The Augusta County Government Center and Board of Supervisors will host a public hearing tonight for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline that begins in West Virginia and runs through Augusta County on its way to North Carolina.
Dominion Power has held many open houses addressing the concerns of residents who question or outright oppose a pipeline. It will be interesting tonight to see if any proponents are in the audience to join the organized anti-pipeline crowd.
The public hearing begins at 7:00 in Verona.
7:00: Meeting is now underway. All supervisors are here as well as staff. Rules for speaking have been given to the full room including requesting respectful comments. A 15-minute break will be taken at 9:00.
7:08: Tim Fitzgerald is giving an overview of the steps Augusta County has taken concerning the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. In December, supervisors and staff toured the pipeline route with Dominion officials. As a result of the tour, Dominion has agreed to look more indepth at some areas and consider some alternatives that have been offered by Augusta County. Staff has compiled a report – economic development, health department, fire and rescue, school board, Virginia Dept of Transportation all weighed in. Service Authority also responded with a report containing comments.
Reports can be found at the Augusta County website.
7:14: Emmett Toms with Dominion is now introducing the officials who are with him tonight — environmental officials, construction manager, vice president of corporation communications.
7:15: Dominion’s Vice President of Corporation Communications is now addressing the supervisors. Using visuals on the overhead projector, he is giving a timeline for the pipeline and more.
Ownership Structure: Dominion 45%
Duke Energy 40%
Piedmont Natural Gas 10%
AGL Resources (Va Natural Gas) 5%
Estimated Cost: $4.5-$5 Billion
File FERC Summer 2015
Receive FERC Approval Summer 2016
Utilities looking to meet new U.S. EPA clean air regulations
Local gas utilities searching for new, less-expansive supplies forr esidential and commercial customers
Industries interested in expanding their operations
CHART: Va/NC Natural Gas Use – has increased 73% from 2006-2013
WILL NOT EXPORT NATURAL GAS
Map of pipeline route and current/proposed power stations
– Lower energy prices
– Reliability and diversity of supply
-Economic development potential
-Economic activity during construction, operation
-Support growth of intermitent renewable power source
-Property tax revenues
FERC approval considerations:
– Water use and quality
-Fish, wildlife and vegetation
-Land use, recreation and aesthetics
-Air and noise qualit
-Reliability and safety
Map of current roue goes south of Staunton and north of Stuarts Draft. It also shows the Columbia gas pipeline that has been in Augusta County for 80 years (with no problems).
Planning Commission was concerned about maintaining the rural character of the area. The only notice will be markers that are required by law. It will not interfere with development. A 1965 subdivision developed around the Columbia Pipeline as well as other Augusta County developments.
ALTERNATIVE ROUTE: Listening to concerns, the map shows an alternative route that may take up more acreage and perhaps be more disruptive than the current route. The adjustment process will continue.
THREE LAYERS OF SAFETY:
– Design & construction
– Operation & inspection
KARST AND WATER RESOURCES
– Routing considerations
– Expertise and experience
-Coordination with ACSA
– Pipeline has four feet of cover to allow planting/plowing
OTHER LOCAL CONCERNS
– Proximity to schools
– Proximity to homes & businesses
– School transportation
– Traffic & roads
– Fire and rescue
– Dividing parcels
– Storm water runoff
WORKING WITH COLUMBIA PIPELINE OFFICIALS and their experiences the past 80 years in Augusta County.
He is thanking for the opportunity to share Dominion’s studies and surveys.
7:35: Public hearing is now open and 40 people have signed up to speak. Individual speakers have 3 minutes; those speaking on behalf of a group have 5 minutes.
PRO: First speaker is pro-pipeline and listing many benefits including monies that could help pay for the Courthouse.
ANTI: “Friends of the Middle River” – speaker is addressing concerns about Middle River and the pipeline.
ANTI: 3 speakers against the pipeline
ANTI: Speaker has a map from her friend Libby Welsh who got the “Libby Loop” aka the Staunton bypass that lets people on the west side of Staunton have quick access to Staunton and points east. Speaker is concerned about the pipe’s affect on the bypass.
ANTI: Former supervisor Nancy Sorrells who is co-chairing the anti-pipeline group in Augusta County. She has generously provided her remarks that I will post later (hard copy).
ANTI: 2 speakers against the pipeline
8:05: ANTI: Executive Director for Valley Conservation Council is speaking of protecting the Shenandoah Valley.
ANTI: She said some realtors have said some purchasers have held off on buying property until they know where the pipeline will go. Salisbury Subdivision in Richmond, a community of high-end houses that are half-a-million dollars and higher, has a pipeline that runs through it and has been there since the subdivision was build back in the 1950s-60s.
8:35: A line of anti-pipeline speakes are addressing the board.
ANTI: Current anti-pipeline speaker just said that the wells in my neighborhood turned cloudy during some kind of blasting. Not sure what he’s talking about but I’m not aware of neighbors who had that happen to them. I’ve lived there almost 20 years. I would like to know where he got his information.
Many speakers are repetitious at this point in the hearing.
8:37: We have a sign language signer tonight and now we know why. The current anti-speaker is signing her remarks and they are being interpreted by another signer while the original signer is signing to the audience.
ANTI: Six students from Shelburne Middle School are speaking against the pipeline. Apparently their history teacher is with them.
At 9:00 the supervisors called for a 15-minute break before continuing the public hearing. I left the meeting at that point since I have been up since 4:30 this morning. Long day … I was hearing speakers make many of the same points.