May 2018 News

May 2018

5-31-18 Utility Dive. Why natural gas’ reign may come to a quick end. “Ten years ago, 22 percent of electricity generation came from natural gas plants. This has grown rapidly, and today, 32 percent of our power mix is gas-fired. Although conventional wisdom says natural gas will continue its U.S. expansion and continue to gain a larger share of the market, there are several reasons gas’ reign may come to an end – and in fact, rather quickly. If this happens, it will have far-reaching consequences for gas generators and many others, too. The Rocky Mountain Institute just reported that this dynamic could cost investors billions if the gas industry underestimates clean energy growth and doesn’t adjust their plans to build more than $100 billion worth of gas capacity. What factors could make this possibility a reality and end natural gas’ pole position in the energy race? There are three: 1) Too much capacity for current, future demand…. 2) Gas lacks flexibility to ramp up, down quickly…. 3) Rapid advance of battery storage.”

5-31-18 Farmville Herald. Seeking Environmental Justice. “A community of people worried about the historical, environmental and health impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s (ACP) compressor station off Route 56 in Buckingham County invited the public to take a tour of the area, and learn about the people who the station could most affect. The tour and presentation, which took place Tuesday, was organized by a collection of community leaders and state representatives who contend that the pipeline’s location will damage a historical area of the county, the Union Hill community, and pose health and environmental issues for the people who live near it.”

5-31-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Mountain Valley Pipeline permit suspended in West Virginia; public comment about same permit for it and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to be extended in Virginia after website failure. “A national permit for one Virginia pipeline has been indefinitely suspended in West Virginia and the window for public scrutiny on the same permit for it and a second pipeline will be extended in Virginia because the website for the state Department of Environmental Quality crashed last week. The Army Corps of Engineers earlier this month halted any work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline near four river crossings until it can determine whether its permit allowing work there is in compliance with West Virginia environmental rules. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups asked this month for the permit suspension until a federal judge rules on their lawsuit claiming the permit is too broad in scope. Virginia’s State Water Control Board last month agreed to allow further public comment on the same permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline after hearing arguments that the permit doesn’t adequately protect Virginia waterways. Public comments were originally going to be accepted through May 30, but the deadline will be extended because the Virginia DEQ website was taken offline last week. DEQ spokeswoman Ann Regn said the department expects a report on the cause of the website crash from the Virginia Information Technologies Agency soon. Regn said the website, which contains no personal or proprietary information, should be back online Friday.”

5-31-18 Inside Climate News. Public Comments on Pipeline Plans May Be Slipping Through Cracks at FERC, Audit Says. “An inspector general’s report also raises concerns about transparency and public access to information at FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The federal process for approving new natural gas pipelines is veiled from the public, does a poor job of tracking their views, and may not be considering their concerns when weighing new projects according to a new auditor’s report. Environmental and pipeline safety advocates say the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General’s findings about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are alarming, if not surprising. ‘It’s frankly quite troubling, but at the same time, this is not news to those folks who have been impacted by proposed pipelines and those folks who try to be involved and navigate FERC’s system,’ Montina Cole, a senior energy advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report found that FERC lacked a consistent process for tracking public comments on proposed pipeline projects, suggesting that all comments might not be reviewed.”

5-30-18 Between the Lines. As Tree Sitter Blocks Gas Pipeline Construction in Virginia, Court Fines Family Farm. Interview with Carolyn Reilly, Mountain Valley pipeline in Virginia opponent and community organizer, conducted by Melinda Tuhus.

5-30-18 Roanoke Times.  Mountain Valley Pipeline sued by Franklin County landowners for erosion damage.  “”Six Franklin County landowners are suing Mountain Valley Pipeline, claiming their property was damaged by the company’s failure to control storm water runoff from a construction site. Mountain Valley has shown a ‘startling disregard’ for the impacts of building a natural gas pipeline on its neighbors, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke. After heavy rains that started May 15, a swath of bare land that crews had cleared for the pipeline’s right of way became a channel for erosion, covering nearby Cahas Mountain Road with about 8 inches of mud. …. The landowners are asking a judge to do what they say state regulators have not: order a stop to construction until Mountain Valley has taken steps to ensure that the next heavy rain will not unleash another mudslide. …. [The plaintiffs] ‘cannot rely on DEQ to protect their property and environmental interests, particularly in light of DEQ’s public denial of the fact that significant sediment was deposited into Virginia’s waters as a result of MVP’s actions,’ according to the lawsuit, which was filed by attorney Isak Howell of Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a nonprofit legal and public interest organization.”

5-30-18 News Virginian. Coalition unhappy about new comment period on ACP permits. “A coalition of trade organizations and labor unions have written Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam regarding a new comment period on water quality permits already issued for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The coalition said the delay sets a bad precedent for any Virginia construction project involving water crossings. The governor is also asked to reaffirm the 12 water quality permits for the pipeline previously issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permits cover all of Virginia’s 900 water crossings encroached by the pipeline. The Virginia State Water Control Board in April asked the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to order another 30-day comment period on whether the permit approvals are adequate to protect Virginia waterways. Ann Regn, a DEQ spokeswoman, said the comment period was asked for to receive technical comments on the permits. She said the comment period will continue until at least June 6.”

5-30-18 The Inter-Mountain [WV]. Pipeline work to begin soon. “Upshur County will soon see a large influx in people as pipeliners and contractors head to the area to begin construction work on the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, officials said. Mike Cozad, ACP community liaison, provided the Upshur County Commission an update on the project during the most recent commission meeting. Cozad said the ACP received a Notice to Proceed from FERC, and has ‘full blown’ authority to begin construction work in West Virginia in areas where trees have been cleared. ‘In the next few weeks you should see a huge influx of folks here to start getting that work underway,’ Cozad told commissioners.”

5-29-18 E&E News. FERC commissioner sounds ‘call for action’ on pipelines. “Lawmakers should “take a serious look” at mandatory security requirements for natural gas pipeline operators amid recent hacking threats, according to Commissioner Richard Glick of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”

5-29-18 Blue Virginia. New Report: Virginia Drinking Water Threatened by Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. “Two proposed large gas pipelines could pollute valuable groundwater that supplies drinking water across Virginia, according to a report released today by the environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies, which was prepared for the Natural Resources Defense Council. This report concludes that the pollution threat from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines presents a health risk, prompting NRDC to call for further study of water threats by state agencies and the Northam administration while halting the projects.”

5-29-18 E&E News. Atlantic Coast neighbors concerned stored pipes are damaged. “Some of the steel pipes that will carry high-pressure gas along the Atlantic Coast pipeline have been sitting in yards for a year or longer, and a landowner on the pipeline route is worried that they may have deteriorated in storage.”

5-29-18 Roanoke Times. Franklin County won’t lease property to Mountain Valley Pipeline for storage yard. “Franklin County will not lease a 10-acre portion of property to Mountain Valley Pipeline for a temporary storage yard. The board of supervisors voted on the matter following a Tuesday night public hearing where more than a dozen people asked them not to give the company access to county-owned land.”

5-28-18 Blue Virginia. Pipeline Bombshell: Even Dominion Energy Says Mountain Valley Pipeline Contractor Is Incompetent. “In recent weeks, Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) started tree clearing and ground preparation for its proposed 42-inch, 303-mile fracked natural gas pipeline running from West Virginia through Virginia. Almost immediately, reports emerged that MVP and its contractor, Precision Pipeline, LLC were wreaking havoc on Virginia’s water and land resources. Photos and video evidence clearly showed that Precision Pipeline, a Wisconsin company, had no idea how to deal with the springtime mountain rains that typify southwest Virginia, leading to landslides, mud on roads and sediment pollution in creeks and streams. And this massive construction project has only just begun. …. The evidence of Precision Pipeline’s incompetence in the initial stages of this project is mounting…. It has gotten so bad that even the weak and/or incompetent Virginia Department of Environmental Quality was forced to concede that one of these incidents was ‘clearly unacceptable,’ leading to an order temporarily stopping construction at a site in Franklin County. It turns out that someone else is saying we told you so: Dominion Resources. Yes, THAT Dominion Resources.”

5-27-18 Washington Post. Good-government or quid pro quo? Anti-Dominion pledge raises eyebrows in Richmond. “A group trying to loosen Dominion Energy’s perceived grip on Richmond is offering to donate up to $20,000 to legislators who promise to swear off campaign contributions from the power giant. The offer from Clean Virginia – sent a week ago to all 140 legislators on their state email accounts – raised concerns among some senators and delegates, who said they fear that it constitutes a textbook quid pro quo. Even some who were inclined to accept the offer say they are checking with lawyers first. …. Clean Virginia, a spinoff from a political action committee headed by former Democratic gubernatorial contender Tom Perriello, stood by its offer. Executive Director Brennan Gilmore said the group vetted the proposition with lawyers, who concluded it was legal because it would reward legislators who change the way they campaign, not the way they vote.”

5-26-18 Charleston Gazette-Mail. FERC’s approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline invalid, environmental groups argue. “The environmental project manager who’s been signing off on Mountain Valley Pipeline construction doesn’t have the authority to do so, lawyers for a citizen group are arguing in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The project manager for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Paul Friedman, has been granting approval to continue with construction on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 300-mile-long natural gas pipeline that will span from West Virginia to Virginia. But he doesn’t have authority to approve construction because he isn’t a division head or comparable FERC official, says Bold Alliance, a citizen group. Bold Alliance asked FERC to rehear the notices to proceed that Friedman signed between January and February 2018, but FERC denied the rehearing May 4. Now, the group is asking the circuit court for a rehearing of the case, plus a stay of construction. Friedman’s approvals are ‘unlawful because as a low ranking project manager, Friedman has not been delegated authority under the Commission’s regulations to act on requests to proceed with construction,’ Carolyn Elefant, a lawyer for Bold Alliance, wrote in the motion for stay pending review of commission staff notices to proceed.”

5-26-18 Charleston Gazette-Mail. Sierra Club wants look into MVP permit, after ruling on other pipeline. “After a federal appeals court pulled a crucial permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline last week, a group of environmental advocates is asking federal regulators to take the same stance on the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s permit.”

5-26-18 The Guardian.  America’s tree sitters risk lives on the front line. “In the hills on the border of Virginia and West Virginia protesters – mainly women – are defying police and energy companies in non-violent environmental activism. …. It is, they say, also about the erosion of democracy and the natural world by money and the hunger for it. They see this pipeline as one more physical manifestation of the loss of personal agency in the face of an impersonal and uncaring government. They say it’s about the little guy – in this case almost all women – being pushed too damn far and being unable to take it any more.”

5-26-18 Bluefield Daily Telegraph [WV]  Army Corps of Engineers suspends parts of Mountain Valley Pipeline permit. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has indefinitely suspended parts of nationwide permit 12 for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) just a day after an environmental coalition sued them in federal court for a stay on the project. According to a news release from the Sierra Club, who is part of the coalition, the move also comes after a direct request was sent to the Corps on May 15. In its suit, the environmental coalition alleges that MVP construction across the Elk, Gauley, Greenbrier and Meadows rivers could not be completed in time restrictions implemented in the permit. While the permit from the Corps does not include a time limit, it requires state input and approval to move forward. In the permit granted to MVP, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection added the stipulation that construction across the waterways in the route of the pipeline must be completed in 72 continuous hours. With MVP’s permit now partially suspended, the Sierra Club’s release said that the belief is that the interests of MVP may have to seek out individual permits for each crossing. …. ‘This admission by the Corps provides further evidence that blanket permits cannot protect water quality from large pipeline projects like the Mountain Valley Pipeline,’ said Peter Anderson, the Virginia Program Manager for Appalachian Voices.”

5-25-18 Exponent Telegram [WV]  Environmental groups: All West Virginia pipeline construction could impact endangered species. “Environmental groups on Friday contested Atlantic Coast Pipeline developers’ assertion that only 100 miles of the 600-mile project could affect threatened or endangered species. In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, representatives of the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of 17 environmental organizations, said recent public statements by pipeline developers downplay the project’s impact on threatened or endangered species listed in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Incidental Take Statement.”

5-25-18 Blue Virginia. Video, Photos: Here’s How Ralph Northam’s Promise to Be “Environmentally Responsible” Is Working Out So Far. “As a candidate for governor last year, Ralph Northam promised repeatedly …. that if built, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline would be done in an ‘environmentally responsible’ way, following ‘the science’ and ‘the law,’ etc. Since he became governor, Northam has made similar claims, such as in late April, when he said ‘we’re using some of the most stringent parameters environmentally that have ever been used for these projects in Virginia.’ So now that the pipelines are being built, how’s that all working out?” Article includes photos and videos from the previous few days so speople can decide for themselves whether Northam was telling the truth or not.

5-24-18 Facing South. New challenges for the disputed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina and possibly points farther south, has been hit with setbacks in recent weeks that raise questions about its future. Dominion Resources of Virginia, the pipeline’s operator, holds a 48 percent stake in the pipeline, while North Carolina-based Duke Energy holds 47 percent and Georgia’s Southern Company 5 percent. Dominion’s and Duke’s ratepayers would foot most of the bill for the $6.5 billion project. The most immediately consequential setback was last week’s federal court order voiding a key permit. On May 15, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had failed to set clear limits for the pipeline’s impact on threatened and endangered species. …. The same day the federal appeals court threw out the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s USFWS permit, an alliance of community, statewide, and national anti-pipeline groups filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Civil Rights Compliance Office alleging environmental justice violations in the project’s approval process in North Carolina. …. Several days before the federal court voided the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s USFWS permit and the environmental justice complaint was filed against the project, a North Carolina-wide anti-pipeline network released a report detailing several counts of possible fraud by the developers and calling for an investigation.”

5-24-18 WDBJ7. MVP water pollution from erosion problems. Investigative report from Channel 7’s Joe Dasheil on construction of the MVP in Montgomery County.

5-24-18 The State {SC}. Dominion Energy under scrutiny after mud clogs water system near utility’s SC project. “As Dominion Energy seeks to expand its presence in South Carolina by acquiring SCANA, the Virginia utility is under scrutiny for an environmental mess that temporarily shut down part of a SC public water system this spring. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control says Dominion failed to control sediment near a 55-mile pipeline it had built, contributing to problems at the Woodruff-Roebuck Public Water District, which serves more than 10,000 customers south of Spartanburg. Sediment washing off the pipeline’s construction sites wound up in creeks that feed into the South Tyger River, where the water district has an intake pipe, records show. The muddy soil also worked its way into the river and helped clog the pipe, officials with DHEC and the water district say.”

5-24-18 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: Pipeline negotiations questioned. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline consortium is negotiating for purchase of 10,000 gallons of water per day from Nelson County resources for use in construction of the pipeline through the Blue Ridge and Nelson County. Once used – and likely contaminated – that water will surely go back into our soils, streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.”

5-23-18 Bloomberg. Private Equity’s Big Bet on Cheap Gas-Fired Plants Has Gone Awry.  “Private equity shops thought they saw a sure-fire way to make a buck: build or buy dozens of power plants fueled by cheap Appalachian natural gas to replace old coal-fired units. It hasn’t quite turned out that way, at least not yet. Many of the plants aren’t kicking off as much cash as the buyout firms had expected, according to bankers. There’s not enough demand to support the huge amount of additional new capacity, driving down electricity prices.”

5-23-18 Nelson County Times. Public hearing set on water sale as Service Authority, Atlantic Coast Pipeline near $3.5M deal. The Nelson County Service Authority’s Board of Directors made no decision on a contract, but at a recent meeting moved forward in the process by setting a public hearing on the water rates set forth in the potential contract, which could result in up to $3.5 million for the authority. The hearing will take place at 2 p.m. June 21 at the Service Authority building, 620 Cooperative Way, Arrington, VA 22922, in the Colleen Industrial Park.

5-23-18 Nelson County Times. Think before selling our water. “Attention, Nelson County officialdom, Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Given the media reporting that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline builders are bargaining to buy Nelson County water to the tune of 10,000 gallons per day for their construction needs, I respectfully request that you take your eyes off the short-term dollar signs (county leaders and servants) and focus on your legal responsibilities for waters protections (DEQ and Army Corps and county officials). Please think for a moment instead of the contamination damage that will occur if the ACP builders are sold all that water and thus compelled to get rid of that same water once they have used and contaminated it in the course of pipeline construction. Can any of you seriously believe it will not wind up in either the Rockfish River and thence the James or, conversely, in the Shenandoah and thence the Potomac?”

5-23-18 Roanoke Times. Crawford: Pipeline will hurt local economies. “Any way it is considered, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is wrong. It is wrong in the damage it will certainly do to the lives and property of the unwilling landowners and to our region’s outdoor and tourist enterprises. It is wrong in unleashing an enormous new quantity of fossil fuel, further accelerating the problems already being felt from storms of increasing violence and frequency, coastal flooding accompanying sea-level rise, extinction threat to many species and disrupting the weather patterns agricultural lands require. Finally, the pipeline is wrong in that the unwilling public is held hostage to pay for it (and guarantee the builders a nice profit).” [The same is true for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.]

5-23-18 Roanoke Times. Pipeline protester known as ‘Nutty’ has come down from her pole in Giles County. “On her 57th day perched atop a pole, a Mountain Valley Pipeline protester decided to come down Wednesday. Known publicly only as ‘Nutty,’ the woman wrote in a Facebook post that she ran out of food several days ago and was forced to leave her position on a small platform suspended from a 50-foot pole blocking a construction access road in the Jefferson National Forest. Law enforcement officers with the U.S. Forest Service had prevented the woman’s supporters on the ground from providing her with food and water since early April. ‘We knew it couldn’t last forever,’ Nutty wrote in a post to the Facebook page of Appalachians Against Pipelines. ‘That’s how this works.’ When the blockade was erected March 28 in the middle of Pocahontas Road in Giles County, organizers said they hoped to prevent construction crews from using the road to reach the top of Peters Mountain, where plans call for the buried natural gas pipeline to pass under the Appalachian Trial. Even with Nutty gone, the road remains blocked. On Monday, a second aerial blockade went up. Fern MacDougal is camped out on a platform suspended about 30 feet high from ropes strung across the road, about a mile farther up the mountain from where the first roadblock stood.”

5-23-18 Appalachian Mountain Advocates.  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Partially Suspends Important Pipeline Permit. “Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed the corporation building the Mountain Valley Pipeline that it was partially suspending an important permit allowing the company to build the pipeline through streams in West Virginia. This action took place after Appalachian Mountain Advocates notified the Corps that MVP had admitted that it could not complete construction of several major stream crossings in the 72 hours required as a special condition for West Virginia as part of Nationwide Permit 12. While Appalmad lawyer Derek Teaney argued in a letter to the Corps that this admission required suspension of all NWP 12 permit verifications in West Virginiauntil a federal court determines whether that permit is unlawful, the Corps only suspended verificationsfor crossings of four rivers – the Gauley, Greenbrier, Elk and Meadow Rivers-and without a commitmentto wait for a court ruling before reinstating those four verifications. Because the Corps failed to suspend all of the permit verifications covered by West Virginia’s special condition, Appalmad has filed a motion in federal court seeking such a suspension until the court completes its review of the permit.”

5-23-18 WV News. Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction begins with groundbreaking in Lewis County. “Representatives of the oil and gas industry, local leaders and elected officials from around the state celebrated the first progress towards the completion of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline project Wednesday in Jane Lew with a groundbreaking ceremony for the Marts Compressor Station. The station, which will provide compression to support the transmission of natural gas along the pipeline’s route, marks the beginning of major construction for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, said Samantha Norris, communications specialist for Dominion. ‘Dominion Energy is very proud of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project,’ she said. ‘This is a project that we’ve been working on for almost four years now. We are ready to see that construction begin.'”

5-22-18 Community Ideas Stations. Fact of the Matter: Dominion’s Pipeline Jobs Claim “Deceptive”. “Dominion Energy, in it’s much-played TV commercial, said twice that the pipeline would produce “17,000 jobs.” It didn’t reveal that the figure means ‘cumulative jobs,’ a number produced by taking the anticipated average yearly workforce of 2,873 and multiplying it by six – the number of projected years to develop and build the project. We disagree with Dominion’s assertion that it’s ‘common knowledge’ employment figures in construction are expressed in cumulative jobs. To the contrary, few viewers could be expected to know Dominion is talking about cumulative jobs and, without that explanation, the corporation’s claim is inflated and deceptive.”

5-22-18 UtilityDive. RMI says rush to build gas plants could cost investors, customers billions. “The United States’ generation fleet is aging, and new research from the Rocky Mountain Institute estimates about half of existing thermal generation plants (gas, coal and nuclear) will retire by 2030. How those plants are replaced, about 500 GW in all, is a significant choice for regulators and investors alike. New gas turbines are becoming more efficient and natural gas is expected to remain cheap. Already, $112 billion in gas-fired power plants have been proposed or are under construction, along with $32 billion in proposed pipelines to serve them. RMI’s research concludes regulators, utilities and investors should take a hard look at using a clean energy portfolio, rather than continuing what the report calls a ‘rush to gas’ that could cost more than $500 billion.”

5-22-18 Augusta Free Press. Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction to continue in spite of court order? “Construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is apparently moving forward, after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the project in a ruling last week. Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC on Tuesday submitted a response to a Federal Regulatory Energy Commission request for more information after the court ruling. The FERC had requested documentation that specifically identifies the habitat areas that will be avoided with respect to the species listed within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Incidental Take Statement and confirmation of ACP’s commitment to avoid construction in these areas. …. ‘As we have said repeatedly, the court‘s action only affects those areas of pipeline construction where endangered species or their habitats may be present,’ read the statement, from Jen Kostyniuk, director of Dominion Energy communications. ‘The Incidental Take Statement has no direct effect on the route or other required permits. It simply removes the shield that protects against an otherwise unlawful take, and for that reason, we will avoid any activities in any areas identified by USFWS that would be likely to adversely affect any of the listed species.’ In the statement, Dominion asserted that it ‘will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled,’ though Greg Buppert, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, questions how that can be the case. ‘No argument or map from Dominion and Duke Energy can remove the liability of undertaking construction without a valid permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service,’ Buppert said. ‘This permit is a mandatory condition for three major federal permits held by ACP developers. If FERC looks the other way and grants this request to Dominion and Duke, it is rewriting its own permit on the fly.'”

5-22-18 Exponent Telegram [WV]  UPDATE: Atlantic Coast Pipeline filing on Incidental Take Statement issue delivered by hand. “Atlantic Coast Pipeline documents that were due to be filed Monday were delayed by issues with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission website Monday, but a paper submission was hand-delivered Tuesday, according to pipeline officials. …. ‘We have filed our response, identifying by milepost the areas we are committing to avoid. Per (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), because this information contains the locations of sensitive species which are customarily treated as privileged and confidential, this information is not being released to the public,’ pipeline officials said in a news release emailed Tuesday. ‘As we have previously stated, the impact of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is on a small portion of the 600-mile route, and there will be no impact in North Carolina,’ the pipeline statement said. ‘Based on our analysis, we will avoid approximately 21 miles in West Virginia and 79 miles in Virginia until a revised Incidental Take Statement is issued. Approximately 10 of these miles are in 2018 construction spreads, which is less than 2 percent of the total project mileage. We will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled and fully comply as required with all permits and agency requirements. We remain committed to taking all reasonable measures to protect the environment and the species while ensuring progress on a project that is essential to the economic and environmental well-being of the region,; the statement said.”

5-21-18 FERC Takes a Step Backward on Environmental Impacts. “A 3-2 majority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unveiled a new policy last Friday that limits FERC’s analysis and disclosure of the environmental impacts of natural gas pipeline projects. The decision is a step backward for FERC, right when it is soliciting public comment on how to improve its pipeline project reviews. FERC, which oversees the siting and approval of interstate natural gas pipelines, stated that it will no longer discuss upstream and downstream environmental impacts that it claims fall outside of its review requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This included a declaration that FERC will no longer prepare upper-bound greenhouse gas emissions estimates for a proposed project when it asserts that those emissions fall outside of its NEPA requirements. This is wrong for at least two reasons. First, as Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick noted in dissent, FERC’s policy is circular, in that FERC often does not undergo the proper fact-finding and analysis to determine whether an environmental impact must be considered under NEPA in the first place. Second, FERC’s duties to consider environmental impacts extend beyond NEPA. If FERC ignores these environmental impacts, FERC also will be ignoring information that is essential to deciding whether the project is in the public interest-FERC’s mandate under the Natural Gas Act (NGA).”

5-21-18 WHSV3. Campaign encourages localities to divest from pipeline-supporting businesses. “An Eastern Mennonite University student is spearheading an effort to encourage local governments to divest money from corporations and banks that are invested in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Andrew Sachs spoke to a small group at the Staunton Public Library on Monday evening about his campaign Divest the Commonwealth. ‘I think in the environmental movement, we have a lot of people talking to regulatory bodies, talking to elected officials, doing direct action even,’ said Sachs. ‘But a lot of times, the economics of it is left in the shadow.’ The goal of Divest the Commonwealth – using economic means to achieve what Sachs calls social justice.”

5-20-18 Roanoke Times. Construction halted at Mountain Valley Pipeline work site following severe erosion in Franklin County. “State regulators have put a stop to construction of part of the Mountain Valley Pipeline swamped by a rainstorm, saying work cannot continue until proper erosion control measures are established. Crews were using heavy equipment to cut trees and clear land along the natural gas pipeline’s right of way in Franklin County when heavy rains Thursday night and Friday morning swept away much of the soil they had unearthed. …. ‘It’s clearly unacceptable,’ Ann Regn, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, said Sunday. According to both DEQ and Mountain Valley officials, none of the mudflow reached streams, where it could have done the most damage. Nonetheless, the agency is investigating how check dams and other erosion control measures failed to prevent the mess. Environmental regulators received several calls last week, before the rain started, from members of the public who were concerned that heavy equipment being used to remove trees and clear a 125-foot swath for pipeline construction was exposing the land to potential runoff problems. Although Mountain Valley crews had erosion control devices in place, ‘there were some things that completely disappeared’ after the rains, including concrete barriers, Regn said.”

5-20-18 Daily Progress. Opinion/Commentary: Pipeline outrage is a human, not political, issue. “Though this story focuses on a Virginia case, oil and natural gas pipelines are a national concern. About 60 different pipelines are currently pending across the country. Here’s what I learned from the Terry women. This isn’t a Democratic issue, or even just an environmental issue. In fact, pipeline outrage can unite progressives and libertarians, city folk and country folk. Why? Because pipelines go through private property, knocking down trees, destroying the land, and crossing streams. And when corporations claim eminent domain, private landowners don’t get a choice. (See why conservatives get riled up just as much as liberals?) And, across the political spectrum, we all care about clean drinking water. We all care about our children’s health. Beyond the very real concerns of climate change and the pressing need to invest in renewable fuels instead of natural gas, pipelines pose additional, immediate health risks. Rural communities are most directly affected. Pipelines harm drinking water, leak natural gas into the air, and create other health hazards, particularly for kids. And that’s the best-case scenario. What if there’s a leak? Or an explosion? Opposing pipelines isn’t a political issue. It’s a human issue”

5-20-18 Blue Virginia. Why is Ralph Northam Allowing a Young Woman to Starve for Protesting a Pipeline? “This is the governor who bragged about his medical background and told voters ‘the lights are on and the doctor is in.’ But when it comes to the women who are putting themselves on the line to defend their land – and our water – the lights are off and the doctor is out to lunch. When Red and Minor were being denied food, Northam apparently believed it was a ‘local’ issue. When Northam was asked to direct his Department of Environmental Quality to do a stream-by-stream analysis of the 1,100 waterway crossings planned for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the much larger Atlantic Coast Pipeline, he said it was a ‘federal’ issue. When Northam was asked again last week to get involved in the pipeline fight, he said it was an issue for the courts. In short, Ralph Northam seems to believe it’s never his issue and never his responsibility. To the contrary, Northam seems to want to wash his hands of this whole pipeline fight. Well, Gov. Northam, it may be easy to wash your hands, but it’s going to be much harder for you to stop a movement.”

5-20-18 Roanoke Times. Letter: Regulators bowed to pipeline company pressure. “At a hearing on May 8, Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit described a relationship between the Forest Service and MVP that is valid for every government agency with a duty to protect the public from the destruction caused by the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. When Judge Gregory and his fellow judges asked why the Forest Service abruptly abandoned technical findings that MVP’s erosion discharges would be much more severe than the company predicted, lawyers for the government and MVP claimed the change was justified but could point to no agency analysis to support their assertions. An attorney for MVP said the last-minute reversal by the Forest Service was the result of a ‘robust back and forth’ between the government and the company. Judge Gregory was not convinced. He stated: ‘I’m missing the robust side of this. This seems like a one-way street. I don’t call that robust. I call it capitulation.'”

5-19-18 Record Delta [WV]. ‘Huge influx’ of pipeline workers coming soon. “A community liaison for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said Thursday Upshur County will soon see a “huge influx” of people streaming into the area to help construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Mike Cozad told the Upshur County Commission at its weekly meeting that county motels, hotels, restaurants and stores will be filled with out-of-town workers who are on their way to help build and inspect the 600-mile-long, 42-inch-wide natural gas pipeline. Due to that, a few might find a hard time getting reservations at dining places. Also, people could be googling top restaurants Roanoke for booking a table to find themselves a reservation. Coming back to the pipeline, it originates in Harrison County, West Virginia and continues through Virginia before ultimately ending in Robeson County, North Carolina. Cozad said on Friday, May 11, ACP – a coalition of four energy companies, Dominion Energy, Southern Company Gas, Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas – received a Notice to Proceed from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.”

5-19-18 ThinkProgress. Federal regulators vote to limit practice of measuring climate impact of pipelines. “Federal regulators appeared to defy a 2017 court ruling when they decided not to take greenhouse gas emissions into account as part of their review of natural gas pipeline applications. Last year, a federal court ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must fully consider the so-called downstream effects of a pipeline project’s greenhouse gases, particularly the effects of emissions from natural gas-fired power plants that contribute to climate change. But in a 3-2 vote, FERC ruled Friday that federal laws do not require it to consider greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production or consumption of natural gas that would inevitably result from the approval of a pipeline project. …. ‘The people demanded FERC do its job, and FERC refused. Then, the courts ordered FERC to do its job, but instead, it just keeps trying to evade the court’s order and shirk its responsibilities,’ Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said Friday in a statement. ‘FERC has broken the public’s trust, and we are exploring our options in response to today’s vote.’ Commissioners Richard Glick and Cheryl LaFleur, two Democratic members of the agency, issued strongly worded dissents against the majority’s decision to diminish the scope of the agency’s greenhouse gas reviews. Each of the three members who voted to end the practice of measuring the climate impacts of building pipelines is Republican.” The story also appeared in E&E News on May 18, 2018; a full version of the E&E News story is available on the ABRA Web page.

5-18-18 WSLS10. Pipeline workers removed from campsite in Franklin County. “Mountain Valley Pipeline workers have been kicked off their campsite along Alean Road in the Wirtz area of Franklin County. The Franklin County Planning Department confirmed the last RV was removed Wednesday. The workers and their families had been staying in RVs on the property with the permission of the landowner, Brandon Montgomery. Montgomery’s father is the co-founder of Homestead Creamery and Brandon helps operate one of the primary supplying farms to Homestead…. Those against the pipeline threatened boycott of Homestead Creamery and expressed general displeasure with the campsite. The county said the entire campsite was unlawful for two reasons. First, the campsite was not an allowed usage by right under zoning, and a permit was needed to allow just the campers to be there. Second, the RVs were hardwired into electricity and none of the electrical hookups had been inspected or properly permitted by the county.”

5-18-18 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: Voters do oppose pipelines. “The May 14 editorial published in The Daily Progress, excerpted from The Roanoke Times, is extremely misleading about Virginia citizens’ sentiment regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Readers deserve to hear the other side. The editorial states that ‘in last fall’s gubernatorial election, all but one of the pipeline counties … voted – and voted rather emphatically – for the pro-pipeline candidate, Ed Gillespie.’ The editorial goes on to conclude that if rural voters disapproved of the pipeline, they didn’t do so strongly enough to overcome ‘their usual Republican inclinations.’ This sets up a false dichotomy. In reality, both Gillespie and Ralph Northam are pro-pipeline, so there was no reason to choose between the two based on this issue. …. People in these counties merely voted their usual party preference. The tidal wave of new Democratic delegates elected to the House is the really important election result. Most come from traditionally Republican districts, and every one of them is against the ACP. That’s where the real referendum was – in the races for the House of Delegates, not for governor. And the anti-pipeline forces won a huge victory. At least a quarter of the House, along with the lieutenant governor, are now strongly opposed to the ACP. Gov. Northam should be paying attention, because that is entirely reflective of the way average Virginians feel.”

5-18-18 WDBJ7. Muddy run-off from pipeline right-of-way blocks Franklin County road. “Heavy rain Thursday night washed soil from the pipeline right-of-way and blocked the road with a thick layer of mud. Wendell Flora lives within sight of the pipeline corridor and says he has been concerned about erosion ever since he heard the project would cross his property. ‘Myself and others have been trying to tell people for months and years what was going to happen,’ Flora told WDBJ7. ‘And this is proof positive.’ Wendell’s brother, Charles Flora, agreed. and said he believes others along the path of the pipeline are likely to experience the same thing. ‘Surely, they are going to have similar problems if they have steep terrain,’ he said. A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said an initial review indicated the proper controls were in place.”

5-18-18 News-Observer [NC]. Will a rare mussel delay construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline?  “The yellow lance mussel is North Carolina’s newest species of wildlife protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. And the 3-inch long fresh-water mussel, which was declared environmentally ‘threatened’ just this month, could be the focus of the next legal showdown over the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Officials with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have until Monday to tell federal authorities which sections along the project’s 600-mile route pose potential risks for a rare bumblebee, several bat species and other wildlife that have been designated as threatened and endangered under the federal law. Those sections will be off-limits to any pipeline construction until the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sets limits on the number of rare wildlife species that can be accidentally harmed or killed by heavy machinery, trenching, blasting or drilling. …. The Southern Environmental Law Center now says the Atlantic Coast Pipeline must be assessed for risks posed to the yellow lance mussel before construction begins in North Carolina and elsewhere. On April 30, the SELC notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the pipeline will cross yellow lance habitat, including Swift Creek, Little River and possibly the Tar River.”

5-18-18 WAVY. With Atlantic Coast Pipeline facing setback, Suffolk landowner digs in for fight. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline partners are trying to figure out how to please the court and get the 600-mile pipeline back on track. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a key permit for the pipeline. The permit deals with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and their failure to provide standards on how to enforce how many endangered species can be killed. Suffolk landowner Buzz Upton is acting on behalf of his family and the 1,150 acres of land and marsh that have been in his family since just after 1894. Upton fears losing peace of mind. ‘The pipeline crosses here, and then cuts across the farm here,’ he says while holding a big aerial picture of the land where the pipeline will pass. Then you look down on the land and you can see wooden stakes where the pipeline will go about three feet under the surface of the land. On this day, Upton can’t help but think about his grandfather, Luther Jarvis Upton, who shortly after 1894 bought the land to plant crops, including potatoes. He thinks about his dad, too. ‘The first thing they would do is kick me in my back side for letting it happen, and then they would say “do the best you can to protect whatever you can do for the family,”‘ Upton said.”

5-18-18 Inside Climate News. Atlantic Coast Pipeline Faces Civil Rights Complaint After Key Permit Is Blocked. “A federal court has invalidated a key permit for the Atlantic Coast pipeline project, a step that could give civil rights advocates more time to build their environmental justice case against the $6 billion project to carry natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast pipeline allege the Dominion Energy-led project would have a disproportionate impact on people of color living along its route. A group of community and statewide advocacy groups in North Carolina, along with the national Friends of the Earth, filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office on Tuesday asking the agency to overturn North Carolina state permits for the pipeline and for a new environmental justice analysis of it. …. The community and environmental groups… say state and federal agencies failed to assess disproportionate health impacts the proposed pipeline project would have on minorities as required under the Civil Rights Act. They assert that an analysis by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission erred in how it compared state, county and local community data in ways that disguised the real discriminatory effect of the route.”

5-18-18 Daily Progress. Opinion/Letter: Pipeline pact tacitly admits risk. “This quote from the governor’s office in a May 7 Daily Progress story expresses tremendous confidence in the review and subsequent monitoring of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality: ‘These projects are subject to the most environmentally protective process in Virginia history and the Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing proposed land disturbance and construction activities along every foot of the pipeline routes, including each proposed wetland and stream crossing.’ Why, then, did Gov. Ralph Northam’s predecessor allow the Department of Natural Resources to sign a memorandum of agreement for mitigation of the impacts of the ACP? The very definition of mitigation suggests that the commonwealth is expecting up to $57.5 million in damages to Virginia’s forests and streams. Nearly $39 million is earmarked for forest conservation to ‘offset impacts.’ More than $18 million is available for ‘water quality mitigation.’ Although the memorandum of agreement states that these monies will go to impacted communities, it’s suggested that the disbursements might come in the form of grants, which communities will then have to apply for. In other words, the commonwealth apparently acknowledges that damage will occur but communities will need to prove that this money is needed to mitigate the damages.”

5-17-18 Roanoke Times. Lovelace and Sims: A growing list of Governor Northam’s broken promises. “As a gubernatorial candidate, Ralp Northam touted his commitment to the environment, using his medical background and personal history with Virginia’s coast as qualifiers. As the campaign progressed, his actions related to the Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley (MVP) pipelines betrayed that public persona. To give ‘proof’ of his environmental commitment, Northam used a letter he wrote to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding the review process for the ACP and MVP. In this letter, Northam recommended ‘that DEQ strongly consider utilizing individual permits. These projects must undergo a thorough evaluation of their impacts on our natural resources.’ This is a position echoed by innumerable Virginians, including by more than a dozen legislators who called for site-specific waterbody analysis at a press conference on April 18. Gov. Northam has yet to stand by his recommendation, and these Virginians have been denied.” The article lists numerous other ways in which actions contradict camapign promises, and concludes, “Gov. Northam has continually broken his promises, and his word carries little value as a result. If he is to reclaim any credibility, the governor must, at the very least, immediately request a stay of construction for the pipelines until site-specific waterbody analysis is completed and legal challenges to the pipeline certifications have been decided.”

5-17-18 Nelson County Times. Letter to Editor: Pipeline PR just more #FakeNews. “According to Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has undergone ‘… the most thorough regulatory review of any infrastructure project in Virginia history’ and opponents’ ‘delaying tactics … will cost consumers and businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in higher energy costs’ (‘Anger Over Pipelines Spills Into General Assembly,’ Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/18/18). Ruby is a highly skilled company spokesman, as good as they get, always available to the press, unfailingly polite and reasonable sounding, and expert at presenting Dominion’s story line about the ACP. But it’s all just PR. Consider Ruby’s two assertions quoted above. First, FERC’s regulatory review generated mind-numbingly voluminous reports, but it was not ‘thorough.’ It failed to provide good answers to fundamental questions…. Second, Dominion sold the ACP to politicians and the public by promising that ‘cheap natural gas’ from the Marcellus shale deposit would lower the costs of electricity. But other gas suppliers, using existing and therefore lower cost infrastructure, could give Dominion ratepayers lower, not higher, costs.”

5-17-18 WSET13. Friends of Nelson Co. discuss court decision to halt pipeline due to endangered species. “Members of the Friends of Nelson County said they’re not surprised plans to move forward with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline hit a roadblock. A federal court ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not fully consider the impact this would have on several endangered species along the path. ‘We believe, if all of the court challenges that are currently pending can be heard before the pipe is laid, that this project will not be built. We’re confident of that,’ said Marilyn Shifflett with Friends of Nelson County.”

5-17-18 EE News. Court greenlights Mountain Valley challenge. “A federal court has denied a bid by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to delay a lawsuit until it concludes its own rehearing process, clearing the way for a legal challenge to proceed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday directed FERC to file documents related to a challenge being brought by a coalition of environmental groups opposed to the Mountain Valley pipeline, a 303-mile project that would carry natural gas from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia. FERC had argued that the court could not consider the case until the agency had issued decisions on numerous requests for rehearing through FERC’s own process. Under the Natural Gas Act, challengers to a pipeline can ask FERC to reconsider its initial approval of a project. The agency has 30 days to issue either a decision or a so-called tolling order, which essentially throws out the clock. Legal challenges cannot proceed until FERC’s own rehearing process concludes, but the agency typically allows construction to go forward in the meantime. Agency critics have frequently criticized that arrangement, which blocks opponents from the court system even as the project moves forward. Even if a pipeline approval were later overturned, they argue, environmental and other damage might have already taken place. Yesterday’s order did not address the propriety of FERC’s use of tolling orders. Rather, it narrowly denied FERC’s request to hold the case in abeyance until it issues a rehearing request, giving the agency 30 days in which to file the next round of documents.”

5-17-18 Inter-Mountain [WV]  Pipeline moving forward locally. “Dominion Energy officials are gearing up for work to begin on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will span across 100 miles of the state. Residents in Harrison, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph and Pocahontas counties will begin seeing workers entering the area to begin setting up staging areas where mobile offices will be placed and pipeline will be stored. ‘What is expected to happen here in the next couple of weeks, especially in Randolph County, is the work yard that will be where the workers will report to and where the offices will be set up – in Randolph County it will be in the Elkwater area between Huttonsville and Valley Head off Rt. 250,’ said Denise Campbell, community liaison for the ACP. ‘I was just by that way today, they actually have the stakes out and the signs up. They will be preparing that property to be the work yard. The goal is, from a report from the engineer of the project, is that they hope to have construction started in June,’ she continued. Campbell said the work yard in Pocahontas County will be located in Frost and work on it is scheduled to start in July. The Harrison County work station is slated to be in the Bridgeport area. Robert C. Orndorff, senior policy advisor for state and local affairs in West Virginia, said even once staging areas are in place it is unclear when pipe will begin being laid for the project, based on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements and unpredictable weather.”

5-16-18 Triangle Business Journal [NC]  Duke, Dominion not backing down from Atlantic Coast Pipeline, despite order. “Within hours of a federal court order, attorneys for environmental groups sent a formal letter to the utilities behind the planned 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, demanding they halt construction. Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, however, through spokeswoman Jen Kostyniuk, have called their interpretation ‘erroneous,’ and plan to proceed anyway.”

5-16-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Did court ruling stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction? Depends on whom you ask. “In the aftermath of a federal appeals court ruling that could prove a major snag to construction of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the company has pledged to steer clear for now of areas that could contain threatened or endangered species. But opponents of the 600-mile natural gas pipeline set to carve through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina are insisting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which approved the project last fall, is obligated to stop the project in its tracks. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond vacated a key review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that gauged the risk of pipeline construction and operation on certain bats, fish, mussels and a nearly extinct bumblebee, among other species. …. A FERC spokeswoman would not address whether the court’s ruling undercuts other federal authorizations for the project. ‘According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s own certificate, FERC’s previous notices issued to Atlantic Coast Pipeline developers to proceed are no longer valid,’ [SELC attorney] Gerken said. ‘If what FERC is now saying is that developers can now proceed to construction without the Fish and Wildlife Service’s valid permit, it is undermining its own requirements.’ Dominion insisted Tuesday that the court’s decision only affects ‘certain defined areas along the route’ and that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will ‘move forward with construction as scheduled.'”

5-16-18 WDBJ7. Legal issues take center stage in fight over natural gas pipelines. “Opponents of the Mountain Valley Pipeline were back in Roanoke federal court Wednesday afternoon, pursuing a case they say involves their First Amendment rights. Three plaintiffs are challenging a U.S. Forest Service order closing Pocahontas Road in Giles County, a gravel road that leads to the monopod where a woman who identifies herself as ‘Nutty’ has been protesting since late March. ‘The Forest Service decision to close Pocahontas Road was overkill, was more than what was necessary,’ said Chap Petersen, the state senator from northern Virginia who filed the lawsuit. ‘It took away the ability of people to access the protest site.’ ‘I feel that it’s very important for all of us to be able to exercise our First Amendment rights,’ said Marian Mollin, one of the plaintiffs. ‘That is a cornerstone of American citizenship.'”

5-16-18 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley Pipeline cited for environmental violations in West Virginia. “Just two months after construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline began, regulators cited the project for failing to control erosion at two work sites. A notice of violation, issued April 25 by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, marks the first such action related to work on a natural gas pipeline that opponents have predicted will cause widespread environmental damage. The notice was included in a status report filed this week by Mountain Valley with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the lead agency overseeing construction of the 303-mile pipeline through the two Virginias. …. So far, there have been complaints but no documented cases of violations along the pipeline’s route through the Roanoke and New River regions, according to a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. In West Virginia, an inspection in early April found flaws in erosion and sediment control measures at two construction sites in Wetzel County, where the pipeline will originate. …. pipeline opponents say the fact that problems have come up so early in the construction process suggest there are inadequate measures to prevent harmful sediment from reaching streams and rivers, where it would pose a risk to drinking water supplies.”

5-16-18 Rutherford Institute. Rutherford Institute Sues Forest Service for Denying Medical Care to Pipeline Protester, Asks Court to Let Medical Doctor Access Tree Sitter. “The Rutherford Institute has filed a lawsuit demanding that government officials allow a physician to examine and provide medical care for a pipeline protester who is being deprived of food and water in an effort to force her to end her “tree sitting” protest against the construction of a natural gas pipeline through the National Forest. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, asserts that Forest Service agents have violated Dr. Greg Gelburd’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and First Amendment by preventing him from examining ‘Nutty,’ a 28-year-old woman who has spent close to 50 days perched in a ‘monopod’ atop a 45-foot pole (“tree sitting”) in the National Forest in protest over the 303-mile long Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) which has resulted in the taking of private property and destruction of national forest areas. The lawsuit alleges that government agents are attempting to force Nutty to end her protest by denying her access to food, water, provisions and medical assistance, as well as jeopardizing her health by directing smoke at her, subjecting her to bright lights at night, and targeting her with noise from generators placed below the tree.”

5-15-18 Augusta Free Press. Public meeting in Staunton to discuss public dollars in Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Divest the Commonwealth is hosting a public meeting in Staunton next week to discuss a proposal to take local tax dollars out of investments in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The meeting will be held at the Staunton Public Library on Monday, May 21, beginning at 7 p.m. Divest the Commonwealth is a statewide campaign to help localities like Staunton and Augusta County understand whether their employee retirement funds are invested in companies supporting fracked gas pipelines and other fossil fuel companies and if so, how to clean up those investments.”

5-15-18 Roanoke Times. Judge fines Franklin County couple for allowing tree-sit protests of pipeline. “A couple who said they were surprised, but not that upset, to see pipeline protesters in the trees of their Franklin County farm have been found in contempt of court. Carolyn and Ian Reilly took both passive and active steps to support the tree-sitters’ goal of blocking construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline through their land, U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon determined Tuesday. The Reillys were fined $1,000 each.

5-15-18 Rolling Stone. Pipeline Protesters Take to The Trees. “A growing network of resistance is risking life and limb to stop fracking and other natural gas projects along the East Coast. As the sun sets on a remote peak along the West Virginia-Virginia border, a tense standoff unfolds between an armed squadron of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers and a band of campers. Generators are flicked on and prison-style floodlights blast the campers, as well as the protester they are guarding, a young woman in a tree who goes by ‘Nutty.’ On March 28th, ‘Nutty’ planted herself atop a fifty-foot pole – the timber of a tulip poplar tree – in Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest to block the path of a proposed natural gas pipeline. She has now been living in a makeshift tent rigged to the pole for an astonishing 49 days, surviving on an assortment of initial supplies, catching her drinking water straight from the clouds and going to the bathroom in a bucket. To give her food or water, the U.S. Forest Service has determined, is illegal. …. ‘The whole thing is a lie,’ says Reverend Paul Wilson, a pastor of two churches in Union Hill, a central Virginia community founded by freed slaves. In this location Dominion Energy, lead partner on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, plans to build a massive compressor station – these facilities re-pressurize pipeline gas and have been documented to spray surrounding skies with a host of carcinogens, including benzene and formaldehyde. ‘They tell you it’s about clean natural gas but that’s not what fracking gas is. There is nothing clean about it. It’s liquid poison,’ says Wilson. ‘Corporations do not have a soul, and because of that it is easy for them to dismiss us, people are dispensable, especially poor rural people.'”

5-15-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Federal appeals court orders halt to Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction.  “A federal appeals court has ordered a halt to construction of the 600-mile Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline, following a legal challenge by environmental opponents who argued a review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was inadequate. A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed, striking down the review, known as an incidental take statement, which is meant to set limits on harm to threatened or endangered species during construction.”

5-15-18 Bold Alliance. Bold Alliance, Landowners Petition Federal Court to Invalidate FERC Approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline, Stay Construction. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) ‘Notice to Proceed’ issued for the proposed Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline (MVP) is invalid, as it was signed by a low-level FERC staffer – in violation of the agency’s own regulations – landowners and Bold Alliance argued to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a Petition for Review, and Motion for Stay to stop construction of the pipeline filed on May 11. FERC is expected to file its response brief next Wednesday, May 23, with Bold’s reply brief then due on Friday, May 25. The FERC Certificate authorizing the Mountain Valley Project allows either the Director of the Office of Energy Projects (OEP) or his designee to approve a pipeline’s request for a notice to proceed with construction. Under FERC’s regulations, the designee chosen by the Director must be a ‘comparable official,’ such as a Deputy Director, or head of a FERC Regional Division. Paul Friedman, the FERC employee who signed off on more than a dozen notices to proceed, does not satisfy the definition of a comparable official as he is neither a Deputy nor branch chief. In February 2018, Bold Alliance filed a challenge to numerous notices to proceed approved by Friedman, arguing that the notices were invalid because they had not been signed by the Director. In response, FERC soon after issued ‘tolling orders,’ which allow FERC to delay resolution of the Bold Alliance’s challenge to the notice to proceed, while allowing MVP to begin construction on its fracked gas pipelines that threatens land and water, and landowners’ private property.” Article includes a copy of the Petition.

5-15-18 The Progressive Pulse. Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents file civil rights complaint vs. [NC] DEQ. “Thirteen environmental justice groups and their affiliates allege the [NC] Department of Environmental Quality discriminated against communities of color when it approved permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The organizations, including Clean Water for North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, NC WARN, and many of the groups’ chapters, filed the Title VI civil rights complaint today against DEQ with the Environmental Protection Agency. …. ‘The failure to assess the environmental justice impacts of the proposed ACP on communities of color along the route led to the improper actions taken by DEQ,” the complaint reads. ‘The procedures for issuing the permit “were not fair and impartial.”‘”

5-14-18 Roanoke Times. Letter to Editor:  County police and the tree sitters. “Dear Roanoke County, I am not a generational Virginian. I am not an environmentalist. I do not consider myself a liberal or even a democrat. Oh, and I don’t eat organic. But I do know and I can state that the actions of the county are not in line with basic human-centered values when it comes to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. For days, there was a woman who is peacefully protesting the MVP on her own property, in her own tree house, in her own tree. Alarmingly, police presence was heavy around the clock for days in this little spot up on Bent Mountain. Pray tell, please explain. How is it that: We have issues of school safety in the county. Yet, we are expending valuable law enforcement resources on a tree sitter. We have issues of poverty within the county. Yet, we are barring said tree sitter from receiving food or water. We have issues with crime and vandalism in the county. Yet, we are enabling the vandalism of our own beautiful Blue Ridge. We have issues of abuse and domestic violence in the county. Yet, we are abusing one of our own. We have issues of religious divisiveness within the county. Yet, we are standing for division by abusing the very law that governs us. We have issues of racism, ethnocentrism and sexism within the county. Yet, we are focusing on pipelines over people.”

5-13-18 Blue Virginia. By Claiming That the DEQ Is Reviewing Each Wetland and Stream Crossing, the Governor Is Either Ill-Informed – Or He Is Lying.  “A statement regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), released by the Governor’s office last Tuesday, claimed that: ‘…the Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing proposed land disturbance and construction activities along every foot of the pipeline routes, including each proposed wetland and stream crossing. I trust the public servants at DEQ to ensure compliance with these environmental standards and to address violations of permit conditions through strong enforcement action.’ This statement included some of what the Governor usually says in his lackluster responses to the justifiable public outcry over these disastrous and unnecessary projects. Seen for the first time, however, is the portion that claims the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is reviewing each wetland and stream crossing – this addition is likely in response to renewed calls for a site-specific waterbody analysis of all water crossings along the pipeline routes (something the Governor himself called for as a gubernatorial candidate). By claiming that the DEQ is reviewing each wetland and stream crossing, the Governor is either ill-informed – or he is lying.”

5-13-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. The man in the middle: DEQ director David Paylor, a lightning rod for critics, begins serving under fourth governor. “They were not the sort of reactions a governor might hope for after naming his pick to lead a state agency. ‘Disappointing,’ said the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club after Gov. Ralph Northam’s decision last month to reappoint David Paylor as director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The group added that Paylor, who has now served under each of the last four governors, had ‘spent a decade cozying up to corporate polluters.’ The Chesapeake Climate Action Network said Northam, a Democrat who received big campaign donations from conservation groups, ‘seriously dropped the ball’ and urged him to reconsider. The backlash wasn’t altogether unexpected. Paylor has emerged as the lightning rod for critics of the agency he leads, seen as too accommodating of industry and too timid in setting permit limits and pursuing enforcement actions against polluters.”

5-13-18 Letter to Editor:  Battle over pipelines is not over yet.  “Virginia’s pipelines are not a done deal [Pipeline protesters should pipe down, May 3]. “Many legitimate concerns persist about threats to Virginia’s wetlands, rivers and streams-so many, in fact, that in April the State Water Control Board wisely voted to reopen public comment to address questions about how the project will affect the nearly 1,000 waterways to be crossed. These water crossings involve trenching and in-stream blasting, which would discharge sediment and other pollution into the streams that feed Virginia’s rivers and the Chesapeake Bay and potentially threaten drinking water supplies. Rather than having the state evaluate these sensitive stream crossings on a case-by-case basis, Virginia has proposed relying on a nationwide general permit to govern these crossings. Fortunately, Virginia officials are taking a closer look at the issue.”

5-13-18 Letter to Editor: Atlantic Coast Pipeline studies flawed. “The May 3 editorial ‘Pipeline protestors should pipe down,’ claims years of due diligence and careful review resulted in a fair decision. Please check the record. Many filed information with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-FERC-refuting the incomplete and inaccurate claims. However, this is not reflected in the final environmental impact statement. Further, the need for the pipeline was ‘proven’ by the fact that the majority of the gas is under contract. It does not acknowledge that the contracts are with builder affiliates and that there are no real uses for it. An example of the problem comes from the Union Hill community in Buckingham County, where the largest compressor station in Virginia is proposed. …. With less than two-thirds canvassed, Union Hill’s population is six times more than reported by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and FERC in public filings. …. Can you really believe an exhaustive and careful analysis of all relevant information is the basis of this pipeline’s approval?”

5-13-18 Popular Resistance. NLG Condemns Forest Service for Blocking Food & Water to Pipeline Protester. “The Environmental Justice Committee of the National Lawyers Guild stated it condemns the actions of the United States Forest Service in denying basic necessities to a Virginia protester in violation of international law and 18 USC §2340(2)(b).” Article lists (with case references) the ways in which the Forest Service’s denial of food and water is a violation of state, federal, and international law.

5-11-18 Roanoke Times.  Editorial:  What would it take to change Northam’s mind on pipelines? Some advice for pipeline opponents.  “…a few people sitting in trees are not going to stop the pipeline. So what would?”

5-10-18 Farmville Herald. Fuel leak occurs at Colonial Pipeline facility. “A fuel leak from an underground pipeline located at the Mitchell Junction tank farm in Columbia May 3 resulted in emergency service personnel from Cumberland County, Powhatan County and Goochland County working 28 consecutive hours to repair the leak, Cumberland’s Fire and Emergency Management Services (EMS) Chief Tom Perry and Colonial Pipeline Spokesman Stephen Baker confirmed.”

5-10-18 Energy and Policy Institute. Hawthorn Group, PR firm behind paid actors scandal in New Orleans, has long record of being paid by utilities to lie to the public. “An Entergy internal investigation revealed today that the utility company contracted with the Hawthorn Group, a Virginia-based PR firm, in its effort to create the appearance of public support at New Orleans City Council hearings for its proposed natural gas plant. Hawthorn, Entergy acknowledged in its report, had subcontracted with a company called Crowds on Demand to pay actors to appear and speak at City Council hearings wearing t-shirts supporting the gas plant. Actors were paid $60 to appear, and $200 for ‘speaking roles,’ as first reported by The Lens, a local newspaper.”

5-10-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch.  At Dominion shareholder meeting, pipeline opponents address CEO directly in what’s become an annual airing of grievances. “Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have organized dozens of meetings, protests and marches in an effort to stop the project since it was announced in 2014. But there’s just one time a year they’re guaranteed an audience with the pipeline’s lead developer, Dominion Energy, as well as its CEO, Thomas F. Farrell II: the company’s annual shareholder meeting, where anyone who owns stock in the company or is representing someone who does is entitled to take to the microphone and unload for a few minutes. And this year, Wednesday was the big day. …. The first and only whiffs of dissent came when Farrell opened the floor for the question-and-answer portion of the meeting. All but two of the roughly half-dozen speakers focused on concerns about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would cut through the state on its way from West Virginia to North Carolina, with a spur to Hampton Roads.”

5-9-18 Inside Climate News. Fossil Fuels on Trial: Where the Major Climate Change Lawsuits Stand Today. “Some of the biggest oil and gas companies are embroiled in legal disputes with cities, states and children over the industry’s role in global warming. A wave of legal challenges that is washing over the oil and gas industry, demanding accountability for climate change, started as a ripple after revelations that ExxonMobil had long recognized the threat fossil fuels pose to the world.”

5-9-18 Blue Virginia. Gov. Northam’s “Ask the Governor” Appearance This Morning: The Decent, the Bad, the Ugly. The article includes audio of portions of the broadcast, including the 2.5 minutes of platitudes and non-answers in response to a question about pipelines. Northam’s non-answer is also posted on YouTube.

5-9-18 News Leader. Letter to Editor: Pipeline route shows African American citizens continue to be an afterthought. “We are concerned about the Atlantic Coastal Pipeline plans to place a massive compressor station in Union Hill. It will disturb slave graves and will greatly impact Union Hill, an historic 85 percent black community that still lives on land passed down from their ancestors. Why was this area chosen for the compressor with the unrelenting noise, chemical pollution, and risk of explosion that accompanies it? Of all the sites in Virginia that could have been chosen for the pipeline’s largest compressor station, Union Hill was selected. In this country, African American citizens continue to be an afterthought. The ‘powers that be’ want everyone to believe it is just coincidental that the compressor is being placed in Union Hill.”

5-9-18 MSN/AP. Landowners fight pipeline in case headed to US appeals court. “A hearing Thursday before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond comes as other legal challenges against the [MVP] project proliferate and protests escalate, with some opponents camped out in trees along the pipeline’s path in an attempt to prevent construction work. …. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Dillon said the landowners must first apply for a rehearing before the commission and, after receiving a hearing there, seek review in a federal appeals court. Some of the plaintiffs and other pipeline opponents have done just that – asked the commission to reconsider its decision – but they say the way that process plays out leaves them with no meaningful opportunity for judicial review. The commission has issued what’s called a ‘tolling order,’ a decision that allows members more time to consider appeals but also allows work on the pipeline to continue. FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Justin Lugar, an attorney for the landowners, said his clients face a high hurdle in the lawsuit and the clock is ticking. ‘Even if we win the jurisdiction argument, the pipe could be in the ground by the time this thing could be heard,’ he said.”

5-9-18 WVTF. Environmentalists Picket Dominion Shareholder Meeting. “While shareholders of Dominion Energy met in Richmond Wednesday for their annual update, pipeline protesters took to the street. Landowner Bill Limpert says he doesn’t blame shareholders for wanting their investments to grow, but he calls on them consider the costs. ‘And how this project would take from others to give to them. I call on these shareholders in good conscience to tell Dominion to do the right thing, stop this unjust, unneeded, and immoral project now!’ Limpert said to cheers. Red Terry, a landowner who spent weeks in a tree on her property protesting two planned natural gas pipelines, was among the protesters.” Includes audio.

5-9-18 Public News Service. Activists Call Dominion’s Renewable Energy Proposal “An Act.” “Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest electric utility, promotes itself as a leader in solar energy, but Wednesday environmental activists are calling on the company to “drop the act,” considering its promotion and heavy reliance on fracked gas. Activists maintain Dominion wields its power over legislative and regulatory bodies to further its interest in maintaining higher profits over the well being of the environment. Steve Nash, a journalist and author of ‘Virginia Climate Fever,’ says the company is doing the bare minimum in its solar energy program. ‘The main agenda for Dominion, because it has invested heavily in natural gas, because it’s fought like a deranged animal to build two enormous and completely unneeded natural gas pipelines,’ Nash states.” Includes audio.

5-9-18 Roanoke Times. Limpert: Dominion shareholders should ask questions about pipeline. “Dominion Energy will hold its’ annual shareholders meeting today. Shareholders will surely be treated to a reassuring assessment of company profits, growth, and outlook. Dominion has been successful in providing their shareholders with profits, as the company continues to expand. But shareholders may do well to look beyond the current and projected profits. They may want to look beyond the ledger book and take a closer look at the true cost of Dominion’s actions, both now and in the future. They may want to look at how Dominion’s actions impact those who hold no Dominion stock. They may want to look at how Dominion’s actions could affect them, their children and those who follow them. …. I call on Dominion shareholders to think about the true costs of the ACP, and how this project would take from others to give to them. I call on them, in good conscience, to tell Dominion to do the right thing and stop this unjust and unneeded project. We all know that if you put a big pile of money on your altar and worship it, especially if that money has been taken from someone else, you won’t receive any grace or reach a higher spiritual plane. You will be lost in a downward spiral from which you, and the rest of us, may never recover.”

5-8-18 Roanoke Times. A summary of legal actions involving the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline has sparked numerous legal actions and challenges. Here is a summary of the major civil cases that are pending.” A summary of seven cases against the MVP and their status.

5-8-18 WDBJ7. Pipeline opponents from western Virginia meet with Secretary of Natural Resources. “Red Terry was frustrated when she left the Patrick Henry Building, and recapped her meeting with Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources. ‘And he’s like, well I’m sorry, we’re doing all we can do. DEQ’s got this under control,’ Terry said to supporters. Four days ago, Red and her daughter Minor were in tree stands, blocking the path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline where it passes through the family’s Bent Mountain property. Now they’re on the road, carrying their concerns to state and federal officials, and enlisting support from other parts of the state.”

5-8-18 Roanoke Times. Federal appeals court hears 2 pipeline cases. “The legal fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline ramped up Tuesday, with lawyers in two cases asking a federal appeals court to slow down the project’s run through Southwest Virginia. In back-to-back oral arguments, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was first asked to reverse a decision by the State Water Control Board, which issued a water quality certification after finding a ‘reasonable assurance’ that the natural gas pipeline would not pollute the 500-some streams and wetlands it will cross. The same three-judge panel then heard a challenge of the U.S. Forest Service’s approval for the buried pipeline to cut through the Jefferson National Forest. Both cases are being brought by a variety of conservation groups and individuals who say that building the largest such pipeline ever seen in Virginia will wreak environmental havoc. Written decisions are expected in the coming weeks.”

5-8-18 AP. Regulators reject Dominion’s renewable energy proposal. “State regulators are rejecting Dominion Energy’s plan to offer 100 percent renewable energy plans to its big customers, saying the electric monopoly’s proposal isn’t fair or reasonable. The State Corporation Commission issued a ruling Monday saying Dominion’s proposed renewable plan would give the company ‘extraordinary discretion’ in setting prices. The ruling is a win for third-party energy providers who are hoping to grow their share of business in Virginia.”

5-7-18 RVA Magazine. An Open Letter to Gov. Northam on the Mountain Valley Pipeline [from Margeau Graybill] “I guess you could say that I am a fairly typical 27-year-old millennial. …. Many people my age voted against you in the primary because we know building these pipelines are not the way forward. Fracked gas pipelines are not the future of energy and will do nothing but make a few people rich, destroy waterways, leak into our precious ground, and make Virginia look like it doesn’t care about the future of the planet or our children. How can you have a platform that wants to preserve the Chesapeake Bay from off-shore drilling, but not our streams and waterways from fracked gas? I could provide you some studies of what a project like this does to land and water, but this letter is more from the soul. The soul of a heart-broken voter who believed when you said all environmental laws would be followed and all studies would be done before beginning these project. As I’m sure you know, nothing like this pipeline has ever even been attempted before in Virginia. Why risk this now? Who does it benefit, really?”

5-7-18 WSLS10. Terrys to travel, spread anti-pipeline message. “Family that staged monthlong tree-sits to attend gatherings across Va. To protest an area pipeline, one Roanoke County family has shifted from a physical protest to a purely vocal one. The already outspoken Theresa ‘Red’ Terry, 61, is going on a speaking tour of Virginia with her daughter Minor, 30, after both of them ended their tree-sits Saturday. They had stayed in the trees in the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s path for more than a month, blocking tree-cutting crews. On Monday, the Terrys announced a series of meetings and gatherings that they will attend this week and said they would like to spread their anti-pipeline message and educate people on environmental concerns. …. ‘I’m just telling it like it is,’ Red Terry said. ‘People are stealing our land and a lot of other people have gone through the process.'”

5-7-18 NBC29. Indivisible Charlottesville Holds Rally in Support of Anti-Pipeline Activists.  “Anti-pipeline activists in Charlottesville are rallying in support of two tree-sitters who are trying to keep pipelines from being built on their property. Indivisible Charlottesville held a rally in front of the Free Speech Wall on the Downtown Mall on Monday, May 7.”

5-7-18 Blue Virginia. For Dominion, the answer to every problem is more gas. “Dominion Energy Virginia just released its 2018 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), and the message it conveys could not be clearer: no matter what happens, the utility plans to build more fracked gas generation.”

5-7-18 News & Advance. Nelson County considers contract to supply water during Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction. “As the Atlantic Coast Pipeline moves closer to construction, the Nelson County Service Authority is hammering out details on a contract that would provide water for ACP to use during construction. A contract has not been approved, however, and awaits a vote from the board. The board should vote to approve or deny the agreement at its next meeting May 17, members say.”

5-6-18 Crozet Gazette. Groups Collaborate to Protect Threatened Resources. The mission and work of the Rockfish Valley Foundation in Nellysford includes support of environmental education and efforts by a number of groups, including Blackberry Botanicals, which is working to help volunteers identify and save plants that would be destroyed by the impending clearing of Nelson County land for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Blackberry Botanicals is also part of a multi-state plant rescue effort called the Pipeline Native Plant Rescue Group. “Blackberry Botanicals will return to Nelson County in June for more workshops, but much of the recent work done by Neil and Beth has been plant rescue along the Mountain Valley Pipeline path in West Virginia. This construction drew recent national attention because of the protestors and tree sitters in strategic sites.”

5-5-18 Washington Post. Women sitting in trees to protest pipeline come down after judge threatens fines. “A mother and daughter who had been camped high in trees for five weeks to protest a natural gas pipeline near Roanoke climbed down from their roosts Saturday after a federal judge threatened to start levying heavy fines. Theresa “Red” Terry, 61, and her daughter, Theresa Minor Terry, 30, had perched on platforms in trees on the family’s Bent Mountain property since April 2 to protest construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.”   The Blue Virginia story includes several live videos.

5-5-18 Roanoke Times. Do pipelines pose any political risk for Northam? “Eighteen Democratic committee chairs put their names on a forceful statement Thursday urging Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, both Democrats, to ‘do all they can to stop the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.’ They joined a growing chorus of Democratic officials pushing the state’s top elected leaders to act on the controversial natural gas pipelines, which will be built through some of Virginia’s most mountainous terrain and cross hundreds of waterways. Opposition stems from a range of concerns: climate change, the use of eminent domain to seize land from unwilling property owners and the hazards construction and operation of the pipelines could pose to water quality.” But there is disagreement about whether letting down the many environmental groups that supported Northam poses risks for him and the party.

5-5-18 Independent [UK]. ‘Frustration, anger, helplessness’: Virginia pipeline protesters on what drove them to live in the trees. “several locals said that, regardless of what happens next, the tree sits have already had their intended effect: They got people talking again. Just this week, representatives from 18 different Democratic party committees signed on to a letter urging Governor Ralph Northam to stop the pipeline. Days earlier, a state senator filed suit against USFS, claiming federal officials were illegally blocking access to the tree sitters’ platforms. Tina Badger, a Virginia native who has fought the pipeline’s construction for years, says she’s never heard more people talking about the project than now. ‘For a while it was pretty much off most peoples’ radar,’ Ms Badger said. ‘Now, your average citizen is ranging anywhere from upset about what’s going on to outraged.'”

5-4-18 Blue Virginia. U.S. District Court Rules that Tree Sitters Must Descend by May 5 and “leave the boundaries of MVP’s Easements” or Face Fines, Arrest. The full text of the US District Court order is posted on Blue Virginia.

5-4-18 WSLS. Virginia Democrats release statement against Mountain Valley Pipeline, Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Saying that pipelines pose a clear threat to Virginia’s drinking water, and are an abuse of eminent domain, 18 Democratic committees across Virginia have teamed up to release a statement against the pipeline. “Our citizens should not be forced to hand over Virginia’s pristine landscape and safe drinking water to corporate profiteers who care little, if at all, for the well-being of our communities.”

5-3-18 WSLS10. Tree sitters file motion to stop Mountain Valley Pipeline crews from cutting trees. The Roanoke County family fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline continues to push back. The Terry family’s counsel filed another motion in federal court Wednesday to try to halt tree cutting on Bent Mountain. The motion states that pipeline crews were working with “apparent urgency” to cut down as many trees as possible prior to an official court ruling that may or may not be in their favor. The family is requesting that the court maintain the “status quo” and stay all of MVP’s tree-cutting efforts in Virginia.

5-3-18 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Pipeline opponents: ‘Northam is going to have to answer for what this looks like’ “In this corner of the George Washington National Forest, the slope rises sharply from the bank of a briskly bubbling stream about a mile from the West Virginia line. Nearby, trees have been felled along a 125-foot wide swath up to the edge of a U.S. Forest Service access road to make way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the hotly-contested, 600-mile natural gas project between West Virginia and North Carolina. Spearheaded by Dominion Energy, the pipeline will cut through some of Virginia’s most mountainous terrain and hundreds of its waterways. This unnamed tributary of Townsend Draft, a native brook trout stream, is one of them. And the site illustrates what the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t examined, despite an environmental review the agency and Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration have described as the most rigorous ever for a pipeline project, say David Sligh and Rick Webb, among the organizers of a pipeline construction monitoring effort. This stream is one of the spots where the U.S. Forest Service insisted on site-specific plans for how Dominion and its partners intend to hold the ridge and its slopes together. The plan calls for leveling the top to create a flat workspace for heavy equipment and workers and carving a trench up, across and down it before replacing the missing earth with large volumes of fill material. ‘That’s one of the handful of locations where we actually see what they propose to do,’ said Webb, a retired University of Virginia stream scientist. ‘I anticipate there’s going to be extreme damage to water resources.’ Among the possibilities: steel mesh nailed into the rock to hold the slope in place, which Webb and Sligh, a former DEQ engineer and environmental attorney, argue will dramatically alter the runoff characteristics into the stream below. Sediment contamination is the main concern, a circumstance they fear will be repeated over and over again along the mountainous parts of the pipeline route. Seven pipeline stream crossings will directly affect drainage to a half-mile section of Townsend Draft, Webb says. ‘In a year or two, Governor Northam is going to have to answer for what this looks like,’ Sligh said.”

5-3-18 WSLS10. $80,000+ spent by law enforcement so far monitoring Bent Mountain tree-sitters. “The Roanoke County Police Department and Virginia State Police have already spent nearly $85,000 in response to the tree-sitting protest on Bent Mountain. …. The cost estimate for the Roanoke County Police Department from April 12 to April 28 is $49,613, according to county spokeswoman Amy Whittaker. That number includes regular time and overtime, as well as equipment and supplies, said Whittaker. …. For that same time period, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the overtime costs associated with state police resources assisting Roanoke County police on Bent Mountain have reached $33,944.05.”

5-3-18 Scientific American. Powerful Investors Push Big Companies to Plan for Climate Change. “This spring, Wall Street seems more accepting of climate science as shareholders demand plans to reduce risks. Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron and Kinder Morgan are facing renewed pressure from climate-focused activist investors. This year some of the most powerful shareholders, which include giant mutual funds, are supporting the push for businesses to respond to climate change. And the prodding has had more effect than ever before.”

5-2-18 Suffolk News-Herald. Charges against protesters unfair. “Red Terry and her daughter are on trial for sacrificing their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness by clinging to tree stands on their property for about a month now to prevent the Mountain Valley Pipeline from taking the land that has been in their family for seven generations. They are being charged with trespassing (on their own land), for obstruction of justice (for whom?) and perhaps a few other charges that authorities think might stick. This quick legal action stands in contrast to the slow pace mandated by the courts for challenges against the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline. These challenges are based on solid evidence that approvals for these pipelines by several government agencies were made illegally and without fully considering project need, alternatives and the numerous negative impacts these projects would bring, not only to those tens of thousands of persons on or near the pipelines, but to all of us. I question this rush to judgment against Red and her daughter, while leaving the lawsuits that would protect all of us from these unjust pipelines languishing in legal limbo. Red’s courageous action at most inconveniences the Mountain Valley Pipeline. They can wait on the legal outcome of this case while moving forward with the other 99.8 percent of their project. However, the tens of thousands of persons whose lives would be negatively impacted by this project must wait many months for a chance at justice, even while the pipeline companies proceed to take their property, reduce its value, cut down their trees, despoil their land, pollute their water and place a dangerous pipeline near them and their loved ones. Anyone can see the unjust disparity in these cases. Our legal system is supposed to be fair. How did we move so far away from the fundamental framework of freedom that our forefathers gave us?”

5-2-18 WSET13. Sen. Petersen files lawsuit to reopen road near pipeline protesters. “On Wednesday, May 2, Senator Chap Petersen from Fairfax filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service to reopen Pocahontas Road in Giles County. The road has been closed for almost two months. Pocahontas Road is where a woman being called “Nutty” has been in a monopod for more than a month. With the road closed, people are having to walk through woods to see Nutty, and Senator Petersen says it’s dangerous. ‘This is a violation of the First Amendment,’ Senator Petersen said. ‘It’s not right to exclude people just because they want to express their political opinions. I don’t think it’s a safety issue. I think it’s the reserve. I think it’s unsafe to require people to hike through the woods when there is a perfectly serviceable road to get to the same location.'” Text of Peterson’s suit is linked from the WSET13 news report, and the full text with maps and photos is included in the Blue Virginia news report.

5-1-18 Loudoun Now. Letter to Editor on why Northern Virginia should care about the pipelines. Letter: Chris Tandy, Leesburg: “On April 27, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee issued a statement on the tree sit protestors opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. I’m extremely proud of LCDC for publishing this. Why should Loudouners care? First, the pipelines will affect Loudoun and indeed the entire commonwealth. They will increase our energy bills and contribute to climate change. They will impact the Potomac, James and Roanoke watersheds. Just as important is the undeniable fact that our fellow Virginians are being harmed directly by their construction. …. We should not, and cannot, avert our gaze while the Virginians who do not live in population-dense, high-income Northern Virginia are run over by greedy fossil fuel companies, like Dominion and EQT.

5-1-18 Roanoke Times. Judge hears arguments for and against two pipeline protesters sitting in trees. “Two pipeline protesters stuck to their positions in trees atop Bent Mountain on Tuesday while, in the valley below them, lawyers went to a federal courthouse to argue their fate. Attorneys for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said that 61-year-old Theresa “Red” Terry and her daughter, Theresa Minor Terry, are blocking tree cutting for the natural gas pipeline and should be found in contempt of court. They cited an order from U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Dillon that gave Mountain Valley the power, through the laws of eminent domain, to run its pipeline through private land owned by the Terry family. Roanoke attorney Tom Bondurant, who represents the Terrys, flipped that argument around – asserting it was Mountain Valley that should be held in contempt for misrepresenting to the court key facts during an earlier hearing in the condemnation proceedings. After hearing several hours of testimony and arguments, Dillon said she will issue a written opinion ‘as quickly as I can.'”

5-1-18 Ecowatch. ‘Great News For New Yorkers’: Supreme Court Denies Constitution Pipeline Request. “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition filed by Constitution Pipeline to challenge New York state’s denial of a water quality certification for the natural gas project. Natural Gas Intelligence reported: ‘The petition was distributed for conference, or discussion, on Friday, but the justices simply denied it.’ The ruling leaves in place the August 2017 judgment of the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the state. This is a big win for the attorney general’s office and the state’s authority to protect its waters and natural resources.

5-1-18 Roanoke Times. Forest Service apologizes for damage to Appalachian Trail during patrols of pipeline protests. “The U.S. Forest Service apologized Tuesday for damaging the Appalachian Trail with all-terrain vehicles driven during patrols of a pipeline protest. In a news release, the agency admitted that its law enforcement officers used the ATVs from April 11 to April 30 on a short stretch of the scenic footpath that follows the ridge of Peters Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest.”