“There Ain’t No Good Route” for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

by Duane Nichols on June 25, 2016

There Ain't No Good Frack Job

Pipeline Update: An open letter to A. Barton Hinkle, senior editorial writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Concerning your commentary published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and elsewhere: “There’s no perfect route for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

It’s not up to the standard you sometimes achieve.

I wondered if I was the pipeline opponent you describe as “worried” that the previously proposed horizontal drilling under Shenandoah Mountain would pollute streams.

Actually, I was not simply worried; I was convinced. Take a look at the two related images:

One image is a map, showing the proposed Shenandoah Mountain drilling and Hodges Draft, a small native brook trout stream. The currently pristine upper reaches of Hodges Draft would have become corridors for access roads, drilling sites, staging areas, and permanently open pipeline right-of-way. It’s not likely that the trout population could have survived the forest clearing, the stream-side and in-stream excavation, and the unavoidable stream warming and sedimentation that the proposed pipeline construction and related infrastructure would entail.

Our native trout streams represent some of the best of what remains of the natural world and we should not give them up easily.

The other image is an aerial photo obtained in 2015 by the Pipeline Air Force. The photo shows a horizontal drilling operation involving a smaller pipeline and a single 1000-foot boring under Interstate 79 in central West Virginia. Dominion’s proposed drilling under Shenandoah Mountain would have been a much bigger deal, with two borings, each more than a mile long.

The drilling operation in the photo occurred during construction of the Stonewall Pipeline. GAI Consultants, which prepared erosion and sediment control plans for the project, is also a contractor for the ACP. The construction was done by Precision Pipeline, which claims to have the very highest environmental standards. In contrast to company PR, however, the Stonewall project was serially non-compliant with environmental regulations. The pipeline developer is now subject to a consent order and a $105,000 fine issued by the WV Department of Environmental Protection.

Dominion’s history is not much better. The WVDEP issued a consent order and $55,000 fine for a series of water quality violations at a 2014 Dominion pipeline construction project in northern West Virginia.

These after-the-fact fines and enforcement actions are simply part of the prevailing “business model.” Pipelines are built in a hurry with little independent oversight, corners are cut, water resources are damaged, some fines are paid, and it’s time to move on to the next project.

Concerning the need for the ACP: A case has been made that the project is mostly about securing a competitive advantage and rate-payer-ensured profit for a powerful and privileged corporation —hardly justification for environmental harm, intrusion into public conservation lands, and state-sanctioned violation of private property rights.

Your commentary, however, suggests that you’ve been mislead by company talking points.

You need to look beyond Dominion-sponsored analysis. Read the recent report on pipeline overbuilding by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. And read The ACP in a Nutshell, which describes how the ACP will supply facilities that are already well supplied or can be supplied using existing underused gas pipelines.

So what is the crux of your complaint?

ACP proponents, such as yourself, assert that Dominion has repeatedly moved the proposed route in a good-faith effort to accommodate environmental and landowner concerns. On the contrary, Dominion has instead adopted an abusive and perverse crowd-sourcing approach to planning and advocating for the ACP. This point is well made in the attached Recorder commentary.

From the beginning, Dominion considered only some of the most obvious factors in plotting a pipeline route from point A to point B, leaving it up to citizens, landowners, local governments, and environmental agencies to invest the time and energy required for meaningful analysis. Then, when Dominion hastily modifies the route in response to public concerns — but once again without proper analysis — company spokesmen complain that the pipeline’s irrational opponents are never satisfied.

We are not put-off by such posturing. There is too much at stake. And we are definitely not satisfied with Dominion’s persistent lack of real concern about the environmental and societal impacts of its ill-conceived pipeline project.

Rick Webb, CoordinatorDominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition
rwebb.dpmc@gmail.com540-468-2881 h, 540-290-0913 c

Note:  The phrase “There Ain’t No Good Route” is derived from the song “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang” by Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.   Chain gangs and large diameter high pressure pipelines through the National Forests are to be avoided at all cost!  DGN

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Ogden June 27, 2016 at 5:48 am

These Fines are Peanuts

The fines you mentioned in your article.. $100,000 and $50,000, this is peanuts to the big Pipeline Gas/Oil Companies, it’s all figured in their cost,  when the construction budget was established. 
What is needed is a life time fine for violation of Environmental Issues, as long as the pipeline is in place, they pay the State a fee…..unlike a Fixed Bond only during the construction phase.   The only thing these corporations understand is big $$$$$$…you gotta hit their profit center and make it hurt !!!
Your pipeline will be just like the Keystone XL Pipeline, it will eventually be constructed, big Corporate Lawyers will wait you out, let the local media news die down, then they will slip in and before you even know it….the pipeline will be in the process of being completed.

Sad to say but …..All the bitching will not stop your pipeline….It will be built !!!
I’ve got a cross country multiple pipeline 1/2 mile behind my house, I did not like it either..but it’s now there.
Once Obama is out of office…the Keystone will once again be in the news and it will be approved.
Gary Ogden, Smithfield, Ohio


Lou Centralia June 27, 2016 at 10:30 am

Corporations have a single value – increase profits.

Profits to distribute to officers and shareholders.  No other value.  It is built into the corporate concept and the legal structure.  Makes no difference how it affects other people, sickness, poverty, death (mostly over seas) decline of the nation that provides the law that governs it, the world catching on fire, nothing.

Providing cheaper goods is often cited as the benefit, but it is only the method.  They will switch to other products, add other lines to get more of an increase in profits.


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