Opponents of the proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline rally in Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -
Environmentalists and western Virginia property owners rallied Friday in Richmond in opposition to a proposed 550-mile natural gas pipeline.
As lawmakers wrapped up the week, Virginians against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project spoke out about Dominion and politicians on board with the proposal.
"Bring it on, Dominion. The more you force your way, the more we will fight this injustice," said Joanna Salidis, Friends of Nelson president. "My blood boils when I hear our governor and others crow about how much economic development this pipeline will bring."
Dominion is partnering with other utilities to build the $5 billion ACP, which would cross the Blue Ridge Mountains to deliver gas from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Friday's rally was organized by the Sierra Club and Friends of Nelson, a group of property owners in Nelson Co. who live along the proposed pipeline route.
Environmentalists say the project would contribute to global warming because of the extraction method, known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," used to get the gas out of the ground.
Property owners whose land would be crossed by the pipeline say the utilities are trampling on their property rights.
Some protestors did congratulate lawmakers, like 24th District Senator Emmett Hanger (R) and 25th District Senator Creigh Deeds (D) for introducing legislation that they feel would empower landowners. Senate Bill 1338, led by Sen. Hanger, would repeal code that currently allows inter-state natural gas companies to go on property without the consent of landowners.
"In my opinion at least, it would be a better situation if the utilities had to work more closely with the property owners in gaining permission, in being respectful of their private property rights," Hanger said.
Hanger believes the power company should prove the pipeline is in the interest of the community, and not just for economic gain. He hopes his bill at least sets the stage for compromise.
Dominion spokesperson Frank Mack says all Virginians would benefit from the pipeline. According to Mack, the project will result in cleaner air, a more stable source of power, and potentially lower energy bills.
Mack says Dominion is following the law and they plan to proceed with the pipeline. The company has an estimated 257 homeowners to sue over access to their land. He said by working with Dominion, homeowners could help them factor in areas they do not want touched by the pipeline.