Stand with Charlottesville: Statement from CCAN Director

Statement from Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), following the unspeakable acts of violence and hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday August 12th. Hundreds of white supremacists — brandishing clubs, guns, and Confederate flags — clashed with counter protesters, resulting in three dead and dozens injured.
Statement:
“No words can describe the shock and revulsion felt by Americans nationwide after the events in Charlottesville Saturday. But for those of us who work daily for positive social change in Virginia, the sorrow is still deeper. We at CCAN pray for the families of the deceased and injured. We pray for the law enforcement authorities whose job it is to protect citizens and the city in the difficult days ahead. We condemn utterly the forces of intolerance, hate, terror, and white supremacy that triggered these events on Saturday. We cannot build a truly just society in this country without first building and protecting a system of justice for ALL Americans. We certainly cannot hope for lasting environmental justice without first guaranteeing social and political justice for everyone. Wherever you are, in Virginia or nationwide, we urge you to raise your voice in the wake of this incident. Join a vigil of solidarity near you or plan a vigil where you live. And for those of us in the environmental community, we must continue to seek greater inclusion and diversity in our movement. To fully participate in the healing and understanding and reconciliation ahead, we must continue to actively diversify our own staffs and our boards and to deepen our daily commitment to all communities struggling to throw off the yoke of political oppression and intimidation. No balance – ecological or otherwise – can happen unless we all stand on the scales of justice.”

###

Contact:
Denise Robbins, Communications Director; denise@chesapeakeclimate.org; 240-396-2022

New Draft Study Finds Carbon Fee-And-Rebate Policy Would Boost D.C. Businesses, Families, and Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, July 27, a new draft study detailed how a carbon fee-and-rebate policy would benefit the local economy of Washington, DC. According to the study’s findings, the policy — being proposed by the “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition — can effectively reduce carbon emissions in the District while maintaining economic growth and job creation, and putting more money in the pockets of DC residents.
The independent analysis, titled “Assessing Economic Impacts of a Carbon Fee & Dividend for DC,” was carried out by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) and shared at an event hosted by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI). The draft study found that the policy would result in a steady boost in jobs — particularly in the construction sector — and stable economic growth, while reducing planet-warming carbon emissions 23 percent by 2032 for electricity, natural gas, and home-heating oil consumed in the District. Transportation emissions also fall under this examined policy.
Roger Horowitz, Co-Founder of Pleasant Pops, stated: “With the carbon fee-and-rebate policy, DC has the opportunity to become a national leader on climate action in a way that is equitable and just — and good for our business. Putting a price on global warming pollution and rebating the revenue to families will keep our business going and improve the health of our community.”
“Zenful Bites is proud to be part of the ‘Put a Price on It D.C.’ coalition. This policy will expand our customer base and make our city a healthier, safer place to live. We’re happy to help move this campaign forward for a more sustainable economy,” said Josephine Chu, Co-Founder of Zenful Bites.
The study modeled the indirect and induced changes that occur throughout all sectors of the DC economy as businesses, households and the government respond – not only to the fee itself, but also to the newfound money available from the return of that fee every month. The analysis projects that, by 2032, the policy would generate a rebate of $170 per month for the average family of four and $294 per month for a low-income family of four. This gradually rising rebate would increase residents’ support, thereby increasing the policy’s durability.
“We support this because it would spur companies like ours to dramatically increase their investments in clean energy, while leaving more money in the pockets of DC residents to reinvest in local businesses, restaurants and services,” said Tom Matzzie, Founder and CEO of CleanChoice Energy.
The proposed policy would redirect a portion of the revenue raised as tax relief to small businesses. This will total $30 million per year by 2032, thus enhancing the ability of local businesses to remain competitive in the region and to maintain a permanent and robust presence in the city.
“The numbers clearly show that a carbon fee-and-rebate policy is not only the best option to reduce D.C. carbon emissions, but also a sound mechanism for growing a robust economy powered by clean energy,” said Mishal Thadani, Co-Founder of District Solar. “This policy is simple, fair for every stakeholder, and will ultimately attract many new and innovative companies to the District.”

###

CONTACT:
Denise Robbins, CCAN Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 608-620-8819;
Camila Thorndike, CCAN Carbon Pricing Coordinator, camila@chesapeakeclimate.org, 541-951-2619

MD Congressman Harris' Attempt To Kill Offshore Wind in Maryland is Underhanded

Move goes against interest of Maryland constituents who overwhelmingly support offshore wind 

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated:
“Congressman Andy Harris is working to dismantle a years-long, inclusive process to bring offshore wind to the shores of Maryland in a rider to a bill over which Marylanders will have no say. This move is devious and underhanded — and goes against the interest of his constituents. Marylanders overwhelmingly want offshore wind because they know it would bring good jobs and boost the state’s clean energy economy.”

CONTACT: 
Denise Robbins, Communications Director; denise@chesapeakeclimate.org608-620-8819
Mike Tidwell, CCAN Executive Director, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org240-460-5838

Photo at the top from Flickr user Statkraft with a Creative Commons license. 

Three Summer Actions to Stop the Atlantic Coast & Mountain Valley Pipelines

As the companies behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) continue to secure the permits necessary to start construction, the vast social movement that has been built to halt these radical fracked-gas infrastructure projects is rapidly reaching its climax.
Over the past two years, activists, landowners, military veterans, students, Appalachian Trail hikers, indigenous tribes, and others have hammered away at Governor McAuliffe to come out against these pipelines and to direct his Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to conduct rigorous site-specific permitting for each stream crossing. This growing coalition is confident that adopting these measures is the best way to show what experts already know: these pipelines are incompatible with the integrity of Virginia’s waterways and environments, and there is absolutely no way they can be constructed in a way that “protects and enhances Virginia’s environment, and promotes the health and well-being of the citizens of the Commonwealth.”
This follows the precedent set out by Governor Cuomo in New York, who used his authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to stop the dangerous Constitution Pipeline in 2014.
The DEQ is now rubber-stamping permits for the ACP and MVP by mostly deferring to a blanket permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers, going back on their original promise in April to conduct site-specific reviews.
Things could never be more urgent, as the authority of the Governor to meaningfully protect Virginians from these pipelines reaches a dead end after water permits are granted by the DEQ. Every day the DEQ’s intentions are becoming clearer, with the agency already releasing draft permits for both the ACP and the MVP. For activists, the summer of 2017 represents the peak of our efforts, and we’re ready to do everything we can to get Governor McAuliffe’s DEQ to take action and protect our water. If the DEQ continues down its current course and issues water permits for these projects, the future of these two pipelines will then reside under the authority of President Trump.
We can’t let that happen. The ACP and MVP would strip the rights of property owners, bisect indigenous lands, traverse water basins that provide water for millions of people, and cumulatively create the equivalent annual greenhouse gas emissions of 46 full-time coal-power plants. Now, more than ever, is the time to let Governor McAuliffe and his DEQ hear the sound of Virginians united against fossil fuel infrastructure and for a clean energy future.

Here are THREE ways you can pressure the DEQ this summer to stop the ACP & MVP:

1. Submit a Public Comment to the DEQ

By submitting a public comment to the DEQ (and encouraging all of your social networks to do the same), you are adding to the resounding chorus of Virginians who emphatically demand that Governor McAuliffe and his DEQ do everything in their authority to protect Virginians from the environmental destruction that these pipelines would trigger.

2. Pack the DEQ Public Hearings with your Neighbors

The DEQ has announced five separate public hearings for these pipelines (two for the MVP and three for the ACP), spanning from August 7th to the 14th. Spread the word about these meetings and organize carpools in your community to show the DEQ and Virginians are united on this issue. Be sure to wear a blue shirt and bring a bottle of water collected from your property to participate in water ceremonies at each one of the hearings. If you need help organizing a ride for these hearings, please email Jamshid Bakhtiari (jamshid@chesapeakeclimate.org) for assistance ASAP.
Here’s the list of upcoming hearings — click through to RSVP:

3. Call Your State Representatives

We need our legislators to stand up for Virginia waterways and communities and tell the DEQ to do the same! We have teamed up with our partners, Appalachian Voices, Bold Alliance and Oil Change International to flood Virginia’s legislators with a series of call-in days. We need you to call your legislator and encourage them to push the DEQ to protect Virginia’s water today!
Those are three things you can do right now. Stay tuned for more from CCAN as we ramp up the pressure. 
 

Dominion’s Offshore Wind Announcement Undercut By Efforts To Slow Clean Energy and Push Fossil Fuels

Statement by Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

“We welcome the news that Dominion is making steps to bring offshore wind to Virginia. But this should have happened years ago. Dominion already lost a federal grant for $40 million for dragging its feet on the project. Will ratepayers have to foot that bill? Now, Dominion is moving forward because it has no choice — it is clear that offshore wind is an economic winner.

Meanwhile, Dominion continues to push for dangerous climate-warming fossil fuel projects like the Atlantic Coast pipeline, along with the support of Governor Terry McAuliffe. The offshore wind pilot project is nowhere near what’s needed to bring us to a clean energy economy. If McAuliffe and Dominion were truly serious about helping Virginia become a leader in clean energy, they would stop pushing for fracked-gas pipelines or offshore drilling and start focusing on expanding clean energy.”


CONTACT: 
Denise Robbins, Communications Director; denise@chesapeakeclimate.org; 608-620-8819
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Policy Coordinator; harrison@chesapeakeclimate.org; 804-305-1472

Photo at the top from Flickr user Nuon with a Creative Commons license. 

Independence Day — A fossil-free future is an American future

Every year on Independence Day, Americans all over the country celebrate the values that this country was founded on. While the usual 4th of July festivities, like barbecuing, watching fireworks, and being with family, are all timeless traditions they aren’t the only way to celebrate American values. One important way is to get involved and take action to bring our communities to a fossil-free future.
Equal rights for all American citizens is a key tenet of our country’s values. This includes the right to own land, as well as the right to clean water and a healthy environment.
Unfortunately, oil and gas companies are threatening these rights of citizens all over the country with unwanted and unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure. In Virginia and West Virginia, two massive fracked-gas pipelines — the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline — are threatening the water, safety, and property rights of communities in their path. In Maryland, TransCanada wants to build a fracked-gas pipeline right underneath the Potomac River and C&O canal, threatening the drinking water source for millions.
Every day, American lives and values are threatened by large gas and oil companies who propose the building of these new pipelines. They are threatening the safety, freedom and security of the American people.
What does independence from fossil fuels really look like? It looks like a world run on renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, and geothermal. It looks like strong, progressive climate action. It looks like a country with healthy communities and thriving economies in a clean energy future.
Working for climate action is an inherently patriotic act. It shows a dedication to protecting your fellow citizens. It is for these reasons that hundreds of veterans descended on Standing Rock in North Dakota to protect indigenous tribes from the Dakota Access pipeline. And it is why 13 Virginia veterans recently released a letter opposing the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley fracked-gas pipelines. All across the country, Americans are coming together to protect our citizens from the greed of fossil fuel corporations.
So this year, I’ll be building on the courage of those Virginia veterans to stand for Americans and their independence from dangerous fossil fuels.
Here’s how you can help:

It’s time to celebrate our independence and freedom by saying NO to pipelines and YES to a fossil-free future.
Happy Fourth!
——
Photo at the top from Flickr user m01229 with a Creative Commons license. 
 
 
 

Dozens of Citizens, Elected Leaders, and Advocacy Groups Announce Months-Long Encampment in Opposition to Proposed Pipeline under the Potomac River

Following The Lead Of Standing Rock Protesters, Groups Launch First Of Its Kind Protest Encampment To Urge Gov. Hogan To Reject TransCanada’s Fracked-Gas Pipeline

CLEAR SPRING, MD– On June 30, a coalition of area citizens, elected officials, and environmental advocates announced the launch of a protest encampment to stop TransCanada’s proposed pipeline under the Potomac River. This encampment is the first of its kind in Maryland history to protest fossil fuels. The proposed pipeline would threaten millions of residents in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. who rely on the Potomac river for drinking water. The protesters are camping out to draw attention to the issue and demand Maryland Governor Larry Hogan reject the permit required for construction of this pipeline.
The encampment, titled “Standing Rock to Hancock: Camp Out to Stop the Potomac Pipeline,” will take place throughout the summer with camp outs along the C&O canal near Hancock, Maryland. The coalition intends to draw attention to the many concerned citizens, environmental advocacy groups, and elected officials who are opposed to endangering drinking water for a pipeline that won’t benefit Maryland citizens.
TransCanada’s proposed Eastern Panhandle Expansion project would transport fracked gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia by way of Maryland underneath the Potomac River and C&O Canal. The encampment will take place at McCoy’s Ferry, near the pipeline’s proposed route.
“Clean energy is where our nation needs to be. This isn’t a partisan issue, it’s about protecting our environment, national security, economic security and public health,” said Senator Cardin, senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Investment in clean energy is booming and Congress has to act swiftly to support this effort or risk hurting the United States financially and damaging our global reputation as a clean energy innovator.”
“Fracked gas and the supporting infrastructure has no long term benefits to the State of Maryland, and this pipeline project puts an enormous amount of risk on Maryland residents,” said Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper. “Drilling under the Potomac River –the drinking water source for millions of people — for a fracked gas pipeline in sensitive karst geology that threatens water quality is not a plan we support. And strong arm tactics, like threatening eminent domain, don’t play well out here. But they’re trying it anyway.”
The pipeline would cross sensitive karst geology, which is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves and is easily susceptible to transmission of pollutants through connected underground aquifers. The pipeline could degrade pristine streams and further threaten public and private water supplies. Using hydraulic directional drilling under streams in karst geology would create pathways for water to drain down the bore holes and dissolve the limestone around the piping. This activity can create sinkholes that could impact the integrity of the pipeline, causing subterranean ruptures and even explosions, further threatening the Potomac River.
“Governor Hogan took a huge step forward on climate by signing Maryland’s statewide fracking ban in April,” said Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “But fracking infrastructure like the Potomac Pipeline will only result in more fracking elsewhere. Gov. Hogan needs to complete the fracking ban by rejecting this pipeline.”
“The health of the Potomac River basin is essential to the health of millions of Marylanders,” said Maryland Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins (D-20). “TransCanada, a company known for its blatant disregard for environmental protection, is proposing a pipeline that would put our drinking water at risk for a pipeline that is not needed. For the health of our water and our communities, I urge Governor Hogan to reject the pipeline.”
“This pipeline is literally an investment in fossil-fuel infrastructure that will lock our region into a tremendous amount of climate pollution for decades to come,” said Josh Tulkin, Director of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “At a time when Maryland and other states need to be investing in wind and solar, this pipeline will open the floodgates for years and years of continued pollution. After banning fracking and setting an aggressive climate change goal we cannot turn around and allow a fracked gas pipeline that threatens our communities and water resources through our state. We hope Governor Hogan will make the right decision and reject this pipeline.”
“For the same reason we called for a ban on fracking, we’re calling on Governor Hogan to stop the Potomac Pipeline,” said Rianna Eckel, Maryland Organizer, Food & Water Watch. “Dangerous fracked gas infrastructure divides communities, pollutes our air and our water, and increases our reliance on fossil fuels while we are simultaneously barreling toward climate chaos.”
“Where is our peace on earth?” said Patricia Kesecker, landowner in Morgan County, West Virginia in a statement. “When you have put your blood, sweat and tears into the land for years and they come and try and take it away from you, it’s heartbreaking.  Whether it’s one acre or hundreds of acres, it is your home.” The Keseckers are currently in court with Mountaineer Gas over the company’s efforts to forcibly take parts of their land by eminent domain.
There is already a growing movement of opposition among citizens that live along the route. When TransCanada held a forum about the pipeline, more than 100 residents of Maryland and West Virginia showed up to oppose its construction. In order for the pipeline to move forward, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) would need to grant the 401 Water Quality Certificate under the Clean Water Act. Hogan has the ability to direct the MDE to reject this certificate.

Organizations participating in the encampment include the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Eastern Panhandle Protectors, Potomac Riverkeepers, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, and the Sierra Club MD Chapter.
CONTACT:
Denise Robbins; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; denise@chesapeakeclimate.org; 608-620-8819
Jackie Filson; Food and Water Watch; 202-683-2538, jfilson@fwwatch.org

###

Groups blast FERC findings on Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked gas

A coalition of landowners and advocacy organizations today condemned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for disregarding the profound and long-lasting human and environmental trauma the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) would cause. In its final environmental review, released Friday morning, FERC ignores the most harmful impacts this 300-mile-long pipeline for fracked gas would have on lives, communities, drinking water supplies, private property, local economies, and publicly owned natural resources. The groups called these risks unacceptable, especially for a pipeline that is not even needed. The coalition also calls the pipeline an assault on the climate and the future of children in West Virginia and Virginia, and notes that the pipeline can still be blocked on multiple federal, state, and legal levels.
The final environmental review1 issued today by FERC for the proposed $3.2 billion MVP — to be developed by EQT Midstream Partners; NextEra; Con Edison Transmission; WGL Midstream; and RGC Midstream — commits the same central failure of its draft review: failing to prove that the pipeline is needed. An independent study shows there is enough existing gas supply in Virginia and the Carolinas to meet consumer demand through 2030, while experts have warned that the gas industry is overbuilding pipeline infrastructure in West Virginia and Virginia. Key federal government agencies and officials have criticized FERC’s failure to properly determine a project’s need. 
Former FERC Chairman and Director Norman Bay in his parting recommendations to the agency, urged the commission to rethink how it determines need when certifying natural gas pipelines. The Bureau of Land Management and Environmental Protection Agency have also criticized FERC specifically for failing to address whether the MVP is needed, and a bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to reform FERC’s approach to public engagement.
FERC has a history of greenlighting natural gas pipelines with insufficient reviews, resulting in dangerous leaks and spills.  The Rover Pipeline recently spilled millions of gallons of drilling chemicals into Ohio’s wetlands, the Sabal Trail pipeline leaked drilling chemicals underground into the Withlacoochee River in Florida, and the highly contentious Dakota Access pipeline has already suffered three leaks. 
West Virginia and Virginia citizens opposed to the MVP say FERC has proven unable to properly assess the environmental risks of these pipelines, and its incomplete reviews have dealt a huge blow to public confidence, not to mention safety and the environment. MVP developers submitted more than 16,000 pages of information after the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was issued. The public did not have the opportunity to submit comments to FERC on the additional submittals. The NEPA review process for the MVP was bypassed by FERC.
While legal and environmental experts are continuing to review today’s document, they have initially identified major gaps in FERC’s Final EIS, including:

  • An accurate assessment of whether the project is needed and in the public interest;2
  • Alternative analysis including development of energy efficiency, solar, and wind as alternatives to construction of pipelines;
  • A complete analysis of the cumulative, life-cycle climate pollution that would result from the pipeline;3
  • A thorough and accurate analysis of visual impacts from the pipeline, including impacts to the iconic Appalachian Trail and potential damage to its tourism economy;
  • Cumulative impacts analysis of all environmental and human health damage from increased gas fracking in West Virginia that would supply the pipeline;
  • An analysis of the compound effects of multiple regional geo-hazards, including a meaningful analysis of the karst topography; and
  • A thorough review of damage to water quality and natural resources along and downstream from the pipeline route.

The coalition is committed to blocking the pipeline through every available avenue on the federal, state, and legal levels to assure that the very best options for energy, jobs, and landowner rights are considered.
Statements from affected landowners, community members, and environmental and legal experts:

  • Ty Bouldin, landowner in Summers County, West Virginia, stated: “The DEIS for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project was disheartening testimony to the inadequacies of FERC’s environmental assessment procedures. It failed to provide rational scientific standards for evaluating such impacts as were acknowledged. The DEIS simply argued that any impacts—however severe they might prove to be—would be judged acceptable. Such a conclusion was not valid given the inadequacies of the materials submitted by MVP, and it remains unacceptable as the basis for undertaking a responsible Final Environmental Impact Statement.”
  • Maury Johnson, affected landowner in Monroe County WV and The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Indian Creek Watershed Assoc. WV Rivers Coalition, and more, stated: “The Mountain Valley Pipeline will devalue our land, limit its uses and reduce taxes which support our schools and public services. It will jeopardize the safety and security of residents and anyone who visits the area where it is located. It will impact the water that we so much depend upon for our families, our farms and our communities. It will impact the world class water that comes from Peters Mountain in WV and VA. The impacts to the Jefferson National Forest and the Appalachian Trail will be severe and irreversible. It should be criminal to attempt such a pipeline when the profound environmental damage has not been adequately assessed by FERC, by West Virginia’s DEP or by Virginia’s DEQ.”
  • Andrew Downs, Regional Director, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, stated: “The public has never been allowed adequate access to this process which increasingly seems like it’s been driven by distant a bureaucracy. The devastation anticipated to the Jefferson National Forest and the iconic Appalachian Trail is a violation of the public trust that spans from nearly a century and into our uncertain future.”
  • Diana Christopulos, President, Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, stated: “The FEIS ignores the potential negative impacts of the project on public drinking water supplies on the Roanoke River, even though the pipeline’s own consultants reported a major increase in sedimentation in the North Fork of the Roanoke River that would travel all the way from Jefferson National Forest through the cities of Salem and Roanoke to either Niagara Dam or Smith Mountain Lake. The FERC never required to applicant to report fully on the sediment that would occur on the South Fork of the Roanoke River, which could have significant impacts on the same downstream communities.”
  • April Keating, Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance/West Virginia Sierra Club/Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights, stated: “Not only are these new pipelines not needed, but they lock us into flammable, radioactive, climate warming methane use at a time when renewable energy is needed most. Renewable energy is more affordable than ever and has created more jobs than the fossil fuel market in recent years. FERC has refused to look at cumulative impacts of this and other projects in the same region, which is doing a real disservice to our public health and putting a chokehold on our economic opportunities.”
  • Anne Havemann, General Counsel, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, stated: “Time and again, we’ve seen how FERC’s utter failure to honestly assess the impacts of massive, dangerous gas pipelines. We know this pipeline would result in massive climate pollution equivalent to 26 new coal-fired power plants. FERC’s own former chairman has urged the commission to reconsider how it evaluates environmental impacts, including climate change. If FERC was honest in its environmental accounting, it would have no choice but to reject the project.”
  • Dr. Richard Shingles, Coordinator, Preserve Giles County, stated: “An obscure, independent regulatory agency, controlled by the very gas and oil industry it is supposed to regulate, has taken one more step in a fraudulent ‘public review’ process towards finalizing a predetermined decision. The FEIS ignores the scientific consensus4 as to the cumulative threats to communities, local economies and natural resources and the pipeline itself. The multiple geological hazards abound in this region should make it a ‘no build zone’ for large, interstate, high pressure gas pipelines. To date FERC has failed to require the applicant to show that these threats can be avoided or safely mitigated – an assurance that the scientific consensus demonstrates cannot be provided.”
  • Hugh Irwin, Landscape Conservation Planner, The Wilderness Society, stated: “Damage to national forest lands and values including wilderness, roadless lands, the Appalachian Trail, clean water, and wildlife habitat have been inadequately addressed, putting these public resources in jeopardy.”
  • Jerolyn Deplazes, Secretary, Preserve Newport Historic Properties, stated: “FERC has shown blatant disregard for the laws concerning the protection of historical properties in the process of reviewing the MVP. Four landowners in the Greater Newport Rural Historic District have been denied the right to consult with FERC, MVP and other cooperating agencies to develop alternatives to the proposed route of MVP. And many filings by the Greater Newport Rural Historic District Committee have been made pointing out the continually incorrect, misleading, and apparently deliberately incomplete information provided to FERC by MVP and the failure of FERC to require full corrective action by MVP. Without complete and correct data input to FERC, there is no way that FERC can make an informed decision on the MVP project.”
  • Ben Luckett, Staff Attorney, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, stated: “FERC’s failure to look at whether this pipeline is actually needed to serve the public, and not just the bank accounts of MVP’s shareholders, is absolutely galling. All too often, like with the recently completed Sabal Trail project, these new pipelines just shift gas away from existing infrastructure instead of offering any new beneficial service. Without a real market analysis, FERC can’t tell whether the pipeline’s extreme impacts to landowners, communities, and the environment will bring about any public benefit. Our independent studies indicate that they will not.”

 
CONTACT:
Kristen Friedel, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; kristen@chesapeakeclimate.org; 240-396-2146
Anne Havemann, Chesapeake Climate Action Network; anne@chesapeakeclimate.org; 240-396-1984
April Keating, Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights; apkeating@hotmail.com; 304-642-9436
 
CONTACTS FOR THOSE QUOTED:
Maury Johnson, landowner: maurywjohnson@yahoo.com; 304-832-6085
April Keating, Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance/West Virginia Sierra Club/Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights: apkeating@hotmail.com; 304-642-9436
Andrew Downs, Appalachian Trail Conservancy: adowns@appalachiantrail.org; 540-904-4354
Diana Christopulos, Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club: dianak16@earthlink.net; 540-204-3961
Anne Havemann, Chesapeake Climate Action Network: anne@chesapeakeclimate.org; 240-396-1984
Dr. Richard Shingles, Preserve Giles County: shingles@vt.edu; 540-921-7324
Hugh Irwin, The Wilderness Society: hugh_irwin@tws.org; 828-357-5187
Jerolyn Deplazes, Preserve Newport Historic Properties: jdeplazes@pemtel.net
Ben Luckett, Appalachian Mountain Advocates: bluckett@appalmad.org; 304-645-0125
 
Notes:
1: The main document for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Mountain Valley Pipeline can be viewed by clicking on the last link titled, “MVP_EEP_FEIS_Sections 1-5.PDF” at the bottom of FERC’s file list.
2: Opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline has grown in Virginia and West Virginia. In the Supreme Court in both states, judges have ruled in favor of landowners preventing MVP surveyors to enter their land. Also, financial institutions are increasingly backing away from investing in the MVP and other pipelines, suggesting that financial support is waning along with public support. Additionally, more than 17,000 people in the affected region — along with tens of thousands of others across the country — submitted comments criticizing FERC’s draft review, demanding the agency ultimately reject the project. And a poll conducted by the nonpartisan Cromer Group found that 55 percent of Virginia voters oppose McAuliffe’s efforts to build fracked-gas pipelines. Furthermore, Virginia legislators have introduced a bill that aims to improve FERC’s process for public input. Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) stated that the bill is “a direct result of feedback from constituents about the need for reform in FERC’s natural gas pipeline approval process,” and aims to “ensure that local concerns are addressed, particularly when easements on and takings of private lands for private infrastructure are a possibility.” As Senator Tim Kaine stated: “FERC’s job is to adjudicate the public interest — especially when eminent domain is involved — and this requires taking public input more seriously.”
3: An analysis from Oil Change International has found that the Mountain Valley Pipeline would result in nearly 90 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year (measured as CO2 or the equivalent). That’s the greenhouse gas equivalent of 26 average coal plants or more than 19 million vehicles.
4: This consensus is based on four detailed, independent reports written by leading karst geologists (Dr. Ernst Kastning of Radford University, Paul Rubin, President of HydroQuest, an environmental consulting firm, Dr. Chris Groves of Western Kentucky University, and Dr. Pamela C. Dodds, senior geologist for the Virginia DEQ,1997-1999). Their overall conclusion and the science on which is based has been positively reviewed by the prominent karst geologist, Arthur Palmer (SUNY-Oneonta), and supplemented by scores of site specific findings submitted to FERC from other scientists at Virginia Tech, Radford University and the University of West Virginia. [Kastning: 2016713-5029, 20170310-5024, 20170524-5177; Rubin: 20161222-5458 and 20170602-5147; Groves: 20161223-5058; Dodds: 20170622-5028.]

###

AS FERC ANNOUNCES FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENTS ON PIPELINES, RESISTANCE SWELLS

On Friday, June 23rd, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its final environmental review for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). The highly-flawed Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) paints a false and misleading picture of this massive, dangerous fracked-gas pipeline.
The FEIS does not spell good news for pipeline opposition, but it is far from final approval. There are many stages left in the process at the federal, state, and legal levels — and there is a growing movement committed to stopping this pipeline, along with Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a pipeline of similar size and route. This growing resistance, alongside the shift in political narrative around these pipelines, show that the FEIS will only further the conviction and resolve of the growing anti-pipeline movement.
The Pipeline Pledge of Resistance is just one example of this conviction. The hundreds of people who have signed have pledged to engage in any tactic necessary to stop the ACP and MVP — including nonviolent civil disobedience and even risking arrest. To date, nearly 400 people have pledged to risk arrest to stop these pipelines. Plus, nearly 1,000 have pledged to engage in some form of support for those willing to participate in dignified civil disobedience to stop these radical infrastructure projects.
Those familiar with FERC’s history are not surprised by its shoddy environmental review. Since 1986, FERC has approved every proposal for a fracked-gas infrastructure projects that it has come across, with the exception of the Pacific Connector Pipeline and accompanying liquefied natural gas export terminal in 2016.1 Many of these projects have resulted in spills and even explosions. Furthermore, the agency has very strong ties to the very industry it is tasked with regulating. Since 2000, 12 of 15 former commissioners are “currently employed either directly or indirectly in the fossil fuel industry as executives, directors, partners, lobbyists, and/or consultants.”2
The opposition to the proposed fracked-gas pipelines is not just limited to those who have signed the Pledge. In recent months, the opposition has reached a fever pitch. Numerous groups and organizations have voiced their disapproval of the pipelines. In January, a letter signed on behalf of members of numerous indigenous tribes in the region denouncing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was released to the public.

30710794543_a58360f44f_hPhoto from Flickr user Joe Brusky with a Creative Commons license. 

In April, announcements that both of these pipelines would trigger miles of ridgetop removal shocked public conscience throughout the region, with various Appalachian Trail hiking groups and enthusiasts assembling in Richmond last month to call upon Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to use his authority to reject the projects.   
Finally, in May, a band of Virginia-based military veterans, representing every branch on the military, released an open letter to the Governor, linking the the MVP and the ACP to the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
IMG_6105.
The broadening of the anti-pipeline movement in Virginia is indicative of a larger shift in the Commonwealth’s political culture. The contentious gubernatorial primaries this year in the state were dubbed a “referendum on pipelines”, with anti-pipeline candidates from both major parties winning districts along the proposed routes of these pipelines. Furthermore, over 50 Democratic candidates for Virginia’s House of Delegates have pledged to refuse money from Dominion Energy, the primary shareholder in the ACP and the largest contributor to political campaigns in Virginia.
Regardless of FERC’s announcement, the efforts to stop these pipelines in order to protect our land, water, communities, and climate will ultimately come from the massive grassroots movement. The movement has brought together folks from across Virginia from all walks of life with a common goal — and they are willing to put the their bodies on the line to achieve it.


1http://public-accountability.org/2017/02/oil-gas-industry-dominates-federal-agency-responsible-for-pipeline-approvals
2Ibid.

Baltimore City Council Adopts Resolution Upholding Paris Climate Agreement

The Baltimore City Council adopted a resolution at their June 19th meeting committing Baltimore to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement. A youth-led rally in support of the resolution took place inside City Hall before the vote.

BALTIMORE — On June 19th, Baltimore youth, residents, local elected officials, and environmental advocates rallied inside City Hall in a strong showing of support for city-level climate action. Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen introduced a resolution at the City Council meeting later that evening committing Baltimore to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement.

The rally featured several local leaders, including students with the advocacy group Baltimore Beyond Plastic, Councilman Zeke Cohen, and members of the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement, who spoke in support of the resolution. The resolution was co-sponsored by fourteen members of the City Council and was adopted immediately during Monday night’s meeting.

Claire Wayner, co-founder of Baltimore Beyond Plastic, said, “plastic pollution has a direct linkage to climate change from its manufacturing out of fossil fuels to its all-too-common disposal through trash incineration, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Our organization is committed to transmitting the youth voice to support positive climate action in Baltimore to indirectly reduce our reliance on plastics, and we hope our city will join the nationwide movement to stand behind the Paris Climate Agreement.”

“We applaud the efforts of the Baltimore City Council to address climate change, the greatest threat to our health and safety,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, Executive Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network. “Climate change can lead to dangerous health conditions and preventable deaths for the most vulnerable Marylanders. Baltimoreans already experience extended allergy seasons, heat stress, heart disease, asthma and other lung diseases, as well as increases in the spread of vector borne illnesses like Lyme disease and the threat of the Zika virus. We can not afford to ignore short-sighted rollbacks or play partisan politics at the expense of health outcomes.”

Cortez Elliott, a member of the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement, said, “Glad to see Baltimore City moving ahead in the right direction towards a just, clean energy economy. This resolution is the first stepping stone to ensure the city is setting the standard for inclusiveness, equity, and energy efficiency by addressing the environmental injustices that disproportionately impact low-income people and communities of color in Baltimore. The resolution highlights the importance of making the world a better place for future generations by taking strong action to fight climate change.”

Background Information:

The United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1 sparked action from concerned citizens outraged by the implications for future Baltimoreans. Baltimore youth, Councilman Cohen, environmental health advocates, and a coalition of groups that make up the Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement, united to reject this reckless decision and abdication of leadership. In the absence of federal action, cities like Baltimore must step up.

Councilman Zeke Cohen, the Maryland Environmental Health Network, and over fifteen partners collaborated on the resolution. The aims of the resolution are to recognize the significance of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, oppose the U.S.’s withdrawal from it, and commit Baltimore City to specific practices that will work to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The resolution pledges to uphold practices that foster “a liveable, economical, equitable, and just energy future for all Baltimoreans regardless of age, race, income, or zip code.” The resolution can be viewed here.

More information can be found on Facebook at Baltimore Beyond Plastic, Baltimore Peoples Climate Movement , and by searching the hashtags #BmoreClimateJust and #WeAreStillIn.


CONTACT:

Allison Rich, Maryland Environmental Health Network: arich@mdehn.org; (786) 897-6689

Rebecca Mark, Maryland Working Families; rmark@workingfamilies.org; (347) 224-1860

Taylor Smith-Hams, CCAN: taylor@chesapeakeclimate.org; (650) 704-3208