Dominion Resources proposed pipeline to be discussed in Highland and Pocahontas Tuesday night
The proposed Dominion resources natural gas pipeline will be discussed at two different meetings Tuesday night in Highland and Pocahontas counties. Robert Orndorff from Dominion Resources will give a presentation on the company’s proposed natural gas pipeline at the Pocahontas County commission meeting on August 19th at 5:45pm.
Commission president David Fleming noted that Pocahontas benefits from other meetings already held in Highland and Nelson counties in Virginia. He said it seems pretty clear from those meetings, and from past experience on big issues, that the commission will need to allow at least one hour minimum for the discussion with the Dominion rep.
Last week, the Pocahontas County Commission created a page devoted to pipeline information on the commission website, www.pocahontascountycommission.com. Fleming said the page is intended to provide non-political, factual information on the FERC process, as well as specifics about the experiences of other counties and pipeline projects. With the help of the pipeline page, Fleming hopes that residents will have a better sense of the facts about this pipeline project.
Meanwhile, over in Highland county, Highlanders for Responsible Development will hold a public meeting at 7pm in the Highland Center. The meeting will feature two speakers, Greg Buppert, Staff Attorney with the Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville; and Rick Webb, Senior Scientist, Department of Environmental Sciences, at the University of Virginia.
Brief presentations by each speaker will be followed by an open forum that permits those in attendance to ask questions and/or make statements. It will be the first Highland County meeting, outside of the Supervisor meetings, on the proposed Dominion Resources pipeline and the first opportunity for Highland County citizens to ask questions and express opinions about the Dominion Resources project. Dominion Resources was invited to have a spokesperson participate, but declined.
Buppert will address the legal and regulatory aspects of the proposed pipeline project, including the roles of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Forest Service in the process. He will also discuss the subject of eminent domain as it relates to the Dominion project.
Webb will discuss the possible short and long-term impacts of the pipeline project on Highland County’s ecology, natural resources and wildlife. He will also share information on other pipeline projects that have been undertaken elsewhere in the country. Webb is also a member of the Board of Directors of Highlanders for Responsible Development and is a long-time resident of Highland County.
According to group president Lewis Freeman, Highlanders for Responsible Development is a citizens group that promotes stewardship of Highland County, supporting policies and activities that are based upon informed community discourse, democratic decision making, prudent land use and sustainable economic development.
In Nelson County, in Virginia, another citizens group has already come out swinging against the proposed pipeline. Friends of Nelson, one of several groups opposing Dominion’s proposed 42” natural gas pipeline, calls the project incompatible with the tourism and agricultural way of life in the mountainous rural county.
Charlotte Rea, Chair of the group said the pipeline is incompatible with Nelson County’s values and lifestyle, noting that like Pocahontas and Highland, their economy is largely dependent on tourism, recreation and agriculture. The group clearly sees the pipeline as a major threat to that way of life.
Rea and others formed the Friends of Nelson only two months ago and the group has grown to over 1,000 members. The project has also spawned other opposition groups like Free Nelson and the Pipeline Education Group.
Citizens and landowners in the county are quite concerned about the impact of the Dominion pipeline on their property rights, property values, rural heritage and the environment in Nelson County. Current state and federal legislation does not allow for landowners and residents to have a voice in how their land is used for “public use.”
Friends of Nelson sent a questionnaire to 200 landowners that appear to be in the path of the pipeline. The majority of those who replied are opposed to the pipeline. Thirteen landowners have already sued Dominion for not complying with state law regarding survey of their properties.
In addition to the public meetings Tuesday night, Lauren Ragland of the WV Wilderness Lovers vs Proposed Pipelines group will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon at 4pm on the deck of the Greenbrier Grill in Marlinton.