Being prepared for FERC Scoping meetings gives arguments strength, including statements about Bath’s opposition
Last Tuesday when the Bath Board of Supervisors voted to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, they new their timing was critical. With scoping meetings this week, on Friday in Marlinton at the Wellness Center, and Saturday in Hot Springs at Bath County High School, it is an essential time to let the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hear your voice. FERC is hosting these two meetings to learn how local residents feel about the ACP, and also to discover things about the specific GW6 route that only people who really know these mountains well can share.
To be prepared to attend either of these meetings, and they both run all day from ten in the morning until seven in the evening, there are two things worth noting:
- the format of these meetings is different than those held over a year ago for the previous route, and 2. there are some guidelines to help you prepare a statement if you chose to go on record with your opinion.
These meetings will have more of an Open House format than a Town Hall approach. There will be one area of the room with a recorder for individuals offering statements, and another where representatives of Dominion will be available for questions and to provide information. Kevin Bowman, environmental project manager for FERC said the agency changed its meeting format because “we are hoping to focus on obtaining constructive comments and meaningful discussions rather than providing a spectator event.”
If you plan to go on record the following guidelines will make preparing and presenting your statement easier on you, and more effective.
- Write down your statement ahead of time; plan to read it aloud, and give a copy of it to the recorder.
- Keep it to five minutes or less. That usually turns out to be between seven and eight hundred words, or roughly three pages of double spaced text. For comparison, a regular Allegheny Mountain Radio news story averages between two and four minutes.
- Use the next four points to give some structure to your statement:
- tell FERC who you are, where you live, and your general position to the ACP with specific attention to the GWNF-6 alternative.
- Give three to five of reasons for feeling the way you do about the ACP. These should be personal, describing how the pipeline would affect your property, livelihood and community. Specific examples or statistics will strengthen your arguments.
- As you wrap up your statement, regardless of your point of view, it is advisable to request FERC to conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the ACP, and other pipeline projects in their early stages affecting the Allegheny Blue Ridge Region. Such an Impact Statement would evaluate the necessity of a network of pipeline, and the effects of them on a wide range of communities.
- Finally, give a brief summary of your arguments, and thank FERC for the opportunity to present your views.
The details for mailing your statement to FERC before June 2nd are on Allegheny Mountain Radio’s website, or to send them electronically, use ferconline.fer.gov/QuickComment.
The Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance recently compiled a list of letters and resolutions from officials across the state. And the Southern Environmental Law Center released recent comments on Bath County’s Board of Supervisors opposition to the pipeline which are available on the news page on AlleghenyMountainRadio.org . With appreciation to the Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance, and the Southern Environmental Law Center for the information in this report.
Supplemental Information from SELC:
Unanimous Vote in Bath County Marks Growing Opposition to Pipeline
WARM SPRINGS, Va.— Bath County submitted a letter on Monday May 16 stating opposition to the proposed 600-mile, high-pressure Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). County Supervisors voted unanimously to file the letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) signaling their opposition to the gas pipeline, which in February was re-routed through Bath County as it crosses from West Virginia, through Virginia, and into North Carolina.
In addition to expressing outright opposition to the project, the letter raises concerns about the pipeline’s risk to Bath’s fragile karst topography (caves and sinkholes), the possible contamination of private wells and springs, safety risks at federal and state road crossings, and sediment and erosion run-off during pipeline construction.
Bath joins nearby Nelson County and the City of Staunton in opposing the ACP. It also joins neighbors Augusta County, Highland County, and Pocahontas County (W. Va.) in raising concerns about the impacts of the proposed pipeline on local communities.
“Why should our region bear the brunt of a pipeline that Virginia does not need?” asks Mary Hodges, co-chair of Voices from Bath, a local organization formed to protect resources and communities from impacts of the ACP. “The costs to residents and natural resources are high, and the benefits are few. We applaud our county Supervisors for voting to oppose this destructive pipeline.”
Bath’s action is indicative of the momentum that is building in opposition to the pipeline. The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), a consortium of 50 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia, recently posted a compiled list of official letters or resolutions stating concerns about the ACP: http://www.abralliance.org/acp-official_concerns/.
Many of these actions have been put forth by state and federal elected officials requesting that FERC conduct a single, comprehensive analysis of the cumulative effects of the multiple pipeline proposals currently proposed through the region of West Virginia and western Virginia and the Piedmont. Such an analysis is known as a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS).
Other official resolutions, letters, and studies by governmental leaders convey citizens’ serious concern about issues such as misuse of eminent domain powers, threat to farmland and forest land, impact to private and public water supplies, loss of tourism revenue, and being forced to pay higher utility bills to fund an unnecessary project.
“Bath County is in good company,” says Staunton City Councilmember James Harrington. “Our council has repeatedly conveyed Staunton citizens’ grave concerns about the local impacts of Dominion’s pipeline, beginning with a vote in 2014 to oppose the pipeline. Recently, on May 12, 2016, we unanimously agreed to express our concerns about the ill-conceived new route, which cuts through Bath County and the Deerfield Valley in Augusta County. ”
“I am pleased to see that Bath County Supervisors have also signaled their opposition,” says Connie Brennan, a Supervisor from Nelson County, which has expressed its outright opposition to the project. “The more our local citizens learn about the ACP—the safety risks, the threat to groundwater and streams, the local economic costs—the more concerned they are. Momentum is building across our region to stop this unneeded pipeline.”
For compendium of official letters and resolutions raising concerns about the Atlantic Coast pipeline, including Bath County’s recent letter, see: http://www.abralliance.org/acp-official_concerns/
Lewis Freeman, Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) chair and executive director: LewFreeman@gmail.com, Mobile: 703.298.8107
Nancy Sorrells, ABRA communications chair, Augusta County Alliance co-chair: email@example.com Mobile: 540.292.4170
Mary Hodges, Voices from Bath co-chair: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 540-839-5846
James Harrington, Councilmember, City of Staunton: email@example.com, Phone: 540.885.4643 or 540.887.7163
Connie Brennan, Board of Supervisors, Nelson County: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 434.996.5246
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