Category Archives: media coverage

Breaking News

Pipeline Company Sued for Criminal Negligence

Last week, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office filed criminal charges against EQT Corporation, a partner in the Mountain Valley Pipeline. EQT Corporation’s production division is charged with multiple counts of polluting waters and disturbance of waterways.

The company allowed five million gallons of fracking chemicals to leak into Tioga County, PA, streams such as the Rock Run Class A trout stream. The leaks were discovered in May, 2012, but EQT Corporation did not take appropriate steps to clean up contamination from fracking wastewater containing barium, copper, manganese, chloride, strontium, arsenic, iron, lithium, and lead. Two years later, following demands from a coalition of environmental and business groups to take action, criminal charges have been filed by the State of Pennsylvania.

Are these people we want in Floyd County? One more reason to say NO to EQT’s Mountain Valley Pipeline


Jeff Walker Speaks Out

in a letter to the Roanoke Times (Posted in on Saturday, September 27, 2014 2:00 am. )

Public needs to know more about pipeline

By Jeff Walker

Walker lives in Floyd County

Business reporters from The Roanoke Times or other media might give greater consideration to the public’s concern and need for coverage of pipeline routing, construction and operation proposals. Landowners and localities whose property is threatened with condemnation are entitled to the objective analysis of economic benefit, compensation for taking and use of property, including protection of resources, or mitigation planning against unintended or inevitable damage.

In the event a route is proposed, an objective Federal Environmental Impact Statement will be requested by communities along the route. An EIS requires that prospective impacts be understood and disclosed in advance. The EIS reports on the purpose, affected environment and range of alternatives, and analyzes the impacts of each of the alternative solutions.

It also determines whether there are insurmountable impacts to threatened or endangered species, air and water quality, historic and cultural sites, and reports on social and economic impacts to local communities. And finally, the issues are laid bare with a cost analysis.

There is no history of a pipeline of the Mountain Valley’s capacity crossing the full width of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Evaluation must be predicated upon the consortium’s retention of a reputable and objective firm to report upon the engineering challenges, risks and attributes of an easement route. Despite FERC’s 2002 approval of Dominion’s Greenbriar proposal, contractual obligations were not sufficient to support construction. Ironically, FERC heard criticism of that market analysis prior to rendering approval.

An EIS should be subject to a period of review, rebuttal or comment by the public, who are entitled to consider information and access a reliable process of arbitration to settle any conflicting claims.

Citizens have more questions than answers: How are easements valued? Does compensation to working lands accrue over the short or long term? Do pipelines pay tolls on product conveyed across private property? Do localities tax pipeline infrastructure, product, real estate, personal or business property? May the commonwealth tax revenue of an out-of-state joint venture or holding company? Who pays local taxes for land under easement? Who is liable for damages caused by construction or accident? Are pipeline owners or contractors required to post bond or other commitments to enforce contract provisions?

The General Assembly enacted legislation in 2004 granting rights of entry onto private land to utilities with certain requirements. However, the voters endorsed a state constitutional amendment in 2012 changing the eminent domain process to provide landowners protection from private takings. In light of these powers, does the State Corporation Commission have a voice, or is this solely a federal process?

FERC does not require a pipeline to propose local service, nor is this aspect sufficient to warrant a finding that the pipeline is in the public interest.

Local distribution is not well understood; is this a profit-driven investment? Is there a break-even analysis? In the case of distribution taps serving Carroll or Pulaski County, were public funds granted or loaned to offset capital costs?

Floyd County’s population does not have natural gas service, and while some suggest gas might serve an industrial or commercial customer, the cost of developing the tap is rumored to be greater than a public or private utility could amortize on economic merit. The entire population does rely upon well water; is there any comparison with economics of public water distribution?

The public would be well served by research and reporting of conflicting interests, data and statements.

That is the American way: State your business, present your offer and establish that you are diligent and are entitled to develop your interests without damaging others.

We are counting on the media to provide substantial, informed and accurate reporting on these important issues.


Excellent Presentations by Preserve the NRV on the Mt Valley Pipeline

This is the video of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting on September 22. Wil and Angela Stanton were on the agenda with Elizabeth McCommon to inform the supervisors about the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the negative impacts it will have on Montgomery County and the NRV. Elizabeth’s presentation begins 6 minutes into the video and Wil and Angela’s presentation begins at just under the 16 minute mark. After the presentation, you will also be able to watch comments from concerned citizens (beginning at the 40 minute mark) who were able to share their perspectives with the board.


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.”


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.”


WDBJ Covers FloydCo Supervisors Pipeline Issue

“Floyd County residents oppose preliminary plan for natural gas pipeline” reads the headline.

The subtitle, I’d have stated otherwise: “Plan would likely require digging a ditch through entire county.”


There is far more to the issue than the digging of a ditch, but thanks very much to Channel 7 for being present in Floyd last night.

There’s a short video at the site. Click the LINK and check it out. 

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