Dominion Resources and their allies in the gas industry want to build up to four new pipeline projects through the Blue Ridge and Appalachian regions of Virginia and West Virginia. As many as 19 new gas pipelines are proposed in the Appalachian basin. From fueling toxic fracking, to removing 38 miles of mountain ridgetops, to destroying people’s land, to leaking heat-trapping methane, these pipelines would harm our communities and our climate every step of the way, all to enrich corporate profits.
CCAN is committed to working alongside Virginians on the front lines of these projects — the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the WB Xpress, and the potential Appalachian Connector — to stop the spread of fracked-gas pipelines. We are also legally intervening in the permit process to hold decision-makers accountable.
In December, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines were given conditional approval by the Virginia State Water Control Board. But those conditions could be decisive in our legal and regulatory battles to stop the pipelines.
From the mountains to the coast, Virginians and our regional allies are building a diverse and powerful movement:
- In July 2016, over 600 people marched to former Governor Terry McAuliffe’s mansion in Richmond, calling on him to put people over polluters: to stop cheerleading these projects and to help our communities stop them.
- We delivered thousands of petitions to former Gov. McAuliffe and hundreds of comments to pipeline regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which review federal pipeline permit applications.
- People have packed hearing rooms across Virginia and joined “hands across our lands.”
- In September, hundreds of Virginians protested at each of the seven DEQ offices in Virginia for two days straight, calling on the agency to reject the water permits.
- In December, 700 people converged in Richmond for the “Water is Life” rally to call on Virginia leaders to protect our water by rejecting these pipelines.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline
At more than 600 miles long and almost four feet in diameter, Dominion’s proposed $5.1 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be the first pipeline of its size to cross the central Appalachian region, and one of the largest interstate natural gas pipelines in the country. The project would gut the heart of the largest remaining wild landscape in the eastern US to carry gas from West Virginia to North Carolina. With this pipeline also comes the construction of a massive, toxic compressor station in the heart of a historic African American community in Buckingham County.
Furthermore, the pipeline would require between 10 to 60 feet of mountain ridgetops to be “reduced” along 38 miles of the proposed pipeline route in West Virginia and Virginia. With this massive removal of rock and dirt, a question arises as to where this “overburden” is to be disposed of. And this is not a problem with a simple solution, as this is no small amount of material. In fact, the overburden from building the pipeline on just two miles of ridgeline would fill a football field nearly 80 feet deep.
In the fall of 2014, when Governor McAuliffe stood with Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell III in support of the project, CCAN spoke out in opposition, immediately urging the governor to withdraw his support.
We are working with dozens of grassroots groups in Virginia, West Virginia, and across the region to stop this pipeline, including The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA), Friends of Nelson County, Friends of Buckingham County, Augusta County Alliance, Wild Virginia, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and others. These groups have been working for over two years to educate residents about the proposed project and organize landowners and concerned citizens to hold politicians like Governor McAuliffe and pipeline regulators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accountable.
On September 18, 2015, Dominion filed for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permit needed to start construction of the pipeline. Dominion had hoped to receive a certificate for construction by 2016 and have the pipeline in service by 2018, but has since faced significant delays.
In October 2015, the US Forest Service raised concerns about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s impact on the endangered Cow Knob Salamander. A few weeks later, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the route as proposed, and required the Pipeline project to submit an alternate, more southern route. Dominion & Atlantic Coast Pipeline responded in February 2016 by rerouting the pipeline, adding an additional 30 miles of route and bringing dozens of new homeowners in Bath and Nelson Counties into the fight. Two months later, the company submitted a 7,000+ page filing in response to environmental concerns raised about the project, claiming to have “resolved the important environmental issues that have been raised.”
FERC was expected to release its draft Environmental Impact Statement for the pipeline in December of 2016, and Dominion has admitted its “in service” date has been delayed to 2019.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline
EQT and NextEra’s proposed 300 -mile, $3.2 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline would require three new compressor stations facilities that keep the gas pressurized as it travels, subjecting communities to air pollution, groundwater contamination, unsafe noise levels, lowered property values and onsite accidents. This pipeline would also likely result in many miles of ridgetop removal, although the impacts are not yet fully documented.
The construction of this pipeline would have severe impacts on the Appalachian Trail. Multiple iconic viewpoints in Virginia are predicted to be severely impacted, including Angels Rest, Kelly Knob, Rice Fields, Dragon’s Tooth and McAfee Knob — some of the most visited and photographed locations on the entire A.T. It also threatens property values and the tourism economy in nearby Pearisburg and Narrows, Virginia — each a designated A.T. Community™ — both of which have passed resolutions opposing the pipeline. More from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy here.
Governor McAuliffe has quietly indicated his support for this project, calling it part of Virginia’s “world-class energy infrastructure.”
A growing coalition of grassroots groups are working to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline, including the regional coalition Preserve Our Water, Heritage, and Rights (POWHR), and local groups like Preserve the New River Valley, Preserve Montgomery County, Va., Preserve Franklin, and Preserve Giles County. CCAN has been supporting opponents of the pipeline in organizing music festivals and rallies to bring attention to the issue and raise the funds to keep fighting this dirty and dangerous project, and worked with groups to bring landowners, farmers and others living along the route of this pipeline to open houses and scoping meetings.
The Mountain Valley Pipeline formally filed its application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity with FERC in October 2015. While applying to FERC after the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is now farther along in its application review process.
FERC released its flawed draft Environmental Impact Statement for the MVP in September of 2016, which was roundly criticized by citizens, advocacy groups, and government agencies alike. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens submitted comments in December demanding that FERC do a thorough, accurate and unbiased review of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, and ultimately reject the project. Almost every relevant federal government agency also expressed deep concerns and criticisms of the draft review, including the Department of Interior, National Parks Service, and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality — and both the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency questioned whether the project is even necessary. CCAN is continuing to build grassroots opposition and a robust legal case.
The WB Xpress Project
Columbia Pipeline Group is proposing the WB Express Project, a 1.3 billion cubic feet per day capacity enhancement project that would include a new compressor station in Fairfax County.
In January 2016, Columbia Pipeline Group became the 3rd company in 4 months to submit an application for a major new pipeline project in Virginia – the WB Xpress expansion project. CCAN quickly organized a community meeting in Oakton to help spread the word and begin developing a burgeoning resistance in Northern Virginia.
The Appalachian Connector
Williams Company is expected to propose the Appalachian Connector: a pipeline through the Roanoke Valley and Southside Virginia that would connect West Virginia shale basins with the company’s existing Transco system, the highest volume fracked gas pipeline system in the U.S.
Virginia Needs Wind and Solar Solutions – Not Dirty and Dangerous Pipelines
Contrary to industry claims, Virginia doesn’t need these new pipelines. In fact, much of the gas is likely to flow through Virginia rather than power Virginia. We can build a new Virginia economy by investing in solar and wind power, creating more permanent jobs, clean energy for Virginia, and a more stable climate without jeopardizing our homes, health and heritage.
For the over $5 billion that Dominion is proposing to spend on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a Chesapeake Climate Action Network Analysis found that we could:
- Install enough solar panels to power nearly 400,000 Virginia homes.1
- Reduce carbon emissions at a rate equal to taking 600,0002 cars off the road.
- Installing and maintaining this solar industry would create 2,500 temporary construction jobs and support 216 permanent jobs annually,3 plus additional jobs due to lower energy prices over time, and improved health outcomes of workers across the state. By comparison, the Dominion commissioned Chmura analytical economy report predicted that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would support 1462 short term jobs and 118 jobs annually.4
The Stakes for Our Communities and Our Climate Are High
Climate: Building new pipelines would incentivize more fracking across our region, and more fracking means more emissions of methane, a powerful heattrapping gas. The pipelines would also trigger direct emissions of carbon dioxide from compressor station engines and diesel fuel equipment, and leak methane emissions. According to growing scientific data, fracked gas could disrupt the climate on par with coal, when factoring in the full cycle of emissions from extraction to piping to and burning. With rising seas already flooding Virginia’s coastal communities, this is a risk we can’t afford to take.
Public Safety: A pipeline “blowout” near Appomattox, Virginia in 2008 created a fireball reported to be ¼ mile high, injured five residents (including three who suffered second and third degree burns), destroyed two houses and damaged 95 more.5
Property Values: The Forensic Appraisal Group LTD found that the negative impact of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on property values could be “up to 30% or more” and that the presence of a 42 inch, high pressure natural gas pipeline could lead to insurance and mortgage issues.6
Water Quality: Run-off and sedimentation during construction, as well as chemical additives used to keep rights of way clear can impact local surface waters, and chemicals could potentially leak into groundwater.
Iconic Mountains and Forests: The current proposed routes for these projects take them through some of the most beautiful land in Virginia, including the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Monongahela National Forest, the Appalachian Trail and the George Washington National Forest, permanently scarring landscapes and destroying critical habitat.
Join the Movement: No New Pipelines!
The good news is, we are NOT powerless to stop these projects. Dominion and the other companies behind these pipelines need permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state regulators before they can move forward. A groundswell of resistance to these projects is spreading across Virginia and the region.
We won’t stand by as Dominion and their allies destroy our neighbors’ dreams and dig us into a deeper hole on climate change.
We need our leaders to stop these dangerous new pipelines and instead stand with us to bring clean energy solutions to Virginia.
Pledge to Resist the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Click here to pledge to serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested, or pledge support to those who do, to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked gas.
Want to get more involved? Contact Jamshid Bakhtiari, Virginia Field Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LATEST NEWS AND RESOURCES
CCAN Factsheet: No New Pipelines. 4/25/16.
Momentum Building Against Virginia Pipelines. CCAN Blog. 2/4/16.
CCAN Joins Challenge to WB XPress Fracked Gas Pipeline Project. CCAN Press Release. 2/4/16.
Thirty Groups in VA and WV call for single, comprehensive review of multiple proposed gas pipelines. CCAN Press Release. 10/26/15.
Environmental groups plan legal challenge of Atlantic Coast Pipeline. CCAN Press Release. 10/23/15.
Clean Energy vs. Dominion’s Pipeline: What do we get for $5 billion? CCAN Blog and Infographic 10/14/15.
“Mountain Valley Pipeline’s economic benefits study flawed, opponents say.” The Roanoke Times. 10/6/15.
Opposition mounts to to new fracked gas pipelines in Virginia. CCAN Blog 4/24/15.
Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Opponents Protest in Richmond. NBC 29. 4/8/15.
“Pipeline Opponents Speaking Out.” The Wilson Times. 3/10/15.
Oppose new fracked gas pipelines in Virginia. CCAN Blog. 2/17/15.
1. U.S. Energy Information Administration. “2013 Average Monthly Bill- Residential.” 2014, <http://www.eia.gov/electricity/sales_revenue_price/pdf/table5_a.pdf> Based on capital costs assumptions, and a median 20.3% capacity factor, we assume a solar output of 5,631,220 megawatt-hours. The average monthly electricity usage in Virginia is 1,156 kilowatt-hours
2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “GHG Equivalencies Calculator – Calculations and References.” N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www2.epa.gov/energy/ghg-equivalencies-calculator-calculations-and-references#vehicles>
3. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “About JEDI Photovoltaics Model.” N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2015. <http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/jedi/about_jedi_pv.html>. Calculated using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Jobs and Economic Development Indicator (JEDI) “Scenario_PV_Model_rel._PVS3.24.14”
4.The Economic Impact of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Chmura Economics and Analytics for Dominion Resources, 2014.
5. “What a Pipeline Breach Looks Like.” The Cost of the Pipeline. N.p. 18 Aug 2015. Web. 2 Oct 2015. <http://thecostofthepipeline.com/2015/08/18/what-a-pipeline-breach-looks-like/>.
6. Stanton, Elizabeth W., et al. Atlantic Coast Pipeline Benefits Review: Chmura and ICF Economic Benefits Reports. Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. for Southern Environmental Law Center, 2015.