Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline – Keystone XL of the East?

New coverage of the Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline debate. In this update:

  • Shale Gas Impacts in North Carolina
  • Get Ready for Keystone Pipeline 2?
  • Plans for natural gas pipeline worry some in Nash County
  • Dominion pipeline event brings out hundreds of Augusta County residents
  • Augusta residents learn how to fight the pipeline
  • Dominion discusses aspects of pipeline project with Nelson residents

If you missed the other updates, check them out at They’re Building A Pipeline Song – Help Protect the Wilderness (Sept 15), Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline – Communities Voice Opposition (Sept 15), Duke Energy/Dominion Pipeline – N.C. Public Meetings, VA/WV Local Government and Community Reactions (Sept 13),  Opposition Growing in Virginia Over Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Sept 12), Update on Duke Energy/Dominion Fracking Gas Pipeline (Sept 10) and  “Fracking boom prompts $5B Dominion gas pipeline” (Sept 7).

Shale Gas Impacts in North Carolina
Thanks to Frack Free NC for this map (click to enlarge).  A picture is worth a thousand words…
shale_gas_impacts_map1

Get Ready for Keystone Pipeline 2?
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal has the potential to become the Keystone XL of the East.
A. Barton Hinkle | September 15, 2014

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline fits that bill. Nevertheless Glen Besa, who heads the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, responded to the pipeline announcement by saying he felt as though he’d been “punched in the gut.” Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action network, said McAuliffe had made a “huge mistake.” The Southern Environmental Law Center said it was “disappointed.”

On the other hand, the fact that Dominion always meets opposition does not mean its opponents are always wrong. And one of their biggest concerns also carries a lot of weight: the potential for the company to ride roughshod over small landowners through eminent domain.

As a regulated utility, Dominion inhabits a weird gray area between private enterprise and public agency. Members of the public don’t elect its officers, and its employees are private citizens. Yet thanks to state and federal law, Dominion surveyors can enter private property without permission. What’s more, in cases where landowners decline an easement, the company can seize the property it wants. That raises several worries.

Take the right-of-way. Will Dominion use herbicides to keep it clear? If so, that could ruin a farmer’s chance of being certified organic. A property owner who wanted to put a driveway across the right-of-way might have to get Dominion’s permission—if she can. And if Dominion needed to check the pipeline, its employees could cut across her property, again without her permission.

The utilities want to spend as little as possible. That might lead to cases such as the one a few years ago in Wythe County. Duke Energy offered $60,000 for some property belonging to Harold Hart and Larry Ball. They declined, the case went to court—and the jury said they actually deserved $1.8 million. Sometimes it pays to stand firm.

Then there’s the question of “quick take”—a process by which the utility takes immediate possession of the property it wants, and settles up later. This keeps a project from being held up while the courts go through the regular eminent-domain process, which is more time-consuming. But it also puts the landowner at a disadvantage.
Read the full report at: http://reason.com/archives/2014/09/15/get-ready-for-keystone-pipeline-2

Plans for natural gas pipeline worry some in Nash County
WRAL Sept 15, 2014

Nash County Pipeline

In addition to Nash, seven other North Carolina counties – Cumberland, Halifax, Johnston, Northampton, Robeson, Sampson and Wilson – would be affected by the project.

Some Red Oak residents worry that the proposed pipeline could reduce property values, threaten water supplies and pose environmental risks.

John Huffman, who owns a 20-acre plot of land in the community, is among those who are concerned.

“The issue you worry about is breaches,” he said Monday. “These things blow up.”

But Red Oak Commissioner Lavelle Langley says it could cost his town $1 million to tap into the pipeline, and he questions how it will benefit the community.

“It doesn’t help us a bit. It’s not going to bring us any jobs – not in this county,” Langley said. “I wouldn’t think (it would) because there’s going to be outside contractors putting it in.”

Gas is being relied upon to generate more of the nation’s electricity in recent years because new domestic supplies have lowered its price and because natural gas burns cleaner than coal.

It does, however, have environmental drawbacks. Experts say that when gas leaks or is otherwise released directly into the atmosphere it heats the planet much faster than carbon dioxide. Fracking, the drilling technique that has led to increased U.S. supplies, has raised concerns about water use, water contamination and other issues.
Read the full report at: http://www.wral.com/plans-for-natural-gas-pipeline-worry-some-in-nash-county/13985101/#DbZFJovyHkS3Y4vg.99


Dominion pipeline event brings out hundreds of Augusta County residents

AFP editor Chris Graham
Sept 15, 2014

Augusta Pipeline 2

Critics have pointed to concerns over infringement on landowners’ rights along the proposed pipeline path and environmental impacts on western Virginia, with the George Washington National Forest in Augusta County a particular point of focus.

Bobby Whitescarver, the former USDA district conservationist in the Shenandoah Valley, and now the principal in Natural Resources Management LLC, an environmental consultancy, raised another concern, with the karst topography in western Virginia, and the abundance of underground caves and sinkholes in the region.

“It’s like building on swiss cheese on top of a surface of sand. Putting rigid steel pipe on terrain that could subside is a recipe for environmental disaster,” said Whitescarver, who writes and edits an environmental blog at GettingMoreontheGround.com.

Whitescarver said that according to the maps of the proposed pipeline path made available to this point by Dominion, “they’re going to put this through at least 30 known sinkholes, and we’re just talking about the known sinkholes.”

“And in my years as district conservationist here, we saw new sinkholes open up occasionally. I’ve personally seen new sinkholes open up that could literally swallow an 18-wheeler,” Whitescarver said.

Dominion could submit formal plans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission related to the pipeline as early as this fall, according to Neville. If that were to be the case, final approval could come in the second or third quarter of 2016, with construction to begin at that point on schedule to conclude in 2018.

At least one critic hopes the process leads to the pipeline never seeing anything resembling a green light from the federal government.

“My hope is that it doesn’t get built. That’s my first priority,” Whitescarver said. “Just think about what would happen if we put $4 billion into solar power instead of putting it into fossil fuels. We’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Referencing the claims made by the governor and other project boosters regarding the economic benefit of Virginia, Whitescarver pointed out that the pipeline is not likely “to benefit Augusta County in any way.”

“It’s not going to benefit the landowners who are impacted by this pipeline. It’s not going to impact our tax base,” Whitescarver said. “They’re trying to ram this down our unsuspecting throats so they can export it and make more money. It’s Robin Hood in reverse. The rich taking from the poor and giving more to themselves. This is corporate greed at its worst.”
Read the full report at: http://augustafreepress.com/dominion-pipeline-event-brings-hundreds-augusta-county-residents/

Augusta residents learn how to fight the pipeline
September 7, 2014 7:00 am
BY BOB STUAR

Augusta Pipeline
Saturday’s meeting at the Augusta County Government Center was a tutorial for county residents on how to fight and ultimately prevail against the construction of Dominion Resources’ proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

For two hours, a cadre of legal and conservation experts and concerned residents of Augusta County marched to the platform to tell a crowd of more than 150 how to fight back against the encroachment of their land.

Speakers told the crowd how they can write and lobby the permitting agency for the pipeline — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The crowd was also given tips on legal steps they could take to protect their land, and the possible damage to their land values and the environment if the pipeline is built.

Southern Environmental Law Center senior attorney Greg Buppert said the permitting agency desperately needs public input. “I think FERC needs to hear from you and how the pipeline will harm you and your property and will harm all the things that are special about Augusta County,” he said. “If FERC doesn’t hear from you the balance is already tipped in favor of Dominion.”

The crowd received further encouragement to contact FERC from Bobby Whitescarver, the retired Augusta County conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a Swoope farmer.

“What Dominion is trying to ram down our throats, our forests and farms will fragment our forests forever,” said Whitescarver. He said beyond this battle, legal and constitutional reform is necessary. Whitescarver urged those in the path of the pipeline to obtain conservation easements for their property, saying the easements would provide another hurdle to the pipeline.

Taylor Cole, a Deerfield resident and chairman of the Augusta County Planning Commission, said his research has shown him that the potential of pipelines present “no upside for us and potentially a lot of downside.”

Cole said the one-time payment to property owners by Dominion will not come close to matching the “costs that go on for decades and decades.” He said the pipeline would affect property values and could affect mortgages.

“Dominion can be defeated. Writing FERC is vitally important,” Geary said. He offered information about a Norfolk law firm that fights eminent domain cases, and told the crowd that the firm doesn’t bill for services unless a suit is won.

Nancy Sorrells, a former Augusta County supervisor and co-chair of the Augusta County Alliance, said Dominion’s path for the project goes through a part of the Shenandoah Valley that has been vulnerable to major flooding, erosion and mudslides. “Dominion could not have made a worse decision,” said Sorrells of the projected pipeline path.

Buppert said the timeline for the seeking of the federal approval would start in 2015, when Dominion officially seeks a permit from FERC. He said the agency will then seek public comments regarding the project’s environmental impact and said final consideration of the permit would come in 2016.

“The process hasn’t started for Dominion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write to FERC,” Buppert said.
Read the full report at: http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/augusta-residents-learn-how-to-fight-the-pipeline/article_fbbba534-35f8-11e4-b4ed-0017a43b2370.html


Dominion discusses aspects of pipeline project with Nelson residents

Nate Delesline III
Sept 16, 2014

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would begin in West Virginia, run through Virginia and end in North Carolina. During construction, officials said a 125-foot right-of-way would be required. Once construction is completed, a 75-foot right-of-way would be required to maintain the pipeline, which would be between three and five feet below ground, depending on the topography of the area and intended use of the land above.

As night fell and the crowd inside the meeting room grew, a handful of protestors holding anti-pipeline signs next to U.S. 29 drew occasional horn blasts from passing motorists. Back inside, Nelson County resident Roy White paused after studying one of the large maps.

“I wish I felt I could trust large corporations and government, but where I am in my life now, I’ve learned — painfully — that you can’t always trust them,” White said.

Nelson Supervisor Connie Brennan said Tuesday night that she’s concerned some of the community’s poorer residents might not have the time or energy to speak up to get their concerns on the record. The Nelson board recently passed a resolution opposing the project.

“I think it is a big burden on our community,” Brennan said. According to a recent project economic analysis, Brennan said projected annual state tax revenue after 2019 is $233,027.

“If the state is only going to get $233,000, what do you think little Nelson County is going to get?” said Brennan, who added that residents have expressed concerns about quality of life and safety.

“We think property values will diminish, and we already know of some Realtors who have contracts pulled out when people found out the pipeline was coming near the properties,” said Brennan, who has lived in Nelson County since 1974 and is in her fourth term as a supervisor.

Marc Chanin, who lives off Route 635 in the Glass Hollow area of the county, said he’s very concerned and frustrated that the pipeline’s path might run near or through protected national park lands such as the Blue Ridge Parkway.

“They should find an area that’s not going to hurt our environment the way this is. I believe there are already other pipelines that are already in existence where they can put this pipeline in conjunction with the other ones if they already have right-of-way,” Chanin said.
Read the full report at: http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/dominion-discusses-aspects-of-pipeline-project-with-nelson-residents/article_75f45574-3e02-11e4-85aa-001a4bcf6878.html

Why We Must March!

Great article. And in other news…

The People’s Climate March has gone global!

A weekend to bend the course of history

In September, heads of state are going to New York City for a historic summit on climate change. With our future on the line, we will take a weekend and use it to bend the course of history.

In New York City there will be an unprecedented climate mobilisation – in size, beauty, and impact. This moment will not be just about New York or the United States. Heads of state from around the world will be there, as will the attention of global media.

Our demand is for Action, Not Words: take the action necessary to create a world with an economy that works for people and the planet – now. In short, we want a world safe from the ravages of climate change.

We know that no single meeting or summit will “solve climate change” and in many ways this moment will not even really be about the summit. We want this moment to be about us – the people who are standing up in our communities, to organise, to build power, to confront the power of fossil fuels, and to shift power to a just, safe, peaceful world.

To do that, we need to act – together.

Join the Global Weekend of Action

 

People’s Climate March = Marching for the Future

Bill McKibben, Eddie Bautista, LaTonya Crisp-Sauray | September 14, 2014

On Sunday, Sept. 21, a huge crowd will march through the middle of Manhattan. It will almost certainly be the largest rally about climate change in human history, and one of the largest political protests in many years in New York. More than 1,000 groups are coordinating the march—environmental justice groups, faith groups, labor groups—which means there’s no one policy ask. Instead, it’s designed to serve as a loud and pointed reminder to our leaders, gathering that week at the United Nations to discuss global warming, that the next great movement of the planet’s citizens centers on our survival and their pathetic inaction.

As a few of the march’s organizers, though, we can give some sense of why we, at least, are marching, words we think represent many of those who will gather at Columbus Circle for the walk through midtown Manhattan.

PCM Bright Eyes

We’re tired of winning the argument and losing the fight. And so we march. Poster by James Jean

We march because the world has left the Holocene behind: scientists tell us that we’ve already raised the planet’s temperature almost one degree Celsius, and are on track for four or five by century’s end. We march because Hurricane Sandy filled the New York City subway system with salt water, reminding us that even one of the most powerful cities in the world is already vulnerable to slowly rising ocean levels.

We march because we know that climate change affects everyone, but its impacts are not equally felt: those who have contributed the least to causing the crisis are hit hardest, here and around the world. Communities on the frontlines of global warming are already paying a heavy price, in some cases losing the very land on which they live. This isn’t just about polar bears any more.

But since polar bears can’t march, we march for them, too, and for the rest of creation now poised on the verge of what biologists say will be the planet’s sixth great extinction event, one unequalled since the last time a huge asteroid struck the Earth 66 million years ago.

And we march for generations yet to come, our children, grandchildren and their children, whose lives will be systematically impoverished and degraded. It’s the first time one century has wrecked the prospects of the millennia to come, and it makes us mad enough to march.

We march with hope, too. We see a few great examples around the world of how quickly we could make the transition to renewable energy. We know that if there were days this summer when Germany generated nearly 75 percent of its power from renewable sources of energy, the rest of us could, too—especially in poorer nations around the equator that desperately need more energy. And we know that labor-intensive renewables would provide far more jobs than capital-intensive coal, gas and oil.

And we march with some frustration: why haven’t our societies responded to 25 years of dire warnings from scientists? We’re not naïve; we know that the fossil fuel industry is the 1 percent of the 1 percent. But sometimes we think we shouldn’t have to march. If our system worked the way it should, the world would long ago have taken the obvious actions economists and policy gurus have recommended—from taxing carbon to reflect the damage it causes to funding a massive World War II-scale transition to clean energy.

Marching is not all, or even most, of what we do. We advocate; we work to install solar panels; we push for sustainable transit. We know, though, that history shows marching is usually required, that reason rarely prevails on its own. (And we know that sometimes even marching isn’t enough; we’ve been to jail and we’ll likely be back.)

We’re tired of winning the argument and losing the fight. And so we march. We march for the beaches and the barrios. We march for summers when the cool breeze still comes down in the evening. We march because Exxon spends $100 million every day looking for more hydrocarbons, even though scientists tell us we already have far more in our reserves than we can safely burn. We march for those too weak from dengue fever and malaria to make the journey. We march because California has lost 63 trillion gallons of groundwater to the fierce drought that won’t end, and because the glaciers at the roof of Asia are disappearing. We march because researchers told the world in April that the West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt “irrevocably”; Greenland’s ice shield may soon follow suit; and the waters from those, as rising seas, will sooner or later drown the world’s coastlines and many of its great cities.

We don’t march because there’s any guarantee it will work. If you were a betting person, perhaps you’d say we have only modest hope of beating the financial might of the oil and gas barons and the governments in their thrall. It’s obviously too late to stop global warming entirely, but not too late to slow it down—and it’s not too late, either, to simply pay witness to what we’re losing, a world of great beauty and complexity and stability that has nurtured humanity for thousands of years.

There’s a world to march for—and a future, too. The only real question is why anyone wouldn’t march.

Eddie Bautista is executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. LaTonya Crisp-Sauray is the recording secretary for the Transport Workers Union Local 100. Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org and a TomDispatch regular.

http://ecowatch.com/2014/09/14/peoples-climate-march-future/

Mark Your Calendar – Global Fackdown on Oct 11

“If you care about the drinking water where you live, you owe it to yourself to join Global Frackdown. The EPA may have taken its eye off the ball, but many good people around the world are refusing to stand by while the oil and gas industries recklessly threaten our drinking water. Global Frackdown Day is a good opportunity to find out who’s fighting that good fight in your own community and learn more about what’s at stake.”

    ~ Michael Brune, Fracking: The Other EPA Shutdown
Stay tuned for more information about events in Charlotte! If you would like to be part of a planning team for this day, please contact Bill Gupton.
Global Frackdown Oct 11 2014

“Fracking” has become synonymous with the ways in which the oil and gas industry:

  • Fragments forests and mars landscapes with new roads, new well sites and new pipelines and other infrastructure
  • Produces huge amounts of toxic and even radioactive waste, the disposal of which causes earthquakes and risks drinking water resources
  • Causes thousands of accidents, leaks and spills each year that threaten public health and safety and risk rivers, streams and shallow aquifers
  • Pumps hazardous pollutants into the air, at the expense of local communities, families and farms
  • Turns homes into explosive hazards by contaminating water wells with methane and other harmful gases
  • Consumes millions of gallons of water for each fracked well, competing with farmers for local water supplies
  • Puts vital aquifers at risk for generations by creating new pathways through which contaminants – including the chemicals injected, radioactive brines and methane and other hydrocarbon gases – can flow over long periods of time
  • Threatens the climate on which we all depend by dumping carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, and by locking in future climate pollution with each new infrastructure project
  • Delays the remaking of local and regional energy systems around proven clean solutions, using high-paid lobbyists, political campaign war chests and public relations flacks to stifle progress and prolong our dependence on oil and gas
  • Enjoys enormous profits padded by billions of dollars a year in needless subsidies, at all of our expense.

The fight against fracking is the fight for an altogether different vision for the future of energy. It is the fight for democratic and localized energy systems, built on the efficient use of abundant and renewable energy resources.

Check out the links below to learn more about why you should join the Global Frackdown and help keep unconventional oil and gas safely underground.

Research/Reports:

Information from: http://www.globalfrackdown.org/research/

Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline – Communities Voice Opposition

In this update to the Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline, check out:

  • Tri-State Alliance – No 42″ Pipeline Formed
  • Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project Gets Quick Reactions Across WV
  • Pipeline would lead to negative impacts on residential properties as well as water bodies and scenic areas
  • Virginia Wilderness Committee Opposes Pipeline – 6 Key Issues

If you missed the other updates, check them out at Duke Energy/Dominion Pipeline – N.C. Public Meetings, VA/WV Local Government and Community Reactions (Sept 13, 2014),  Opposition Growing in Virgina Over Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Sept 12, 2014), Update on Duke Energy/Dominion Fracking Gas Pipeline (Sept 10, 2014) and  “Fracking boom prompts $5B Dominion gas pipeline” (Sept 7, 2014).

 

Tri-State Alliance – No 42″ Pipeline Formed

A new Facebook page – Tri-State Alliance – No 42″ Pipeline – for

Tri State Pipeline FacebookTri-State Alliance – No 42″ Pipeline

 

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project Gets Quick Reactions Across WV

Several groups, including West Virginia Wilderness Lovers, Friends of Blackwater and the Greenbrier River Watershed Association voiced opposition to the project, which would run through the Monongahela National Forest and George Washington National Forest.

Lauren Ragland with West Virginia Wilderness Lovers is focused on educating community members in ways Dominion and other gas companies are not, she said. She is concerned with the large 42 inch size of the pipe and the potential health effects it could have on local residents. She’s also concerned with where the pipeline goes — over Cheat Mountain, through national forests and historic places.

“There’s nothing in it for West Virginians,” Ragland said. “Other than [jobs created] during the construction phase and what we will be left with after that in royalties.” The reality of what happens with these pipeline projects, Ragland said, is there is permanent stream damage, additional storm water run-off that can create flooding in new areas and road damages.

In a letter to Sen. Jay Rockefeller D-W.Va., opposing the project, the Friends of Blackwater note the pipeline will cut through mountains at nearly 4,000 feet, the habitats of endangered species such as the Indiana and Virginia big-eared bat, the Cheat Mountain salamander and the West Virginia northern flying squirrel. The Friends of Blackwater letter also points out the project will cross six West Virginia rivers that provide clean drinking water for the region.
Read the full article at: http://www.frackcheckwv.net/2014/09/05/atlantic-coast-pipeline-project-gets-quick-reactions-across-wv/

 

Pipeline would lead to negative impacts on residential properties as well as water bodies and scenic areas

WV Pipeline Info

Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources form joint venture to own Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Groups like The Greenbrier River Watershed Association and WV Highlands Conservancy have stated that the pipeline would lead to negative impacts on residential properties as well as water bodies and scenic areas.

The pipeline would cross both the Monongahela National Forest and the George Washington National Forest in areas where there are ongoing trout and red spruce restoration projects. The pipeline would also cross numerous watersheds, rivers, streams, and springs, including the Tygart Valley River, Shavers Fork of the Cheat and West & East Forks of Greenbrier.

The Greenbrier River Watershed Association and WV Highlands Conservancy also noted that Dominion has never constructed a 42” pipeline, and there appears to be no precedent for a pipeline of this size across steep forested terrain like the Alleghenies. It would go straight up and down mountainsides which range from 3,400 to 4,700 feet in West Virginia and from 3,000 feet to 4,200 feet in Virginia.

Dominion Resources plans to make a pre-filing request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this fall on behalf of Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC. It expects to file its FERC application in the summer of 2015, receive the FERC Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in the summer of 2016, and begin construction shortly thereafter.
Read the full article at: http://www.alleghenymountainradio.org/dominion-duke-energy-piedmont-natural-gas-and-agl-resources-form-joint-venture-to-own-proposed-atlantic-coast-pipeline/

 

Virginia Wilderness Committee Opposes Pipeline – 6 Key Issues

VWC opposes construction of the pipeline for the following reasons:

1.  Long-term detrimental impacts on plant and animal life, especially on the approximately 200 species already known to be endangered, threatened, rare, or declining in the GWNF, through:

  • Large-scale destruction, fragmentation, and degradation of habitat through edge effects reaching into adjoining forest;
  • Noise, night lights, and air emissions from compressors and other equipment located at intervals along the pipeline;
  • Chronic disturbance due to necessary pipeline monitoring, maintenance of non-woody cover (likely through use of aerial herbicide), and repair of potential leaks and explosions;
  • Disturbance of many unsuitable areas such as erosion-prone steep slopes, seeps, and springs;
  • Extreme disruption of many pristine and native trout streams, wetlands and riparian areas, though bedrock dynamiting and excavation;
  • Consequent erosion, sedimentation and hydrologic alteration affecting headwaters of drinking streams;
  • Long open entrance routes for a variety of nonnative, invasive species.

2.  Passage through Inventoried Roadless Areas and Special Biological Areas in the GWNF.

3.  Passage through “Biodiversity Hot Spots” identified by The Nature Conservancy and through “Outstanding Ecological Cores” identified by the VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation;

4.  From the limited and imprecise information Dominion has provided the public, it appears the pipeline directly passes through several special areas identified in VWC’s publication, Virginia’s Mountain Treasures in the GWNF.

5.  Significant deterioration of nationally known and highly popular recreational features by passage across the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as the Great Eastern Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and several other well-traveled trails.

6.  Increased possibility of hydraulic fracturing and the extreme degradation this would cause.

Biodiversity Hotspots

biodiversity-hotspots-mapOutstanding Ecological Cores

1406217838More info at: http://www.vawilderness.org/dominion-pipeline.html

 

EPA Takes Real Steps Toward Curbing Smog Pollution – Now We Need Your Voice

Jasmine Smog

EPA Takes Real Steps Toward Curbing Smog Pollution – Now We Need Your Voice

September 11, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency recently found that we’ve been doing it wrong for years; our air is not as clean or as safe as we once supposed. The agency’s smog pollution policy assessment, released in late August, found that current “safe” levels of smog pollution are actually not strong enough to protect our communities, our kids, or the air we breathe.

Doris Toles could tell you that.The Baltimore resident struggles with serious respiratory issues which are only made worse by the poor air quality in the city.

“I had my first asthma attack when I was two. I’m now living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD),” says Doris. “A person gets COPD like I have after years of asthma attacks permanently weaken the lungs, and there is no cure.”

Doctors told Doris that her asthma is triggered by pollution in the air where she lives. “I have to be very careful and keep my inhaler close at hand on days when smog levels are high.”

When smog is inhaled, the harm it does has been likened to getting a sunburn on your lungs. Thankfully, we’ve got a chance to put things right. This December, the EPA will propose new smog pollution protections that can get America’s air quality back on track.

 “Safe” smog pollution levels were first lowered in 2008 from 88 parts per billion (ppb) to 75 ppb, but it turns out those protections were not enough to ensure clean, safe air for children and vulnerable populations living near the sources of this pollution. New recommendations from scientists since the 2008 protections have found that we need to ratchet them down to 60 ppb, in order to guard against dangerous air. The recent smog pollution policy assessment echoed this sentiment, recommending that the levels be reduced to a range of 60 to 70 ppb.

While we applaud the EPA’s assessment for acknowledging the need to strengthen the current safeguards, it’s important to note that the devil is in the details, which is why we need your help. Thousands of lives hang in the balance between 60 ppb and 70 ppb, and are pushing hard for the EPA to propose 60 ppb protections in December.

At Sierra Club, we have strongly advocated for a 60 ppb standard for years because the science is clear that it will better protect families from smog pollution from power plants and tailpipe emissions. Smog pollution can trigger respiratory problems like asthma attacks and cardiovascular problems. Over time, continued exposure can even lead to premature death.

Doris has lost friends and family to severe asthma attacks. For her and many others, it’s a matter of life and death. “Cleaning up this pollution helps people like me stay alive,” she says.

A 60 ppb standard would safeguard families, especially young children and the elderly, from these health hazards and save roughly $100 billion in health care costs. The EPA also estimates that cutting back to safer levels of smog pollution (60 ppb) would prevent 12,000 premature deaths, 21,000 hospitalizations and the stop the loss of 2.5 million work and school days each year. In view of this, the smog pollution policy assessment is an important step toward holding polluters accountable and lifting this huge burden off our communities.

In the months ahead, we work to secure the strongest possible protections for those who need them most. Let EPA know you support strong standards here.

–Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign Director

Opposition Growing in Virginia Over Atlantic Coast Pipeline

This update on the Atlantic Coast pipeline includes:

  • Sierra Club Press Release
  • UVA scientist warns of dire environmental impacts if the proposed natural gas pipeline goes through Highland County
  • SELC Press Statement on Governor McAuliffe’s Announcement on Natural Gas Pipeline
  • Proposal for N.C. natural gas pipeline spawns concerns, environmental coalition
  • Coalition Forms Over Proposed Dominion Pipeline

For additional information, see the previous posts Update on Duke Energy/Dominion Fracking Gas Pipeline (Sept 10, 2014) and  “Fracking boom prompts $5B Dominion gas pipeline” (Sept 7, 2014)

No Pipeline Rally

Sierra Club Press Release:

The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club is joining forces with the Friends of Nelson, the Augusta County Alliance and 350.org Central Virginia in opposition to the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline.

Dominion Resources plans to partner with Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources on the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that will stretch from Harrison County, West Virginia to Robeson County, N.C. The pipeline got the blessing of Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe last Tuesday.

The proposed project would be “a game changer” for Virginia industry and homeowners, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said last Tuesday at an announcement in the Capitol. “It will spur economic growth in all parts of the Commonwealth.”

Environmental and citizen-led community organizations in central and western Virginia have expressed strong opposition to the pipeline project. Major issues concerning the pipeline include property rights violations, property devaluation, impacts to tourism and agricultural-based economies of Nelson and Augusta Counties, public safety and environmental damage along the path of the pipeline to include contamination of local water supplies. Dominion alleges the legal right of entry to private property to survey for right-of-way easements as legislated by the General Assembly in 2004. Significant environmental damage could occur as a result of construction of the pipeline in karst topography, over mountainous terrain and through sensitive environmental areas including the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail.

The Augusta County Alliance, formed in July to oppose the pipeline and preserve the rural character of the County, has rallied hundreds of citizens who are united in opposition to the project. “We have been making a very strong case that construction of a huge, 42-inch transmission pipeline through Augusta County will actually harm our rural economic sectors due to the destructive impact on farms, forests and private and public lands, while also creating serious safety concerns, and endangering our water that supplies most of the state,” said Nancy Sorrells, co-chair of the Alliance. Augusta County is slated for 43 miles of the proposed pipeline.

The project has already drawn strong opposition in Nelson County, where about 35 miles of the pipeline would run. Homes and businesses along state Route 151 and 29 sport blue placards that say, “No pipeline.” Thirteen landowners have filed lawsuits against Dominion for violating state law regarding survey of their property. Only twenty-five percent of the affected landowners in Nelson County have agreed to the survey of their property. Opposition has been so strong that surveying in the County has been put on hold several times. “We are very discouraged by the Governor’s support of this pipeline,” said Charlotte Rea, President of Friends of Nelson. “This pipeline will bring no economic gains or permanent jobs to Nelson County but will threaten our water supplies, devalue our property, endanger public safety and deface the landscapes and mountain vistas that are beloved by Nelson County residents and tourists alike and which are the lifeblood of our economy.”

The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club strongly opposes the proposed Dominion pipeline. “The pipeline would incentivize more fracking across the region, continue to promote the use of fossil fuels and contribute significantly to environmental damage during construction,” said Kirk Bowers, Conservation Chair of the Piedmont Group. “We intend to fight the pipeline. Future generations depend on the outcome of our resolve.”

From: Environmental Groups Join Forces to Oppose Pipeline

 

UVA scientist warns of dire environmental impacts if the proposed natural gas pipeline goes through Highland County

August 25, 2014
Heather Niday

At their meeting on August 19th, Highlanders for Responsible Development [HRD] chairman Lewis Freeman said their group had yet to take a formal position on the Dominion Resources Southeast Reliability Project, a natural gas pipeline that would run through parts of West Virginia and Virginia, including Highland County.  Rick Webb, a member on the board of directors for HRD, a Highland County resident, and a senior scientist at the University of Virginia, has taken a formal position on the pipeline, one that is firmly in opposition.

Webb sees the pipeline putting the natural resources of the county in peril. Referring to a map of the proposed pipeline, Webb told the large crowd gathered at the Highland center that it would cross a considerable amount of sensitive habitat including sections of the George Washington national forest and Virginia wildlife management areas.   Webb showed pictures of a 42” natural gas pipeline under construction in Nebraska, saying a 42 foot wide trench was excavated to allow for construction of the pipeline.  Dominion is proposing to use a 42” pipeline in Pocahontas and Highland counties.  Webb said the trench needed for construction could be even wider than that used in Nebraska.  He said there may be no precedent for construction of such a large pipeline in steep terrain like that found in the Allegheny highlands.

42  inch pipeline under construction in Nebraska -  picture courtesy of Rick Webb

42 inch pipeline under construction in Nebraska – picture courtesy of Rick Webb

The pipeline path would cross eight Highland County mountain ridges at elevations of 3000 to 4200 feet:  Tamarack Ridge, Red Oak Knob, Lantz Mountain, Monterey Mountain, Jack Mountain, Doe Hill, Bullpasture Mountain and Shenandoah Mountain.  It’s not just the view shed that concerns Webb; he fears the resulting forest fragmentation caused by the construction of the pipeline could have adverse impacts on the flora and fauna of the region, including the loss of dependent species, the introduction of invasive species and the loss of habitat for sensitive species such as the Indiana bat and the Cow Knob salamander.

Webb said the Indiana bat, on the endangered species list, is known to inhabit a number of caves within 50 miles of the pipeline path.  Dominion may be required to get an Incidental Take Permit prior to construction.  The Cow Knob salamander is protected under a forest service conservation agreement  and has been observed in several areas close to the pipeline route.  Webb said the pipeline would also cross most of the major streams in the county, many of which also provide native brook trout habitat.

Of special concern to Webb is the Laurel Fork watershed, describing it as one of the most highly valued wild areas in Virginia and the state’s only example of an Alleghenian ecosystem with a multitude of known state rare species.

Karst terrain is another concern according to Webb, saying 50% of the county is underlain by the porous rock formations.   A large number of sinkholes have been mapped across the county, some in the vicinity of the pipeline route.  Dominion has proposed to monitor springs and wells within 200 feet of the pipeline, but Webb say that’s not sufficient given this kind of terrain.

Webb claims that what sets the proposal apart from other alternatives is that the route would cross 50 miles of national forest land and other areas set aside for conservation, would cross much of the best remaining wild landscape in the state, would affect multiple high quality streams and karst hydrology and could have adverse impacts on protected species.  In weighing all that he urges his fellow Highlanders to oppose the pipeline project.

Selected links to information on natural gas pipelines – courtesy of Highlanders for Responsible Development

Interstate natural gas pipeline on my land – what do I need to know?  Published by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

www.ferc.gov/for-citizens/citizen-guides/citz-guide-gas.pdf

Dominion Resources link on the Southern Reliability Project

www.dom.com/business/gas-transmission/southeast-reliability-project/index.jsp

Virginia statute to permit natural gas companies to enter private property

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+56-49.01

Gas transmission lines Q & A

www.forensic-appraisal.com/gas_pipelines­_q_a

Natural gas pipelines – a 2011 assessment by the Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Chapter of the impact of a new pipeline built in Bradford County, PA

www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/pennsylvania/ng-pipelines.pdf

Gas pipeline boom fragmenting Pennsylvania’s forests

www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-10/gas-pipeline-boom-fragmenting-pennsylvania-s-forests.html

A pipeline threatens our family land

www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/opinion/sunday/a-pipeline-threatens-our-family-land.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C{%221%22%3A%22RI%3A11%22}&_r=0

 

Press Statement on Governor McAuliffe’s Announcement on Natural Gas Pipeline

Charlottesville, VA – The following is a statement from Greg Buppert, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center:

We are disappointed that the Governor pledged his support today for a major gas pipeline through Virginia’s forests, particularly in light of the potential impacts on the beloved George Washington National Forest, also known as the GW. Dominion’s proposed pipeline would traverse the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountains through three counties (Highland, Augusta, and Nelson), as well as the Shenandoah Valley. It crosses prime recreational and biological and recreational areas in the national forest, including much of the best remaining wild landscape in Virginia. It is also proposed through one of Virginia’s most rugged landscapes, crossing numerous ridgelines over 3000 feet and raising serious questions about whether it can be built without significant damage to pristine forests and rivers.

Given these potential impacts, the project has generated a chorus of citizen opposition throughout the state. Dominion has not publically identified a customer in Highland, Nelson, and Augusta counties for the gas carried by the pipeline, and the project threatens the integrity of the region’s public lands and communities with few, if any, apparent long-term economic benefits.

In the past, Governor McAuliffe has voiced strong support for protecting the GW from other industrial development in the form of shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. In light of the expected damaging impacts of the proposed pipeline, we urge the Governor will keep his pledge to the citizens of the Commonwealth to protect the GW, a treasured natural resource that hosts more than a million visitors annually and anchors a vital, agriculture and tourism-based economy for the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding communities.

https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/press-releases/press-statement-on-governor-mcauliffes-announcement-on-natural-gas-pipeline-1

 

Proposal for N.C. natural gas pipeline spawns concerns, environmental coalition
September 9, 2014
A staff and wire report

RICHMOND, Va.- Citing grave concerns, 22 conservation and environmental groups in Virginia and West Virginia are teaming up following the announcement of a proposed $5 billion natural gas pipeline that would end in Robeson County.

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance members are fearful the path of the 550-mile energy project will trample on some of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the Eastern United States. The coalition has not taken a stand on the pipeline.The project was announced last week by Virginia’s Dominion Resources, Duke Energy and other partners. The pipeline would connect the Southeast with rich supplies of natural gas being produced in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would begin Harrison County, West Virginia, and stretch through Virginia and North Carolina.

In North Carolina, the pipeline would wind through parts of Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, Sampson and Cumberland counties before ending in Robeson County. It will run mostly underground and will be designed to transport 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas on a daily basis.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said last week that the proposed line “will bring hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity” to the state.

The project is expected to create nearly 740 jobs annually in North Carolina during the construction phase, according to the Governor’s Office. The economic impact for the state would be $680million, McCrory said.

A total of 52 permanent jobs statewide will be created after construction is complete, the Governor’s Office said.

Before work can begin, state and federal regulators must approve the project. If approved, the pipeline could be in service by late 2018.

http://www.fayobserver.com/news/local/proposal-for-n-c-natural-gas-pipeline-spawns-concerns-environmental/article_3b04e692-0575-512a-b2bd-5da7d75d0340.html

 

Coalition Forms Over Proposed Dominion Pipeline
September 8, 2014

A coalition of 22 organizations from across Virginia and West Virginia has formed the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance in response to the September 2 announcement of the proposed 550-mile natural gas pipeline from Harrison County, WV, to Robeson County, NC. Dubbed the “Atlantic Coast Pipeline” by its proponents, the project is a joint venture of Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources.  The companies have not yet applied for a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Contrary to recent suggestions, construction of the project is not a certainty.

The Alliance and its member organizations are gravely concerned about the proposed route of the pipeline, which could disrupt some of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the Eastern United States, including more than 50 miles of public lands in the George Washington and Monongahela national forests.  Further, much of the pipeline’s path, particularly in Highland and Augusta Counties in Virginia, would be built over fragile karst topography, a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks and characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.  The impact on area water supplies of a pipeline built over such unstable geological formations could be significant.  It could also present serious safety hazards to the pipeline.

Alliance members are also acutely concerned that the proposed project presents substantial unjustified risks and costs for the rural communities of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge region. These communities will bear the full impact of pipeline development, including the loss of private property, damage to their scenic landscape, and the risk of pollution, with few, if any, of the long-term economic benefits touted by proponents.

Founding members of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance are:

Allegheny Highlands Alliance

Augusta County Alliance

Conservation Partners

Cooper Conservation Advisors, LLC

Cowpasture River Preservation Association

Friends of Blackwater

Friends of Nelson County

Friends of Shenandoah Mountain

Friends of the Middle River

Greenbrier River Watershed Association

Highlanders for Responsible Development

Jackson River Preservation Association

Shenandoah Group of the Sierra Club

Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation

Shenandoah Valley Network

Southern Environmental Law Center

Valley Conservation Council

Virginia Wilderness Committee

West Virginia Environmental Council

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

West Virginia Rivers Coalition

Wild Virginia

https://www.southernenvironment.org/news-and-press/press-releases/coalition-forms-over-proposed-dominion-pipeline

City of Charlotte Throwing $1000s Away

The City of Charlotte is wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars by the lack of policies and programs to conserve energy across our community.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has issued a report for Charlotte’s Energy Efficiency programs and it’s bad. Really bad!!

Charlotte scored 23.75 points out of a possible 100 points.

Charlotte ranked 31st out of 34 major metropolitan cites.

We hope that Charlotte elected officials and staff will review this report and decided to get serious about energy efficiency. Click below to see how we did in each of 5 areas. Let your elected City officials and staff know that we want to save energy, save money, and save the environment.

Energy Efficiency is ‘Cheapest Fuel’

ACEEE-Energy-Manage1http://www.energymanagertoday.com/energy-efficiency-is-cheapest-fuel-099803/

City of Charlotte Total Score – 23.75 out of 100

Charlotte City Scorecard Rank – 31 out of 34 major metropolitan areas

Charlotte EE Ranking

LCO EE

CWE EE

BP EE

EWU EE

T EE

Read the full report at: http://database.aceee.org/city/charlotte-nc#sthash.2vwIyHiv.dpuf