April 2019 News

April 2019

4-30-19 Reuters. EQM says ‘unlikely’ to complete Mountain Valley natgas pipe in 2019. “EQM Midstream Partners LP said Tuesday it was “unlikely” to complete the long-delayed $4.6 billion Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Virginia during 2019 due to ongoing legal and regulatory challenges.”

4-30-19 WV Public Broadcasting. W.Va. DEP Changes State-Imposed Regs for Stream Crossing Permits. “West Virginia environmental regulators have changed some state-imposed conditions to a federal permit issued for stream crossings for natural gas pipelines approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In a letter sent to federal regulators last week, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) officials submitted a series of changes to the state-imposed conditions for the Nationwide Permit 12. The changes include the removal of a 72-hour time restriction for construction of interstate natural gas pipelines under waterways in certain cases. …. The WVDEP previously required interstate pipelines must be built under major rivers within 72 hours. This caused problems for the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline. Last year, a federal court threw out the project’s Section 404 permit after environmental groups argued pipeline developers’ own planning documents showed they couldn’t meet that 72-hour waterway crossing deadline. Currently, the project is awaiting new Section 404 permits and can’t do construction under waterways. The new modifications clarify that stream crossing methods that are done when streams are flowing must be completed within 72 hours, but that stream crossings where waterways are damned, also called the “dry ditch” method, are exempt from the 72-hour requirement.”

4-30-19 WMRA. Atlantic Coast Pipeline Won’t Be Finished Until 2021 – If At All. “The headlines can get confusing quickly: Court A stays Permit B; Party C appeals Ruling D; Agency X reissues Permit Y. In this feature, WMRA’s Andrew Jenner brings us up to speed on the complicated landscape of environmental challenges to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.” Audio link included.

4-30-19 Blue Virginia. Four Years Fighting Dominion, a Company that Shows Gross Disdain for What We Love, and Gross Disdain for Us. “The Fourth District Court of Appeals found that Dominion’s plan to cross the Appalachian Trail at Reed’s Gap near Wintergreen was illegal, and overturned the United States Forest Service’s approval for that proposed crossing. Instead of taking a day or two to hastily draw up another route, Dominion now has highly paid lobbyists in Washington, DC, actively chasing elected officials in order to get them to change the law to allow this crossing. No matter that Dominion could cross the Appalachian Trail on private land, or at other utility corridors, where several pipelines have crossed the Appalachian Trail in recent years. The folks at Dominion want it their way, the easy way, the cheap way. And they want it now. …. Victims in the path of the pipeline, Dominion ratepayers, and all Virginians, as well as all citizens of West Virginia and North Carolina need to let their federal officials know that we don’t want them to cave in to Dominion’s attempts to selfishly change the law so the company can once again have its way, and shortchange due process in doing so. Please give your elected officials a call, send them an e-mail, write them a letter, or go to a local office or town hall to tell them face to face that they shouldn’t let Dominion pull a fast one, and get away with this dirty trick.”

4-29-19 PV Magazine. Renewable energy will surpass coal in April & May. “King Coal is dying, and this month will see a new milestone in the decline of what was the largest source of electricity generation for the 20th century and even the first fifteen years of the 21st. According to an analysis of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), renewable energy sources including hydroelectricity are set to generate more electricity than coal, for the first time ever. The analysis shows that renewables generate 2.32 and 2.27 terawatt-hours (TWh) in April and May, ahead of the 2.00 and 2.24 TWh anticipated to be generated by coal.”

4-29-19 Democracy Now. Pipeline Protester in West Virginia Faces Terrorism Charge for Civil Disobedience. “In West Virginia, a 22-year-old protester is facing a felony terrorism charge and other misdemeanors after he was arrested in a nonviolent civil disobedience action aimed at stopping the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Holden Dometrius was arrested Thursday about five hours after he chained himself to welding equipment, slowing construction of the fracked gas pipeline.”

4-25-19 Roanoke Times. Letter: Gov. Northam ignored pleas of small businesses. “In response to ‘Gov. Ralph Northam, in Roanoke, hails agritourism as force for revitalization’ (April 5 news story): Gov. Northam and I finally agree on something. In the above Roanoke Times article, he stated: ‘For small towns and rural communities, agritourism can be a driving force for revitalization and resurgence….By creating more opportunities for on-farm income, more families are able to keep their agricultural land in their families, and by creating more opportunities for visitors to embrace and enjoy that experience we’re creating more partners in land conservation.’ I am deeply invested in agritourism on my family farm and have been building on this for several years. Unfortunately, Mountain Valley Pipeline has been encouraged by Mr. Northam to plow through the middle of my farm and revitalization dreams. Citizens tried to get through to both Gov. Northam and his predecessor and every legislator who should have protected our budding agritourism industry when the Mountain Valley Pipeline decided to threaten the very opportunities he now touts.”

4-25-19 Roanoke Times. Mountain Valley Pipeline gets good and bad news on court challenges. “A state regulation that delayed a key part of work on the Mountain Valley Pipeline — the crossings of more than 1,000 streams and wetlands in the two Virginias — has been revised in a way likely to benefit the project. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection wrote in a letter Wednesday to federal regulators that it has modified about 50 conditions to permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. One of the conditions was that the pipeline needed to be built across four major rivers in West Virginia within 72 hours. The Army Corps improperly bypassed that rule when it issued what’s called a Nationwide Permit 12 to the natural gas project, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in throwing out the authorization in October. Although several more steps need to be taken before water body crossings can resume, a revised condition doing away with the time restriction in certain cases was seen as a victory for Mountain Valley. However, complications from another court challenge involving a different pipeline in Virginia led one of the five partners in the joint Mountain Valley venture to say this week that completion of the project by the end of this year now ‘appears unlikely.’ …. But she expressed concerns about a 4th Circuit decision last year that prohibited the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from crossing the Appalachian Trail. The Mountain Valley pipeline would also cross the scenic footpath, and backers worry that the project could be jeopardized by the Atlantic Coast ruling.”

4-25-19 The Nation. Ralph Northam Says He’s Committed to Racial Equity. So Why is He Ignoring Union Hill? “Environmental and racial-justice advocates have been fighting for more than four years to keep the compressor station and pipeline out of Union Hill, a small community located in Buckingham County south of Charlottesville. With state and federal permits already granted, all that currently impede the project are the courts, which have vacated several permits and continue to hear appeals. But after a scandal erupted over a photo on Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s page in his medical school yearbook, which showed a man in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood, Northam pledged to devote the remainder of his term to racial equity. Now activists in Union Hill are calling on him to live up to that promise by reevaluating the permits granted to the project. ‘Governor Northam, if you want to right a wrong, you can start with Union Hill,’ Walker said earlier in the day, introducing the Black Caucus members at Union Grove Missionary Baptist, another tiny, historic church where 30 people had gathered inside on the first Sunday afternoon in April. ‘He’s never even come here.’”

4-25-29 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Pipeline opponents put cause into song at fundraiser. “Opponents of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines will unveil a new anthem to the cause at a benefit concert on Friday night in Charlottesville. The SUN SiNG Collective, a multidisciplinary arts project, will perform “To the River” at the Jefferson Theater in a concert to support the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, a nonprofit group based in Fauquier County. The concert will begin at 6 p.m. The collective represents musicians, visual artists, videographers, designers and puppet masters who use their work to protest construction of the two natural gas pipelines from shale fields in West Virginia through parts of Virginia to southeastern markets.”

4-25-19 The Recorder. Bath EMS meets with Dominion over safety concerns.   “The head of the Bath County Fire and Rescue Association and the county’s emergency services coordinator say valuable information came from a meeting with safety representatives from Dominion Energy last Tuesday with regard to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Dominion representatives attended a BCFRA meeting, and association president Harold King said all emergency services departments in the county were represented. ‘We had a lot of questions. We got a lot of good data,’ emergency services coordinator Andy Seabolt said. ‘We are getting better ideas and more understanding on how to respond during construction. It was good information. It really was. It was an excellent discussion forum. I’m really glad we had that meeting.’”

4-24-19 Friends of the Earth. Atlantic Coast Pipeline protesters target Bank of America’s shareholders. “Environmental and social justice protesters today demonstrated outside of Bank of America’s annual general meeting, demanding that the bank halt any further funding for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other fossil fuel projects. Protest sponsors were Friends of the Earth U.S, 350.org Charlotte, North Carolina Climate Solutions Coalition, NC Clean Path 2025 Charlotte and the NC Poor People’s Campaign Ecological Devastation. ‘The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is economically and environmentally reckless,’ said Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth. ‘The pipeline is just one example of how Bank of America is fueling the climate crisis. Investors should be aware that Bank of America’s pumping of finance into fossil fuel infrastructure is accelerating climate catastrophe and community destruction. This is bad for the Earth, and bad for investors’ bottom-line.’ The protests come shortly after over 100 groups sent a letter to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, which called on the bank to refrain from any further financing of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

4-24-19 C-Ville. ARTS Pick: Sun Sing. “In a evening of art-inspired protest that includes puppetry, music, and video, Water is life. Protect it. and ARTivism Virginia members unite as the Sun Sing collective to premiere the song “To The River,” aimed at stopping the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. The activists recently focused their creative energies around original songs dedicated to endangered creatures in the YouTube video series,“Who Will Sing For Me?” Vocalist Bernadette ‘BJ’ Brown, who sings for the cerulean warbler, says ‘I’m choosing to use my voice to empower others as well. To stand against brutality and harms being done to this earth and our water.’”

4-23-19 Blue Virginia. SUN SiNG Concert: Our Hope Is Not a Luxury. “The SUN SiNG Concert on Friday, April 26, 6 pm at The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, VA will gather its audience and its performers from the entire Virginia environmental and pipeline resistance community. At the concert, the SUN SiNG Collective will premiere a new No Pipeline anthem, song video and perform a theatrical concert evening for their community and anyone else who needs positive inspiration for their climate change concerns. Think good music and circus like spectacle. Think puppets bigger than cars by All the Saints Theater Company director, Lily Lamberta. All proceeds benefit the Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice”

4-23-19 NBC29. Pipeline Challenge Submitted to Federal Appeals Court on Behalf of Staunton. “A friend of the court brief to challenge the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) has been submitted on behalf of the City of Staunton and Nelson County to a federal appeals court. City Council voted unanimously six months ago to join Nelson County in submitting an amici curiae brief to present its concerns about the CAP to a federal appeals court. The court will hear legal challenges to decisions of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. An amicus brief is provided by non-litigants in appellate court cases who have a strong interest in the subject matter and provides supplemental information and arguments for the consideration of the court. The City will not become a party to the litigation but act as a friend of the court.” [Article includes background information on how the City came to join the challenge.]

4-22-19 ArlNow. Arlington’s Delegate Candidates Drop Dominion Energy Money. “Arlington’s representatives in the Virginia House of Delegates have made good on promises to eschew Dominion Energy money, according to recent campaign finance reports. Arlington’s six candidates for the House of Delegates shared financial reports indicating their campaigns took in no money from the utility company this year. However, most candidates are still relying on contributions from advocacy and labor groups, political action committees, and businesses, as opposed to running campaigns based only around individual contributions.”

4-21-19 Daily Advance [NC]. Area’s future at stake in speed of transition to clean energy. “Last year Gov. Roy Cooper entered an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent statewide by 2025. He formed a Climate Change Interagency Council to recommend specific actions to achieve the goal. The Interagency Council held public meetings in Elizabeth City on Feb. 19 and April 11 to seek comments about ways to transition to clean energy and to provide updated information about actions the council is considering. …. The key to limiting rise of the Atlantic Ocean is a speedy transition to clean energy. I suggest Gov. Cooper should, at a bare minimum, take the following actions: …. Oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will lock in an estimated 30 million to 68 million metric tons per year of C02 emissions for the lifetime of the project. If it is built, measures implemented via the executive order will largely go toward canceling greenhouse gases caused by the pipeline. The pipeline is now stalled by court orders. Costs are escalating. Clean energy is cost competitive with fossil fuels and will soon have a cost advantage. Development of clean power instead of the ACP would create more jobs for North Carolinians, generate no greenhouse gases, improve health and safety by improving air quality, and protect North Carolina’s waters and aquatic species.”

4-18-19 The Recorder. What we have here is a failure to communicate. “Wow. Just when we think Dominion Energy couldn’t possibly make any more missteps than we’ve already covered, here the company comes with yet another example of its inability to pay attention. The company proposing to take our citizens’ land for an unneeded $7.5 billion gas pipeline has shown us time and again that it doesn’t listen to those who live here. We’re coming up on five years of this utter ignorance. From the moment Dominion announced its plans in May 2014, we have witnessed its almost comical inability to get anything right. And now, as reported in this week’s Recorder, we find Dominion has completely ignored landowners again, and is prepared to condemn property in Bath County’s Little Valley for an access road without going through proper channels, and no one is finding it funny at all. Especially the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. …. So, if you think your land is safe, and you can negotiate fair terms with this company, think again. We don’t think this is a simple matter of Dominion’s left hand being unaware of its right. If that’s the case, incompetence is the right word, but it puts no one’s mind at ease. Considering the hundreds of ways this pipeline would cause damage to our citizens, our environment, our water quality, and the sensitive species here in the Highlands, we have no faith Dominion can get this built in any reasonable, conscientious way. When will this untenable, unjustified, preposterous project get shelved for good? Not soon enough.”

4-18-19 The Recorder. State tells feds condemnation lawsuit improper. “Dominion Energy caught landowners and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation unaware by filing a land condemnation lawsuit involving an open-space conservation easement. The VOF told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that Dominion affiliate Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC wrongly filed the eminent domain lawsuit for a proposed pipeline access road. In what VOF deputy director Martha Little described as an error, the pipeline company failed to consult VOF before attempting to route the access road across the conservation easement. The VOF easement was not included in the land swap of 10 conservation easements for Hayfields Farm in McDowell between Dominion and VOF. ‘VOF strongly urges FERC to require that an alternative access road be found since this route has never been authorized by the VOF Board of Trustees,’ Little said in an April 9 letter to FERC. ‘VOF would also argue that this access road was presented as an error in fact and should never have been included in the FERC certificate issued on Oct. 13, 2017. The fact that Atlantic is currently moving forward with condemnation proceedings without any consideration or decision from the VOF Board of Trustees is particularly alarming,’ Little said.”

4-17-19 Virginia Mercury. After Union Hill compressor station permit battle, DEQ issues request for environmental justice study. “The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is seeking a consultant to perform an environmental justice study for the agency aimed at recommending regulatory and statutory changes ‘to promote equity in environmental decision making.’ In a request for proposals Tuesday that closes on May 10, the DEQ says ‘there exists an immediate need to respond to the emerging public expectation that environmental justice be considered and addressed in a meaningful way,’ adding that the agency seeks ‘to develop a clear process for incorporating environmental justice principles into its strategic planning and program implementation.’ …. ‘DEQ’s environmental justice study will help ensure the agency’s programs benefit all communities, especially those that have historically been the most burdened by pollution,’ said Gov. Ralph Northam in a statement that appears blissfully unaware of the existence of irony. [emphasis added] …. Northam’s administration drew condemnation over its handling of the compressor station project — which had become a rallying point for environmental justice advocates — including yanking two members off the State Air Pollution Control Board who had voiced concerns about the siting of the massive project and its emissions. And in February, former Vice President Al Gore and the Rev. William Barber II, a civil rights leader, said Northam was missing a chance to show his newfound support for racial equity in the aftermath of his blackface scandal by keeping quiet about the project. Northam has also dissolved the former Governor’s Advisory Council on Environmental Justice in favor of creating a new body called the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice. The members of the old council, who had called for a halt to Virginia’s contentious natural gas pipeline projects and were ignored by the governor, were invited to apply for the new body.”
Blue Virginia (April 16, 2019) asks, Is This a Perverse Joke? Virginia DEQ Issues Request for Proposals for Environmental Justice Study.

4-16-19 WDBJ7. Energy conference sparks debate in Roanoke. “The Chief Executive of American Electric Power said the company continues to reduce its carbon footprint and expand the use of renewable energy, but must rely on fossil fuels to meet the needs of its customers. …. A block away, opponents of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline projects provided counterpoint, calling for a rapid shift to sustainable energy sources that don’t contribute to climate change.”

4-16-19 Bacon’s Rebellion. Is Winter Coming For Virginia Pipeline Projects? “The building season is here, but for developers of Virginia’s two hotly-contested natural gas pipelines, activity is back in the government agencies and courthouses. The construction sites remain largely silent, delays running up the ultimate cost of the projects, including the cost of failure. Here is my (probably flawed) attempt at a status report. And you thought Game of Thrones is a complicated plot.”

4-16-19 Blue Ridge Outdoors. 214 Days: Tree sitters have blockaded the Mountain Valley Pipeline for seven months. Here’s what motivates them to persist. “For many along the MVP route, hope was reignited with the Peter’s Mountain sits and all of the direction action that followed. Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor at Virginia Tech, was so motivated by what transpired on Peter’s Mountain that in June of 2018 she locked down to an excavator located on the pipeline easement, successfully blocking construction for 14 hours. She says that the most inspiring thing to her throughout this movement has been the way in which people have shown up for each other again and again. ‘People say that the system is rigged and that there is no point in trying to fight it,’ she states, ‘but it has been life-changing to witness the number of people willing to fight and to show up for their communities over and over again.’”

4-15-19 Virginia Mercury. With variance, FERC allows Mountain Valley Pipeline to play it by ear. “In May 2018, Mountain Valley Pipeline confessed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that its plan for stream crossings along its proposed 303-mile fracked gas pipeline had been based on ‘theoretical desktop analysis’ that ‘did not take site specific constructability issues (elevations, terrain and workspace) into account.’ …. [O]n September 24, 2018, MVP requested a project-wide Variance-006 that would allow pipe to be buried more shallowly on either side of streambeds and that the variance was granted the very next day. In requesting a variance, MVP admitted that if it followed its original vertical scour and lateral erosion plan, construction ‘would pose increased environmental or landslide risks or be unsafe or impractical due to terrain or geology.’ FERC staff approved the massive changes, essentially allowing MVP to fabricate its own construction standards on the fly, despite reservations from within both FERC and the corps. Documents indicate that Chris Carson, a corps project manager for the Huntington district, cautioned that ‘no information is provided indicating whether any of the changes would result in additional discharges of dredge or fill material into waters of the United States.’”

4-15-19 Blue Virginia. Citing Environmental Justice Concerns, Virginia State Conference NAACP Urges Federal Appeals Court to Stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The Virginia State Conference NAACP once again has reaffirmed its longstanding opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In a court brief filed on April 12, the state NAACP has urged a federal appeals court in Washington to revoke the key federal permit for the pipeline. Without that permit, the project will never be built. The state NAACP was part of a group of ten religious, social justice and civil rights organizations that signed onto a ‘friend of the court’ brief filed in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. …. The 50-plus-page court filing states that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) violated federal law and ‘ignored significant minority populations that live along the proposed route.’ It argues that the permit issued by FERC should be revoked because FERC ‘did not take a hard look at the health and environmental effects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” on “environmental justice communities.’”

4-15-19 NRDC. Pipeline Case Brief: FERC Enables Environmental Injustice. “Tragically, the ACP is also an example of FERC’s facilitation of environmental injustice. NRDC and an extensive group of environmental, civil rights, faith-based, and other organizations and initiatives filed a brief with the court on Friday highlighting how FERC’s analysis of the ACP failed communities of color in Virginia and North Carolina. Federal law requires that federal agencies undertaking environmental justice reviews account for impacted minority communities and prevent inequitable environmental outcomes. But FERC’s methodology largely overlooked their existence and, as a direct result, prevented FERC from analyzing the ACP’s adverse and disproportionate effects on communities of color.”

4-15-19.  The Nation.  A Broken Land – Ecological devastation in the American heartland. [Review of Eliza Griswold – Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America] “Haney signed what was meant to be a lucrative lease with Range to allow the company to build a fracking-waste pond nearby. Not only could she buy better shelter for her farm animals, but Range agreed to provide her with potable water in case the site affected the quality of her well—a point of pride for Haney, who’d grown up hauling water back to the family home. Then her animals started to die, and her children became sick. A prize goat gave birth to a kid in three pieces and then died. A neighbor’s beloved boxer puppy died from what seemed to be poison, its insides “crystallized, as if it had drunk antifreeze.” One of Haney’s children, Harley, suffered from mouth ulcers, nosebleeds, and personality changes, and a cut on Haney’s foot refused to heal. Something was clearly wrong—the air stank, and strange liquids leaked from the waste pond—but it was hard to link either the human or animal sickness to environmental contamination. And the burden of proof fell on Haney. This grim story is at the center of Eliza Griswold’s Amity and Prosperity. There are other characters in Griswold’s book, and she expands the focus to include the neighboring town of Prosperity, but Haney’s fight against Range Resources forms the spine of her narrative. A single mother with deep roots in the area, Haney has been forced to become a detective. She tracks her veterinarian bills, her medical expenses, and the family’s lab-test results, and through her travails Griswold documents an ever-widening gap between old fantasies and new realities for many families in western Pennsylvania.”

4-14-19 Roanoke Times. Cathcart: Mountain Valley Pipeline is a Titanic mistake. “The Mountain Valley Pipeline is an economic disaster on par with the Titanic. The same arrogance, ignorance and incompetence that led to the sinking of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic is at the foundation of the impending doom for the MVP. While there has been much focus in the press on the protesters and legal challenges for obstructing the construction of the MVP, the predominant obstructionists have been nature and the weather. MVP would like to claim last year’s rainfall was historic and have tried to blame it for their failure to protect our streams and rivers from erosion. A climate hydrologist with TerraPredictions did an analysis proving the 2018 rainfall in the area of the MVP was not historic. MVP refused to heed the many warnings from experts about why it would not be possible to build a 42 inch pipeline through the mountains without incurring extreme damage to our environment and astronomical costs. …. The Titanic was a catastrophic loss of life and a huge financial loss for Lloyds of London. The Lutine Bell tolled to warn Lloyd’s insurers of the terrible loss that fateful day. MVP is an LLC and the project isn’t required to be insured. FERC told landowners that pipelines companies self-insure. There will not be any bell tolling for the impending financial disaster slowly unfolding in Southwest Virginia. The shareholders, property owners and government will bear the cost of the ill conceived MVP.”

4-13-19 CBS19. Community continues initiatives to stop Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “People in Nelson County are continuing to share their mission to stop the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline this weekend. …. Sarah Murphy, a resident of Nelson County, left for the final part of her journey Saturday to travel through the proposed site of the pipeline with her two horses. …. An anti-pipeline workshop was also held at Spruce Creek Farm Saturday to bring awareness about the pipeline project. The event featured several speakers, who talked about topics related to the possible construction of the pipeline and the impact it could leave in the area.”

4-12-19 Booneville Daily News [MO]. Pipeline rupture incident report released; Rupture caused by pipe corrosion. “A stress corrosion crack caused the massive natural gas explosion March 3 north of Mexico, according to an incident report. The report, filed by Energy Transfer Partners with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, was released April 2. Energy Transfer is the owner of the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline, which ruptured approximately one mile north of Mexico near Missouri Highway 15. The company had 30 days to submit a report to the safety administration. The 30-inch diameter pipe is comprised of carbon steel, with a specified minimum yield strength of 60,000 pounds per square inch. Pressure inside the pipe did not exceed the maximum allowable operating pressure. The investigation did not find evidence of human error or control room malfunctions. The widest part of the rupture was 94 inches and the entire rupture’s circumference was 864 inches in a pipe buried five feet underground. Two people were evacuated from the incident area, but no injuries or fatalities were reported. Approximately $1.14 million of property damage occurred within the 621-foot potential impact radius. Highway 15 was cooked by the fire, approximately 50 to 75 yards away. A house under construction by Matt and Shawna Penn was destroyed. Total incident cost — property damage and the estimated cost of the released gas — is $1.4 million.”

4-11-19 Utility Dive. Dominion gas explosion kills 1, injures 17 in North Carolina. “One person is dead and 17 have been hospitalized after an explosion stemming from a Dominion Energy subsidiary’s natural gas line in downtown Durham, North Carolina, late Wednesday morning. At approximately 10:26 a.m., a gas leak was reported after a contractor drilled under the sidewalk, rupturing a two-inch gas line. The following explosion destroyed one building and damaged several others, according to local police. Firefighters had contained the fire as of around 2:30 p.m. and buildings near the explosion had been evacuated. Downtown Durham customers noted muddied water following the explosions, attributed to demand on the water utility’s system as firefighters responded to the blaze”

4-11-19 Nelson County Times. Pipeline opponents create an educational workshop in Nelson. “Pipeline opponents are gearing up for a nine-hour workshop in Nelson County on April 13 to discuss the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, and where they are in the fight to stop it. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC is a 600-mile-long natural-gas pipeline proposed to be built through parts of Nelson County. Different groups in Virginia and other states like West Virginia and North Carolina have been protesting the ACP since it was proposed four years ago. To continue the fight, Friends of Nelson, an anti-pipeline organization, is holding its third all day workshop on April 13 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The purpose of the event is ‘to update interested citizens on the current status of the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,’ according to a news release. The event is free to the public, but registration is required.”

4-10-19 NBC-2. Trump-appointed energy official: Climate change is real and we must lower carbon emissions. “A top federal energy regulator appointed by President Donald Trump is calling for urgent action to address climate change. Wednesday’s comments by Neil Chatterjee mark a striking contrast with Trump, who has voiced skepticism about climate change and recently suggested wind power causes cancer — despite no evidence to support that. ‘I believe climate change is real. I believe man has an impact,’ Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a conference in New York. ‘And I believe that we need to take steps to mitigate emissions urgently.’”

4-10-19 Washington Examiner. Trump escalates war on states’ environmental powers with order to spur pipelines. “President Trump’s move Wednesday to limit the power of states to block oil and gas pipelines is representative of what critics say is his administration’s hypocritical approach to ‘cooperative federalism.’ The Trump administration has rejected former President Barack Obama’s muscular approach of using federal government power to combat climate change — deferring action to states to plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector. But in other cases, Trump has bristled at what he views as overly aggressive efforts by progressive states to enforce and set environmental rules that impose barriers to his ‘energy dominance’ agenda.”

4-10-19 New Yorker. The Renegade Nuns Who Took On a Pipeline. “In 2015, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a congregation of nuns, learned that an energy company planned to build a pipeline on their land. So they started a resistance movement.”

4-10-19 Bay Journal. Court overturns permits for transmission line built over James. “Mere days after Dominion Energy powered up its new transmission line across the James River from Surry to Jamestown, VA, a ruling by a federal court of appeals cast the controversial infrastructure’s future in doubt. On March 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an opinion overturning the project’s key permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the grounds that the agency did not meet its obligations under the National Environmental Protection Act and directing the Corps to prepare an environmental impact statement on the 17-tower, 500-kilovolt line. ‘Congress created the EIS process to provide robust information in situations precisely like this one, where, following an environmental assessment, the scope of a project’s impacts remains both uncertain and controversial’ the three-person court’s opinion, penned by Judge David S. Tatel, reads. Furthermore, it states: ‘Important questions about both the Corps’ chosen methodology and the scope of the project’s impact remain unanswered, and federal and state agencies with relevant expertise harbor serious misgivings about locating a project of this magnitude in a region of such singular importance to the nation’s history.’”

4-9-19 Appalachian Voice. Pipelines Plagued by Lawsuits and Delays. “As spring arrives in the Appalachian Mountains, construction remains frozen on a majority of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed route due to a slew of court decisions. Work is also halted at water crossings and national forests along the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s intended route.”

4-19 Blue Ridge Outdoors. A volunteer army of citizen scientists is watching pipeline construction and safeguarding waterways. “More than 50 residents pack into the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Nellysford, Virginia, to learn how to fight pipelines even as they begin going into the ground. Coordinators of the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) are teaching this group how to analyze aerial photographs shot by airplanes and drones and report construction violations that they expect to see along the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s 600-mile path through their little corner of Nelson County. ‘Government officials have said that they don’t have the resources to investigate this stuff and that they are only going to be responding to direct complaints,’ explains Joyce Burton, Friends of Nelson’s landowner liaison. ‘If construction continues, it’s going to take a lot of bodies on the ground and sitting at computers to keep up.’

4-9-19 Washington Examiner. Trump to issue executive order limiting states’ power to block pipelines. “President Trump will announce a pair of executive orders on Wednesday to help U.S. energy companies more quickly build pipelines and other infrastructure projects by expediting the environmental review process and by weakening states’ ability to block them. The Trump administration, acting at the behest of the oil and gas industry, aims to stop liberal states like New York from halting pipeline projects using Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which requires applicants to prove that potential leaks from an energy infrastructure project would not harm nearby streams or lakes. …. The second executive order seeks to streamline the approval process for energy infrastructure projects that cross U.S. borders, by giving the president direct authority over issuing permits, instead of delegating the permitting to the State Department, which currently handles the licensing of cross-border energy projects. …. It’s unclear how much of an effect Trump’s new orders will have. ClearView, an energy research firm, says substantial changes to the Clean Water Act provision require action by Congress.

4-8-19 Eagle-Tribune [North Andover MA]  Sen. Markey unveils federal pipeline safety legislation named after Leonel Rondon, killed in Valley gas disaster. “U.S. Sen. Edward Markey has unveiled new federal pipeline safety legislation named after Leonel Rondon, the 18-year-old Lawrence man killed during the Merrimack Valley gas disaster last September. The legislation, called the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act, calls for tighter regulations and stricter penalties on natural gas companies across the country, in the wake of the Sept. 13 over-pressurization incident that rocked Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. “‘ot only did Columbia Gas not prioritize safety, it made safety an afterthought. The residents of these three communities paid the price,’ said Markey at a fire station in South Lawrence, where he conducted a press release announcing the legislation late Monday morning. ‘The responsibility for safety failures does not stop with Columbia Gas and parent company NiSource,’ Markey said. ‘Federal safety regulations, set by PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration), are a testament to deficiency.’ Markey was joined by Congresswoman Lori Trahan, as well as members of the Merrimack Valley delegation to the statehouse; local leaders from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover; and first responders. He called the natural gas infrastructure a ‘ticking time bomb’ that must be reformed to avoid ‘systematic failures’ locally and across the country.”

4-7-19 GoDanRiver.com. Pittsylvania County farmer sheds light on how pipeline project will affect land for years to come. “While Pollok’s not against the construction of pipelines, he said this particular pipeline — Mountain Valley Pipeline’s Southgate extension project — has the potential to limit the use of at least 55 acres of his farmland during construction and have a detrimental effect and do lasting damage to some of his crop and soil production due to the nature of his operation, among a litany of other issues due to the highly regulated nature of the certified seed industry. …. Pollok said the question of project’s necessity is above his pay grade. He’s more concerned about how he’ll be able to get his own farm equipment across MVP’s work zone during construction to reach not only part of his own land but one of the fields his family has leased from a neighbor for decades. The project will require a 100-foot wide of right-of-way — half as a permanent easement and the other half as a temporary workspace — and the only way to access his neighbor’s land is through his own property, the part that will be cut off during construction. The pipeline’s route also is expected to run through another property that Pollok leases in the area, splitting the land. It would render the area under construction and land adjacent to the construction out of commission. Between his own land and leased land, Pollok estimates that at least 55 acres of crop land could be inaccessible during the pipeline’s construction, which could span two growing seasons. …. Beyond inhibiting his ability to get his farm equipment to parts of his fields, Pollok said the harm to the land caused by construction in the temporary workspaces will take years to reverse. …. ‘So many people think that once they’re done, [and] smooth it back over, that you can just pop it up and plant something,’ said Pollok. ‘And that just doesn’t happen that way.’ He imagines it would take him at least five years after construction ends to heal the land, limiting its yield in that time. And right now, efficiency is everything for farmers.”

4-6-19 Richmond Times-Dispatch. Letter: FERC’s assessments must be more thorough. “That it is newsworthy when a single commissioner for the Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues a dissenting opinion on a pipeline project shows how routine this approval process is. FERC has only rejected two pipeline plans in more than 30 years and hundreds of applications. Recently, Cheryl LaFleur, the dissenting commissioner, was quoted as saying ‘people were shocked’ by her decision. She acknowledged why, stating it’s ‘because we don’t say no very often.’ Supporting this sentiment, the Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly urged FERC to do a more thorough job with its assessments. …. I applaud LaFleur for taking a stand that is far too uncommon. She saw that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline did not, in combination, serve the public interest, and decided to act.”

4-5-19 Roanoke Times. After 212 days, tree-sitters are still standing against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “The 212th day was a lot like the first, which for foes of the Mountain Valley Pipeline was a good thing. Since Sept. 5, 2018, two people have occupied tree stands in a white pine and a chestnut oak, perched about 50 feet off the ground while supporters camped on the ground sent up food and water in plastic buckets and kept watch over the peaceful protest. On Thursday, they celebrated another day of blocking tree-cutting for the controversial natural gas pipeline, which is destined to run across this wooded slope in eastern Montgomery County on its way from northern West Virginia to Chatham. One thing new to the scene was 69-year-old Scott Ziemer, who earlier in the week climbed up the white pine to replace another protester. He joined Phillip Flagg, a millennial who has been living in the oak tree since October. For Ziemer, Flagg and the protesters who preceded them, the tree-sit is now the longest active blockade of a natural gas pipeline on the East Coast, according to Appalachians Against Pipelines, a group that has helped organize the effort.”

4-5-19 Blue Virginia.   Video: No Mountain Valley Pipeline – From a Grandfather’s Heart (Scott Ziemer). “Powerful video from Water Is Life. Protect It. and “69 year old Scott Ziemer,” who “explains his emotional journey from a moment of awakening at age 10 to his present stand 50′ aloft where he has joined Appalachians Against Pipelines‘ aerial blockade of the Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline in Elliston, VA.” Impressive; thank you for this, Scott Ziemer!”

4-5-19 The Collegian UR. Protesters interrupt B-school event with Dominion Energy CEO. “As business people from both the University of Richmond campus and Richmond community made their way into the Jepson Alumni Center to hear Thomas Farrell, the CEO of Dominion Energy, speak, they passed two protesters standing in the parking lot, holding a banner that read, ‘Tom Farrell — Why do you put profit over people?’ Farrell engaged in a conversation with Richard Coughlan, associate professor of management, at this semester’s final C-Suite Conversation on Thursday, April 4. …. About 10 minutes into the conversation, after Farrell discussed Dominion’s recent efforts in renewable energy, a loud, alarming noise startled the sizable crowd, and several protesters rose from their seats. ‘I was sitting with my friends, and we were all so shocked,’ junior Rachael Glackin said. ‘You should not be listening to this man!’ one protester shouted. ‘He’s poisoned our waters, he’s poisoned our air. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Union Hill Compressor Station, The Navy Hill Development project, exploit communities of color for profit.’ …. ‘The only people who benefit from the pipeline are Dominion shareholders and executives,’ Caroline Bray, one of the protesters who disrupted the talk, said. ‘The most volatile and dangerous part of the pipeline is planned to be constructed in a historically black, elderly community called Union Hill.’ ‘Do not aspire to be like Tom Farrell,’ another protester continued. ‘He does not care about the people of Virginia.’ The protesters, who are part of a group called The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, were escorted out of the event.”

4-4-19 The Recorder. Dominion Energy is fooling no one. “‘Nothing new here.’ That was the Dominion Energy CEO’s rather smug remark to company investors recently, about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its progress. Or lack thereof. Tom Farrell has been leading his company through myriad hairballs related to that gas transmission project for more than four years. And now, after all he’s put thousands of landowners through already, he is saying there are alternatives to ‘get the job done’ if the U.S. Fourth Circuit’s ruling stands and Dominion cannot use its currently proposed pipeline route through our region. Gee, thanks. Tell us something we didn’t already know. Residents and experts for years have strenuously pointed out the chosen route was unnecessary and hazardous, while Dominion continuously said it was the only way to go. And now, with flippant statements reflecting a lack of concern for the years of tortuous work by landowners to show Dominion how wrong it was, Farrell appears to have known there were other options all along. He just didn’t want to take them because they might cost more money and alter the plan Dominion spent not-enough time developing. Now that Dominion’s project has ballooned to $7.5 billion, and faces dozens of roadblocks, most importantly in the courts, he’s ready to talk ‘alternatives.’ We note, of course, that he didn’t say what those alternatives might be.”

4-4-19 Nelson County Times. Pipeline opponents protest outside Northam’s office. “Pipeline opponents gathered outside Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s office last week for an entire day to show the public they aren’t interested in violence but are interested in their voices being heard. The event, called “Stop the Pipelines 24-hour Vigil for Justice” was held in front of Gov. Northam’s office in Richmond from March 27 to March 28 to protest the Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC. …. ‘A prayerful, spiritual vigil is what I thought was appropriate to show we aren’t interested in hurting anyone, but we want to be respected and listened to,’ Ponton said.”

4-4-19 Charleston Gazette-Mail. With pipeline permits on hold, Dominion Energy shares news of methane emissions. “Amid court losses and mounting costs for its natural gas pipeline, Dominion Energy is traveling around the region to share news of plans to mitigate the effects of climate change. The company plans to reduce methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure in half over the next decade, the company announced last month. ‘It’s the right thing to do,’ said Brian Sheppard, vice president for the company’s Eastern Pipeline Operations, Gas Infrastructure Group. On Wednesday, the Virginia-based energy company met with reporters, editors, publishers and owners of the Charleston Gazette-Mail and its parent company, HD Media, to talk about the company’s initiative to cut down on methane emissions by half across its system in the next decade, based on figures from 2010. That includes emissions from the 600-mile-long Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which Dominion Energy is involved in building. Company officials said Wednesday they aren’t sure how much methane the natural gas pipeline might emit.”

4-3-19 Exponent Telegram [WV]. Slip remediation in Lewis County, WV, to begin in two weeks. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC and Dominion Energy Transmission Inc. have gained approval for slip remediation at milepost 15 in Lewis County [WV], and officials say the work will begin in the next two weeks. The slip was caused by the pipeline activity in the area. …. ‘We will remove some of the soil and material at the slip location to prevent any additional slip,’ [the Dominion spokesman] said. ‘The material will be transported along our certified right of way to an area where we will temporarily hold it while permanent remediation actions take place. No details yet on just what those actions will be, but we will use our best-in-class measures.’” [Dominion will apply “Best-in-Class” construction methods to clean up slope failure that was allowed by those same “Best-in-Class” construction methods.]

4-3-19 Reuters. Trump to sign order seeking to clear gas pipeline hurdles: Kudlow. “White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Wednesday said the Trump administration would soon issue an executive order that would open the door for more natural gas pipelines and exports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG. The administration, which is pushing a policy it calls energy dominance, has been considering an order that would push back against states, including New York, that have blocked interstate natural gas pipelines. Kudlow said the executive order would open the way for pipelines and LNG at an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor news outlet. …. It was unclear how the order would overrule the authority of states to rule on pipelines.”

4-1-19 Virginia Mercury.  Va. pipelines set off ‘an alarm bell’ for skeptical energy regulator. “Most Americans have no idea who Cheryl LaFleur is. The wonkish attorney, a Massachusetts native and electricity expert, has spent nearly a decade as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a federal agency that regulates the transmission of oil, electricity and natural gas pipelines, among other responsibilities. …. ‘LaFleur has been an important voice in mobilizing the conversation for a comprehensive approach to analyzing climate impacts,’ said Gillian Giannetti, a staff attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. LaFleur, appointed to the commission by President Barack Obama in 2010, made waves a couple of years ago when she split with her Republican colleagues over the approval of the controversial Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines, massive projects slated to run through Virginia. The GOP-led commission approved both pipelines, but LaFleur wrote in her Oct. 2017 dissent that she couldn’t conclude that either project was in the public interest. ‘I am particularly troubled by the approval of these projects because I believe that the records demonstrate that there may be alternative approaches that could provide significant environmental advantages over their construction as proposed,’ she wrote at the time. That dissent marked a significant moment for LaFleur and for the commission, which has long been criticized as a rubber stamp for industry when it comes to approving interstate pipeline projects. ‘It was not an easy decision,’ LaFleur told the Mercury. ‘I had been voting on pipelines for seven years before this came up. I had had dissents on cases before, infrequently.’ But ‘this was unusual.’ The decision ‘crystallized a lot of the issues that had been troubling me,’ she said.”

4-1-19 Suffolk News-Herald.  Letter to Editor: Pipeline coating harmful. “We’ve heard of the many negative impacts from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. Nevertheless, like the TV ads say, ‘But wait, there’s more.’ The ‘more’ is more public risk. Both pipelines are coated with a fusion bonded epoxy to reduce pipe corrosion and risk of explosion. Fusion bonded epoxy degrades in sunlight, and it is chalking off the pipes, and becoming progressively thinner. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline admits that the pipes have been stored longer than the manufacturer’s recommendation. Experts advise me the pipes may be safe for up to two years, but their safety is questionable thereafter. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline pipes have already been stored outside for three years and counting, since the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is now on hold. The Mountain Valley Pipeline has testified in court that they are concerned about fusion bonded epoxy loss as well.”

4-1-19 Desmog.  NAACP Reveals Tactics Fossil Fuel Industry Uses to Manipulate Communities of Color. “The fossil fuel industry regularly deploys manipulative and dishonest tactics when engaging with communities of color, often working to co-opt the respect and authority of minority-led groups to serve corporate goals. That is according to a new report, ‘Fossil Fueled Foolery,’ published today by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which outlines the top 10 manipulation tactics that the group’s members and partners routinely observe. Some of the tactics are broad and political, like investing in efforts to undermine democracy through voter suppression and other means, or like financing political campaigns and “investing in” politicians at local, county, and state levels. Other tactics are even more discreet and deceitful, like claiming that regulations that would benefit heavily polluted communities will cause these same communities economic harm. Or, in other instances, denying the reality of air and water pollution, or even shifting the blame for this pollution to those disadvantaged communities that are suffering the impacts of fossil fuel projects.”