Opposition Still Vocal To Pipeline

Dominion Resources pulled out all the stops during their open house last week in Highland County to convince attendees that their Atlantic Coast Pipeline project was necessary, beneficial and safe. Not all were convinced.

Gary Flory owns land in southern Highland.

“I’ve got a lot of concerns about the pipeline proposal, and I sent a letter to the George Washington National Forest. One of my concerns that I don’t hear addressed over here is Route 250 corridor is the entry to the Highlands. It’s more than just a scenic vista – it is economic value to Highland County. That’s the main corridor for the Maple Festival, Mountain Mama, on and on. And to have pipeline right of way cuts back and forth, numerous times over Route 250, I just think it’s not the best route.”

Nancy Sorrells lives in Augusta County, and owns land in Highland. She was attending open houses in several counties, raising her concerns on water quality, property rights and safety regarding the project. She was also concerned with Dominion’s attempts to sway public and Federal opinions on the project.

“They have not been as transparent as we’d hoped, and in fact, these open houses, which according to their public involvement plan, which they filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, these open houses are to address, and talk to impacted community, and particularly landowners, about what their concerns are. And yet, Dominion has been flooding surrounding counties, Rockingham, Rockbridge, other places, with fliers saying “Come to the open house, and tell everybody that you support this pipeline, you support jobs, you support the economy. Which seems to be a little bit unfair to the communities that they are supposed to be addressing with concerns.”

Ms. Sorrells had a copy of the flier – a digital scan of it can be seen in the transcript of this story on the AMR website. (See below)

Rick Webb, coordinator of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, referenced a recent case where Dominion was reprimanded for environmental concerns.

“So part of what we’ve done is submitted a series of questions to a Dominion representative concerning impacts on the environment, and how Dominion plans to address those impacts. We’ve asked how they’re going to deal with slope stability problems, like the case in West Virginia, where they had a series of problems, and ended up under a consent order from the West Virginia DEP, and had to pay a $55,000 fine. We want to make sure that those kind of things don’t happen in Virginia, and we protect our streams and our forest. It’s one thing for an agency to describe how it’s going to implement a program, it’s another thing to see exactly what happens on the ground, and what we’ve observed over and over again, is serious non-compliance, with the environmental regulations, on pipeline after pipeline. Everywhere we look, it’s worse than we thought. And the Dominion people assure us, no, this is going to be new, a new level of, a new model for doing things, and it’s going to have to be a really, a very new model, or it’s going to be unacceptable.”

Mr. Flory summed up the views of many regarding Dominion’s assurances of safety and compliance.

“It’s been in the media, with Dominion’s pipeline work in West Virginia, and their fine that they got for stream pollution. One of my concerns is that, they talk a good line, but on the ground, this is what happened. That’s what I told them tonight – you know, you gotta do better. This is a much bigger project than that one in West Virginia. They screwed up there, how am I going to trust you? Your reputation talks – their reputation talks.”

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Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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