Opponents to the ACP pipeline project speak out during FERC scoping meeting
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held a scoping meeting concerning the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project on March 23rd. Of the 31 speakers who spoke before the commission that night, 20 were opposed to the project for a number of reasons.
Richard Laska, who home is near the Civil War battlefield Camp Allegheny, spoke about how the pipeline could impact this historic battlefield.
“My family farm abuts the Camp Allegheny Civil War battlefield above Bartow,” he said. “Both my farm and the battlefield overlook the proposed pipeline route. As of now, there are places on that battlefield, specifically the area where most of the Civil War soldiers died, from which you can see a 360 degree view without one example of human impact. I assume that will all change after the pipeline goes through.”
Laska also said he considers the project to be more of a public nuisance rather than public necessity considering that landowners will not have access to the gas running through their backyard.
Autumn Bryson, environmental scientist and board member of Greenbrier River Watershed Association gave the commission a long list of very specific items such as water, wildlife, karst terrain, the use of eminent domain, and impacts on tourism that she said FERC needs to weigh at all points in the pipeline evaluation process. She as well as many other who spoke against the ACP asked FERC to encourage Dominion Resources to consider all alternative routes, including already existing pipelines.
Allen Johnson, whose Dunmore home is near one of the alternate pipeline routes proposed by Dominion, said there is a misconception about the amount of tax dollars that will come to Pocahontas from the pipeline.
“Even Dominion’s touted one million dollars in property tax will only bequeath about 40 percent or $400,000.00 since the state school aid formula pools the rest,” said Johnson. “This will not even begin to offset the economic loss for our beautiful county through decreased property resale values and subsequent property tax loss, compromised tourism value, which is our greatest industry, and decreased desirability to live in our county.”
Cass resident George Deike has a Ph.D in geology and has spent much of his career studying the karst geology that underlies much of the land in both Pocahontas and Highland Counties. He spoke of the difficulty in mapping caves and other formations created in the limestone karst by underground streams. He said there are many miles of caves in Pocahontas that have yet to be mapped. And he said the same is true for Highland.
“On the other side of the state line in Virginia, on the other side of Jack Mountain for instance, people have been trying very hard to define all of the caves and drainage,” said Deike. “There’s an area there where there are tens of miles of cave passage found at the foot of the mountain over there; and again much of that mountain, no [cave] openings have been found, but you can bet that there’s more caves very much like those all along that side of the mountain.”
“You disturb this, it’s impossible to tell especially without any mapping, whose water will be affected, whose well will dry up or be silted up, what spring will be affected. It’s very difficult territory to deal with. I don’t know how to tell you, but I don’t recommend tackling it.”
Slatyfork resident Tolly Peuleche, who spoke later in the meeting, said she felt like she was sitting in two different meetings at the same time.
“The people who are opposed to it are mostly landowners or recreate, live here; don’t have anything to do with the natural gas or oil industry, “ she said. “The people in favor of it are all industry people. Somewhere there has to be middle ground – I don’t know where it is. I don’t think Dominion wants to go out there and do a bad job, I really don’t, and I think there’s probably some truth to everything that the people in the industry side are saying. But it doesn’t make the people who are opposed to it wrong either.”
She said Dominions introduction of alternative routes is only pitting one community against another. And she pointed out that Dominion’s alternative route five, that would go through parts of Slatyfork, would also disturb an established caving area that floods frequently.
Green Bank resident Carla Beaudet succinctly voiced the feelings of many residents when it comes to the possible use of eminent domain.
“The application of eminent domain to the private citizen for the purpose of corporate profit is wrong,” she said, “socially, morally wrong. That’s the style of governance we Americans cringe about when it happens in China. Has the US government fallen so far? We can do better than that with a little planning to keep the majority of the infrastructure in the same corridors.”
“I imagine the reason Dominion does not consider this option seriously is, the holders of right of ways for existing gas and electric can afford better lawyers than the private landowners. Nor would competitors be inclined to share, and that’s where FERC needs to step up and make them cooperate.”
There is still time to send your comments to FERC concerning the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project. The deadline for those comments is April 28th, 2015.
There are three methods for submitting comments to FERC and you need to include the docket number ACP – PF15-6-000 in any correspondence.
You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature, located on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. You can use this feature if you just want to submit brief, text only comments.
You can also file your comments electronically using the eFiling feature, also located on the Commission’s website under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “eRegister.” You must select the type of filing you are making. If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing”.
Or you can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to FERC. Here is the address to mail in your comments.
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426
Scoping comments should not just say, “I don’t want a pipeline,” but rather point out substantive environmental issues, such as slippage of hillsides, potential harm to rivers and streams from construction runoff and fill materials leaching, impact on endangered or threatened species, threats to water supplies.