Fifty-four Virginia Organizations Call on Gov. Northam to Visit “Miracle Ridge,” Pristine Forest in Path of Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and Oppose Pipelines
Leaders from environmental advocacy, justice, and business organizations send letter to Northam one week ahead of key State Water Control Board hearings on the controversial pipelines
RICHMOND, VA – Today, 54 Virginia organizations and businesses sent a letter to Governor Ralph Northam asking him to visit the land and communities at risk from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for fracked gas, and to oppose the highly controversial Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.
The letter, signed by 54 Virginia organizations — including the Virginia State Conference NAACP, Virginia Student Environmental Coalition, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and many more — asks Northam to visit the property of Bill and Lynn Limpert at “Miracle Ridge” in Bath County. Their property, filled with hundreds of centuries-old trees, sits in the right-of-way of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The ridge would need to be leveled by the equivalent of a two-story building to build the pipeline. The signers asks Northam to see for himself what’s at stake in the construction of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines for fracked gas.
“Miracle Ridge has been designated by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation as one of the finest oak-hickory forests they have ever seen in all of Virginia,” said Joan Maloof, Executive Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network. “It is imperative that Governor Northam and the Virginia State Water Control Board visit this land first-hand to fully appreciate the magnitude of devastation that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would have on this old-growth forest.”
The Limperts have been hosting a summer-long “encampment” on their property in Bath County dedicated to stopping Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This pipeline is slated to go right through their property, destroying hundreds of old-growth trees — some as old as 300 years — and decapitating much of the 3000-foot-long ridge known as “Miracle Ridge.”
“Our property is a natural treasure, and we wish to preserve it for future generations,” said Bill Limpert, landowner at Miracle Ridge. “There are countless other properties in the cross hairs of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that are treasures as well. We wish to draw Governor Northam’s attention to these lands which should be preserved under his own criteria for protection of high quality natural resources. We hope that the Governor can join us on our property and visit other properties as well that would be lost to the unneeded and destructive Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The signers also ask Northam to direct the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to require an individual review of the 1,000 water crossings these pipelines will cross. The DEQ has the authority to do so under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, but it has instead relied on a “blanket” permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that approved crossings for all waterways.
“As a pediatrician, I know that every child needs clean water, clean air, and a safe and stable climate to be healthy and thrive,” said Samantha Adhoot, Chairperson of the Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action. “This pipeline threatens the health and safety of all children in Virginia, particularly those living in communities directly affected by large scale environmental destruction for pipeline infrastructure. We should not be sacrificing the health of Virginia’s families, children and natural heritage for the sake of corporate profits.”
This letter comes amid setbacks for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit threw out two key permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The same court revoked a different permit from the U.S. Forest Service for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued stop-work orders for both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline until their respective multiple permit issues are resolved.
Reverend Kevin Chandler, Branch President of the Virginia Conference NAACP, stated: “Currently, both Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines are steeped in regulatory challenges. Due to the adverse impacts of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on African-American communities, particularly in Buckingham County and the Georgetown community in Chesapeake, all construction activities along the route of the pipeline should cease immediately.”
During his campaign for governor, Northam pledged to look at the scientific evidence and use a transparent process to ensure that Virginia’s environment would be fully protected from any pipelines. He also called for site-specific permitting for every water crossing of these pipelines, instead of blanket permits.
One week from today, the Virginia State Water Control Board (SWCB) will hold a hearing on the pipelines. This is the first SWCB meeting since the opening of a comment period re-examining the ability of the Nationwide Permit 12 to provide sufficient protections for Virginia waterways threatened and currently being impacted by the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.
“Governor Northam must see first-hand what is at stake for the people whose lives are being so profoundly harmed by work already been done for these pipelines and the threats that loom over them,” said David Sligh, Conservation Director, Wild Virginia. “He can’t possibly see the forests and waters in Little Valley and what Dominion wants to do there and think the science supports it or that Virginia citizens are being treated fairly. He has pledged to be guided by those principles.”
Kendyl Crawford, Director of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, stated: “As communities of faith, it is our duty to be conscientious stewards of our planet and treat all of creation, including members of the human family, with respect and dignity. Miracle Ridge and the Limperts stand to be part of the sacrifice zone of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Within minutes of visiting their land one is immediately struck by the immense immorality of fossil fuel infrastructure that destroys so much in its wake.”
Jamshid Bakhtiari, Virginia Field Coordinator of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated: “Together, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines threaten to chain Virginians to another generation of dangerous and unnecessary fracked-gas fossil fuel extraction. Additionally, the construction of these pipelines threatens numerous endangered species, ridgelines, waterways and vulnerable communities across the Commonwealth. Governor Northam and the Water Control Board need to bear witness to the unconscionable sacrifices Virginians are being asked to make for pipelines that aren’t needed.”
More than 13,000 people submitted public comments concerning this permit, with environmental advocates arguing that it was not intended for projects with the breadth and scale of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.