Pocahontas Co. Commission Meeting Part 1: Dominion Updates on Pipeline Project

Bob Orndorff and Christine Mitchell from Dominion Resources briefed the Pocahontas County Commission at its February 7th meeting about the status of dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project. Orndorff said that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) completed its Draft Environmental Impact Statement in December which concluded that the “measures proposed by the ACP Team significantly reduce and mitigate the environmental impacts of the project.”  He said that on December 30th a 90-day public comment period on that draft environmental Impact Statement began. Comments can be sent to FERC by mail or be submitted on the FERC website –www.ferc.gov. Comments can also be submitted at the FERC Comment Session to be held on Thursday, March 2nd from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Wellness Center in Marlinton.

After the comment period, FERC is will issue its final Environmental Impact Statement in June of 2017 and construction could then occur. Orndorff talks about safety being a priority.

“We believe in safety as our motto” said Orndorff. “so we’re going to comply with rigorous Federal and State testing ; we’re going to have 100% x-rays on our welds; we’ll have through inspections and pressure testing during the project, as well as we have an operator integrity program and we’ll monitor it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Orndorff says the economic benefit to West Virginia would be almost a billion dollars in capital expenditures, over 3000 jobs and 10.7 million dollars in annual local tax revenue. He talks about the economic impacts on Pocahontas County.

“We’ll focus a little bit on Pocahontas County” said Orndorff. “When we started it was twenty miles, now it’s up to 28 miles. In the year 2022 the tax benefit for Pocahontas will be 1.8 million dollars in addition to the severance tax to be generated by the gas itself.”

Two members of the audience spoke up against the pipeline. First up is Doug Bernier.

“Well the whole eminent domain issue is simply morally and ethically wrong” said Bernier. “for a for profit company to condemn a person’s property for their use when there is practically no benefit to the local folks. And the myth that the gas going through that pipeline will be used domestically, Mr. Orndorff in his previous presentations admitted that dominion does not own that gas, and it’s the fiduciary responsibility of the companied that own that gas to get the greatest return for their stockholders. So I think there is a high likelihood that gas is going to be exported.”

John Leyzorek challenged new Commissioner, Jessie Groseclose, to remain true to his statements during the campaign to oppose eminent domain.

“A little less than a year ago, three Commissioners in this room voted to write a letter supporting this project” said Leyzorek. “Since then an election has intervened and the people have spoken, and they elected a man who took a position in the newspaper and on the radio when he was sitting next to me, in opposition to eminent domain. Eminent domain, whether it ends up being exercised in Pocahontas County or not, eminent domain is one of the powers that Dominion is asking FERC to confer on it. I’m going to renew my request to the Commission to oppose the pipeline. I’m going to ask Mr. Groseclose, my neighbor, who made that statement, to make the motion to write a letter in opposition to the pipeline in West Virginia, if he meant what he said.”

Commissioner Groseclose responded by looking Mr. Orndorff in the eye and telling him he can never support the use of eminent domain. Mr. Orndorff said Dominion never wants to use it, and will try hard to negotiate with any holdouts first but if it is the only way to secure the pipeline route, Dominion may have to evoke eminent domain. No motion was made to write a letter opposing the pipeline.

In part two of this story, we will cover the other things that happened at the February 7th Pocahontas County Commission meeting.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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