( – promoted by lowkell)
It was a frustrating evening for the hundreds of Nelsonians who attended an “Open House” hosted by Dominion to lay out its planned route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Lined up outside the entry door, residents came prepared with questions, most of which went unanswered. The same old rehearsed lines were stated over and over again. “This is in the preliminary stages, we just don’t know yet.” “We haven’t done the engineering yet, we can’t answer that now.” “That depends on the category you are in, and we’re not sure yet.” “We’ll abide by all DEQ and FERC regulations.”
In a divide and conquer tactic, Dominion had stations set up, which allowed them to frequently tell Nelsonians looking for answers they would have to move to another station, stand in another line, to ask a different “expert” the question they wanted answered. Attendees heard frequently, “You’ll have to ask so and so that question, I don’t know.”
Anti-pipeline group, Free Nelson, attended the event and its members learned several of Dominion’s representatives weren’t from Virginia. When speaking to one rep about the devastation caused in Nelson by Hurricane Camille, particularly the Davis Creek area, Free Nelson was surprised the representative looked so confused. When asked, “Are you from Virginia?” “Well, no,” she replied, “but most of the Dominion representatives here are.” Free Nelson explained about the 12 mudslides in the Davis Creek area during Camille which took the lives of 52 people, 20 of whom were never found. When Free Nelson pointed out the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is routed through the Davis Creek area, the Dominion rep replied, “Well, we have a procedure to follow should we find human remains.”
Free Nelson spoke with another representative who said he’d worked in five states for Dominion….Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Colorado. When asked why attendees couldn’t get straight answers, he replied “the engineering hasn’t been done yet.” The interesting tidbit he did share was Virginia is the only state of the five where he has worked which allows Dominion to survey private property without landowner permission. He said we really should talk to our state legislators about changing that law.
There also seemed to be some confusion about the route of the proposed pipeline. One attendee was representing her brother-in-law as a landowner because he had received a letter requesting permission to survey his property. To her surprise the Dominion maps didn’t have the pipeline crossing his property at all. Another attendee had been assured by email from a Dominion representative the pipeline would not cross her property but did cross an adjoining property. She was surprised when she saw the red lines indicating the pipeline route crossing her property. She had not received Dominion’s letter. Of course, the Dominion representative blamed the confusion on County government saying it didn’t have up-to-date GIS records.
Free Nelson asked if Dominion would go over the mountains, or bore through them. The representative said they would bore through and they would have to blast in some areas. The representative said, “You don’t need to worry, the explosives will be covered and they just go poof.” Free Nelson retorted, “So, I guess in our rivers, the explosions just go splash?” Asked about the projected lifespan of the pipe, a representative said 30 to 40 years and then added, “What do you care? You won’t be around,”
Possibly the most truthful answer came when a representative was asked if Dominion would own the natural gas in the pipeline and the representative forthrightly said, “No.” The follow up question, “Does that mean Dominion’s role is solely to transport the gas, and Dominion has no say in who receives it?” Dominion’s representative said “That is correct.”
Other anti-pipeline groups, Friends of Nelson and the Pipeline Education Group, had tables outside the venue with information about the proposed pipeline and hydraulic fracturing, in addition to “No Pipeline” signs, t-shirts, stickers and bumper stickers. The T-shirts sold out and many property owners took “No Pipeline” signs to adorn their yards. Protestors lined the highway easement along Route 29 with No Pipeline, No Dominion signs and received the support of passers by with honking horns and many cheers!
The Washington Post in recent reporting on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline quoted Bob Holsworth:
“McAuliffe has just made a calculation on this,” Holsworth said. “It isn’t a political liability until we see that these environmental groups are able to develop grass-roots traction to be able to successfully oppose this.”
Free Nelson would like to let Dr. Holsworth and Governor McAuliffe know the grassroots traction is here and has been here since Dominion mailed its first set of letters!