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Environmental Groups Join Forces to Oppose Pipeline

Posted: Updated: Sep 24, 2014 04:23 PM
Environmental groups holding press conference on the downtown mall Environmental groups holding press conference on the downtown mall

Several groups are joining forces to fight the proposed Dominion Atlantic Coast pipeline, and they hope Governor Terry McAuliffe got the message.

Representatives from the Augusta County Alliance, Friends of Nelson, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club and 350.org central Virginia held a press conference outside Charlottesville City Hall Wednesday morning. The groups announced their new alliance against the pipeline. The proposed pipeline would stretch 550 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina, cutting through parts of the George Washington National Forest, Augusta County, Nelson County and Staunton.

During the press conference, the group learned Governor McAuliffe was having lunch at Citizen Burger Bar on Charlottesville's downtown mall. They moved to the restaurant and protested outside chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, Dominion's pipeline's got to go." An employee at the restaurant said McAuliffe left out the back and did not address the protestors.

Chris Lego of the Augusta County Alliance says he believes McAuliffe's support of the project shows his view on this is short-sighted.  "He claims we'll have economic benefit from it, but actually, Dominion is the only organization or the only people who are going to benefit from it," he stated.

McAuliffe has called the $5-billion project an "energy superhighway" that would create more than 8,000 jobs and generate billions of dollars over time. The groups are concerned the pipeline will have negative impacts on property rights, land value, tourism and local economies.

"There's even some indication that they want this big huge pipeline so that they can actually sell this gas overseas. They're denying that, but we're not convinced." Lego stated.

The groups say Dominion's next step is to obtain a series of permits for the project, and they will be following the project every step of the way.

Sierra Club Press Release:

The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club is joining forces with the Friends of Nelson, the Augusta County Alliance and 350.org Central Virginia in opposition to the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline.

Dominion Resources plans to partner with Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources on the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline that will stretch from Harrison County, West Virginia to Robeson County, N.C. The pipeline got the blessing of Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe last Tuesday.

The proposed project would be “a game changer” for Virginia industry and homeowners, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said last Tuesday at an announcement in the Capitol. “It will spur economic growth in all parts of the Commonwealth.”

Environmental and citizen-led community organizations in central and western Virginia have expressed strong opposition to the pipeline project. Major issues concerning the pipeline include property rights violations, property devaluation, impacts to tourism and agricultural-based economies of Nelson and Augusta Counties, public safety and environmental damage along the path of the pipeline to include contamination of local water supplies. Dominion alleges the legal right of entry to private property to survey for right-of-way easements as legislated by the General Assembly in 2004. Significant environmental damage could occur as a result of construction of the pipeline in karst topography, over mountainous terrain and through sensitive environmental areas including the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail.

The Augusta County Alliance, formed in July to oppose the pipeline and preserve the rural character of the County, has rallied hundreds of citizens who are united in opposition to the project. “We have been making a very strong case that construction of a huge, 42-inch transmission pipeline through Augusta County will actually harm our rural economic sectors due to the destructive impact on farms, forests and private and public lands, while also creating serious safety concerns, and endangering our water that supplies most of the state,'' said Nancy Sorrells, co-chair of the Alliance. Augusta County is slated for 43 miles of the proposed pipeline.

The project has already drawn strong opposition in Nelson County, where about 35 miles of the pipeline would run. Homes and businesses along state Route 151 and 29 sport blue placards that say, “No pipeline.” Thirteen landowners have filed lawsuits against Dominion for violating state law regarding survey of their property. Only twenty-five percent of the affected landowners in Nelson County have agreed to the survey of their property. Opposition has been so strong that surveying in the County has been put on hold several times. "We are very discouraged by the Governor's support of this pipeline," said Charlotte Rea, President of Friends of Nelson. "This pipeline will bring no economic gains or permanent jobs to Nelson County but will threaten our water supplies, devalue our property, endanger public safety and deface the landscapes and mountain vistas that are beloved by Nelson County residents and tourists alike and which are the lifeblood of our economy."

The Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club strongly opposes the proposed Dominion pipeline. “The pipeline would incentivize more fracking across the region, continue to promote the use of fossil fuels and contribute significantly to environmental damage during construction,” said Kirk Bowers, Conservation Chair of the Piedmont Group. “We intend to fight the pipeline. Future generations depend on the outcome of our resolve.”

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