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…
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
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
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
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