Partners LP subsidiary for spilling contaminants into a waterway in Carroll County, Ohio, saying Rover spilled soap wastewater discharge and soil and sediment into a tributary of Irish Creek…. In a statement Friday, Ohio EPA blasted the company for incurring another violation so soon after getting permission to resume construction work at several horizontal drilling sites along the right of way. ‘lthough Rover’s arrogance and blatant disregard for Ohio’s environmental laws is no longer surprising, we will remain vigilant in holding the company accountable,’ agency Director Craig Butler said.”

9-26-17 E&E News. Appalachian pipeline capacity to outpace demand — report. “Appalachia gas pipeline capacity will outpace demand in the coming years, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., even as the U.S. energy market and overseas buyers consume more gas produced in the Northeast. In the short term, electric power plants will balance the market as they continue switching from coal to natural gas. But in Goldman’s analysis, researchers predict that rising gas demand simply as a function of
fuel-switching tails off in time, as efficient combined-cycle power plants, wind power, solar panels and a declining number of coal retirements cut into the rise in gas demand.”

9-25-17 LittleSis. Pro-Atlantic Coast Pipeline Op-Ed Fails to Disclose Funding from Duke Energy. “In a September 21st op-ed in the News & Observer entitled ‘Atlantic Coast Pipeline would Fuel Growth of NC Manufacturing,’ author Steve Yost advocates strongly for North Carolina’s approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. However, readers of the op-ed in the News & Observer — the paper of Raleigh, North Carolina’s second largest city — wouldn’t know that Yost makes his bread and butter advancing the interests of Duke Energy, the Charlotte-based fossil fuel corporate giant that has a 47% stake in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline…. Yost’s close ties to Duke Energy and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline also helps explain his unsourced claim that the pipeline will create 4,400 jobs in North Carolina. The number, in fact, comes from PR material promoted and paid for by Dominion Energy, who has a 48% stake in the pipeline. The jobs number is also being pushed by an astroturf front group that is funded by the American Petroleum Institute.”

9-21-17 Highland Recorder. States flag water quality issues from pipe projects. “Environmental agencies in North Carolina and West Virginia this month delayed their decisions on whether to approve the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline, respectively. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality was reviewing comments from public hearings last month. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration deferred until mid-December a decision on whether to permit the ACP. Last Thursday, the state issued a four-page “request for additional information” under the federal Clean Water Act to ensure the gas pipeline would not harm more than 320 North Carolina rivers and streams. Pipeline foes applauded the action, which seemed to justify their objections to the project. ‘The current application leaves out critical information,’ said Geoff Gisler, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. ‘There are literally hundreds of streams and wetlands that the company has asked to dig through with hardly any analysis.’ Pipeline opponents in Virginia hoped the DEQ would boost its review of the projects and adjust a timetable described as rushed.”

9-20-17 Star-Telegram [Ft.Worth TX]. Ohio increases fines to $2.3M against pipeline developer. “Ohio’s environmental regulators have more than doubled the proposed fines against a company building a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Michigan, saying Wednesday the two sides are at an impasse. The fines now stand at $2.3 million and stem from what the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says are numerous water and air pollution violations during construction of the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline.”

9-20-17 WVTF. Pipeline Opposition Groups Making Every Effort to Stop Proposed Projects. “Opponents of the two projects were encouraged last week when West Virginia pulled its permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and North Carolina put off its decision on the ACP. Still the fight is not over, and some have been training to physically resist construction. About a hundred people met on a large piece of land in Nelson County for a direct action boot camp.” [Scroll down to the second sound segment for the report on the September 16-17 No Pipeline! Training Camp.  For photos from the camp. see the Greenpeace Flickr album.] The in depth report also discusses Oil Change International’s new study showing more pipelines aren’t needed, that demand for electricity is flattening or declining, but that high rates of return for stockholders push overbuilding.

9-20-17 WSLS10. Franklin County landowners allow court-ordered pipeline surveyors. “Mountain Valley Pipeline workers started surveying a Franklin County property Wednesday after a judge granted the company an injunction to enter the land last week. WSLS 10 got an exclusive look as crews accessed the property with the owners’ permission for the first time. Carolyn Reilly is fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline and is now forced to welcome unwanted visitors. ‘We’ve said no for three years and today is the first day we’ve had an onslaught of surveyors onto our property,’ Reilly said.”

9-20-17 Washington Examiner. Anti-pipeline protestors sing ‘We shall overcome’ at FERC meeting. “More than 100 organizations planned and endorsed the protest on Wednesday, mostly local and national environmental groups. There are more than 40 pipelines set to be considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Anti-pipeline protesters on Wednesday interrupted the first meeting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has held since January. The FERC’s agenda was light at it faces a backlog of pipeline cases, but that did not stop demonstrators singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ and shouting ‘you should be ashamed’ as the commission returned to business after being shut down for six months due to a lack of members.”

9-20-17 S&P Global Platts. FERC picks up where it left off, tackles backlog. “The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission renewed its monthly meetings Wednesday, with commissioners applauding efforts that kept the agency moving through its workload during the unprecedented six-month lapse of a quorum and acknowledging the still-hefty backlog of draft orders awaiting their decisions.”

9-20-17 Chesterfield Observer. Letter to Editor: Virginia water more important than golf trips. The letter discusses (with examples) “Dominion’s historical lack of being held accountable by our state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ),” and then says, “It is hard to think of a reason that the DEQ, the department charged with protecting Virginia’s water, would have to lavish Dominion with such immunity to compliance with environmental laws. The reason is here: David Paylor, DEQ director, was found to have received thousands of dollars in gifts from Dominion, including a paid trip to the Masters golf tournament, and Dominion makes five- to six-figure donations to influential, politically connected charities and to politicians, like Gov. McAuliffe. Dominion then charges us ratepayers for these donations, over $1 million in recent years, because Dominion customers generally have no choice in where they get their power. Whether liberal or conservative, climate change acknowledger or denier, every Virginian should agree that this type of influence by big money companies cannot be allowed to continue. A start would be to demand of the DEQ, at the very least, an extension of the review on the two pipelines and ultimately the denial of permitting the projects. Virginia water must be valued over golf trips and campaign donations.”

9-20-17 Roanoke Times. We don’t need either pipeline. “‘The two pipeline — one route alternative,’ (Sept. 14 commentary) clearly was written by someone who only cares about western Virginia and is willing to dump on the part he doesn’t live in. He has not explored the damage the extra-wide one-route would do to land it crossed and ignores the fact that while ‘saving’ property here, it would add to the damage there…. Those of us fighting the pipelines avoid such divisive suggestion. None of us want to get rid of the danger and loss by dumping it on someone else. Instead, we focus on whether the pipelines are needed at all. According to the Department of Energy, they are not.”

9-19-17 Farmville Herald.  Letter to Editor:  Pressing need to ‘increase profits.’  Irene Leech condenses Thomas Hadwin’s analysis (see our September 10 story) into tightly scripted soundbites.

9-19-17 DeSmog. Exclusive: Here are the Energy Companies Represented by Trump’s Nominee to Head FERC. “President Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has, as a corporate attorney, personally represented a host of energy and utility companies, many of which do business that is directly impacted by FERC’s decisionmaking. According to Kevin McIntyre’s financial disclosure — obtained by DeSmog and published here for the first time — these include major utilities, fracking companies, pipeline builders, and international energy corporations.”

9-19-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Virginia’s environmental agency to press ahead on pipeline permits as other states hit the brakes. West Virginia rescinded their permit to allow further review. North Carolina delayed their decision to allow further review. “Yet in Virginia, the state Department of Environmental Quality, which has been heavily criticized for its handling of the water-quality risks posed by the two pending natural gas pipelines, says it has no plans to slow down the process for either project. The pipelines face major resistance from environmental groups and some landowners and state lawmakers of both parties have asked the DEQ to slow the process.” Greg Buppert, lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center, says, “‘Virginia is an outlier. Those two states have said this project has serious potential implications for water quality in our state and we’re going to take our process seriously. … Virginia appears stuck on Dominion’s time frame. And unless the agency backs off its timetable and gets more information from Dominion, gets more information from the public, they’re racing ahead with a defective permit.’”

9-18-17 Roanoke Times. Editorial: The argument that won’t sway FERC on pipelines. Developers keep saying the pipelines are needed to meet domestic needs.  The editorial discusses international exports of fracked natural gas from the MVP and ACP.

9-18-17 Herald-Dispatch [Huntington WV]. Editorial: Agency must be thorough in assessing gas projects. “With numerous pipelines proposed for carrying natural gas through the state, West Virginians should expect that one of the state’s chief regulatory agencies in such matters – the Department of Environmental Protection – conducts its duties thoroughly. As its name implies, the agency should work hard to ensure that such projects don’t cause any undue harm to the environment…. The DEP’s job is to apply the law in determining whether a pipeline project meets environmental protection requirements. Its role in this regard will only get bigger, as it rules on an ever growing list of proposed pipelines, including several in the southern part of the state. It must not cut corners on doing the due diligence required of it.”

9-18-17 Charleston Gazette. “Significant delays” projected as DEP takes steps toward additional review of pipeline project.  “The developers of the proposed 303-mile long Mountain Valley Pipeline still cite late 2018 as the target in-service date for the natural gas pipeline despite planned additional review from West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.” BUT – “Last week, the DEP formally filed a motion in federal court to invalidate its earlier approval on the water quality component of the large project that, as proposed, would cross 631 streams total. It was not immediately clear when there would be a ruling on that motion. Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, predicted any additional DEP review would take several months causing ‘significant delays’ in planned construction which hinges on state certifications that the interstate gas pipeline will not have significant effects on water quality. The target date for the start of construction had been before the close of 2017.”

9-15-17 Blue Virginia. Pipelines Bombshell: West Virginia Revokes Approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline as Legal Terrain Shifts [UPDATED]. “In another stunning bombshell that came out right after this article [the initial article on WV vacating the 401 certificate] went to press, North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality JUST ANNOUNCED that it is delaying its own review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until at least mid-December. In a detailed 4-page letter to the pipeline developers, the department said that ‘to continue to process your application…site-specific detail is necessary to ensure that downstream water quality is protected,’ including a ‘restoration plan for all stream crossings,’ and an analysis of ‘cumulative impacts” of the pipeline’s 180-mile route through the state.’”

A few days earlier, the lengthy Blue Virginia article on the WV action began, “As public attention was focused on the destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey and the unfolding disaster of Hurricane Irma, West Virginia dropped a bombshell on what has become a nationwide battle over fracked gas pipelines. On September 7, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection revoked its previous approval of the 300 mile $3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). In a terse two sentence letter, West Virginia stated that it ‘hereby vacates and remands the Section 401 Water Quality Certification issued on March 23, 2017.’ West Virginia provided no reason for this extraordinary action, saying only that it needed to ‘reevaluate the complete application.’”

This story also appeared nationally in the Huffington Post.

9-15-17 Washington Examiner. FERC overrules New York regulators to allow construction of natural gas pipeline. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday overruled New York state regulators who had blocked construction of a 7.8-mile natural gas pipeline. FERC ruled that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation waived its right to review the Valley Lateral Project by failing to act within a year of receiving Millennium Pipeline Co.’s application for an important water-quality permit.”

9-15-17 Earth First! Journal. Community Resistance in the South is Throwing a Major Wrench in Pipeline Plans. “In the past week the West Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced that it is rescinding the water quality permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline to be built through their state, while North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper just announced that his DEQ will be delaying a decision on granting water quality permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until December.  While neither of these decisions are the final death blow for these destructive pipeline projects, they do represent major victories for the grassroots efforts throughout the South to fight dirty energy projects. It is important to understand that these decisions did not come out of the goodness of the hearts of state governments. They came because strong social movements have forced them to do so.”

9-15-17 UtilityDive. Mountain Valley Pipeline faces new scrutiny, citizen lawsuits. “Problems continue to mount, for EQT Corporation’s proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. In addition to losing a water quality certificate, the project now faces at least two citizen-led lawsuits focused on developers’ use of eminent domain.”

9-15-17 Southest Energy News. North Carolina delays decision on Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Faced with a Monday deadline and a lopsided number of public comments opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration has delayed until mid-December its decision on whether to permit the controversial project. Without fanfare or press release late yesterday, the state issued a four-page ‘request for additional information,’ part of its duty under the federal Clean Water Act to ensure the natural gas pipeline won’t harm the over 320 rivers and streams and hundreds of acres of wetlands in its path.”  Also reported in IndyWeekNC and other media sources.

9-15-17 Virginian-Pilot. Editorial: Pipeline is still a cause for concern. “There is ample cause for caution and care when it comes to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the proposed 600-mile conduit that would bring natural gas from Harrison County, W.Va., to Virginia and North Carolina. The route floated by the partnership of energy companies advancing the plan would bring the line over picturesque mountains, through protected national forests, and across pristine waterways. It would traverse public land and bisect private property, bringing with it a host of challenges. For those reasons, it’s reasonable to be wary about the push for quick approval being made by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas. Pipeline opponents have protested that these efforts are an attempt to sidestep the regulatory process. They are correct to raise the alarm and, honestly, these companies should know better.”

9-15-17 WMRA/WEMC. ACP Protesters Descend on State DEQ Offices. “Across Virginia this week people gathered at offices of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, to voice their concerns and demands about the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast natural gas pipelines. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz attended Thursday’s [Sept. 14] gathering just outside of Harrisonburg at the Valley Regional DEQ Office.” The 4.5 minute report includes voices of protestors and the song, “We Don’t Want Your Pipeline” woven through the report.

9-14-17 Miami Herald. Virginia Supreme Court upholds electric rate review law. “The Virginia Supreme Court issued a ruling Thursday [September 14, 2017] upholding a state law that has blocked millions of dollars in refunds to electric customers. The court ruled 6-1 that the General Assembly is within its constitutional authority to temporarily suspend state regulators’ ability to adjust a portion of electric rates.” [Dominion wins the case that allows them to keep $130 M in overcharges to Virginia consumers. Thanks, VA Legislature]

9-14-17 The Robesonian [NC]. ACP supporters deny pressuring. “A letter from the developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline requesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to certify their project as quickly as possible is not “unique,” according to Tamara Young-Allen, a commission spokesperson. Since Aug. 10 when two new commissioners joined the five-member commission that has not had enough members to form a quorum for six months, a number of applicants of pipelines across the country have made similar requests to expedite their projects, said Young-Allen. Without a quorum, the commission can’t act on applications. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is proposed to run about 600 miles from West Virginia, through Virginia and North Carolina, before ending in Pembroke, are using the letter to accuse the three companies involved in the project of trying to get commission approval of their pipeline before all federal and state agencies have finished their review of the effect there will be on humans and the environment.”

9-14-17 Richmond Times Dispatch. Nineteen protesters issued summonses after anti-pipeline demonstration outside Virginia DEQ main office. “Dozens of demonstrators, taking aim at how the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has handled water quality permitting for a pair of controversial natural gas pipelines, blockaded the agency’s office in downtown Richmond during a peaceful protest Thursday afternoon. After about an hour, a representative of the owner of the building DEQ leases at Seventh and East Main streets asked the protesters to leave. They refused, and police gently led away 19 protesters who had lined up along the building and volunteered themselves for arrest. They were issued summonses for ‘obstruction of free passage,’ a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to a year in jail.”

9-14-17 Bristol Herald.  Washington County group protests Virginia pipelines. Protesters at Abingdon DEQ office.

9-14-19 InsideNoVa. Local environmentalists protest pipelines at state office in Woodbridge. Protestors at Woodbridge DEQ office.

9-13-17 Augusta Free Press. Faith leaders protest pipelines statewide. “In an unprecedented mobilization of clergy and other faith leaders, Virginia congregations turned out in seven cities today with music, prayer, and silence to honor recent hurricane victims while protesting Governor McAuliffe’s Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines for fracked gas. newspaperKicking off two consecutive days of statewide protest, faith leaders gathered outside of seven regional Department of Environmental Quality offices in Richmond, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Virginia Beach, Abingdon, Glen Allen, and Woodbridge. Observers cannot recall such a large organized faith protest on any environmental issue in the history of Virginia.”

9-13-17 WHSV3. Pipeline Protests Across Virginia. Protesters at Harrisonburg DEQ office.

9-13-17 ABC13News. Protesters speak out against Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Protesters at Virginia Beach DEQ office.

9-13-17 IndyWeek. N.C. Climate Activists Hold Prayer Vigil and Fast in Opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “For the past nine days, Yost and other pipeline opponents have been taking part in a water-only fast in front of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality office. The agency has a deadline to approve or deny a water quality permit necessary for the pipeline’s construction by September 19. If approved, the pipeline, which is being built by Duke Energy, Dominion, and Southern Gas Company, would traverse Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson, Cumberland, and Robeson counties.”

9-13-17 EcoWatch. Momentum Building to Stop Gas Pipelines. Article reviews game-changing court victories for pipeline opponents. “FERC will have its first meeting in months on Sept. 20. Thus far, the agency has served as nothing more than a rubber stamp for gas projects, and we expect that it will try to rush forward approvals for fracked gas pipelines. But we aren’t going away.”

9-13-17 EnergyWire.  Burgeoning legal movement pits landowners against pipelines.  “The rapid spread of new natural gas pipelines across the country has led to rising tension between developers and landowners. Recent lawsuits take aim at the use of eminent domain for those projects and, if successful, could set a new legal precedent on the issue.”

9-12-17 Washington Post. Letter to Editor: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline costs much more than dollars. A “Sept. 9 letter, ‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has answers for consumers,’ contained the same old arguments in favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: supposed need, reduction of energy costs to consumers, cleaner air by using natural gas and, of course, jobs. Independent studies indicate that gas and utility companies are overbuilding natural gas infrastructure; air quality will be worsened from various emissions during construction; and there will be only 39 permanent jobs for Virginians when the pipeline is completed…. The project’s estimated $5.1 billion cost does not include the cost to all in its path.”

9-11-17 Roanoke Times. Judge’s ruling permits pipeline surveying of Franklin County farm.  At a hearing on September 11, 2017, Franklin County Circuit Court judge William Alexander granted the injunction sought by Mountain Valley to prohibit interference with their surveying of Four Corners Farm in Franklin County. The family that owns and operates the farm, David and Betty Werner, their daughter, Carolyn Reilly, and her husband, Ian Reilly, have been fighting repelling surveyors since May of 2016.  The judge said, “I think this whole statute is a legislative failure, frankly,” but that he felt compelled to enforce it.  Surveying will likely be over three days next week.  “The bottom line for me is that money talks,” Carolyn Reilly said. “It’s another win for money.”

9-9-17 Lynchburg News & Advance. Atlantic Coast Pipeline developers ask FERC to OK project this month as opponents file lawsuit aiming to prevent approval. “As progress continues on the development of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, opponents have offered a new challenge in hopes of stopping the project, while developers are asking the agency reviewing it for federal approval this month.”

9-8-17 Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). IEEFA Update: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Risk Is Being Borne Not by Dominion and Duke, but by Their Customers. “[I]n the three years since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was first proposed, Duke and Dominion have revised their projections of future electricity demand substantially. By 2025, Duke’s forecast is lower by 10,800 gigawatt-hours (GWh) and Dominion’s by 7,700. These are not small numbers. For context, the 1,585-megawatt combined-cycle gas plant under construction by Dominion in Greeneville, Va.—a not-insignificant project—will generate 11,000 GWh per year. The total downward revisions in demand by Duke and Dominion—18,500 GWh —works out to about 400 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, a sizeable chunk of the pipeline’s daily 1,500-million-cubic foot capacity.”

9-8-17 Charleston Gazette-Mail. WV DEP vacates permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Faced with a deadline to defend their permit approval against a federal court challenge, West Virginia regulators moved this week to back off their certification that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would not violate the state’s water quality standards. The state Department of Environmental Protection said in a Thursday letter to the pipeline developers and other state and federal agencies that it ‘hereby vacates and remands’ its water quality certification for the controversial natural gas pipeline. Scott Mandirola, director of the DEP Division of Water and Waste Management, said in the letter that the move would allow DEP ‘to revaluate the complete application to determine whether the state’s certification is in compliance’ with the federal Clean Water Act. ‘We’ve been asking DEP to take a closer look at the more than 600 streams affected by this massive project from the beginning, so DEP’s letter is a positive step,’ said Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.”  This story was also covered by the Roanoke Times, WDTV5, and WVVA, and by other media.

9-8-17 Virginian-Pilot. As protests loom, Atlantic Coast Pipeline partners push for federal approval. “Developers of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline are asking federal regulators to approve the project this month, now that the commission in charge of the decision has enough members to vote on the project. Executives with Dominion Energy, Duke Energy and Southern Company Gas made the request in a letter Thursday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…. Lewis Freeman, chair of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 52 opposition groups, said in a statement Friday that the companies’ request is ‘a blatant attempt to evade Virginia’s regulatory process and ram the approval of this pipeline through, especially as community opposition continues to grow.’ He noted that the Virginia State Water Control Board hasn’t yet scheduled a meeting to review the pipeline.”

9-8-17 Facing South. Resisting the South’s pipeline building boom. “The U.S. South is at the epicenter of the nationwide push to build new onshore natural gas pipelines, which carry serious environmental and economic risks. Of the 56 projects that have applied for permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) since 2013, 31 run through Southern states. But the building campaign is meeting resistance in the region, with anti-pipeline organizers holding a series of protests and other events this month targeting both state and federal regulators.”

9-7-17 Courthouse News Service. Pipeline Challengers Call for Eminent-Domain Overhaul. “Fighting to stop two massive pipeline projects, dozens of landowners claim in a federal complaint that the outdated eminent-domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act no longer satisfy constitutional requirements…. Demanding an injunction, residents say ‘a challenge is long overdue’ against the process by which federal regulators confer eminent-domain powers on private, for-profit companies.”

9-7-17 Progressive Pulse. Dominion, Duke try to sweeten Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal with butterflies and bees. “Faced with tenacious public opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the project’s owners are trying an old tactic: greenwashing. Duke Energy and Dominion Energy have announced that they will plant new habitats for butterflies, bees and other pollinator insects on up to 750 acres along the route of the proposed pipeline, including in Eastern North Carolina. The ACP website correctly notes that pollinator populations, particularly bees and butterflies, have sharply declined in recent years due to the loss of suitable habitat. (Another factor is neonicotinoid pesticides, which the website omitted.) … The utilities fail to mention that the ACP itself will destroy vital habitats. Nor does it discuss any herbicides that would be necessary to keep the rights-of-way accessible and clear of unwanted plants.”

9-7-17 RTO Insider. McIntyre to Senate: ‘FERC does not Pick Fuels.’ “President Trump’s nominee for FERC chair brought little comfort to Republican senators seeking assurances that, under his leadership, the commission would look into shoring up uneconomic coal plants. ‘FERC is not an entity whose role includes choosing fuels for the generation of electricity,’ Kevin McIntyre, co-head of law firm Jones Day’s global energy practice, said at his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing Thursday. ‘FERC’s role, rather, is to ensure that the markets for the electricity generated by those facilities proceed in accordance with law.’ … The other nominee being considered for the commission, Richard Glick, echoed McIntyre’s position.”

9-7-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Sit-ins, prayer circles, and sidewalk rallies:  Pipeline opponents plan statewide protests at environmental agency offices in Virginia.  “Opponents of two natural gas pipelines that are awaiting state and federal approval will stage demonstrations at Virginia Department of Environmental Quality offices next week, though the agency says only people on ‘official business with DEQ’ will be allowed on the premises of its regional offices…. The first day of the protest will involve lunchtime rallies on public sidewalks outside DEQ offices in Virginia Beach, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Richmond, Abingdon, Glen Allen and Woodbridge. On the second day, faith leaders and ‘spiritual elders’ will pray for McAuliffe ‘as he makes a decision of historic consequences very soon.’ The third day will feature a ‘nonviolent sit-in,’ Bakhtiari said. Anne Havemann, CCAN’s general counsel, said the demonstrations will be held on public spaces surrounding DEQ offices. She said the last day will include delivering a letter to DEQ offices. She added that the group is ‘working with DEQ to make sure people have the opportunity to express themselves.’”

9-7-17 Augusta Free Press. Radio ads target negative impacts of pipelines on rural communities. “The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has launched a two-state radio ad campaign centering on the risks of natural gas pipelines on rural communities…. The League’s three-year investigation into pipeline impacts provided the foundation for the radio ad claims. For example, federal pipeline construction and safety standards allow less robust pipe, half the thickness required in urban areas. Gas transmission shut-off valves are twice as far apart, increasing the time and difficulty for emergency responders. An independent analysis by real estate experts indicates up to a one-third loss in property values where pipelines are located.”

9-6-17 C-Ville.  Dividing Line: the ACP Will Change the Lay of Our Land.  The cover story in the C-ville issue for September 6-12, 2017, is a lengthy and carefully researched article on ways in which the proposed ACP, despite assertions to the contrary by Dominion and Duke Energy, would change forever the lay of the land along its route. The article includes extended interviews with Richard Averitt, Nancy and David Schwiesow of Wintergreen, and Ernie Reed, along with comments by C-ville Rising’s Lee White and pipeline supporter Carlton Ballowe. There are photographs and a large map, plus a set of questions, each answered (quite differently, as one might imagine!) by both Dominion’s Aaron Ruby and Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Greg Buppert.

9-6-17 WVTF. If Approved, Virginia’s Gubernatorial Candidates Would Support Pipelines. “Two of Virginia’s candidates for Governor were in Richmond Wednesday at an environmental forum hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam talked rising oceans, energy and oysters…. Both candidates say they would support the construction of two controversial natural gas pipelines, if approved by state regulators.”

9-6-17 Roanoke Times. Chisholm: Who is David Paylor? The man who will decide our pipeline fate. “Paylor considers himself a longtime steward of the environment. He is a biologist and aquatic ecologist, and the mission of his department is to protect and enhance the environment, and to promote the health and well-being of Virginia’s residents. The department’s official vision is that Virginians will enjoy cleaner water and better air by the end of the decade. But signing off on the Mountain Valley Pipeline would be a betrayal of that mission and that vision.”

9-6-17 Roanoke Times. City officials discuss pipeline’s impact on Roanoke River. “One conservative estimate calculates that construction and operation of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline could increase the sediment load in the Roanoke River by 2 percent. That would translate to about 1,039 more tons of sediment per year — and the potential for the city of Roanoke spending tens of millions of dollars more on erosion and sediment controls and managing stormwater to improve the Roanoke River. That scenario raised hackles Tuesday among members of Roanoke City Council.”

9-5-17 Augusta Free Press. Landowners sue FERC to stop eminent domain on pipelines. “A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington D.C. federal district court on behalf of 57 landowners challenges the constitutionality of the eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act, and seeks to end the unconstitutional and unconscionable process of taking citizens’ private property via eminent domain for a corporation’s profits — and not for ‘the public good’ as the Constitution intended.”

9-5-17 Roanoke Star. Landowners Sue FERC to Stop Abuse of Eminent Domain for Private Gain for Proposed Pipelines. “A group of over 50 landowners from the region whose farms and homes are in the path of the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast fracked gas pipelines will hold a press conference on Wednesday outside the D.C. offices of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to announce their filing of a lawsuit against FERC to end the abuse of eminent domain for private gain for pipelines. The lawsuit, filed this week in Washington D.C. in federal district court, challenges the constitutionality of the eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act, and seek to end the unconstitutional and unconscionable process of taking citizens’ private property via eminent domain for a corporation’s profits — and not for ‘the public good’ as is intended.”

(Additional coverage of the landowners suit against FERC is in the Roanoke Times and the Charlottesville Daily Progress.)

9-5-17 Style Weekly [Richmond]. A Floating Protest Against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Arrives in Richmond Sept. 8. “Row your revolt, gently down the stream. On Wednesday, Sept. 6, a group of about 40 kayakers will paddle towards Richmond as gubernatorial candidates arrive for a debate. The group, Journey the James Flotilla, is organized by the Earth Folk Collective and says Ed Gillespie and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam should address how the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could place Richmond’s drinking water in jeopardy.”

9-5-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Don’t let pipelines jeopardize public health. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) presented the public with rushed, flawed hearings and comment schedules for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Only five hearings were held for those dangerous, unnecessary infrastructure projects, convened in locations difficult for residents along the proposed paths to attend. The public schedule was released and comment period began before the Atlantic Coast Pipeline applicant had submitted an erosion and sediment control plan. At the July 19 State Water Board meeting, DEQ head David Paylor announced that ‘within the authority we have we are absolutely committed to keeping the water clean.’ Prove it.”

9-4-17 NBC29.  Kayakers ‘Paddle Against the Pipeline’ on the James River. “A group of kayakers is paddling the James Rover to highlight the effects proposed pipeline projects could have on the water. The ‘Paddle Against the Pipeline’ is working its way towards Richmond to communicate the consequences of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines.”

9-2-17 Blue Virginia. A Few Examples Dominion Energy Should Follow…but Probably Won’t Unless Forced to Do So. “Dominion Energy is an arrogant, wealthy, centrally-planned, state-protected/coddled, corrupting, polluting monopoly monstrosity. For more on the corrupting part, see Vivian Thomson’s superb, must-read book, Climate of Capitulation, which among other things focuses on ‘the outsized power of the commonwealth’s largest utility, Dominion Energy, over Virginia politicians and regulators.’” The article lists projects and actions by many other utility companies around the US (including in Republican-dominated states) for expanding renewables, addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, and exploring decentralized electricity generation.

9-2-17 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley Pipeline highlights construction and safety risks on steep slopes in Roanoke County. [Although this article is about the MVP, the same issues of steep slope construction will be faced by the ACP. MVP essentially says, “If you don’t let us do what we want, things will be even worse.” We are sure Dominion would say the same.] “Mountain Valley Pipeline reacted forcefully after its plan to establish a permanent access road through a conservation easement on Poor Mountain was nixed by the federal commission reviewing the project. The company’s protest, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, offers a glimpse of some of the challenges and risks Mountain Valley could face burying a 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline on remarkably steep slopes in Roanoke County. For example, Mountain Valley described scenarios “that would require up to 10 winch tractors daisy-chained together to move a single load of materials, equipment, fuel or personnel up and down the slopes” if use of the access road is denied.”

9-1-17 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Dominion would owe $133 million if not for rate freeze. “Dominion Energy got a one-two punch Friday [September 1, 2017] from state regulators: A report said the monopoly utility is holding as much as $133 million it would be required to return to customers but for the 2015 rate freeze law. Another ruling severely curtails a pricey plan to recoup from customers the cost of putting more power lines underground. The line burial decision could raise the ire of state lawmakers who have supported Dominion’s plan.”

9-1-17 National Review. Opinion piece by Doug Hornig – Pipelines: Where Even Conservatives Support Eminent-Domain Abuse. “Where is the conservative commitment to property rights? At first, this might seem a silly question. Of course conservatives defend the right to private property, arguably the single most important principle upon which the nation was founded. But it’s not so silly in light of what’s happening in Virginia…. Now, a consortium of companies — led by Dominion Energy — is attempting to force a major natural-gas pipeline down the throats of our people, whether or not they agree to yield their land. … [There] are serious practical objections, but there is also a key issue of legitimate governance here. Since there is no provision for our ‘public use’ of the gas being transported, what could possibly justify the exercise of eminent domain? Nothing. This is about money, pure and simple. Dominion Energy is the largest and most influential corporation in the Commonwealth and donates heavily to officials from both parties. It also gets a FERC-guaranteed 14 percent return on equity. Ratepayers will bear the risk of building the pipeline and will pay above-market rates for the privilege.”

9-1-17 Washington Post. Questions remain on Dominion’s proposed pipeline. “Federal regulators are poised to approve the hotly contested Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would stretch for 600 miles from West Virginia, through Virginia and on to North Carolina. The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has completed a generally favorable final environmental impact statement for the $5 billion project that is likely to get a thumbs-up from FERC commissioners this month or next…. Yet after several years of intense fighting between Dominion and Virginia property owners whose land would be taken for rights of way and ecologists worried about destruction of fauna and flora, there still are major, unanswered questions about the project. They include how the pipeline deal is structured, what ratepayers will be charged for and who pays if something goes wrong.

9-1-17 UtilityDive. New York denies gas pipeline permit for CPV power plant over climate concerns. “The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has rejected a natural gas pipeline that consumer advocates say would have threatened upstate residents’ health, water quality and communities, citing climate change concerns. The 8-mile Valley Lateral Pipeline would move shale gas from the existing Millennium Pipeline to the 680 MW Valley Energy Center in Orange County, N.Y., being developed by Competitive Energy Ventures. In its rejection, the DEC said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had failed to take into consideration the environmental and health impacts of the power plant that the pipeline would supply. A ruling from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month has given additional ammunition to opponents of pipelines. The court ruled in August that federal regulators should have considered the impacts of climate change when considering whether to approve the Southeast Market Pipelines Project last year. According to the Times Herald-Record, the New York DEC cited that ruling when it called FERC’s review of the Valley Lateral ‘inadequate and deficient.’ A letter from DEC to project backers cited the ‘lack of a complete environmental review.’ ”