Can the pipeline be stopped? State board ponders its next move on MVP
By Laurence Hammack; The Roanoke Times, February 9, 2019
Wading back into what could become a legal quagmire, the State Water Control Board may soon decide whether to revoke its earlier approval for a natural gas pipeline under construction in Southwest Virginia.
The unusual proceeding was initiated in December, when the board voted 4-3 to reconsider a water quality certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
When it first issued the certification in 2017, the board determined there was a reasonable assurance that work on the buried pipeline would not contaminate nearby streams and wetlands. Since then, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has found more than 300 violations of erosion and sediment control measures.
What will happen next seems as clear as the muddy water that frequently flows from construction sites.
If the board were to reverse its earlier position, “it doesn’t necessarily kill the project, although it’s possible that it could,” said Jill Fraley, an associate professor at the Washington and Lee School of Law who specializes in environmental law.
Mountain Valley could address the board’s concerns and apply for a new certification. Or it could turn to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has ultimate authority over the 303-mile pipeline. Or it could sue the water board.
Whatever the next step might be, loss of state certification could further delay a project that — despite earlier regulatory and legal setbacks — is more than halfway completed.
“It can sit in sort of an unknown land for quite a while,” Fraley said.
DEQ delay called ‘unacceptable’
It came as a surprise to most observers when the water board voted Dec. 13 to conduct a hearing to consider the revocation of its certification for the pipeline.
The matter was not listed on the meeting agenda, and DEQ staffers seemed at a loss to explain the move, saying in a brief news release several hours later only that “a process and schedule will be formalized over the next few weeks.”
Nearly two months later, a hearing date and other details have yet to be announced.
As they wait for a hearing to be scheduled, pipeline opponents say the environmental damage caused by clearing land and digging trenches on steep slopes continues.
“This delay allows the destruction to continue unabated and is unacceptable,” the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and five other conservation groups wrote in a Jan. 23 letter to the water board.
“We call on the board to meet as soon as possible to make clear with a vote that DEQ and the Attorney General act immediately to stop the violations and prevent damage that is certain to result from continued construction by MVP.”
DEQ spokeswoman Ann Regn said last week that the department has not clarified the format that a revocation hearing might take. Asked what would happen if the earlier certification were rescinded, Regn wrote in an email that “we cannot offer an opinion.”
Among the water board members, there seems to be a split over the panel’s authority.
In an email obtained through an open records request, Lou Ann Wallace wrote to a friend who had mentioned the matter that she and the other members of the panel lacked the power to stop work on the pipeline.
Wallace, of St. Paul, is the only representative of Southwest Virginia on the board, whose seven members are appointed by the governor.
“The vote does not stop the pipeline (The State Water Control Board does not have that kind of authority), they (MVP) just continue, and we (DEQ-SWCB) have a hearing that could last for another year or so, and all the while the pipeline continues,” Wallace wrote.
And if the board were to revoke its certification, she said, it would lose oversight of Mountain Valley’s work. The certification issued in December 2017 came with 15 conditions, including requirements for additional water sampling, enhanced riparian buffers and an agreement that the company would pledge $5 million toward a complaint resolution process for residents whose drinking water might be impacted.
Oversight would fall to FERC if Mountain Valley lost its state certification, Wallace wrote.
“The public will no longer have their voice, and it will be a game of lawyers……More money, more money…..or this is how I see it.”
Wallace declined to elaborate when reached by phone last week.
Another board member offered a different take on what the loss of a certification could mean for Mountain Valley.
“I think if a project is determined to not be compatible with state water quality standards, it has to be redesigned or abandoned,” Robert Wayland said in an interview with The Roanoke Times. “It couldn’t go forward without a certification.”
Wayland, a former administrator with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, agreed with those who say there should be a sense of urgency for the board.
“I was hoping that this would happen with some alacrity,” he said. “It does seem that considering that construction is underway, we should be moving sooner rather than later to resolve this.”
Efforts to reach other board members were unsuccessful.
In response to the newspaper’s request for their written communications about the issue, DEQ withheld email chains from the seven board members that it said fell under the attorney-client exemption to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
The board is represented by the state attorney general’s office, which has also been consulting with DEQ staff.
In his six years on the board, Wayland said, this is the first time that it has considered revoking a certification. “I imagine there’s been a fair amount of legal work done by the attorney general’s office, in consultation with DEQ, to figure out how we would proceed,” he said.
Continue story HERE
Mountain Valley Pipeline starts the new year with new complications
By Laurence Hammack; The Roanoke Times, January 16, 2019
When work began last February with tree-cutting, the plan was to have the Mountain Valley Pipeline completed by now.
Instead, developers of the natural gas pipeline are facing what could be another setback for the project, which has already seen construction delays and cost overruns caused by legal challenges from opponents.
The latest twist came last week, when the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection reopened a public comment period for modifications to a combined state and federal permitting process that Mountain Valley must complete before it can dig trenches through streams and wetlands for its buried pipeline.
With written comments now being taken through March 4, it appears that Mountain Valley will have to wait longer than expected before seeking what’s called a Nationwide Permit 12 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Such a permit — which clears the way for the 42-inch diameter steel pipe to cross through more than 1,000 waterbodies on its 303-mile route through West Virginia and Southwest Virginia — was issued by the Army Corps in December 2017.
But the permit was struck down last year by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Siding with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, the court ruled that the Army Corps lacked the authority to bypass a requirement by West Virginia regulators that pipeline stream crossings must be completed within 72 hours to limit environmental harm.
Admitting that it would take more than a month to burrow through four major rivers in West Virginia, Mountain Valley was forced to suspend work on all stream crossings until it could obtain a new permit.
That process appeared to be simplified after West Virginia’s DEP suggested changes to its regulations that removed the 72-hour requirement for pipeline developers, as long as they used a more environmentally friendly method of stream crossings.
After taking public comments, the agency said in November that it was preparing to send the proposed modifications to the Army Corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review. Once that process was completed, Mountain Valley said at the time, it would apply for a new permit, which it expected to receive in early 2019.
That now appears unlikely, considering that it would probably be several months after the public comment period before a new permit could be granted.
“West Virginia is putting up new roadblocks for MVP by prolonging the modification process by another 4-6 months,” according to a report issued this week by Height Capital Markets, an investment banking firm in Washington, D.C., that is monitoring the project.
Under the new timeline, Height predicted that Mountain Valley will not get a new permit until the third quarter of this year, and that the soonest it would be able to complete construction would be early 2020.
After first saying that it would have the pipeline in operation by the end of 2018, Mountain Valley has since projected a completion date of late this year — a schedule that spokeswomen Natalie Cox stood by in an email Wednesday.
“The MVP project team shares the WVDEP’s interest in protecting the environment and respects the process for a required public comment period,” Cox wrote.
Mountain Valley “has worked closely with state and federal environmental agencies to provide accurate, comprehensive information that would allow for a thorough environmental review of the project and we remain confident that MVP construction plans will protect wetlands and streams and meet water quality standards as required,” her email stated.
A representative for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection did not offer any reasons for why the agency decided to reopen the public comment period. “We have no updates for you at this time,” Terry Fletcher wrote in an email to The Roanoke Times.
According to the Height report, the agency’s change in course came after the 4th Circuit issued a stay in November for a different Nationwide Permit issued for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline similar to Mountain Valley that will pass through Central Virginia.
In that case, the appeals court raised concerns about a temporary dam that the project planned to use on the Greenbrier River in West Virginia to divert the current long enough to dig a trench along the bottom of the exposed river bed and then bury the steel pipe.
Similar to how the state’s 72-hour requirement tripped up Mountain Valley’s permit, the West Virginia DEP had a condition that stated: “No structure authorized by this permit shall impede or prevent fish movement upstream or downstream.”
To address the court’s concerns, according to the Height report, DEP added one word to the condition — making it apply to a “permanent structure” — and restarted the public comment period to include that and several other changes.
Felled trees are shown on July 18 on Peters Mountain just below the ridgeline, which the Appalachian Trail follows. The Mountain Valley Pipeline route through the Jefferson National Forest would take it beneath the Appalachian Trail atop Peters Mountain.
HEATHER ROUSSEAU | The Roanoke Times
“While this change may help ACP in the short-run, MVP will suffer as the WVDEP sifts through comments for a second time on the proposed changes,” the report said.
The latest complication comes after Mountain Valley lost another key permit — approval by the U.S. Forest Service for the pipeline to cross through the Jefferson National Forest — and was accused of violating environmental regulations more than 300 times in a lawsuit filed last month by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
Another legal battle could be looming, assuming the company gets its Nationwide Permit back from the Army Corps.
The Sierra Club, which argued successfully to have the first approval struck down, now says that individual permits should be required for each stream crossing — a regulatory process that is much more complicated and time-consuming than the blanket approach used by a single Nationwide Permit.
Joan Walker, a senior representative for the club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, said it is watching the process closely and could file a new legal challenge.
“Our stance is there is no way to safely and legally build these pipelines,” Walker said Wednesday. “This is just another example of West Virginia taking unlawful actions to bend the rules in favor of the pipeline companies.”
Also on Wednesday, a group of pipeline opponents gathered outside Herring’s office in Richmond to ask him to seek an order to immediately stop work on the pipeline, which is crossing six counties in the New River and Roanoke valleys.
Protesters read aloud a Dec. 20 letter to Herring from Tammy Belinsky, a Floyd County attorney who has been active in fighting the pipeline.
Even after repeated failures of erosion control measures, which allowed sediment-laden runoff to enter nearby streams, Mountain Valley is pushing forward — in one case working past 11 p.m. in a foot of snow that covered Fort Lewis Mountain, Belinsky said.
“The company consistently acts in callous disregard of the law even in the face of a lawsuit,” she wrote in a letter on behalf of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. “We request that you act to halt construction while the legal actions for violating the law are litigated.”
FERC upholds approval of Mountain Valley Pipeline project
A federal agency that green-lighted construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline with a key approval last year has voted 3-2 to uphold its decision.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied a request for a rehearing filed by pipeline opponents in a 172-page order Friday.
Although the ruling has no immediate impact on a construction project that is already well underway, it gives opponents the final decision they needed to pose a direct legal challenge.
When the requests for a rehearing were filed late last year, the commission issued what’s called a tolling order that put the project in a state of legal limbo. By taking more time to consider the requests, the panel allowed construction to proceed while forestalling an appeal of its decision.
In its decision Friday, FERC addressed a key point of dispute: whether there is a public need for the natural gas that will be transported at high pressure through a 303-mile buried pipeline that will run from northern West Virginia through the New River and Roanoke valleys.
“We affirm that the MVP … will provide needed natural gas transportation service to both end-use customers and natural gas producers,” FERC found. Full story HERE
Hearing – March 15, 2018
Summers County to host MVP Public Hearing
What: Mountain Valley Pipeline Public Hearing
When: 6:00pm, Thursday, March 15
Where: Memorial Building, Hinton, WV
HINTON — With ongoing litigation over the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) in both state and federal courts, the Summers County Commission says it will hold a public meeting about the projects next month.
The meeting will be on the stress added to the community in the form of infrastructure damages, added load to fire and emergency services, hospitals, health department and other infrastructure.
The meeting will be March 15 at 6 p.m. at the Memorial Building.
“By all accounts, MVP is happening,” said local attorney Elise Keaton who believes the meeting is a way for the community to be proactive.
Keaton, who proposed the public meeting, told the commission that just Wednesday morning, MVP had been granted permission to begin working on a spread in Monroe County and also shared that a zoning dispute between the pipeline entities and the Fayette County Commission has not stopped work in that county.
According to the attorney, the pipeline entities have been using the federal Natural Gas Act to trump local authorities.
As proposed, the meeting will consist of the heads of different local authorities such as the county commission, the sheriff, the Hinton Police chief, the local health department, a representative from the West Virginia Division of Highways and a representative from the pipeline group if they agree.
While damage to local infrastructure by heavy industrial traffic is the most obvious cause for concern to Keaton, she also shared her concerns with an influx of workers.
“There will be an influx of transient workers with a lot of cash,” she said. “Along with the positive benefits of them spending that money in our community in legitimate businesses, there are also some negative aspects as well.”
With the invitation to the pipeline entities, Keaton told the commission that she hopes to learn how negative impacts were addressed in other communities.
“The point is basically, let’s get everybody on the same page of what it looks like,” Keaton said. “Then allow the agencies to have conversations with the public, with the county within their own structures as to what they may or may not do to prepare for it.”
While interested in the meeting itself, the commission also raised the question on legal protections in the case of infrastructure damages and if and how the county will be able to hold pipeline entities responsible.
In the recent past, the commission passed industrial construction ordinances that, while they would not be able to halt construction, equate to the county collecting some permitting fees.
“We need to have some kind of performance bonds so that we know they are going to put the property back in a decent condition,” said Commission President Bill Lightner.
While Keaton questioned whether the pipeline entities would approve of such measures, she told the commission that a public meeting will get the community thinking about what needs to be done in the near future.
“It’s my sense that most of the folks we are going to ask to this table haven’t given a tremendous amount of thought to the negative stuff,” she said. “It’s an educational opportunity to raise the issues.”
The attorney also confirmed that local hotels, resorts and campgrounds have already received calls reserving a large portion of their properties in blocks. Full story HERE
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is strongly opposed to the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which would cause irreversible damage to the Appalachian Trail.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline, spearheaded by EQT Corporation, is proposed to carry fracked natural gas for over 300 miles through the Virginia and West Virginia countryside, crossing over dozens of water sources, through protected areas and breaching the A.T. corridor. The pipeline will run parallel to the Appalachian Trail for over 90 miles and carve ugly gashes in the landscape that will be seen from 20 miles away.
We have a history of working collaboratively to ensure that the energy needs of the public are met while preserving the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and the unique hiking experience the A.T. provides. However, the proposed pipeline will needlessly devastate the Appalachian Trail on an unprecedented scale.
See the 4 part documentary HERE
Pipeline protesters are sitting in trees along its route in an effort to stop construction
Chainsaw crews are cutting trees in Giles County, clearing a path for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. On a ridgetop high above them, protestors are waiting. Since Monday, two self-described pipeline resisters have been sitting on platforms in two trees on Peters Mountain – about 60 feet off the ground and directly in the proposed path of the natural gas pipeline – with hopes of preventing the project from moving forward. “We’re hoping to delay it, at least,” said Ashley Brown, speaking Wednesday by cellphone from one of the trees. “And I think we have the power to stop it.”
Brown is part of a loosely organized group of opponents who have taken a stand where the pipeline would cross the Appalachian Trail in Monroe County, West Virginia. The “tree sit” is being held just across the state line from Giles County, where Mountain Valley recently began cutting trees along a right of way for the 303-mile buried pipeline.
“It’s really beautiful up here,” Brown said. “Peters Mountain is stunning. The thought of a 125-foot right of way being blasted through this is really heartbreaking.”
The spot for a potential standoff with construction crews is on public land in the Jefferson National Forest.
“The Forest Service is reviewing the situation regarding the protesters and working to determine what our response might be to ensure everyone’s safety once Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC is authorized to begin tree clearing,” U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jessica Rubado wrote in an email. Monroe County Sheriff Ken Hedrick said he has been in touch with Forest Service officials and is not aware of any need at this point for law enforcement to intervene. It remains unclear when, or if, the tree cutters will encounter the protesters.
Before Mountain Valley can cut trees on national forestland where the protesters are staged, the company must receive approval from the Forest Service and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
FERC has already given Mountain Valley permission to cut trees in certain parts of Giles and other counties in the Roanoke and New River valleys through which the pipeline would pass.
Natalie Cox, a Mountain Valley spokeswoman, said tree-cutting began in Giles last Friday, marking the first work on the pipeline in Virginia. Crews began felling trees several weeks ago in West Virginia, where the pipeline would originate before making its way to Pittsylvania County. Although Cox did not respond to questions Wednesday about protesters, she addressed the topic in an email to The Roanoke Times last June. “As a safety precaution, the MVP project team and their contractors will have security personnel available, in conjunction with law enforcement, to manage any potential protest-related activity that may occur onsite during construction,” Cox wrote at the time.
Pipeline resisters are making it clear that they have no plans to move out of the way. Placing humans in trees would make it “impossible to cut the forest without threatening severe harm to those resisting,” a news release from the group stated.
Brown said she is willing to stay in her tree 24 hours a day for as long as it takes. Supporters are providing food and other supplies that are hoisted from the ground by ropes. She also receives a newly charged cellphone periodically to stay in touch with the outside world from a remote post that can only be reached by a long, uphill hike in the woods.
Members of the group were reluctant to talk about how many people are involved in the effort, or to discuss their strategies at length. A second person who, like Brown, is sitting on a platform in a tree did not want to be identified, she said.
Protesters say that at the least, they hope to slow down a tree-cutting operation that Mountain Valley is in a rush to complete. Federal wildlife protections mandate that all trees known to be habitats for threatened bats must be felled by March 31, when the creatures begin to emerge from their hibernation caves. If the trees are not down by then, Mountain Valley would have to wait until mid-November, when the bats hibernate again, before resuming work.
Company officials have said they are on schedule for construction to be completed by the end of this year, even though they still lack approval by Virginia state regulators of a sediment and erosion control plan. That plan would have to be in place before the next stage of work – removing the downed trees and grading the land – could begin.
In a news release and on the Facebook page of Appalachians Against Pipelines, which is not directly involved in the tree-sit operation, the pipeline resisters outlined the reasons for their opposition. “The proposed pipeline would destroy water, mountains, forests and family farms throughout Virginia and West Virginia,” the news release stated.
Critics have said that clearing land and digging ditches for the 42-inch diameter pipeline would dislodge sediment along steep mountain slopes that would then be washed by rainfall into nearby streams, contaminating pristine waters that feed private wells and public water supplies. The karst limestone terrain on Peters Mountain generates fresh drinking water and is particularly susceptible to landslides and sinkholes, the news release said. Opponents also say the pipeline would leave strips of bare land across the landscape that would be visible for miles along the Appalachian Trail.
Supporters say the $3.7 billion project will generate jobs and economic development in Southwest Virginia while meeting a growing demand for natural gas. In a key approval for the pipeline last October, FERC determined there was a public need for the project and that it could be built in a way to minimize environmental harm.
The Forest Service has already granted a right of way for the pipeline to pass through about 3.5 miles of the Jefferson National Forest in Giles, Monroe and Montgomery counties. Plans call for a tunnel to be bored under the Appalachian Trail, along the ridgeline of Peters Mountain, through which the pipeline would pass.
Since the project was announced more than three years ago, opponents have argued that it will damage the environment, increase use of a fossil fuel that is not needed to meet energy demands and trample on the rights of property owners along its route, who are fighting efforts by Mountain Valley to obtain forced easements through their land by using the laws of eminent domain.
But resistance through the regulatory process, the courts and state and local governments has failed to stop the project. For people like Brown, perching in a tree for days – maybe weeks – could be the most effective form of protest. “We’ve fought this long, and this is a necessary escalation in our arc of resistance to this project,” she said.
Sitting for so long on a small wooden platform has given Brown plenty of time to read, admire the scenery and reflect on the reasons she’s there. For moral support, she stays in touch with members of her group and those who back its mission. “It is difficult on your body for sure, sometimes on your mind,” she said. “But because of our network of support … that makes it easier.”
MVP’s contractor ran into environmental problems during construction of other pipelines
Laurence Hammack, The Roanoke Times
February 17, 2018
A construction company hired to build the Mountain Valley Pipeline worked on three similar projects that were cited by environmental regulators, who found mountainsides turned to muddy slopes and streams clogged with sediment.
The three developers of the natural gas pipelines, two in West Virginia and one in Pennsylvania, failed to comply with plans to control erosion, sediment or industrial waste, according to enforcement actions taken by state regulators.
Precision Pipeline, a Wisconsin company that is a primary contractor for Mountain Valley, played a role in the construction of the earlier projects.
Opponents of the Mountain Valley project fear that the pipeline will bring the same problems to Southwest Virginia, which features mountainous terrain similar to that in West Virginia and Pennsylvania where pipelines were built.
Those worries were heightened by news that the same contractor will be doing the work.
“I have huge concerns about this company being hired,” said Carolyn Reilly, a pipeline opponent who lives along its proposed route in Franklin County.
“There’s already so much distrust with Mountain Valley,” Reilly said. Relying on Precision Pipeline, she said, “just breeds more mistrust.”
Repeated calls and emails to Precision Pipeline were not returned over the past three weeks.
Natalie Cox, a spokeswoman for Mountain Valley, said that Precision has been selected to build the Virginia section of the two-state, 303-mile buried pipeline. The company also will do some work on the project in West Virginia, along with two other contractors.
Continue reading HERE
WVDEP Moves to Withdraw Approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline
September 13, 2017
This morning, the West Department of Environmental Protection filed a motion in federal court to invalidate their Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The 401 certification is an important permit that certifies a project will meet West Virginia’s water quality standards.
During the 401 certification’s public comment period, WV Rivers found the application incomplete and thus unable to certify the state’s water quality standards would be met.
In our comments we asked WVDEP to reject the application as submitted. We are glad to see that, finally, they agreed to give our concerns in-depth consideration.
Today’s motion by WVDEP comes after months of pressure from WV Rivers and other advocates to challenge the MVP’s 401 certification and reevaluate the pipeline’s impact on water resources. Check out this article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail to learn more.
The MVP 401 certification was originally granted by WVDEP in March of this year. In April, WV Rivers and partners requested an appeal hearing on WVDEP’s decision, which was rejected by the WVDEP Cabinet Secretary. Then Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of WV Rivers, Sierra Club, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, filed a legal petition in federal court to appeal the approval of the incomplete 401 application. Today’s motion by WVDEP came just one day before WVDEP would have been required to respond to our petition and defend the 401 certification in federal court.
Full story HERE
Summers County Residents Against the Pipeline
Two local sites will host a painting project called The Blued Trees Symphony, on Wed., July 19th, starting at 11 a.m., at the property of Ashby Berkley about a half mile west of Pence Springs on SR 12/3. The Blued Trees Symphony is a creation of artist Aviva Rahmani of NY, and it was created to protect habitat from the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and other toxic and dangerous pipelines. One site will be by the Greenbrier river in Pence Springs . It includes our Endangered Species Cemetery, the Ponca Tribes sacred corn planting, and the Spiritual Garden and Chapel. That site is the river front to the proposed Greenbrier River Crossing of this perilous 42-inch diameter pipe carrying fracked gas at nearly 1500 psi.! It is estimated that an explosion of a pipeline of this size and pressure will incinerate everything within a half mile!
The second site is located high above the river on a narrow ridge on the Jarrell farm . The MVP would come onto that property and twist down a narrow ridge that averages forty feet wide, meaning that partial mountaintop removal would be used to create the 125-foot wide pipeline right-of-way. The proposed route puts the pipeline directly under high-voltage power lines and within thirty feet of its metal tower. It leaves this property cutting across Clayton Road before heading to the Greenbrier River on a nearly vertical slope through unstable shale and sandstone directly above SR 12/3.
The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline is a for profit corporation and plans are to install 300 plus miles of trench for natural gas pipelines without benefit to local residents. If the project is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, private property would be seized under a spurious definition of eminent domain that many feel is illegal. The 125 ft. wide swath of habitat along that entire corridor will be lost and left scarred by the mountain leveling and ditching. The pristine waters of this region would likely be compromised. This is a 10-year experiment at the enormous cost of taking our water, land, forests and fields. Additionally, they will be spraying herbicides to keep the broad leaves from growing. At the end of their life, the pipes will be left in the ground to rust. That will cause significant ditching. The pipe lies several feet below the surface, where it will eventually become junk and possibly contain toxic gas residues.
The Blued Trees Symphony is an intercontinental artwork initiated by internationally recognized ecological artist Aviva Rahmani in 2015 to be installed in corridors where natural gas pipeline expansion is planned. Across America, natural gas pipeline corporations have been seizing personal property for private profit under eminent domain law, by claiming their expansions are for public good. The United Nations recognizes a people’s entitlement to cultural aspirations and earth rights as much as financial concerns. The public good the “Blued Trees” protects is clean water, essential to a safe environment. Teams from local communities in several states and Canada have been painting miles of individual trees, in specific patterns, in the proposed corridors. The artist copyrights the artwork, paving the way to contest the takings, save their trees and protect the artwork.
People are engaging in the project to protect the planet. Methane released from natural gas fracking and pipeline transmission has caused almost 1000 reported accidents since 2010, often fatal. In 2016, property damage from such accidents was $700 million. Natural gas is 95% methane. Methane gas causes 30 times the potential global warming potential than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.
On invitation from threatened landowners, Rahmani works with each team to expand the depth and reach of The Blued Trees Symphony. This project has received extensive international recognition and awards. The content evolves in collaboration with local communities, scientists, and copyright, environmental policy, and real estate lawyers. The site-specific painting creates “tree-notes” on the private land facing condemnation for eminent domain takings. Rahmani registers the work as a copyright-protected sonified biogeographic sculptural composition under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), to halt proposed pipeline expansions. Working with activists, The Blued Trees Symphony contributed to halting three pipeline projects in New York State.
Interested parties should join us on Wed., July 19th, at 11 a.m. on Ashby Berkeley’s property on the beautiful Greenbrier River or check our Facebook page HERE
Forest Service allows 11 exceptions to Jefferson Forest Plan for
Mountain Valley Pipeline
Augusta Free Press June 26, 2017
A Draft Record of Decision document released by the United States Forest Service would allow 11 exceptions to the Jefferson National Forest Plan and adopt an amendment that allows old growth forests, rare species and wetlands to be destroyed by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.
In addition, by accepting the recently released Final Environmental Impact Statement for the MVP (FEIS) in this draft decision, the USFS has refused to fully analyze the purpose and need of the project and any alternative that would be consistent with the current Jefferson National Forest Plan.
The Draft Record of Decision (ROD) on the Mountain Valley Project Land and Resource Plan Amendment for the Jefferson National Forest, released Friday, June 23, would adopt exceptions to the plan that were not even considered in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
“The USFS has decided to adopt an alternative plan amendment that wasn’t even discussed or analyzed in the DEIS,” said Misty Boos, Director of Wild Virginia. “This deprived the public and other agencies from any consideration or any meaningful analysis.” Full story HERE
ATC: Mountain Valley Pipeline an unprecedented threat to ALL national trails
Many small pipelines currently cross the Appalachian Trail, but they are nothing like the proposed new Mountain Valley Pipeline that would be built by a consortium led by EQT, a fracking company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The latest edition of AT Journeys, the magazine of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, has a major article on the threat of this pipeline to all national trails. “Cutting to the Core:Setting a Precedent for Pipeline Proposals” by Jack Igelman.
(if you have trouble getting this link to open properly, please right click, copy the link, and paste into a new tab)
Unlike existing pipelines, this one would be visible off and on for almost 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. In Giles County, the pipeline would cut an ugly swath that would be visible from Kelly Knob on the AT, only about 2 miles away. Even worse, the project would create a 500-foot utility corridor through the national forest that would invite co-location of two or three equally large projects immediately adjacent to this monster.
Problems with the pipeline
The DEIS for the Mountain Valley Pipeline lists the following cumulative geological impacts from mile marker MP165 to MP 237. This are includes Summers and Monroe Counties, West Virginia, Jefferson National Forest and Giles, Craig and Montgomery Counties, Virginia.
184.108.40.206 Seismicity and Potential for Soil Liquefaction: In the area of the GCSZ (Giles County Seismic Zone) between about MPs 165 to 230, peak ground accelerations approach 14 percent of the force of g, and the potential for a magnitude 5.8 earthquake exists. The potential for soil liquefaction exists mainly in the area of the GCSZ.
220.127.116.11 Slopes and Landslide Potential: the potential for landslides or slope failure could be triggered by seismicity from the GCSZ or from intense and/or prolonged rainfall events. Geology 4-41. the areas that would be crossed within the Jefferson national Forest by the MVP contain slopes greater than 30 percent and the potential for landslides within the Jefferson National Forest would be moderate to high.
18.104.22.168 Jefferson National Forest: Landslides are a dominant geologic process shaping Peters Mountain, Sinking Creek Mountain and Brush Mountain. The largest known landslides in eastern North America are on the south flank of Sinking Creek Mountain where the pipeline route would cross the Jefferson National Forest.
22.214.171.124 Slip-Prone Soils: Soils 4-68 Certain soil types such as shlae or clay soils are more prone to slipping than other soils. Due to this increased potential for slipping, the probability of landslides is increased when constructing through slip prone soils. the Gilpin-Peabody complex, 35 to 70 percent slopes, Carbo, Faywood, Frederick, Nolichucky, Poplimento and Sequoia soils are considered to be slip-prone. The MVP would affect about 17.5 acres of these soils between MP 172 and 196. In Virginia 290.2 of these soils would be affected from approximately MP 196 to 235.
More info HERE
Full story HERE
Concerned citizens were invited to an informational meeting to be held in Summers County about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.
The meeting, hosted by West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Summers County Residents Against the Pipeline and Greenbrier River Watershed Association, provided information on the impacts the proposed project may have on local residents and educate citizens on how to make effective comments to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a 300-mile long, high-pressure, natural gas pipeline proposed to cut through Wetzel, Harrison, Doddridge, Lewis, Braxton, Webster, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Fayette, Summers, and Monroe counties.
The Department of Environmental Protection must issue three state permits to approve the proposed project, which are all open to public comment. The project is subject to DEP regulation of stormwater runoff, stream preservation permit for its crossing of the Greenbrier River and a water quality permit to allow fill material discharge.
Greater Greenbrier Conservation Focus Area
Fossil fuels foe calls proposed pipelines ‘climate disasters’
An organization that describes its mission as exposing the true costs of fossil fuels contends that the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and the separate but similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be “climate disasters.”
Courtesy of Hill Studio for Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition
This simulation shows what the view of the Mountain Valley Pipeline would look like from Giles High School in Pearisburg.
Oil Change International, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., cites evidence it says debunks the conventional wisdom that natural gas is a cleaner fuel than coal for generating electricity.
The organization released reports Wednesday that suggest the two pipeline projects and associated pollution from methane emissions “would together contribute as much greenhouse gas pollution as 45 coal-fired power plants.” Full story HERE
Are the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline Necessary?
An examination of the need for additional pipeline capacity into Virginia and Carolina’s Complete PDF Prepared for Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates
State, feds call for improved pipeline environmental impact statement
December 23, 2016 5:30 pm
An alleged CliffNotes version should not pass muster. That appears to be a growing consensus. Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality cited federal law Thursday when adding its voice to many others calling for a more complete draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The law states, “If a draft statement is so inadequate as to preclude meaningful analysis, the agency shall prepare and circulate a revised draft of the appropriate section.” DEQ advised the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that “a supplemental [draft statement] is needed to address adequate analysis of newly submitted route changes.”
FERC issued the draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS, on Sept. 16. The deadline was Thursday for public comment on the draft, which featured a 781-page statement and appendices that totaled 2,671 pages. Read more.
Proposed pipeline to cut through Appalachian Trail
December 15, 2016
The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would carry natural gas 300 miles from northwest West Virginia to southern Virginia, crossing the Appalachian Trail and clearing trees on its way.
Cutting through one of the most celebrated hiking trails in America, the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens wildlife habitat, recreational lands and the health of local Appalachia communities, while setting a terrible precedent of building energy infrastructure through our national forests. Continue
FERC’s Pipeline Statement Full of Errors
December 7, 2016
The public comment period on the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline ends December 22. Supporters and opponents are weighing in on the prospect of a 300-mile pipe carrying natural gas through Virginia. But environmental groups are refusing even to comment on the government’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement, released in September. They say it’s riddled with errors that misrepresent the effects of the pipeline. Continue
A Modern Day Threat to the AT: The Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline
November 18, 2016
I was driving down my country road recently to go check out hiking trails just south of the Appalachian Trail near Blacksburg, Virginia and enjoy the fall colors. On my way I passed multiple large signs along the sides of the road stating “Entering Blasting Zone” and “Exiting Blasting Zone” – evidence of my community fighting back against the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a proposed $3.5 billion dollar pipeline that would extend 301 miles from West Virginia through northwestern and central Virginia. Continue
WV Supreme Court: No Pipeline Surveys for Private Gain
West Virginia property owners won an important case at the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday when that Court sided
with Appalachian Mountain Advocates attorneys, ruling that the Mountain Valley Pipeline cannot survey for its proposed natural gas pipeline without landowner permission. The Court held that such a survey would constitute an illegal “private taking for private use,” because the proposed pipeline would not benefit West Virginians.
The Supreme Court’s ruling came in a case brought by Appalachian Mountain Advocates on behalf of Bryan and Doris McCurdy. Mountain Valley Pipeline threatened to sue the McCurdys after they refused to allow the pipeline company to survey their homeplace in Monroe County, West Virginia. Appalachian Mountain Advocates helped the McCurdys sue Mountain Valley Pipeline first to keep the company from trespassing on their property. They argued that state law prohibits the pipeline company from setting foot on McCurdy’s property without their permission unless the pipeline company first showed that its pipeline would be for public use.
Mountain Valley Pipeline could not make that showing because no West Virginians will use the gas transported through the pipeline.
Appalachian Mountain Advocates represented the McCurdys when they won in the trial court in 2015. The pipeline company later appealed this decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. On November 15, 2016, the West Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, and held that the Mountain Valley Pipeline is not for public use by West Virginians.
“This is a great day for private property rights in West Virginia,” said Derek Teaney, Senior Attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates, who represented the McCurdys in their case against Mountain Valley Pipeline. “This ruling vindicates the rights of landowners in the path of this ill-advised pipeline and shows that private companies cannot bully West Virginians into allowing them onto their property without their permission.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline would transport fracked natural gas over 300 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia to connect to the Transco Pipeline, a mega-pipeline that ships gas to burn in the Southeast. The pipeline would be 42 inches in diameter (by comparison, Keystone XL would have been just 36 inches).
Mountain Valley Pipeline Project Threatens Ecosystems and Landscape of Virginia and West Virginia By Jordan A. Bowman | Nov 18, 2016
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is strongly opposed to the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project, which would detract significantly from the scenic landscape of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), produce irreversible damage to local ecosystems, and potentially lead to millions of dollars in lost revenue for communities that rely on outdoor recreation-based tourism.
The ATC has a history of working with various industries to ensure that the energy needs of the public are met while simultaneously preserving the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and the unique hiking experience that the A.T. provides.
However, after studying the woefully inaccurate Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and witnessing the inadequacies of the environmental compliance process initiated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we feel the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline threatens the A.T. on an unprecedented scale. Continue