Home Energy and Environment Free Nelson Informs Governor McAulliffe of the Error of his Comments

Free Nelson Informs Governor McAulliffe of the Error of his Comments


( – promoted by lowkell)

Written by Free Nelson Organizer, Marilyn Shifflett

During a March 26 radio interview with Governor McAuliffe in Richmond, a caller asked a question regarding the proposed route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Governor did not answer the question, but did offer the following remark. “Nelson County – I think it’s our smallest population county in Virginia.” He went on to reaffirm his support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), citing (supposed) cheap energy and jobs.

Governor McAuliffe’s remark was totally inaccurate. Depending on the source, Nelson is ranked as the 23rd or 24th smallest county by population in Virginia. Why did he make this remark? Does he view Nelson as tiny and insignificant regarding its number of voters? Is this why he has answered citizen concerns about the ACP with stacks of form letters? Or, is it that he views the nearly 14,000 lives that could be placed at risk by a high-pressure, 42″ pipeline as an acceptable number? Was the population of counties like Highland, Nelson, & Buckingham the determining factor behind Dominion’s path for the ACP?

And isn’t this acknowledgment of something on Dominion’s part? Are they acknowledging safety risks they’ve previously denied to the press? Structures per mile determine the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) classification of natural gas pipelines. The path chosen by Dominion for the ACP will make it a Class 1 location pipeline. This means little to no regulation by federal authorities (the US Department of Transportation in this case). It also means that they will not be required to install expensive, automatic shut-off valves, while the manual valves will be set miles and miles apart.

These are a few facts about Nelson County that Governor McAuliffe did not quote. The US Geological Survey (USGS) and the VA Department of Emergency Management designate Nelson County as “moderate incidence,” “high risk” for flooding and debris flows (slides). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has called Nelson an orographic lift zone which traps storms within our mountains and tends to drop heavy rainfalls. The VA Deptartment of Emergency Management also specifically recommends against “energy pipelines” in these areas.

Our governor is well aware of these reports, but has yet to publicly acknowledge their existence. We believe there are nearly 14,000 good reasons to ask him why.

  • are such great things. Among other problems, they encourage sprawl, tear up nature, and encourage increased fossil fuel consumption. Instead, we should be investing our money in transit, high-speed rail, clean energy, and other smart investments for the 21st century, not Back to the 1950s!

  • ir003436

    Gov. Terry Mc is a creature of NOVA and the Democratic National Party who supported him to ensure VA had a Democratic governor for reasons of national politics.

    I suspect he thinks Roanoke is SW VA and I doubt he could find Lee County or Big Stone Gap on a map.  And you KNOW he’s never heard of Carter Fold.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Nelson County is the home to about half of my ancestors (Proffitt, Ponton, Eubank, etc.). It may be mainly rural, but it has a population of free-minded individuals who don’t give up without a fight. Beware, Gov. McAuliffe. As for the high risk for flooding and debris slides, perhaps anyone planning to run a pipeline through Nelson County’s mountains  might want to read Roar of the Heavens by Stefan Bechtel. That is the story of the devastation caused by Hurricane Camille, which brought down whole mountainsides and killed over 100 citizens in Nelson. The mountains in the county still bear scars of that storm. I will never forget driving through the county in 1969 after the roads finally became passable. The devastation was unimaginable.