All posts by Mara Robbins

Our First Newsletter!

Our first newsletter was delivered to many of you last night!

If you use gmail, you may need to check your promotions tab and approve the address in order to have it sent directly to your inbox. You may also want to check your spam folder if you use a different email server.

Here is a copy for those of you who have not signed up for the newsletter here on our website or given us your request at an event.


Thanks so much for your patience with Preserve Floyd: Citizens Preserving Floyd Countyas we compiled this newsletter for you. There’s been a lot to keep up with and we appreciate that you’ve kept yourself informed through our website, our Facebook page and each other in the meantime. We intend to have updates via email more frequently as we move forward.

The environment is on everyone’s mind right now as the largest ever “People’s Climate March” strode through NYC and the issue entered into the dialogue in a more urgent manner. The Mountain Valley pipeline is the dragon standing on OUR mountain right now, and it is its own beast—but it’s also part of climate change. It’s intended to carry fracked gas and it deserves to be seen as a part of this larger issue. As we come together and agree to work towards sustainable energy solutions and to be environmental advocates for the continued health and well-being of our community, we also commit to work together to protect this land that we all love.


Here are some important upcoming events and we’ll share more as we create more:

  • On September 28, Sustain Floyd will be presenting the film “Gasland 2 .” Preserve Floyd will be represented there to share information, answer questions and educate ourselves and each other. Doors will open at 6 PM for food and conversation. A donation of $5 is requested for the movie and an additional $5 for the dinner The film will start around 6:30 to 6:45 PM.
  • Joe Waldo, a lawyer specializing in eminent domain, will visit Floyd on October 14. You can come see him—and ask questions – at the Floyd County High School at 7 PM.
  • Representatives from EQT will be attending the Floyd County Board of Supervisors meeting on October 28 at 7 PM. The meeting will be held at the Floyd County High School Auditorium.
  • Between now and October 28, citizens are encouraged to come to the Floyd Artisan’s Market on Fridays from 5-7 PM to create signs, sing songs and practice for the spectacle we’d like to present to EQT as they roll into town.

For those of you who want to help, we want you to know that there’s a lot you CAN do to help! We are just figuring out (as quickly as possible!) what, where, when and how. So keep asking and keep offering and keep sharing information.

One thing EVERYONE can do is to talk to your neighbors.

Pass this newsletter along. Keep updated on Facebook and share links, graphics and good connections. Join the Mountain-Valley Pipeline or the Virginians Against Pipelines discussion groups and engage. Social media is helping this movement tremendously. And if you know of landowners who might not have access to the internet, print out a copy of our landowner’s handbook or any other pertinent online information.

And write letters! We have a new “Letters to the Editor Toolkit” on our website that will help with that. Coming soon: A similar toolkit to assist with writing letters to politicians. The more the better. The more personal the better. And letters—actual letters—make much more of an impression than emails these days.

The very deepest of appreciation to each and every one of you who have attended community meetings, signed petitions, lent a hand at events and are committed to keeping yourself informed, active and participating. It is inspiring and encouraging to live in a community where so many people want to be involved.

Confluence: Water and the Pipeline


Many of you attended the showing of “To the Last Drop,” the locally-filmed Floyd County water documentary shown at the Eco-village on September 14.The ideas and interviews for that film started in the summer of 2013 long before there was any knowledge of Mountain Valley’s proposed interstate pipeline.So it was well timed that Partnership for Floyd’s efforts culminated with the premier showing at just the time that our water–and that of all impacted and down-stream counties–was rising to the top of Preserve Floyd’s concerns.

We began to consider the impact of natural gas pipelines on the water across more than 800 miles of landscape threatened by the combined length of Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

While our attention still resonates with voices, places, hopes and concerns from the movie, let me just say a bit more about water as we continue to be vigilant against any forces or agencies that put tomorrow’s water at risk.

Towards that end, I’ll share a “this I believe” kind of statement I wrote recently in the process of trying to distill my thoughts:

Ninety-five percent of Floyd County residents get their water from wells. From an injury to any one, other neighbors can suffer. So we are vigilant to protect our ground and surface waters today, even as we also look ahead. Adequate clean water in our county is a right, far into the future, that we are not willing to put at risk. And as we care for the water that falls on this plateau, we are also mindful of its quality as it passes through communities between here and the Gulf or the Atlantic. Ultimately, water is a shared necessity to life that we care for together across space and across time.

Our actions to insure that our waters are protected today become a legacy of reliable water for generations to come. Water, adequate and clean, is a right, not a commodity. We are committed to the water commons, and resist any threats to it, from whatever source they might come.

Consider carefully these ten water-commons principles. They guide us towards sustained water stewardship that we stand FOR. The current frenzy of unsustainable over-building of natural gas wells, holding ponds and pipeline construction right-of-ways are not consistent with these water principles, and represent values, purposes, methods and ends that we stand AGAINST.



Rights of Mother Earth


We, the peoples and nations of Earth:

considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;

gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;

recognizing that the capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change;

convinced that in an interdependent living community it is not possible to recognize the rights of only human beings without causing an imbalance within Mother Earth;

affirming that to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her and that there are existing cultures, practices and laws that do so;

conscious of the urgency of taking decisive, collective action to transform structures and systems that cause climate change and other threats to Mother Earth;

proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and call on the General Assembly of the United Nation to adopt it, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world, and to the end that every individual and institution takes responsibility for promoting through teaching, education, and consciousness raising, respect for the rights recognized in this Declaration and ensure through prompt and progressive measures and mechanisms, national and international, their universal and effective recognition and observance among all peoples and States in the world.

Article 1. Mother Earth

(1)  Mother Earth is a living being.

(2)  Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.

(3)  Each being is defined by its relationships as an integral part of Mother Earth.

(4)  The inherent rights of Mother Earth are inalienable in that they arise from the same source as existence.

(5)  Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.

(6)  Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.

(7)  The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings and any conflict between their rights must be resolved in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth.

Article 2. Inherent Rights of Mother Earth

(1)  Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:

(a)  the right to life and to exist;

(b)  the right to be respected;

(c)  the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;

(d)  the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;

(e)  the right to water as a source of life;

(f)   the right to clean air;

(g)  the right to integral health;

(h)   the right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;

(i)    the right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning;

(j)    the right to full and prompt restoration the violation of the rights recognized in this Declaration caused by human activities;

(2)  Each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning.

(3)  Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings.

Article 3. Obligations of human beings to Mother Earth

(1)  Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth.

(2)  Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:

(a)  act in accordance with the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(b)  recognize and promote the full implementation and enforcement of the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(c)  promote and participate in learning, analysis, interpretation and communication about how to live in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with this Declaration;

(d)  ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;

(e)  establish and apply effective norms and laws for the defence, protection and conservation of the rights of Mother Earth;

(f)   respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;

(g)  guarantee that the damages caused by human violations of the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration are rectified and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and health of Mother Earth;

(h)  empower human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;

(i)    establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles;

(j)    guarantee peace and eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;

(k)  promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings, in accordance with their own cultures, traditions and customs;

(l)    promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration. 

Article 4. Definitions

(1)  The term “being” includes ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities which exist as part of Mother Earth.

(2)  Nothing in this Declaration restricts the recognition of other inherent rights of all beings or specified beings.




Water Movie Event at Floyd EcoVillage, Sept 14, 4 PM

Come share with your neighbors the premier showing of a newly released, independent documentary about Floyd County’s precious water resources. The film titled “To the Last Drop” was created and filmed right here in Floyd, starring some of our local water experts. Fred First, Mark Sowers, Jeff Walker, Mark Grim, Lydeanna Martin, Dennis Dove and Jane Cundiff star in the movie and Bernie Coveney did the music. Professional videographers from Virginia Tech, Chris Risch and Grazia Apolinares produced this poignant movie that is not only educational but visually and emotionally inspirational.

This premier showing will be presented for FREE at the Floyd EcoVillage on September 14 at 4:00. The event is being arranged and supported by Partnership for Floyd with hopes of getting good community involvement in preserving our streams, wetlands, and wells that are the source of life here in Floyd County.

Lydeana Martin will introduce the documentary with pertinent and useful details about Floyd’s water supply. After the movie there will be a question and answer panel discussion with our local experts.

Local songwriters Michael and Kari Kovick, and Erica Joy Rising will perform for us.

Representatives from Citizens Preserving Floyd County will also be available to respond to questions about the proposed gas pipeline through our county and to describe how our water and wetlands could be affected.

Information tables and handouts in the lobby will be available for those who want to learn more. Floyd fresh water, popcorn, art displays and good conversation will be enjoyed, all for free.

Bring your neighbors, friends, school-age children and your questions. Join together for this community event to protect our precious, shared water resources in Floyd County.

Local artists are invited to share their works related to water. Bring your paintings, crafts and photographs or have your children display their best water art for all to enjoy.

Please email Jane Cundiff at if you have large pieces of art to display or for any other questions.




Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday Night, Aug 25, 7:15 PM

We strongly encourage Montgomery County residents who are concerned about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow night at 7:15 in Christiansburg. If you have information to share, it is likely to be welcome considering the lack of communication between EQT and Next Era and local government. In Floyd, most of what our local government knows about the proposed project is based on what they have received from citizens of Floyd County.

If you have a written statement, it’s a good idea to bring a copy for them to keep so that it can be entered into the public record.

“Public meetings are the second and fourth Monday of each month at the Montgomery County Government Center, 755 Roanoke St. in Christiansburg. Closed sessions begin at 6 p.m. if needed. Open sessions begin at 7:15 p.m. Citizens are invited to attend and allowed to speak at each meeting.”


When To Say No



I’m sorry to focus so often lately on the intended assault on Floyd and other adjacent counties by the planned interstate 42 inch natural (fracked) gas pipeline that will stretch more than 300 miles from West Virginia to the North Carolina border of Virginia.

I will let the image express how the thought of such a thing disturbs all of us–not just our neighbors in direct line of the pipe. The current maps could bear no resemblance to the ultimate route, so we all stand at risk just now.

Here’s what a 42 inch pipe looks like going in. It would be excavated and blasted into a trench about 20 miles long from the north to the south boundary of Floyd County.

The blasting threat lies not only in the months of near or distant explosions and mini-earthquakes and flying rock and dust. That’s a relatively minor nuisance compared to the risk to our wells.

Up to a thousand feet either side of the blast, the flow of a farm or family well could be destroyed by changes to the rock fractures that hold our water underground. So that’s a swath 20 miles long and more than a quarter mile wide threatening both the quality and the quantity of our water, even as the forever-pipe is going in the ground.

Imagine this scar down the side of Alum Ridge or down the Blue Ridge Escarpment that plunges down towards Franklin County. Imagine it during five inches of rain from a tropical storm.

Our surface waters are at risk, too.

Please share this image off this site or get the larger image from Flickr and pass it along to anyone you know who is also concerned about the legacy of the land they pass along to their children.

Speaking of which–that inheritance may lose a lot of value if the old homeplace is bisected by this pipeline.  Would you be excited about an otherwise beautiful piece of land with a buried pipe-bomb underneath it? Insurance companies may not be excited about offering you an affordable homeowners policy. There’s a lot we’re not sure of yet.

And know that it’s not just this one pipe we are opposed to. It is the whole flawed old economics that says to do what keeps the shareholders happy–a failed relationship with the plant that fans the flames of illusory “unlimited growth.” Period. Shale gas is a brief but costly part of that delusion.

And in Southwest Virginia, we don’t want to be any part of it.

From Fred’s blog, Fragments From Floyd


Citizens Preserving Floyd County Tables Tonight at Crosby Stills and Nash Concert

Deepest of appreciation to the Guacamole Fund for providing Citizens Preserving Floyd County with the opportunity to engage in outreach tonight at the Crosby Stills and Nash concert in Roanoke. 

“We are a tax exempt, public charity that has been helping to coordinate events for organizations that work in the public interest since 1974. We focus on supporting grass roots activities, with education, outreach, networking and funding, in the areas of the environment and wildlife, social change, peace with justice, energy and a non nuclear future.”


Latest Projected Map

Here’s the latest map depicting a possible route being considered. It is based on reports from landowners that have been contacted. Many thanks to our local Floyd County government for their assistance in creating this important resource.

It was shocking and sobering for many folks last night to see where their land lies in relation to the land that is being explored. 



Group rallies opposition to gas pipeline through Floyd County

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2014 4:45 pm

A united community and region pack enough push-back to defeat or at least significantly temper corporate plans to route an interstate high-pressure natural gas pipeline through Floyd County and neighboring counties in Southwest and Southside Virginia.

That was the theme Thursday night of a meeting hosted by Citizens Preserving Floyd County. More than 200 people attended the gathering at Floyd EcoVillage to discuss concerns about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Blacksburg resident Elizabeth McCommon, a veteran of battles with energy utilities, told the crowd that a regional effort would be required to ensure the pipeline’s defeat. She said she would reach out to potential allies in the New River Valley.

Discussion Thursday night focused on the county’s vulnerable groundwater, property owners’ options when surveyors want access to their land, safety and other topics.

Jerry Boothe, a former member of the county’s board of supervisors, said easements previously sold to Dominion during the utility’s ultimately unsuccessful bid a decade ago to build a natural gas pipeline through Floyd and other counties could be transferred to other companies. The company ultimately abandoned plans to build the Greenbrier Pipeline after failing to secure enough customers for the pipeline’s gas.

Frank Mack, a spokesman for Dominion Transmission, a Dominion subsidiary, confirmed Friday that “any valid easements that we paid in full could be sold and assigned to an interested company or individual.”

News coverage in 2005 reported that few such easements had been sold in Floyd County.

Meanwhile, Mara Robbins, acting director of the recently organized Citizens Preserving Floyd County, said the campaign to block the pipeline has attracted some of the “most sharply focused minds in the county,” people with passion, energy and commitment to preserve the county’s quality of life.

EQT Corp., based in Pennsylvania, and NextEra Energy, based in Florida, announced plans in June to seek customers for a 330-mile pipeline that would transport natural gas from West Virginia to a delivery point in Pittsylvania County.

Robbins elicited applause from Thursday night’s crowd when she recounted a conversation she said she’d had with an employee of EQT about the proposed routing of the pipeline through seven counties in Virginia.

Robbins said she told the woman that “Floyd County was going to be a very complicated piece of the puzzle” for EQT and NextEra’s joint venture. And that observation seemed valid last night as Floyd residents who had come back to the land or never left it described strong ties to the county’s scenic beauty and agricultural heritage and determination to block the pipeline.

One focus of Thursday’s meeting was water and the potential for groundwater contamination.

Floyd County’s comprehensive plan notes that the county’s location along the Blue Ridge Plateau means that water flows out of the county and not in. The county includes tributaries of the New River and headwater streams for several rivers, including the Roanoke River, according to the comprehensive plan.

The plan notes that Floyd County “lacks true aquifers” but relies instead on water-filled fractures that can be vulnerable to contamination.

“Water is probably our biggest concern right now,” Robbins said.

Safety concerns also received attention Thursday night.

Gini Cooper, who played a role in opposing the Greenbrier Pipeline, said Thursday night that a high-pressure natural gas pipeline in Floyd County could pose significant safety risks and overwhelm regional fire departments and other emergency responders.

A so far undetermined number of county landowners have received letters from a right-of-way acquisition contractor working for EQT and NextEra. The letter notifies the landowner that their property is located within a survey corridor for the pipeline and reports that they will be contacted for permission to survey the land.

Earlier this week a spokeswoman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said property owners have no legal obligation to allow such surveyors on their property.

But Boothe noted Thursday that Virginia law allows surveyors for natural gas companies to work on private property without a landowner’s permission if specific notification requirements have been met.

Jane Cundiff, a county landowner who has received notice that her property is in the survey corridor, advised others in the same boat to use a camera and notes to document surveyors’ time on their land.

Fred First serves on two committees for Citizens Preserving Floyd County. He told Thursday’s crowd to prepare for “an environmental confrontation of epic proportions.”

McCommon and others stressed that organizing opposition quickly and raising money for the long haul — to hire attorneys, to pay Robbins for her time and more — would be key elements as the campaign to block the pipeline proceeds.

EQT and NextEra have said the pipeline will help meet growing demand for natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal for power generation. As envisioned, the gas pumped through the pipeline will have been extracted from Marcellus and Utica shale formations through hydraulic fracturing, a process often referred to as “fracking.”


Landowners are encouraged to express concerns

If you are a landowner affected by this pipeline proposal, consider stating your concerns at the Floyd County Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM. It would be good to make them a matter of public record. You will only have 4 minutes to speak, but if you bring a written statement it will be duly recorded even if you cannot read it within the 4 minute time period allotted.

Our local government has been very attentive to our concerns and are taking the situation seriously. Please be respectful and thank them for their service and their support.

“Regular meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at 8:30 am and the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Board Room of the County Administration Building, 120 West Oxford Street, Floyd. Adjourned or special called meetings are scheduled when necessary. All meetings are open to the public. A Public Comment Period is held at each regular meeting.”


Community Meeting Regarding Pipeline Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 7 PM


Citizens Preserving Floyd County (CPFC) will hold an important community educational outreach meeting on Thursday, August 14, 2014 to provide new details about the Mountain-Valley pipeline. This 42 inch interstate natural gas transport has been proposed by two energy corporations, EQT and Next Era, to cut across our county.  The meeting will begin at 7:00 PM at the Floyd Ecovillage. It is located at 718 Franklin Pike Rd, Floyd, VA.

Anyone interested in the information we have gathered regarding this pipeline is welcome. It is our intention to support our community by making all known details and response options available to all at this public meeting.  We especially urge county landowners whose property rights may be involved to attend.

A report on how our local government is supporting citizens’ concerns will be presented.  There will be an opportunity to find out how you can help preserve the water, farmland soils, scenic beauty and environmental health of Floyd County. Signs opposing the construction of the pipeline will be available.