Dominion Holds Open House at Durbin Volunteer Fire Department
What does Pocahontas County stand to gain from a natural gas pipeline project, and what does the county stand to lose? Those two questions filled the Durbin Volunteer Fire Department on Wednesday night, when dozens of Dominion Resources employees held an open house to answer questions about their Atlantic Coast Project.
According to Managing Director of State and Local Governing Affairs Bob Orndorff, Dominion continues to focus on negotiations with the Monongahela National Forest, and reaching out to Pocahontas County landowners has not been a priority.
“You know, we have not focused at all our time and attention on Pocahontas County until we determine our route through the Mon,” Orndorff said. “It’s not been a priority for us at this point in time, mainly because we don’t want to work on somebody and tell them we’re going to be on their property surveying when, in fact, we’re not going to be. So we’ve kind of stepped away from Pocahontas County for a while.”
As of right now, the 550-mile pipeline could go through 29 tracts of land in Pocahontas County, but that number could change as the route continues to change.
“Every day, the route changes,” Orndorff said, “and, you know, one of the things that’s important for Pocahontas County is the Mon Forest. For about a month, we’ve been back and forth in some dialogues with the Mon. We’ve had a series of meetings now with them. My sense is we’re making progress.”
Around a hundred people attended the open house on Wednesday night, asking questions about property rights, environmental impact, and the potential issues the county could face if something were to go wrong with pipeline construction or operation.
“We are actually doing an Economic Impact Study (EIS) on each county along the pipeline corridor, and that will be available to the public probably in a couple of weeks,” Orndorff said. “So Pocahontas County can look it up and say: x number of jobs, x number of investment; this is what it’s going to mean to our county.”
At the August 19th Pocahontas county commission meeting, Dominion representatives indicated that the project won’t lead to many local jobs, since the company plans to hire union workers.
Outside of the Fire Department, local groups talked with people about environmental and economic dangers associated with natural gas pipelines. Leslee McCarty is with the Greenbrier Watershed Association.
“This proposed pipeline cuts across the East and the West Forks of the Greenbrier River, and so we at the Watershed Association are very concerned about it,” McCarty said.
Along with Beth Little of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, McCarty reached out to landowners who had received survey letters. “We brought a map and we asked people if they’d gotten a survey letter to put pins in the map,” she said, “and we’ve gotten several clues as to where it might be going based on the surveys.”
If you have received a survey letter, you can contact Leslie McCarty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’ve talked to people who were going to sell their property, and when they disclosed that they had gotten a survey letter, the sale did not go through,” she said. “It’s a deal-breaker for buying property that’s near the pipeline, and in this case, maybe on the pipeline.”