Baltimore City Council Passes Resolution Urging Statewide Ban on Fracking

Baltimore, MD — Today the Baltimore City council unanimously approved a resolution urging state lawmakers to pass a ban on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in Maryland. The resolution comes on the same day that the Hogan administration formally published draft regulations to allow fracking to begin in the state as soon as October 2017.
There is currently a moratorium on fracking in Maryland, but the temporary ban ends next year. Several state lawmakers have vowed to introduce legislation to permanently ban fracking in the upcoming General Assembly session.
“It’s encouraging to see real leadership from the Baltimore city council on this issue,” said Rianna Eckel, Maryland Organizer at Food & Water Watch. “The resolution sends a strong message to Baltimore’s representatives in Annapolis that we expect them to protect our health and communities and ban fracking in Maryland.”
Baltimore joins a growing chorus of municipalities and counties across Maryland taking action to ban fracking. Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties have banned fracking, as have the western Maryland towns of Friendsville and Mountain Lake Park. Councilmembers in Anne Arundel and Frederick Counties have called for a statewide ban, and more cities across Maryland are poised to take similar action.
“Baltimore is part of a resounding wave of action across Maryland to ban fracking,” said Brooke Harper, Maryland Field Director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “The last thing Baltimore needs is another source of toxic air pollution contributing to more asthma and respiratory diseases. With this vote, the City Council is sending a strong message to legislators in Annapolis that it’s time to protect our health by banning fracking once and for all.”
The Baltimore City vote helped kick off a full week of anti-fracking demonstrations led by the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition. Additionally, this past weekend, 40 faith leaders, including 15 Baltimore-area congregations, dedicated their religious services to climate change through the 2nd annual “Climate in the Pulpits” program. From Frostburg to Baltimore to Lusby, faith leaders lifted up a ban on fracking as part of caring for creation.

“As a Baltimore City resident with a home in Western Maryland, I know the natural splendors and resources that are at risk if we frack in this state. Without a statewide ban on fracking, the rivers, waterfalls and mountains that we all hold so dearly will be destroyed,” said Citizen Shale Board Member Steve Mogge. “The city council is right to stand with our neighbors in western Maryland and call for a ban on fracking across the state.”

Contact: Brooke Harper, brooke@chesapeakeclimate.org

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The Don’t Frack Maryland coalition unites more than 100 business, public interest, community, faith, food and climate groups committed to passing a permanent, statewide ban on fracking in Maryland. For more information on the statewide campaign, go to http://www.dontfrackmd.org.

Oil Trains Ordinance Dies in Baltimore Judiciary Committee

On the morning of Tuesday, November 1st, around 35 supporters showed up to Baltimore City Hall adorned in red shirts to attend the city’s Judiciary Committee hearing. The coalition, made up of citizens, community association representatives, and health and environmental organizations, was there to support Ordinance 16-0621, also known as the oil train ordinance. The bill called upon the city to conduct the first-ever health impact and risk assessment of the dangers that explosive oil trains pose as they roll through Baltimore.
oil-train-blast-zone-baltimore In recent years the oil industry has increasingly used rail as a means to transport crude oil, and Baltimore has become a throughway for this highly explosive cargo, much of it from fracking operations in the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota. From 2013 to 2014, over 100 million gallons of crude oil were transported into Baltimore by rail to be offloaded and shipped to refineries. Much more crude oil likely travels through Baltimore. Maps show that oil train routes put 165,000 people in the “blast zone” in Baltimore – the area that could be directly impacted if a train were to derail and explode. Bakken crude oil is highly volatile and a number of high profile derailments — such as the 2013 derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that led to an explosion killing 47 people and leveling over 30 buildings — have caused communities around the North America to take action.
Normally, committee hearings in Baltimore are rather banal events – just another administrative hurdle in the life of aspiring city legislation. With the oil trains ordinance, however, things have not been so simple.
The ordinance was introduced by City Council President Jack Young in January 2016 with near-unanimous support amongst members of the Council. The bill represented a first step toward giving communities and emergency responders vital information about the severity of the risks to public health and safety. After being introduced, however, the legislation languished in legislative purgatory, with neither President Young nor Councilman Jim Kraft, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, scheduling a hearing. After months of reaching out to elected officials and hearing nothing in response, a group of concerned Baltimore citizens organized a silent protest at the September 13th Judiciary Committee hearing to urge elected officials to break the collective silence on Baltimore oil trains. It was at this hearing that Councilman Kraft announced that he had just scheduled a hearing for the oil trains ordinance on November 1st.
On the morning of November 1st the council chambers were packed. By the time the committee took up the oil trains ordinance, the hearing had already gone two and a half hours over schedule. After reconvening from a recess, Councilman Kraft issued a deadly blow to the ordinance: citing negative reports published by the city’s finance and law departments, he said that the committee would no longer be voting on the ordinance, although they would still open the hearing up to public comments. These negative reports seemingly came out of nowhere – especially the law department’s report, with whom CCAN had worked previously to vet the legality of the ordinance. By tabling the bill, the committee essentially killed the legislation for 2016, despite its broad support.
Natl-Aquarium-Oil-Train-Blast-Zone-editedEven in the face of these devastating last-minute changes, supporters held their ground. Nearly 20 community members, coalition partners, and organizations provided testimony on the need to do something about explosive “bomb” trains in the city.
“These trains run in close proximity to over 40 schools in Baltimore city,” said community member Ulysses Archie. “We need to know the threat that oil trains pose to our communities so we can be properly prepared.”
Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke stood resolute at the hearing, promising to take the lead on crafting a stronger ordinance at the start of the new legislative session in 2017. Additionally, January will mark the swearing in of a brand new City Council, filled with promising new council members that are eager to make a reputation for themselves as results-oriented progressives in the community.
While the death of Ordinance 16-0621 comes as a setback to those seeking environmental justice in Baltimore, it by no means signals the end of the campaign. With a strong legislative advocate and new City Council, 2017 looks to be a promising year for Baltimore City Government to take desperately needed action to put the brakes on dangerous crude oil trains.
To read more about the oil trains campaign in Baltimore read Part I and Part II of a recent Baltimore Brew series, and watch CBS coverage of the November 1st hearing.

Poll: Md. Voters Support a Ban on Fracking By 2-to-1 Margin

Poll: Md. Voters Support a Ban on Fracking By 2-to-1 Margin, Including in At-Risk Garrett County

Results show high voter intensity for a ban, widespread concern about water pollution and harm to health

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — With the clock winding down on Maryland’s two-year moratorium on fracking, a statewide poll of Maryland voters released today shows broad public support for permanently banning the risky drilling practice. In Garrett County, a prime target area for the oil and gas industry, voters oppose fracking by an even stronger margin.
The poll, conducted by the nonpartisan firm OpinionWorks, found that Maryland voters support a ban on fracking by a 2-to-1 margin, with a 56% majority supporting the ban and only 28% opposed. This poll follows on the heels of a recent Washington Post poll finding that a similarly strong majority of Marylanders opposes fracking.
The OpinionWorks poll provides additional insights for state legislators who will weigh legislation to ban fracking in the 2017 Maryland General Assembly. Key additional findings include:

  • In Garrett County, the margin of support for a fracking ban is more than 2-to-1, with 57% in support of a ban and only 27% opposed. (This result is based on statistically significant “oversampling” of voters in Garrett County, a likely ground zero for fracking in Maryland.)
  • By a 3-to-1 margin, voters say they are more likely to vote for a legislator who supports a fracking ban, with 40% more likely and only 13% less likely.
  • Voter intensity is significantly higher on the pro-ban side: 25% of voters are much more likely to support a pro-ban legislator, compared to only 7% who are much less likely.

“This new poll makes it clear that Maryland voters strongly support a ban on fracking,” said Senator Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, a longtime supporter of banning the practice, “strengthening the case that it is time for the Maryland General Assembly to act.”
Delegate Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery County, and chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee added, “In 2015, my committee passed a two-year moratorium on fracking so that we could understand the science and all of the policy implications of hydraulic fracturing. This year we will take decisive action based on science and in the interest of all of the people of Maryland.”
The poll also found that Marylanders have a wide variety of concerns about the significant risks of fracking. Contamination of water was the top concern cited — with one-third of voters worried about the risks — while harm to human and animal health was the second-biggest concern. Only 6% of voters statewide did not express concern about the risks of fracking.
“Western Marylanders recognize, as the poll shows, that most of our friends and neighbors don’t want fracking,” said Paul Roberts, president of Citizen Shale and a small business owner in Garrett County. “That is a message difficult to convey in Annapolis when our own representatives fail to speak up for us. So, now is the time for Maryland to move ahead, with legislative leaders committed to securing a healthy and sustainable future for our community and families.”
More than 100 organizations have endorsed the Don’t Frack Maryland campaign and are working to pass a ban on fracking in the upcoming General Assembly session. Unless state legislators take action, Governor Larry Hogan’s administration could allow industrial drilling operations to begin in Maryland soon after October 2017, when the state’s moratorium will expire.
“The movement to ban fracking in Maryland is only growing, and these poll numbers reflect that,” said James McGarry, Maryland policy director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “By banning fracking, Maryland legislators will not only be following the science, they’ll be following the wishes of voters statewide.”
In 2016, the town of Friendsville in Garrett County and Prince George’s County both passed local ordinances banning fracking, joining the town of Mountain Lake Park and Montgomery County. Members of the Anne Arundel County Council also recently wrote a letter urging their state legislative delegation to pass a fracking ban. Last week, nearly 200 citizens rallied in Frostburg and won a commitment from their City Council to advance a municipal ban on fracking.
“Governor Hogan has sought to keep a low profile on this issue, but the draft regulations released by his administration clearly indicate his intentions to frack our state,” said Mitch Jones, senior policy advocate at Food & Water Watch. “We know most Marylanders oppose fracking, so we’re urging state legislators to stand with the people, and stand up for a ban on fracking now.”
“It has been clear for several years that there is no safe way to regulate fracking,” said Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Sierra Club. “Health and environmental hazards are pervasive in every state that permits fracking. The only foolproof way to protect Marylanders from fracking is to keep it out of Maryland.”
ABOUT THE POLL: The OpinionWorks poll was commissioned by groups within the Don’t Frack Maryland coalition. For the statewide poll results, OpinionWorks surveyed 802 randomly selected registered voters across Maryland from August 18-30, 2016. The statewide poll has a potential sampling error of no more than + 3.5% at a 95% confidence level. In addition to the statewide sample, 1,250 additional interviews were distributed across five selected legislative districts and Garrett County. The additional oversample interviews were conducted from September 1-28, 2016.
VIEW THE POLLING MEMO AT:
http://www.dontfrackmd.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Maryland-Fracking-Ban-Poll-Memo-102516.pdf
VIEW THE NEWS RELEASE ONLINE AT: http://www.dontfrackmd.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ReleaseforOpinionWorksFrackingPoll10.26.16-2.pdf
CONTACT:
Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org

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The Don’t Frack Maryland coalition unites more than 100 business, public interest, community, faith, food and climate groups committed to passing a permanent, statewide ban on fracking in Maryland. For more information on the statewide campaign, go to http://www.dontfrackmd.org.

Poll: Va. Voters Want McAuliffe to Break With Dominion on Greenhouse Gases; Support State Legislation to Fund Coastal Protection Measures

For Immediate Release
October 20, 2016

Poll: Va. Voters Want McAuliffe to Break With Dominion on Greenhouse Gases; Support State Legislation to Fund Coastal Protection Measures

As the Governor announces updates to his pro-fossil fuel energy plan today, polling results show voters want big clean-energy commitments
RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe announced updates to his pro-fossil fuel energy plan today, drawing criticism from climate advocates. The plan continues to promote major new investments in fossil fuels that threaten to outstrip steps forward on solar power and efficiency. Concurrently, poll results released today show voters want the governor to take more transformative steps to promote clean energy and combat flooding from climate change.
Today’s polling results show that, by a nearly 2-1 margin, Virginians want the Governor to defy Dominion Power’s plans to significantly increase future greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Gov. McAuliffe has yet to confirm if he will hold Dominion accountable to total, net reductions in climate pollution from power plants under federal and state clean power rules.
By a strong margin, voters also want the Governor to finally support the proposed Virginia Coastal Protection Act. This bipartisan state bill would cap climate emissions statewide while funding strong flood-protection measures for coastal military bases and communities in Hampton Roads and across the state.
“The Governor continues to cut ribbons for small solar projects at schools while simultaneously supporting Dominion Power in massively increasing global warming pollution,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This poll today show voters want solutions to the scale of the problem. They want the Governor to break with Dominion and actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions under federal rules. And, with Hurricane Matthew still affecting coastal Virginia, voters want McAuliffe to support legislation that would finally and sustainably fund protections against sea-level rise and flooding.”
In the poll results, 55 percent of voters say the Governor should require Dominion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while only 29 percent think the Governor is right to support Dominion’s planned pollution increase. Meanwhile, nearly half of Virginians think the Governor should support the Virginia Coastal Protection Act while just 33 percent oppose and 18 percent have no opinion.
The Governor’s strong prior support for fossil fuels over clean energy is cataloged in his own revised energy plan released today. The Governor touts that 400 Megawatts of solar are projected to be built in Virginia under his four-year term. That is the pollution-reduction equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road. But the Governor’s support of two massive pipelines for fracked gas would effectively trigger greenhouse gas pollution increases equal to nearly doubling the total pollution emitted by the state’s existing power plants. Apart from the plan, the Governor has previously supported offshore drilling for oil, which could have increased climate pollution equal to adding 24 million cars to Virginia’s roads.
Today’s polling data come as growing numbers of Virginians have expressed their disapproval with the Governor on a wide range of dirty energy issues. Polling results released in September showed that voters – by a nearly 2-1 margin – oppose the Governor’s support for massive fracked-gas pipelines in the state. They also showed that 71 percent of voters oppose his support for Dominion’s plan to bury millions of tons of coal ash next to major Virginia rivers. In early October, scores of activists picketed outside the Governor’s Richmond office over three days and 23 citizens were peacefully arrested outside his house protesting the pipelines, coal ash, and climate inaction.
The Cromer Group poll, commissioned by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, surveyed 732 randomly-selected Virginia registered voters in an automated phone survey on September 7, 2016. The survey carries a margin of error of + 4.0 percent at 95 percent level of confidence.
The poll results are available online at: http://chesapeakeclimate.org/assets/uploads/2016/10/CPP_VCPA_VA-Poll-Results.pdf
Contact:
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org
Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org

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The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the biggest and oldest grassroots organization dedicated to fighting climate change in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. CCAN is building a powerful movement to shift our region away from climate-harming fossil fuels and to clean energy solutions: www.chesapeakeclimate.org.

BREAKING: 23 citizens arrested at Va. Governor’s mansion to stop pipelines, protect water

For Immediate Release
October 5, 2016
Contact:
Kelly Trout, 717-439-0346 (cell), kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838 (cell), mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org
23 Committed Citizens Block Gate to Va. Governor’s Mansion with Message to McAuliffe: ‘Yes, you can protect us from pipelines, coal ash and climate change’
–Act of civil disobedience is first-ever over climate change at the Virginia Governor’s mansion, inspired by the movements to stop the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines
–‘Protectors’ arrested include grandmothers, landowners, a pastor, an Army veteran, a student, and coastal residents facing flood danger
RICHMOND, Va. — Twenty-three committed citizens were peacefully arrested this afternoon after blocking the gate to the Virginia Governor’s mansion, engaging in civil disobedience to send the message to Governor Terry McAuliffe that his legacy — and the welfare of Virginians — depends on rejecting reckless pipeline and coal ash permits, and championing 100% renewable energy solutions.
The action was the first-ever act of civil disobedience over climate change and fossil fuel pollution at the Virginia Governor’s mansion. The citizens who were arrested are facing misdemeanor trespassing charges and received a court summons.
Participants ranged in age from 20 to 83 and include citizens of Giles County, Nelson County, Norfolk, Richmond, Shenandoah County, Buckingham County, and Leesburg. The group included grandmothers, an Army veteran, a nurse, faith activists, a student, and people living on the front lines of sea-level rise. Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks and Pastor Paul Wilson, who ministers to two churches in Buckingham County in the impact zone of Dominion’s proposed pipeline compressor station, also took part.
Today’s action comes as Virginia faces unprecedented pollution threats driven by corporations like Dominion Resources. The latest math shows that any new investments in fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure — including pipelines for fracked gas — could lock in runaway climate change, including the permanent flooding of Virginia’s coastline. Meanwhile, utility company plans to bury toxic coal ash waste next to major rivers could lock in the contamination of waterways and drinking water sources for decades to come.
In response to Governor McAuliffe’s recent remarks that he’s powerless over these issues, citizens are saying clearly and loudly, “Yes, you can act, and the time is now,” using the administration’s documented regulatory authority under the law and powerful political microphone.
“My wife and I draw our drinking water from a spring that could be disrupted or drained completely by the sort of trenching and blasting required by the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” said Russell Chisholm, a landowner in Newport, Virginia, in Giles County and a US Army veteran who served in Desert Storm. “Governor McAuliffe and his administration have the power to protect our clean water. It’s not a question of means but of the political will to do the right thing.”
“I’m getting arrested today because the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, under Governor McAuliffe, has failed to protect public health when it comes to the proper disposal of millions of tons of toxic coal ash in the state,” said Dean Naujoks, the Potomac Riverkeeper. “There are drinking wells, next to coal ash sites in Virginia right now, that are confirmed to be contaminated and yet the state still won’t tell citizens whether the wells are safe to drink or not. In the meantime, the Governor has the full power, on his own, to order DEQ to follow the much stronger and safer coal ash standards of North and South Carolina and Georgia. He should do that today.”
“The temperatures are rising, and the coastal city in which I live and raise my children increasingly floods even on sunny days,” said Kim Williams, a mother of two living in Norfolk. “Building new gas pipelines will only speed up and intensify the flooding. We need Governor McAuliffe to show courageous leadership, not buy into business as usual with fossil fuels.”
These “protectors” are taking action in solidarity with people across Virginia who face direct harm from fracked-gas pipelines that would bisect their land, from toxins polluting their drinking water, and from rising tides increasingly flooding their streets and homes.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s route comes within five miles of my home, and I’m ‘lucky,’” said Deborah Kushner of Nelson County. “I know people whose land is in the direct path of this pipeline. We must stop our dependence on fossil fuels that are heating our atmosphere, destroying mountains, raising sea levels and clogging and polluting waterways. If it takes marching, picketing and getting arrested, so be it. We are fighting for our survival.”
The action in front of Governor McAuliffe’s house echoes the demands of dozens of citizens who joined three days of picketing outside the Governor’s offices this week. Six hundred people marched through 99-degree heat to the Governor’s mansion in July, and more than 60 landowner, social justice, faith, student, riverkeeper, and climate groups sent an open letter to the Governor in June, outlining how he can champion energy and climate justice. Polling released in September indicates that Virginia voters oppose Governor McAuliffe’s current support for fracked-gas pipelines and for Dominion’s “cap in place” coal ash plans by significant, bipartisan margins.

As documented in fact sheets released this week, Governor McAuliffe’s administration can do the following using its direct regulatory authority and political leadership:

  • Stop fracked-gas pipelines using state permit authority under section 401 of the Clean Water Act.
  • Permanently protect waterways and drinking water from toxic coal ash, starting by rejecting Dominion’s “pollute in place” plans.
  • Champion state-based adaptation solutions and 100% renewable energy to keep Virginia’s coastal communities above water.

RESOURCES:
Profiles – View profiles of the “protectors” who were arrested at the Governor’s mansion: http://chesapeakeclimate.org/blog/citizens-reveal-why-they-are-risking-arrest-outside-of-gov-mcauliffes-mansion/
Photos – High-res photos of today’s act of civil disobedience will be available for use at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chesapeakeclimate/albums/72157673529402632

Fact sheet – The McAuliffe administration’s permit authority over fracked-gas pipelines: http://chesapeakeclimate.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/McAuliffe-Gas-Pipeline-Authority-Fact-Sheet-Oct-2016.pdf
Fact sheet – Three ways Gov. McAuliffe can act now to protect Virginians from pipelines, coal ash and rising sea levels: http://chesapeakeclimate.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/McAuliffe-Yes-You-Can-Fact-Sheet-Oct-2016.pdf

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Citizens Reveal Why They Are Risking Arrest Outside of Gov. McAuliffe's Mansion

kim-williamsKim Williams, Norfolk, Va.

The urgency of the times leads me to participate in civil disobedience at the governor’s mansion. The temperatures are rising; the ice sheets of Greenland and the polar ice caps are melting at alarming rates. The coastal city in which I live and raise my children increasingly floods even on sunny days. It is time to wake up! Building new gas pipelines will only add to the release of carbon into the atmosphere and to the speed and intensity of these disruptions in life happening now in my home city and all over the planet. Governor McAuliffe, we need courageous leadership! Business cannot continue as usual with fossil fuels!

 
 
 

rick-shinglesRick Shingles, Newport, Va.

Virginians have been disenfranchised from decisions determining our environment, health and welfare by state monopolies, mainly Dominion, that own Virginia’s energy policies. Our elected officials regularly do the bidding of these monopolies, confusing shareholders’ investments with the public interest. We, the public, have come to the capitol to reclaim our government, to demand that the governor and legislators promote what’s best for the Commonwealth. We are here to tell them: “Do the right thing! We have your backs.”

 

dean-naujoksDean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper

I’m getting arrested today because the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, under Governor McAuliffe, has failed to protect public health when it comes to the proper disposal of millions of tons of toxic coal ash in the state. There are drinking wells, next to coal ash sites in Virginia right now, that are confirmed to be contaminated and yet the state still won’t tell citizens whether the wells are safe to drink or not. In the meantime, the Governor has the full power, on his own, to order DEQ to follow the much stronger and safer coal ash standards of North and South Carolina and Georgia. He should do that today.

 

russell-chisholm_croppedRussell Chisholm, Newport, Va. (in Giles County)

Climate issues are veterans’ issues. I am a landowner in Newport, Virginia, and a US Army veteran who served in Desert Storm with the 24th Infantry Division. My home is in Giles County, Virginia – walking distance from the Appalachian Trail and just a few miles from the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked gas. My wife, Anna, also an Army veteran, and I draw our drinking water from a spring that, because of the special “karst” geological features of this part of Appalachia, could be disrupted or drained completely by the sort of trenching and pipe-laying required by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. And Governor McAuliffe supports the MVP.

 
 

quan-bakerQuan Baker, Norfolk, Va.

I don’t believe the Governor, or any of our other state legislators, are taking the impacts of climate change seriously. As a coastal state, we need to be on top of fossil fuel divestment. If I have to get arrested to make that statement clear then, so be it.

 
 


katharine-laytonKatharine Layton, Fort Valley, Va.

I want Governor McAuliffe to honor his campaign promises to fast-forward Virginia in clean, renewable energy development. I want the Governor to block construction of natural gas pipelines through Virginia to protect water supplies, protect forests and communities, and reduce greenhouse gases.  I object to the misuse of eminent domain laws to take private property from Virginians for the building of pipelines that are primarily for gas export and profits for the gas company, not the well-being of Virginia residents.

 

 


deborah-kushner-2Deborah Kushner, Nelson County, Va.

I live in Nelson County, Virginia – so rural there is only one stoplight in the whole county. It’s a stunningly beautiful county bordering the Blue Ridge mountains and full of lovely waterways, forests and wildlife.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s route comes within 5 miles of my home. I’m “lucky” – I know people whose land is in the direct path of this pipeline. Already, property values have plummeted. People are terrified and angry. Land that’s been in families for generations could be lost. Compressor stations are planned that will run 24/7, pumping toxic fumes and flames into the air and as loud as jet engines running constantly. The scenarios are nightmarish – explosions, leaks, drilling through unstable rock and under pristine streams. This in an exquisite area where I delight in hearing whipporwills outside my window, and witness migrating hawks by the thousands.
I’m proud of the resistance that’s sprung up all along the way to fight rampant plundering of our land to extract fossil fuel instead of investing in other, less destructive forms of energy that could ultimately save us from the horrors of impending climate change.
I am deeply concerned about our planet’s survival. We cannot continue to plunder our natural resources when viable alternatives exist and others can be developed. For the sake of every person alive and all the generations to come, we must stop the exploitation and devastation of our land and water and treasure it for the life-giving treasures they are.
We must stop our dependence of fossil fuels that are heating our atmosphere, destroying mountains, raising sea levels and clogging and polluting waterways. If it takes marching, picketing and getting arrested, so be it. We are fighting for our survival.
 

robert-dilday-jpgRobert Dilday, Richmond, Va.

Protecting God’s creation and the people God created is foundational for those of us whose faith motivates us to work for climate justice. Particularly when degradation of creation undermines the lives of people in marginalized communities, we’re called to give voice to their concerns and stand in solidarity with them. Civil disobedience is a well established practice in my faith tradition to accomplish that.
 
 

pastor-paulPastor Paul Wilson, Buckingham County, Va.

The Governor has not listened to us at all. This is something that the Governor can stop. He’s passing the buck. We refuse to be sacrificial lambs in our community for the sake of money for private industry. We believe there is not a real need for another gas line. There is not a need for a compressor station. We are in ground zero if something catastrophic were to happen. My church community is it.
 
 
 

brad-pearce

Brad Pearce, Richmond, Va.

The science is in. We have to aggressively cut CO2 emissions. But policy in Virginia right now rejects that – from supporting offshore oil to fracking to pipelines. Civil disobedience is necessary not only to challenge what is happening, but to raise awareness of what is possible.
 
 
 

marjorie-wellsMarjorie Wells, Va.

I’m 83 years old. I’m here because I grew up in a world that was clean – you had clear air you could breathe and clean water you could swim in. That’s all changing. And if we don’t get serious about this we’re not going to have a planet to live on.
 
 
 

april-mooreApril Moore, Shenandoah County, Va.

Humanity has never faced a challenge as major as climate change. This is an emergency that must be dealt with as such. Gov. McAuliffe and other elected officials must respond by doing everything in their power to make the shift, as rapidly as possible, from climate-warming fossil fuels to clean, jobs-producing, renewable energy like solar and wind.
Civil disobedience is a time-honored practice. We citizens are so committed to getting our governor to take real action on climate that we are willing to risk arrest to underscore the importance of our cause. We are working to get the attention of Gov. McAuliffe and the citizens of Virginia.
 
 

herb-fitzellHerb Fitzell, Richmond, Va.

President Grant said of the Mexican-American war, “I do not think there was ever a more wicked war…only I had not moral courage enough to resign.” But Thoreau did have courage, and he went to jail as an act of resistance to a governmental machine which had lost its moral compass. Thus began the great American tradition of civil disobedience. Our government now marches towards the destruction of our climate, and what could be more wicked than destroying God’s entire creation in exchange for silver? I stand with Native Americans courageously resisting pipelines in Dakota, and with citizens throughout the nation who demand would-be leaders face reality rather than run from it. I happily join our great American tradition of resistance. While some bury their heads in the sand, many of us are looking at the stars.
 

lee-williams2Lee Williams, Richmond, Va.

I’m here today to change the political will of our leaders. We have a global energy model that values fossil fuels over clean air and water; corporations over people. The collusion between Corporations and Government has destroyed my ability to have representation. This is the only avenue left open for me to be heard.

 
 
 
 
 

chuck-epesChuck Epes, Richmond, Va.

The rivers and other natural resources of Virginia belong to the public. State government has a constitutional duty to protect and preserve those resources for the benefit of all Virginia citizens. Gov. McAuliffe and the Va. DEQ are violating that public trust by allowing Dominion Power, a private for-profit corporation, to further pollute our waterways with coal ash poisons and other fossil fuel wastes, threatening public health and the environment. It’s time state government do its job and say no to corporate polluters. It’s time for clean, sustainable energy. It’s time to take a stand.
 
 
 

john-moyeuxJohn Mayeux, Luray VA

John Mayeux is a 66 year old green home remodeler, and owner of Why Build Green, in Luray, VA. He taught green building to vocational technical students in the Shenandoah Valley for several years. John was active in opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline.
John is in Richmond to strongly encourage Governor McAuliffe to oppose the Dominion gas pipeline through Virginia, stop coal ash dumping in our rivers and work to reduce fossil fuel burning which would reduce global warming and protect our fragile coastlines from rising ocean levels and storm surge damage.
 
 

jennifer-alves-2Jennifer Alves, Leesburg, Va.

My name is Jennifer Alves, and I am a LORAX. I love Mother Earth with all my heart. All my life I have been working towards the Revolution now taking place and so many people are embracing. I began counting my blessings the day I was born. Twice as a child I had brain cancer. And then again just after my 30th birthday. The childhood tumor and treatments caused complications in my brain, a visual impairment and a short term memory glitch. Despite the number of difficulties I faced from a very young age, I imagined with faith and high hopes of what I would be when I grew up. Through the hardships of public school, I was fortunate to have my family, teachers, and special education personal who saw in me great potential and the determination to succeed.

 
 

maria-bergheimMaria Bergheim, Loudoun County, VA

I am tired of empty promises from our elected officials. We elect them into office to protect us not to harm us but with the threat of climate change at a real tipping point that has reached 400 CO2 it’s a disgrace they still won’t work for us but rather for Dominion. This has to change now …not tomorrow but today!
 
 
 

david-copperDavid Copper, Staunton Va.

It’s time. It’s got to be done.

 
 
 
 
 

izzy-pezzuloIzzy Pezzulo, Richmond, Va.

Because I care about the communities in Virginia impacted by fossil fuel infrastructure and the lives impacted.

 

 
 
 
 

jim-bartonJim Barton, Va.

I want to protect the environment. It’s my first time getting arrested, but now’s the time.
 
 
 
 
 

dsc02996Terry Ellen, Pikesville, Md.

The climate crisis is the greatest moral issue we face together at this time. Nothing else touches it in terms of its consequences for us, future generations, and all the species. Our generation will be judged by all future ones on how we react. So it is imperative that our elected leaders respond to it as the crisis that it is. Governor McAuliffe has not done so, despite campaign promises, in the three areas highlighted in these protests. And so it is imperative that citizens demand he do so, even risking peaceful arrest to highlight the moral importance of this moment. As a seventy-one year old Unitarian Universalist Minister, I feel it is also important that we elders do our part. Younger generations are counting on us.
 
 

Virginians Launch Three-Day Picket Line Outside of Gov. McAuliffe’s Richmond Offices

Citizens Launch Three-Day Picket Line Outside of Gov. McAuliffe’s Richmond Offices, Chanting ‘Yes, You Can Stop the Pipelines!’

Military veterans, students, faith activists and landowners join growing confrontation over fossil fuels

RICHMOND, Va.—Fifty Virginians opposed to proposed fracked-gas pipelines launched a three-day picket line outside of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Richmond offices this morning, calling on the Governor to take action to protect the state’s precious clean water resources from harm.
Over three days of picketing, citizens will highlight three ways Governor McAuliffe’s administration must stop denying—and start using—its executive authority and political leadership to protect Virginians from three urgent fossil fuel threats: pipelines, toxic coal ash, and rising sea levels driven by global warming.
The first day of picketing kicked off this morning with a press conference on the Capitol Grounds featuring Virginians from Giles County to Buckingham County who are being directly affected by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
“We need Governor McAuliffe on the side of the citizens to keep our water clean,” said Don Jones, who stood next to his 86-year-old father George Jones, a Korean War veteran whose 10th-generation Virginia family farm would be bisected by the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County. “We need water to survive, the gas we don’t, and Governor McAuliffe has the power to help us.”
In recent interviews, Governor McAuliffe has repeatedly called the pipelines a “federal issue” and inaccurately dismissed the state’s direct authority to approve or deny the 401 Water Quality Certificate each project needs under the Clean Water Act.
Legal experts today released a fact sheet outlining the case for state intervention. Picketers carried a blown up replica of a letter from New York State to prove the point. It shows the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo in April denied a 401 water quality permit for a proposed 124-mile fracked-gas pipeline in New York.
“For many months, Governor McAuliffe has denied that he has authority to protect Virginians from the damages these pipelines would cause if built,” said David Sligh, Regulatory Systems Investigator with the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition. “The law clearly contradicts his assertions, a fact that may explain why the Governor’s office and top environmental officials refuse to respond to the detailed information we’ve sent them or answer the specific questions we’ve asked regarding this issue.”
“How many communities must be destroyed before Governor McAuliffe and our political leaders decide enough is enough?,” asked Pastor Paul Wilson, minister to the Union Hill and Union Grove Missionary Baptist Churches, who will join the picket line on Wednesday. His churches are within a half-mile of Dominion’s proposed 53,000-horsepower compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “The 200 people I serve stand to lose their health, property values, and quality of life, while Dominion stands to profit. It’s not too late for Governor McAuliffe to get on the right side of history and to tell Dominion ‘no,’” added Wilson.
People are converging on Richmond this week from every region of the state—from southwest Virginia to Nelson County to Northern Virginia to Norfolk. Each day citizens will parade past the Governor’s mansion with signs like, “Yes, You Can, Protect Our Water” and chants like “Fracked-gas pipelines flood our coastlines,” before forming a picket line on the sidewalk in front of the Governor’s offices in the Patrick Henry Building.
Tomorrow, Dan Marrow, a father from Dumfries, plans to bring a bottle of contaminated water from his family’s drinking well, and ask the Governor to sample it. The “Dominion Water” will list on the bottle the concentrations of toxins found in his family’s well, which is a short distance from a coal ash waste pond operated by Dominion Virginia Power.
On Tuesday—“Day 2” of the picket—citizens will tell Governor McAuliffe, “Yes, you can protect our water from coal ash,” by requiring Dominion to move the toxic waste away from rivers to modern, lined landfills, just as the Carolinas and Georgia are requiring utilities to do. Dominion is currently seeking sign off to bury its coal ash in place—a “pollute in place” plan that could contaminate rivers and drinking water sources for decades to come.
On Wednesday—“Day 3” of the picket—coastal Hampton Roads residents will come to Richmond to demand that Governor McAuliffe champion 100% clean energy and state-based adaptation solutions to protect their homes from growing flooding.
“Governor McAuliffe has shown a stunning lack of political courage when it comes to climate change—and my generation will pay the price,” said Izzy Pezzulo, a junior at the University of Richmond and member of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition. “We’re at the point where half-measures are unacceptable. Climate leadership means keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and that means saying ‘no’ to pipelines.”
An alarming new report shows that investments in new fossil fuels, including new fracking wells and pipelines, must stop now in order to avoid catastrophic climate impacts — like the permanent flooding of Virginia’s coastal communities and military bases.
Polling released in September indicates that Virginia voters largely back the demands of the picket. Seventy-one percent of those polled believe Governor McAuliffe should follow the approach of other southern states on coal ash disposal. Additionally, only 28% of Virginia voters said they support Governor McAuliffe’s efforts to build fracked-gas pipelines, with 55% opposed.

RESOURCES:
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Poll: Virginia Voters Oppose Governor McAuliffe on Fracked-Gas Pipelines, Coal Ash Disposal

Contact:
Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org
Citizens announce a three-day picket outside of Governor McAuliffe’s Richmond offices in early October to demand protection from fossil fuel harm
RICHMOND, Va. Statewide poll results released today show that, on the hot-button issues of fracked-gas pipelines and coal ash disposal, Virginia voters disagree with the approach being taken by Governor Terry McAuliffe by significant, bipartisan margins.
The results of the poll, conducted by the nonpartisan firm The Cromer Group, indicate that:

  • Only 28% of Virginia voters support Governor McAuliffe’s efforts to build two major fracked-gas pipelines, while 55% oppose the Governor’s efforts, a nearly 2-to-1 margin of opposition.
  • Opposition to Governor McAuliffe on pipelines was especially strong in rural Virginia, among Independents, and among women.
  • An overwhelming majority of voters — 71% — believe Governor McAuliffe should follow the approach of other southern states on coal ash disposal, requiring removal of the ash to modern landfills instead of allowing Dominion to bury it in place by rivers.
  • The coal ash results show a 5-to-1 margin against Dominion’s approach and in favor of the approach of other southern states — including a majority across every party, regional, and demographic group surveyed.

“This poll shows that Governor McAuliffe’s cheerleading for fracked-gas pipelines is not only dangerous for communities and the climate, but decidedly unpopular in Virginia,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “The Governor likes to dismiss both the pipelines and coal ash as ‘federal issues’ beyond his influence, but that’s untrue. He has direct executive power to act on behalf of Virginians facing direct harm now. Governor McAuliffe has the means and the moral responsibility to reject the pipelines and to reform coal ash disposal, and his legacy depends on it.”
The poll results were released by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Virginia Organizing during a tele-briefing this morning, which also included Virginia citizens who are being directly affected by the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines and by water contamination linked to coal ash.
“Governor Terry McAuliffe was elected on promises to protect our environment, and that’s what Virginia voters clearly still expect him to do,” said Janice “Jay” Johnson, a Newport News resident and State Governing Board member of Virginia Organizing. “By putting the welfare of people over polluters, Governor McAuliffe can gain the support and trust of a growing grassroots movement. He can protect me and my neighbors in Hampton Roads who live in daily fear of flooding and extreme weather, wondering when ‘the big one’ will hit us.”
Citizens on the call announced plans for a first-of-its-kind, three-day picket outside of Governor McAuliffe’s Richmond offices during the first week of October. The picket line will unite dozens of Virginians across the state in bringing this message to the Governor: “Yes, you can, and yes, you must, protect our welfare from pipelines, coal ash, and rising seas.”
“I’ll be bringing drinking water from my family’s well near Possum Point to Governor McAuliffe’s offices to ask him directly, ‘Would you let your kids drink this?,’” said Dan Marrow, a father from Dumfries whose family lives within 1,000 feet of a Dominion coal ash waste pond and whose drinking water recently tested positive for several toxic heavy metals. “If Governor McAuliffe lets Dominion continue with its ‘cap in place’ plan, more families like mine will face contaminated water and unknown health risks. Polling shows the public understands this threat and expects Governor McAuliffe to follow the safer approach of neighboring states.”
“My father and I will travel from Southwest Virginia to Richmond to appeal to the Governor to protect our 10th-generation family land, our water, and our heritage,” said Don Jones, the son of 86-year-old Korean War veteran George Jones, who owns property that would be bisected by the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County. “Instead of doing the bidding of gas companies, it’s time for Governor McAuliffe to stand with citizens, and help stop these pipelines.”
“Our churches and seventy-five percent of our membership make up the ground-zero zone of the proposed compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” said Pastor Paul Wilson, who ministers to the Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches in Buckingham County. “Dominion’s message to us has been that 200-plus lives don’t matter, so we’re asking, does Governor McAuliffe agree? If the Governor believes in environmental justice, then he must commit to using his state authority to reject the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Buckingham County Board of Supervisors must also reject Dominion’s permit request.”
During the three-day protest in October, citizens will press Governor McAuliffe to make a positive difference on three major pollution threats facing Virginia, specifically by:

  • Rejecting permits for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines for fracked gas, using state authority under the Clean Water Act, as Governor Andrew Cuomo has done in New York State.
  • Requiring Dominion and other utilities to permanently protect Virginia waterways from toxic coal ash, as state authorities in the Carolinas and Georgia are doing.
  • Committing to serious clean energy and adaptation solutions to keep coastal communities above water, including a dedicated state funding stream for flood protection.

The Cromer Group poll, commissioned by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, surveyed 732 randomly-selected Virginia registered voters in an automated phone survey. The survey carries a margin of error of + 4.0 percent at 95 percent level of confidence.
View a PDF summary of the poll results and methodology at: http://chesapeakeclimate.org/assets/uploads/2016/09/Gov-McAuliffe-Survey-Results-Sep-16.pdf
Listen to a recording of this morning’s tele-briefing on the poll results at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0k8OB0-Dp5ReFU3T3l4SDZqcnc/view
Download a copy of the poll results graphic at: http://chesapeakeclimate.org/assets/uploads/2016/09/VA-2016-Poll-Results-Graphic.png

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The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the biggest and oldest grassroots organization dedicated to fighting climate change in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. CCAN is building a powerful movement to shift our region away from climate-harming fossil fuels and to clean energy solutions: www.chesapeakeclimate.org.

 

The Human Story Behind Governor McAuliffe's Energy Policies

Often the stories and faces of real people get lost in the debate over Virginia energy policy. The letter below was sent to Governor McAuliffe by eight Virginians who all have one thing in common: They have been harmed or will soon be harmed by the Governor’s actions (or lack thereof) on fracked-gas pipelines, improper coal ash disposal, and flooding driven by climate change.
These eight Virginians are asking to meet directly with Governor McAuliffe so they can share firsthand how his policies are affecting them. They also make the case in their letter for how McAuliffe can, using his explicit current authority as Governor, make energy policy changes that will directly protect them.
Read on to go beyond the statistics and get to the human story behind Virginians’ growing resistance to the Governor’s and Dominion’s energy policies. Click here to view and download a PDF version.
———————————————————————————
Dear Governor McAuliffe,
We are Virginians of multiple races, ages and backgrounds representing every region of the Commonwealth. We are writing you today to share our belief that clean energy – with your support – can soon fully power our lives and our economy without poisoning our air or our water or sacrificing entire regions of our state.
But currently, Governor, your energy policies are sacrificing whole communities. Your support of the dirty-energy projects of Dominion Power and other polluting companies is harming us – the signers of this letter – in clear and concrete ways. We just wanted to write you directly to put real human faces behind the growing public concerns over your policies.
In April, several leading organizations issued a report card grade of D+ to your administration on the issues of climate change and energy. In June, more than 60 groups from across the state issued an open letter to you asking you to put the welfare of Virginia’s people ahead of the interests of polluters. In July, 600 of us visited your home to reiterate our concerns as part of the July 23 “March on the Mansion.”
But Governor you have not responded to any of these concerns. You have not announced any change in your energy policies. So we call on you once again to reverse course immediately on supporting fracked-gas pipelines and the improper burial of coal ash waste in our communities. We want to ask you instead to begin fully embracing a just energy policy for all Virginians that reduces total climate pollution while investing in clean-energy jobs and real investments to protect our people and the military from accelerating sea-level rise and other impacts of global warming.
Who are we? We are a northern Virginia resident whose drinking water has already been contaminated next to a Dominion Power coal ash storage site. We are a Buckingham County minister whose congregations reside in the harm radius of a proposed 57,000 horsepower compressor station for a fracked-gas pipeline you support. We are a Nelson County landowner whose heritage includes indigenous American descent and whose hay fields and cattle could be negatively affected by direct erosion from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for fracked gas. And we are a Korean War veteran and landowner whose very property will be seized and whose fields and forests will be disrupted by a second massive fracked-gas pipeline – the Mountain Valley Pipeline – that you support.
We are a student whose entire future depends on rapid cuts to greenhouse gases to combat global warming. We are a senior citizen in Hampton Roads who is fearful of being stranded in the growing coastal floods linked to climate change and who must now pay for flood insurance for a house that was never previously vulnerable to floods.
We know, Governor, that you can lead us toward a better energy future by embracing better policies. We are grateful that you have taken small steps to promote solar power, wind, and energy efficiency. We know that clean-energy prices continue to fall rapidly worldwide and that virtually every state in America uses more wind and solar power than Virginia and has better energy-efficiency standards.
But proportionally, your current policies overwhelmingly embrace fossil fuel development over clean energy use. The expanded emissions from new gas pipelines would by themselves totally counteract all you have done to combat climate change through renewable energy. Your support of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines for fracked gas would seize a 1000-mile strip of public and private land, threaten drinking water, incentivize fracking, and rapidly increase global warming pollution. Indeed, a recent study shows these pipelines, if built, will trigger total greenhouse gas emissions equal to twice the volume of all of Virginia’s current power plants combined. Finally, your support of Dominion Power’s policy of dumping coal ash liquid into rivers and burying coal-ash solid waste in unlined soils is a profound threat to human health and the environment.
We ask you to join us – immediately – in changing course on the policies we’ve identified here. Will you please meet with us at your earliest convenience to discuss these vital issues?
We look forward to your response.
Sincerely,
george-jones-cropped-credit-preserve-gilesGeorge Jones, 86, landowner, Giles County, Virginia – George served in the US Navy from 1950-54, serving in the Korean War. The land of his 10-generation Virginia family would be seized, bisected, and substantially deforested by the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline carrying fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia. George is devastated by this invasion of his homeland and the violation of his citizen’s rights but equally concerned with the certain destruction to the ecosystem and especially ancient water systems that can never be “fixed.” The Mountain Valley Pipeline is supported by Governor McAuliffe.
 
 
 
 
pastor-paul-wilson_croppedPastor Paul Wilson, 63, ordained minister, Buckingham County, Virginia – Pastor Paul ministers to the Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist Churches in Buckingham County. His rural congregations would be dramatically affected by the pollution, noise, and maintenance activity of a proposed 57,000-horsepower compressor station that would process fracked gas from the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline running from West Virginia to Virginia. The ACP pipeline and the compressor station are both supported by Governor McAuliffe.
 
 
 
 
caroline-brayCaroline Bray, 20, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia – Caroline was born and raised in Virginia and is currently studying biology at the University of Virginia, where she is the president of the Climate Action Society. Through her advocacy against new pipelines in Virginia and campaign for fossil fuel divestment, she has become increasingly concerned with the influence of Dominion Power and other fossil fuels companies on her state government and her school.
 
 
 
 
dan-marrow_croppedDan Marrow, 60, homeowner, Possum Point Road, Dumfries, Virginia – Dan and his wife and two daughters live within a thousand feet of a coal ash waste pond operated by Dominion Power. His teenage daughters were raised entirely on the property. Recently, the family’s drinking water well showed elevated quantities of several toxic heavy metals associated with coal ash. Dominion refuses to remove the nearby coal ash to a modern landfill as North Carolina and South Carolina are requiring of utilities. Governor McAuliffe supports Dominion’s coal ash plans that are deemed unsafe in the Carolinas and Georgia.
 
 
 
 
russell-chisholm_croppedRussell Chisholm, 48, landowner, Newport, Virginia – Russell is a US Army veteran who served in Desert Storm with the 24th Infantry Division. His home in Giles County, Virginia is walking distance from the Appalachian Trail and just a few miles from the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline for fracked gas. Russell and his wife, Anna, also an Army veteran, draw their drinking water from a spring that, because of the special “karst” geological features of this part of Appalachia, could be disrupted or drained completely by the sort of trenching and pipe-laying required by the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Again, Governor McAuliffe supports the MVP.
 
 
 
jay-johnson_croppedJanice Johnson, 77, retired city employee of Hampton, Virginia, who now lives in Newport News, Virginia – Janice, a native of the Hampton Roads region, lives in daily fear that increased flooding and extreme weather events will leave her and other vulnerable seniors stranded in the event of a major storm. Worse, because of sea-level rise, she’s now being asked to pay for expensive flood insurance for a home that had never before been in a designated flood zone, and she is required to pay for a costly surveyor to come on her land to authenticate the height of her home. Governor McAuliffe has declined to support the Virginia Coastal Protection Act, which would provide the first dedicated state funding to address many of the region’s flooding issues.
 
 
wisteria-johnsonWisteria Johnson, 66, landowner, Shipman, Virginia. Biographical statement from Wisteria: “We are seven-generation mountain folk of indigenous American, European and African dissent. We currently live peaceably in conjunction with untouched headwaters and untouched nature typical to this part of Virginia. We have timberlands and hay fields and we are growers of a small herd of beef cattle for public consumption. We are also families who, despite our attempt to remain isolated from American corporate exploitation, we now find ourselves to be probable recipients to a gas-filled pipeline that would either parallel the headwater beds or lie in the belly of the mountain ridge. The ridge, being its natural self, has steep slopes and God-grown forest. Lastly, we are a family facing endangerment while political and corporate defenders thrive.”
 
 
lee-williams2Lee Williams, 51, critical care nurse, Richmond, Virginia. Lee is the mother of three and avid outdoors enthusiast, living near the James River. She has also been a property owner in Nelson County for 18 years, and has raised her children at Wintergreen on the Appalachian Trail and surrounding National Forests. Lee is fighting to ban hydro-fracking and the building of new infrastructure to transport it, because the best scientific evidence points to climate change, resulting sea level rise and super storms, poisoned water, a sickened population, and a devastated landscape. As an active member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and The Interfaith Climate Justice Team, she is called to safeguard life and respect creation by urging decision makers to recognize and honor indigenous communities, other people of color, and our most vulnerable communities throughout the commonwealth that are most at risk of losing access to clean water; whether from contamination from coal ash, construction sediment, spilled oil, or rising sea levels. Lee steadfastly fights for racial justice and reconciliation with climate justice and caring for God’s creation as a matter of stewardship.

Community and Conservation Groups Condemn FERC’s Review of Proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline

Contact:
Joe Lovett, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, 304-520-2324, jlovett@appalmad.org
Laurie Ardison, Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights, 304-646-8339, ikeandash@yahoo.com
Kirk Bowers, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, 434-296-8673, kirk.bowers@sierraclub.org
Kelly Trout, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Lara Mack, Appalachian Voices, 434-293-6373, lara@appvoices.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal regulators today released a draft environmental review for the proposed fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline that public interest advocates say fails to adequately assess the public need for the project and the widespread threats to private property, public lands, local communities, water quality and the climate.
The controversial $3.2 billion pipeline, proposed by EQT and NextEra, would cut 301 miles through West Virginia and Virginia — crossing public lands and more than 1,000 waterways and wetlands — and require the construction of three large compressor stations. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is one of six major pipelines proposed for the same region of Virginia and West Virginia where experts warn the gas industry is overbuilding pipeline infrastructure. (See below for a bulleted list of impacts as defined by FERC.)
In preparing its draft Environmental Impact Statement, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relied heavily on gas company data to assess the public need for the project, the groups say. A report released earlier this month concludes there is enough existing gas supply in Virginia and the Carolinas to meet demand through 2030. The groups also fault the agency for dismissing clean energy alternatives.
In response to requests from numerous elected officials and organizations, FERC has extended the usual 45-day period for public comment to 90 days. Comments are due December 22.
While legal and environmental experts are continuing to review the nearly 2,600-page document, they have identified major gaps in FERC’s analysis, including:

  • The core issue of whether the massive project is needed to meet electricity demand, and whether other alternatives including energy efficiency, solar and wind would be more environmentally responsible sources;
  • A complete analysis of the cumulative, life-cycle climate pollution that would result from the pipeline;
  • Any accounting of other environmental and human health damage from the increased gas fracking in West Virginia that would supply the pipeline; and
  • Thorough analysis of damage to water quality and natural resources throughout the pipeline route.

“It’s shameful that FERC did not prepare a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement,” said Joe Lovett, Executive Director of Appalachian Mountain Advocates. “It would allow a private pipeline company to take private property for private profit. Apparently FERC decided it didn’t have to do the hard work necessary to determine whether the MVP is necessary. Such a lack of diligence is remarkable because FERC has the extraordinary power to grant MVP the right to take property that has, in many cases, been in the same families for generations.”
“The resource reports MVP has already submitted to FERC are the alleged backbone upon which the DEIS is created. These reports are, however, uncatalogued collections of partial surveys, studies and desktop engineering notions which are rife with omissions, and inadequate and incorrect data,” said Laurie Ardison, Co-Chair of Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights (POWHR). “The DEIS is fatally flawed for a variety of process and substance matters, not the least of which is MVP’s insufficient, unsubstantiated foundational material.”
“FERC once again has its blinders on to the full climate consequences of fracked gas,” said Anne Havemann, General Counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “FERC’s limited review ignores the full lifecycle of pollution the pipeline will trigger by acting as if gas comes from nowhere. FERC also provides no clear explanation of exactly how it arrived at its limited estimate of emissions. If FERC did a full accounting of the climate harm of this fracked-gas project and clean energy alternatives, it would have no choice but to reject it.”
“Recent studies have shown that our region has the necessary energy to meet demand through 2030 already. We know that clean, renewable energy is available and affordable, and by this time, it will be the only choice to preserve our environment and climate. Additional fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley project, are not needed to keep the lights on, homes and businesses heated, and industrial facilities in production — despite the claims by MVP developers,” said Kirk Bowers, Pipelines Campaign Manager with the Virginia Chapter of Sierra Club.
“This would be the first fracked-gas pipeline of this size to cross the Alleghany and Blue Ridge mountains. Running a massive gas project through the steep, rugged terrain laced with dozens of rivers and headwater streams is a perfect storm for major damage to our water resources,” said Lara Mack, Virginia Campaign Field Organizer with Appalachian Voices. ”FERC also fails to meaningfully address the safety issues and other concerns so earnestly voiced by hundreds of homeowners and landowners along the route.”
“The Mountain Valley Pipeline could result in taking people’s property in West Virginia solely to benefit out-of-state companies,” said Jim Kotcon, West Virginia Sierra Club Chapter Chair. “To make matters worse, it will affect all West Virginians because it will result in higher gas prices for local consumers. Low cost energy is one of the few advantages that West Virginia has in attracting new businesses, and this pipeline will make our energy costs higher while lowering costs for competitors in other states. That pipeline is bad business for West Virginia businesses.”

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Highlights of major impacts of the MVP route as identified by FERC in the DEIS:

  • About 67% of the MVP route would cross areas susceptible to landslides.
  • The pipeline would cross about 51 miles of karst terrain.
  • Construction would disturb about 4,189 acres of soils that are classified as potential for severe water erosion.
  • Construction would disturb about 2,353 acres of prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance.
  • The pipeline would result in 986 waterbody crossings; 33 are classified as fisheries of special concern.
  • The MVP would cross about 245 miles of forest; in Virginia, it would impact about 938 acres of contiguous interior forest during construction classified as “high” to “outstanding” quality.
  • In West Virginia, the pipeline would result in permanent impacts on about 865 acres of core forest areas which are significant wildlife habitat.
  • The 50-foot wide operational easement would represent a permanent impact on forests.
  • FERC identified 22 federally listed threatened, endangered, candidate, or special concern species potentially in vicinity of the MVP and the Equitrans projects, and 20 state-listed or special concern species.
  • MVP identified 117 residences within 50 feet of its proposed construction right-of-way.
  • Construction would require use of 365 roadways.
  • A still incomplete survey of the route shows the pipeline could potentially affect 166 new archaeological sites and 94 new architectural sites, in addition to crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway Historic District, North Fork Valley Rural Historic District, and Greater Newport Rural Historic District, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.