We believe that the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) is unnecessary and will cause serious, lasting and expensive harm to America's public health, economy, and environment. It seems shortsighted to build pipelines designed to carry fossil fuels, with a cost that customers will bear for over 40 years, when it is likely that 10 years from now those fossil fuels will no longer be used or wanted. This is akin to buying typewriters as computers were developed, or buying Blockbuster stock as Netflix took off.
There are two pipeline connectors of interest in Hampton Roads.
- The Southside Connector is a gas pipeline that is proposed to go through Chesapeake (map) and Norfolk (map), which would be able to utilize Atlantic Coast Pipeline gas, if and when the ACP is constructed. Norfolk City Council voted in favor of this.
- The City of Norfolk has granted easements on property it owns in Suffolk for the construction of a spur of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline under Norfolk drinking water reservoirs.
Why Mother Out Front opposes new natural gas pipelines, locally or intra-state:
- The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has not received the required certifications to move forward with construction.
- One of the certifications that the pipeline is lacking, and which should be critical to the Norfolk City Council’s decision to grant them an easement, is certification under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Under the Clean Water Act, Virginia has the power to grant or deny water quality certification for the pipelines.
- The City of Norfolk should not grant easements to build the pipeline on land that supports our drinking water reservoirs and water system infrastructure without legal certifications that water quality will be protected. Those certifications have not yet been granted.
- The City should not rely simply on the word of pipeline developers and list of terms approved by the developers as their assurance that water quality will be protected.
- The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will materially increase climate change and sea level rise; this flies in the face of Norfolk’s efforts to be resilient and reduce carbon emissions.
- The city shouldn’t facilitate this project by granting easements and arguably should be fighting it, or at least speaking out against it.
- The annual greenhouse gas emissions from the fracked gas associated with the pipeline’s operation is equivalent to 6 of the largest coal plants in Virginia.
- This pipeline, if built will lock us in to fossil fuels for another 30 years and will contribute to sea level rise which is already a big problem in cities like Norfolk.
- There is a large supply of gas in the Marcellus fracking fields, so the fossil fuel industry wants to create demand, whether or not it is needed. There has been no notice or proof that this pipeline is necessary
- The process seems to indicate basic dis-respect for African-American, low-income and rural people (which may not be “intentional,” but is part of the structure). This is environmental racism.
- Regarding the ACP, rural land is being taken by eminent domain from people who have lived on their land for generations. Their water comes from wells, and construction of the pipeline would threaten their water source for the foreseeable future.
- The compressor station required to pump the gas through the proposed ACP would be located next to two historic African-American churches founded by freed people and still active communities in Buckingham County. The compressor station would release toxic health-harming gases and health-harming noise pollution 24/7.
- Regarding the Southside Distribution Connector Project, the nine-mile line will be built perilously close to many predominantly African-American neighborhoods, senior citizen apartment complexes and houses of worship. Home owners in these neighborhoods know that their property values will decline as their properties will sit within potential blast zones.
- The lifetime effect of natural gas of climate change is just as high as coal.
- One example of a natural gas plant that emits more CO2 than the coal plant it replaced.
- The world is fast progressing to renewables. In 10 years, fossil fuel infrastructures will be antiquated. Why should we spend money on them now?
- If the ACP is ultimately denied, these pipelines would have no function.
- Which makes one circle back to the fact that the fossil fuel industry created this demand……do we want to let them endanger lives, devalue and damage properties, perpetuate social harms, and as rate payers, pay for it???
- Residents are already protesting the Southside connector line, see:
How can I take action?
- Call or email the Governor of Virginia and tell him you oppose the Southside Connector pipeline and Suffolk ACP spur because they are not needed.
- Call your state representatives and let them know you do not want the Southside Connector pipeline or Suffolk ACP spur in Norfolk -- or built at all!
- Sign the petition at Change.org.
- If you live in one of the neighborhoods impacted by the pipelines, please attend your civic league meetings and bring this up for discussion.
- Post this for discussion on your Nextdoor neighborhood site -- and start a Nextdoor group in your neighborhood if there isn't one yet.
- Put up a pipeline protest sign in your neighborhood -- request one from Mothers Out Front at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contact the state water board and ask them not to approve the pipeline.
The affected states are starting to realize that these pipelines are not in their best interests:
- Sept 7, 2017, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection revoked its previous approval of the$3.5 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP)
- Sept 15, 2017, NC governor delayed the decision on the ACP, after receiving 9,000 written comments on the case
- Oct 9, 2017, NC DEQ denies ACP application
- The Roanoke City Council is asking Virginia state officials to require developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline to either completely control sediment the project may cause in the Roanoke River or pay to clean it up
- Oct 17, 2017, federal appeals court on Tuesday sent a water quality permit for the MVP back to WV DEP for further review
- Oct 17, 2017, NC County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution calling for ACP officials to be more transparent with local government and property owners.
- Oct 27, 2017, MVP has filed a federal lawsuit against hundreds of landowners in Virginia to initiate acquiring easements through eminent domain across roughly 300 private properties and to seek a court order granting immediate access to the properties.
- (But, unfortunately...) November 1, 2017, WV Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) waives Clean Water Act permit for MVP, an apparent about-face less than two months after the agency said it would withdraw and reevaluate its review.
- November 8, 2017, NC DEQ issues letter of disapproval for ACP erosion plan
- November 14, 2017, ACP, MVP Challengers Flood FERC with Rehearing Requests
- November 15, 2017, N.C. Utilities Commission asks FERC for a 'rehearing' on ACP
- November 16, 2017, Judge denies request by MVP to "fast-track" eminent domain lawsuit against landowners
- November 21, Norfolk City Council votes to allow Southside Connector in Norfolk
- November 22, 2017 Sierra Club takes VA SCC to court over failure to review ACP
- November 29, 2017 North Carolina asks ACP for more information and details on supposed economic growth, potentially pushing any decision into 2018.
- January 9, 2018 Norfolk City Council has postponed again a vote on whether to allow the ACP an easement to run beneath the city’s drinking-water reservoirs.
- January 11, 2018 Atlantic Coast Pipeline hits more delays in North Carolina.
- January 22, 2018 Environmental groups file suit challenging Virginia water board approval of ACP
- January 27, 2018 NC issues water quality certification for ACP
- January 27, 2018 WV issues permit for ACP sediment and erosion control
- February 1 2018 Tim Kaine asks FERC for re-vote now that they have all 5 seats filled (previous vote was 2-1 with only 3 board positions filled)
- March 13, 2018 Norfolk City Council votes to allow ACP spur under Norfolk drinking water reservoirs to bring ACP fracked gas into Norfolk
- March 28, 2018 Federal regulators deny Dominion request to extend tree-felling period for ACP
- March 31, 2018 Activists mark path of ACP with orange ribbons
- April 12, 2018 MVP proposes extension into NC
- April 12, 2018 VA Water Board opens 30-day comment period to re-open scrutiny of pipeline permits
- May 16, 2018 Federal court orders stop work on ACP by nullifying wildlife permit
One fundamental issue is that the ACP and MVP pipelines are not necessary -- existing pipelines are adequate to serve customers for the projected future. See this Synapse report showing that existing pipelines are adequate to meet future needs.
Why anyone would want to build an unwanted pipeline? Follow the money.
See Southern Environmental Law Center's excellent and moving story on the ACP and MVP.
SELC strong page on risks.
CCAN blog on the fight against the pipelines.
Sierra Club presented very strong comments to the FERC as to why the pipelines should not be allowed.
SELC presented very strong comments to the NC Water Resources Board as to why the ACP should not be allowed.
EDF testimony to the Senate Energy Committee.
Letter on why there is no reasonable assurance that ACP will meet water quality standards, from SELC, Chesapeake Bay Foundation. and Appalachian Mtn Advocates to the water control board on 401 water certification issue.
Cost of ACP could be over $2B to Virginia customers; Dominion will make a profit of 14% of $5B cost.
Studies on why this disproportionately affects the black community
- NAACP says Atlantic Coast Pipeline would hurt black residents most
- Black People Are 75 Percent More Likely to Live Near Toxic Oil and Gas Facilities
- The Health Impacts of Air Pollution from oil & Gas Facilities on African American Communities
Many proponents of the pipelines state that it will bring many permanent jobs to Virginia. But there any many studies showing that investing that money in renewable energy would bring many more jobs:
From other pipelines:
- How eminent domain was attempted for Nexus in Michigan and Ohio
- Example of safety violations and leaks at the Rover pipeline:
- Two pipeline explosions in one week: Lee County and New Mexico.
Remarks by a Dominion Energy executive underscore that there’s not enough demand for new gas-fired power plants in Virginia or North Carolina to justify the project:
"For us, that underscores this issue that we’ve been focusing on: that there’s not demand for new gas-fired power plants in Virginia or North Carolina that will justify the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” said Greg Buppert, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville, which has fought the project. “That sounds like companies looking for a market for their products because the market they’ve been banking on isn’t materializing."
Here are some decision makers with Dominion Energy ties
Minutes of Chesapeake Indian River Town Meeting discussing Southside Connector and ACP.
Virginia Governor implements Clean Power Plan which will regulate emissions from power plants, and could include cap-and-trade for emissions.
Check out the Norfolk City Council meeting on November 14th where citizens spoke on the easements for the ACP connector.
The Southside connector pipeline path runs through Berkley, under the Elizabeth River, and past Harbor Park and Thurgood Marshall Elementary school (excavation has yet not started there).
The Norfolk/Suffolk easements for the ACP are on land that city staff have described as being “there to support the water system” and includes the Pine Lake and Western Branch Reservoirs, both of which provide drinking water to residents. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would cross more than 1,000 bodies of water in Virginia, slash through special places like national forests, the Appalachian Trail, and family farms across the Commonwealth.
Pipelines can cause harm to life and property
- Many harmful accidents have been documented
- Pipelines can be ruptured or leak and cause evacuations
- Harbor Park, where the Southside pipeline would pass, is a brownfield, with buried pollutants such as creosote; this construction could stir up many of those buried pollutants
- Customers have already had trees on their property cut down without warning to make way for this pipeline
- New pipelines pose a danger to neighborhoods; residents have not been notified of the risks to their families and households
- The Southside pipeline will run under the Elizabeth River, posing a risk to that waterway
- The land for the Suffolk easement for the ACP includes the Pine Lake and Western Branch Reservoirs, both of which provide drinking water to residents
- "Natural" gas is mostly methane, which is a greenhouse gas that traps 84 times more heat than CO2 -- this presents a huge risk in terms of increasing climate change
Information for affected residents or property owners
When Atlantic Coast Pipeline seeks to take an easement on your property, it is typically a much more complicated process than you may expect. There can be unpleasant surprises and intrusions on your property for years to come. It is very wise to get legal advice before you sign anything.
Mark Short is an eminent domain attorney at Kaufman & Canoles in Norfolk, and the Chair of the firm’s Eminent Domain Practice Group. Mark has substantial experience in dealing with pipeline cases . He can give legal advice, assist with review of documents, assist with negotiation, and assist in providing protections for you and your property. His firm’s fee arrangement is typically based on a contingency arrangement, with no fee for an initial consultation.
Mark Short's contact and website information:
Also see this excellent summary of eminent domain by Friends of Nelson.
Renewable Energy Information
Renewable Energy Has Arrived -- GreenLink report to SELC.
Extensive links on how easy it would be for America to achieve numbers like 50% renewable by 2030 and 100% renewable by 2050.
What cities can do: an example for Norfolk VA
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, http://www.drawdown.org, ranking and description of the top 100 methods for cutting carbon emissions world-wide
Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders
A few excerpts:
"For every dollar invested in renewable energy in the last 15 years, fossil fuels have received $80 in subsidies."
"American taxpayers are subsidizing the most profitable industry in history, whose products are literally killing us, to the tune of more than $20.5 billion every year."
Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by Carl Pope and Michael Bloomberg
Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Joseph Romm
Plan B 4.0 -- a comprehensive look at worldwide energy use and ways to become more sustainable. http://www.earth-policy.org/images/uploads/book_files/pb4book.pdf
Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand, by Haydn Washington & John Cook
Toby Seba's video on the disruptive nature of the transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles, and how both the energy and transportation sectors could be radiacally transformed in the next 10-15 years. An hour long but worth the time.
Paul Hawken describing the work in the book Drawdown; Paul starts at 11:28 in if you want to start there.
A short posted local video with a summary of the Southside Connector.
This kind of pushback on utilities can work:
- See how local residents got Dominion to change the path of a power line.
- TransCanada killed $15.7B Energy East Pipeline due to climate change impacts and the changed market.