Pipeline Opposition Works to Expand its Reach

Posted: Updated: Aug 09, 2015 10:51 PM
Friends of Nelson holds a meeting. Friends of Nelson holds a meeting.
Maps and information set out during the Friends of Nelson meeting. Maps and information set out during the Friends of Nelson meeting.

One Nelson County group is beefing up its battle with the feds to block Dominion's plan for a natural gas pipeline.

The group Friends of Nelson says it's making progress and expanding the reach of pipeline opposition into communities across southside and southwest Virginia.

Friends of Nelson says more people are sending letters to Virginia politicians in opposition to the pipeline. The group says it used to average 70 letters a week, now it's at 170 a week. Leaders call that increasing participation an encouraging sign in a scary battle.

"You should be concerned, yeah! Because it can happen anywhere," says Randy Whiting with Friends of Nelson.

Friends of Nelson and other pipeline opponents say no one is safe when it comes to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. They met Sunday night at the Rockfish Valley Community Center to come up with a plan to get that message across to decision makers in Washington.

"We’re trying to wake up the federal government that FERC is a rogue agency and they need to be stopped from stealing people's private property," says Craig Stevens, a fracking expert from Pennsylvania.

Fracking involves fracturing shale rocks to release natural gas.

Stevens believes opposition to pipelines across the country is starting to get noticed. "Two Republicans and two Democrats, Congress people, are demanding an investigation of FERC because of their use of eminent domain, which directly affects this pipeline because they're using eminent domain for 150 miles here.”

Activists in Nelson County worry that in addition to disrupting their land, the pipeline will not bring benefits to their local economy. "We really get nothing from it. We hardly get any jobs. We don't get access to the gas. We basically lose everything. We lose our mountains, we get unstable terrain, we get polluted water from where the gas is taken out of the ground,” says Whiting.

Dominion Energy says that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will provide clean fuel for power stations in Virginia and lower electric bills for customers. Anti-pipeline groups don't buy that. Friends of Nelson is right back at it again tomorrow, hosting a film screening.

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