The Robinsons and other Bath-Highland residents mobilize against ACP

This is part two in a three part series of personal stories from local people affected by the proposal of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Citizen activism goes back quite a ways in Jeanette Robinson’s family, and she and her husband Gary of Little Valley Road in Bolar are protecting what generations before them established.

Jeanette Robinson:

“My great grandfather, John David Burns, along with some other families in the valley petitioned for the road to become public in the 1890s.”

Jeanette and Gary learned just over a month ago of a change in Dominion’s ACP route that brought it through her family’s farm before crossing the mountain to Burnsville. Since then, they have scrambled to learn everything they can about how this came about, and what they can do to prevent it from becoming more than just a proposal. At first, they wondered just how Dominion picked this unlikely route. Even with that question still unresolved, the Robinsons hope the same challenges which led the pipeline company to devise another route prior to returning to this one, might be what protects their neighbors and other Bolar residents from the impact of major construction.

Jeanette Robinson:

“The road that comes up into Little Valley, it’s about two and a half miles. It is designated as a rural rustic road. At one time they wanted to widen it, and straighten out the curves. We talked about that, and went to meetings about that, and they decided to put it in the Rural Rustic Roads program and to pave in place. So they didn’t have to take out curves. It doesn’t meet spec.s. It’s a narrow road, um narrow bridge down at the end of it, so obviously if they wanted to bring up equipment, trucks and anything of that nature, the pipe itself, there’s no way they can do it on this road. The road as we know it would be destroyed, and I don’t see how they could mitigate that.”

Some of the groups opposing the pipeline describe asking Dominion officials how much if at all, the company will be funding the improving and repair of county roads before and after construction. The company’s main response has been “We’ll consider it.” There has also been very little discussion of plans for the smaller temporary access roads, known to cause impact similar to the pipeline itself. The very informed public has enough questions to keep Dominion busy looking for answers for a long time, but ultimately the decision of whether or not the pipeline is a “Go” rests with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Jeanette shares a little more history.

“The farm is a land grant, which was given to my great, great, great, great grandfather Joseph Carpenter who served in the Revolutionary War.   I think you had to petition. We’re getting all the facts together, but you had to petition for land as a kind of a payment. And it was the early 1790s that this land grant was given to him and it is signed by Henry Lee, Harry Light Horse Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee.

That’s why the Robinsons, and many other Pocahontas, Bath, and Highland County residents are working so hard to have their voices heard. Plenty of residents from nearby Augusta and Nelson Counties willingly share their experiences and knowledge to strengthen those just joining in. A very direct way to submit comments is at: ferconline (all one word)

Jeanette encourages everyone who is interested in learning more about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and about the natural gas industry in general, to visit the FERC website.

“So yeah, there is so much on there. Not just people saying, ‘We want it or we don’t want it,’ but there’s a lot of other information. I encourage people to get on there, and not only put your comments on there, but, especially if you’re against it, but to see what’s going on. It’s a good kind of commentary.”


Story By

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.

Current Weather