FERC Meetings in Virginia Demonstrate Widespread Opposition to Proposed Pipeline

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held two public scoping meetings in Virginia to hear comments on the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project, a 300-mile interstate pipeline proposed to run from northern West Virginia to southern Virginia. These meetings, intended to gather input on the issues FERC must address in its environmental review, are the only two public meetings currently planned by FERC in Virginia. Two meetings have been held in West Virginia already and two additional meetings will happen in West Virginia this week. The pipeline would cost $3.2 billion dollars and transport two billion cubic feet per day of fracked gas extracted from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

The first meeting was held Tuesday night in Elliston, Virginia. A large crowd of nearly 400 people turned out. Before the meeting began, organizers from The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and Preserve Floyd  joined local residents to sing songs and chants in opposition to the project.  Unfortunately, while over 100 people signed up to comment at the meeting, only around 70 people were able to testify before the meeting was scheduled to end. On Thursday, residents gathered in Chatham, Virginia with an equally strong message of opposition to the project. About 100 people attended the Chatham meeting and a majority of the speakers expressed their opposition to the plans. Before the meeting, a group of opponents organized by The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and Preserve Franklin gathered to call for a “community veto” of the project.

Commenters shared their concerns about the environmental threats of the project specific to their properties, as well as their concern that the project would not provide sufficient public benefits to merit seizing land through use of eminent domain law. Additionally, commenters raised the concern that the company behind the proposed pipeline, Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, has not released specifics on the proposed compressor stations for the project, that could be sited in either Montgomery or Roanoke Counties. This is problematic because people who could be living near the compressor stations, which are known to emit toxic pollution and come with significant safety dangers, will not get the opportunity to share their concerns with FERC at a public meeting.

Now that the two Virginia scoping meetings are over, we’re encouraging opponents of this pipeline project to share their concerns with FERC in writing. The comment period for the Mountain Valley Pipeline ends on June 16th. You can submit a written comment to FERC about the project here.

The Mountain Valley pipeline is one of three new fracked-gas pipelines the fossil fuel industry is pushing in Virginia. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a Dominion project, faces strong opposition to proposed construction, as well. Currently, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition students, along with CCAN organizer Drew Gallagher are biking the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in protest.

You can also join Beyond Extreme Energy for a protest at FERC Headquarters in Washington D.C. on May 27th for the Pipeline Opposition Day that’s part of Stop the FERCUS! and the May 14th mass nonviolent protest event, also happening at FERC headquarters during FERC’s May commissioner’s meeting.

Contact me for more information and to get involved! Lauren@chesapeakeclimate.org.