Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Better ways to the same end

51069ac2dcc4a.imageBy Tracy Pyles
Supervisor, Pastures District, Augusta County
Guest Post

The “no-pipeline” slogan fits nicely on 2-inch buttons and yard signs but is an incomplete statement of attitude.  Most of us realize pipelines, whether 1, 2, or 3, will be approved to cross Virginia, destined for the Atlantic coast, in the next 5 years.  The challenge is to insure that these pipelines are smartly placed where they can serve their intended purposes while limiting their impact on the environment, the least risk to our people and force-take the least amount of private property.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposes to move Marcellus gas from regions in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to a number of users on the East coast.  It is of no direct value to our area.  In a global sense the greater the supply of energy, the lower the cost.  Replacing coal fired power generating facilities with natural gas is a step in a better direction, environmentally. But can we do this without trading some people’s “good” for another group’s “bad”?

In a meeting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) we knew they would not be interested in a proposal that simply moved our perceived problems from our “backyard” to someone else’s.  Instead, using their own guidelines and gathering public information, we presented alternatives that would least impact our resources and people, while providing a way for Dominion to proceed.

Under FERC’s “Siting and Maintenance Requirements” (18 CFR Section 380.15) are found these directives:

  • “Rights-of-way should avoid forested areas and steep slopes where practical.”
  • “The use, widening, extension of existing rights-of-way must be considered in locating proposed facilities.”

There are many existing right-of-ways available to Dominion were they willing to consider them. These options minimize environmental impacts and avoid needless violation of people’s right to maintain ownership and control of their own property.

Dominion’s high voltage transmission line easements themselves provide a complete pathway from near the proposed pipeline’s origin to Norfolk.  To limit National Forest disruption, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has proposed co-location of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the similarly proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.  In other places Interstate easements have been used successfully.  I-64 offers a perfect venue for locating the pipeline as it transits the National Forest to our west.  (If you would like maps, email me at

Please think about the advantages of such an approach.  If you think the pipelines are safe, that any environmental diminishment will be minimal, please consider at least how you feel about people’s right to live peacefully on their own property.  Consider how quickly Dominion would move to the use of their own easements if they did not have Eminent Domain to coerce sale of property on their terms.

Better options exist if we all join together to demand them.

Tracy Pyles is an Augusta County native and has been elected five times as Pastures District Supervisor. A graduate of James Madison University with a Political Science degree, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1967-71 and is retired as a corporate buyer for American Safety Razor. Tracy and wife Debbie live in Churchville and have three sons –Weston, Ryan, and Christian who is married to Katie and has two children, three-year-old Caleb and 18-month-old Natalie.

See also Special Issue: writers, guests discuss Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

Previous articles on the pipeline:


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One thought on “Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Better ways to the same end

  1. […] Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Better ways to the same end by Supervisor Tracy Pyles […]

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