Part Two, Ben Cline holds Town Hall meeting

When Ben Cline,  U.S. Congressman for the 6th District held a Town Hall meeting in Bath County last Wednesday, conversation was sure to turn to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  A recent meeting in Burnsville had updated residents about the hold on construction while legal proceedings move forward, and much more about what the project could mean to the Highlands.  In addition to public safety, some of the most urgent concerns are erosion, sedimentation, decline in water quality, and possibly even access at all.

“And when you consider the fact of what’s happening on the Mountain Valley pipeline, I the those were very valid concerns.”  Gary Robinson of Little Valley described how long, for four years, opponents have been working to have legislators hear, and act, upon those concerns. 

“I guess what I’m asking is at this point, Dominion is going to try to go to Congress.  They’re going to try to go by all the regulatory process, and they’re going to try to get you guys to give them permission to do something that they shouldn’t be able to do because they haven’t done their homework.  They simply have tried to push this thing through because they thought they could with billions of dollars backing them.” 

Pushing it through means having begun construction in West Virginia, and North Carolina why litigation is still pending across Virginia.

Gary included,

“And I believe honestly and truly the reason this pipeline is being pursued is not because of need.  It’s because of the fifteen percent profit they’re guaranteed by the Federal Government.”

The congressman didn’t provide any additional financial information on Dominion’s arrangement with the Federal Government, but he emphasized his belief in following the laws,

“And that eminent domain is used for public purposes, and not for private gain, and that’s something I fought for in Virginia.”

If Congressman Cline really did carry that fight to Washington, then maybe Jeanette and Gary Robinson, whose farm has been in her family since the 1700s, could have some hope.  So far, what arrived in the mail has not given that.

“This week we received a final offer that if we do to let Dominion take a half mile of our property that they will take it by eminent domain.”

When pressed by other landowners and voters just exactly where he does stand on the ACP the Congressman replied,

“I want it done, if it’s done, I want it done safely.  It’s not up to me as to whether it get’s done.”

Bill Limpert, another affected landowner, described how based on previous work experience, he expected Federal agencies to check the power imbalance between citizens and large well-funded corporations.

“Not the case!  We’re sitting on one side of the field, Dominion and the ACP are sitting on the other side of the field, and instead of being a referee the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is sitting on the other side of the field with the ACP and Dominion, and coaching them, and ignoring us.”

Congressman Cline provided a description of a bill still in the introduction process that would require increased scrutiny whenever new information regarding the route is introduced, and that Environmental Impact Statements will be rewritten as needed.   

“And if the bill that I’ve cosponsored isn’t enough, tell me where it falls short and what more needs to be done to make sure that the law gets followed.”

The complete recording of the Town Hall meeting with Congressman Ben Cline is available on


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Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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