Area Residents Launch All Pain, No Gain Campaign Against Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Nelson County, Va. – Residents of Augusta and Nelson County today launched the All Pain, No Gain Campaign, a coordinated campaign against the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline by Dominion Power.  The purpose of the campaign is to unite all Virginians to work together with state and federal officials to ensure that public interests are protected in Dominion’s plan for a natural gas pipeline in the Commonwealth. The campaign is calling on Dominion to move the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to a more responsible alternative location that maximizes existing right of ways (ROWs).

The All Pain, No Gain Campaign is an advocacy campaign dedicated to pressuring Dominion Power to move the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline to an alternate, responsible route.  The campaign is co-chaired by Nancy Sorrells, a former member of the August County Board of Supervisors, and Charlotte Rea, a former colonel in the United States Air Force whose property falls on the proposed route.  Virginians are encouraged to visit www.allpainnogain.com to find out how to join the campaign.

 

“Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline poses an imminent and irrevocable threat to the people and resources of Virginia. All of the current routes would ignore our property rights, threaten our precious water resources, compromise our public safety, ravage our environmental and historic resources, and devalue our farms and properties,” said All Pain, No Gain co-chair Nancy Sorrells. “Through this campaign, we are calling on Dominion to move its proposed pipeline to an alternate, responsible route that protects the people, the communities, and the resources of Virginia.” 

The All Pain, No Gain Campaign will advocate for the interests of the thousands of residents and businesses whose land and livelihoods are affected by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.  Over the next couple months, they will work to encourage Dominion to move the pipeline through public outreach and engagement.  To kick-off the campaign, television and radio ads ran launched yesterday in the Charlottesville and Harrisonburg media markets.  The television ad can be viewed here.

 

“As a Nelson County resident whose land is on the proposed pathway of the pipeline, I have grave concerns about Dominion’s intentions and plans,” said All Pain, No Gain co-chair Charlotte Rea.  “The currently known routes of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are in the best interest of no one but Dominion.  The Atlantic Coast Pipeline threatens to decrease property values for impacted landowners and to decrease revenues for small business owners who rely on Nelson's rural heritage and beauty being maintained.   Both would decrease County tax revenues and could result in increased taxes for all Nelson residents. This pipeline project would also put the County water supplies at risk impacting Nelson residents, farmers and tourism-related businesses."

 

All Pain, No Gain will highlight concerns over property rights, economic development, area history, the environment and public safety. 

Property Rights

Since announcing its intention to construct the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Virginia, Dominion Power has been requesting permission to survey private residential and commercial properties along their proposed route.  Many property owners have refused the request in order to protect their property from trespass and stop the progress of the ACP, but VA law 56-49.01 allows a natural gas company access to private property for survey purposes even without the owner’s permission. 

Just as property owners do not have the right to refuse Dominion Power’s request to survey their property, Virginia Constitution Article I, § 11 empowers an authorized utility service such as Dominion to acquire property rights or damage private property without the consent of the property owner if the acquisition or damage provides a significant public service.  Small businesses, thriving farms that have remained with the same family for generations, and irreplaceable recreational and historic sites are all at risk if owners do not have the right to refuse the ACP’s trespass of their property. 

Construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline requires cutting at least a 125-foot clearing (the size of an interstate highway) along the length of the pipeline.  This will include clear cutting of forests, crops, and backyards and will result in a permanent 75-foot wide scar along the pipeline’s route that will last for generations.  The presence of a 42-inch natural gas pipeline will also make both residential and commercial property less attractive to potential buyers in the future and undevelopable in many cases. Trees cannot be planted within the easement and no buildings can be constructed there. 

Economic Development

Virginia’s thriving agriculture, tourism, and craft beverage manufacturing sectors rely on clean water to attract visitors and customers and produce superior products worthy of their respected brands.  Contaminated municipal water supplies, private wells, and waterways disturbed or obstructed by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could decrease revenues and damage the reputation of established businesses along the proposed ACP route.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, organic farming is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in the United States, with the industry growing by more than 20 percent each year.  Many Virginia farmers have joined this movement and earned organic certification for their crops, livestock, or agricultural products, but farmers in the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will lose their organic certification as a result of irreparable groundwater contamination during pipeline construction.  Price points for non-organic produce are consistently lower, so profits for these farmers will decrease, and they will be excluded from the growing market across the Commonwealth for local, organic produce and meat and dairy products.

Additionally, In an official Project Overview for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion claims it will create nearly 9,000 jobs in Virginia and invest nearly $1.7 billion in construction and operations.   However, this number is based on the unrealistic assumption that the ACP’s presence will create service industry jobs and attract new companies to Virginia. According to Chmura Economics and Analytics, only 827 jobs will be directly created in constructing the pipeline. Most of these jobs will go to unionized, skilled tradespeople in the pipeline industry who travel from states like Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma where large pipelines are prevalent.  A few temporary local jobs such as gravel hauling, flagmen, sign placement, and backfilling trenches with shovels may be available to local residents.  Only 39 full-time permanent jobs will be created to operate ACP compressor and transmission stations in Virginia. 

Area History

So much of Virginia’s history is evident along the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: from early Native American settlements to 19th century farmhouses to slave cemeteries, the story of Virginia itself can be told through the places and artifacts which are now at risk of being altered or destroyed by the ACP.

  • The proposed route crosses through the Shenandoah Valley National Battlefields District in Highland and Augusta Counties. This federally-designated area was formed to remember the Civil War’s hallowed ground.
  • The proposed route also crosses the National Park Service’s Lewis and Clark Eastern Legacy Trail, recently recognized by the Virginia General Assembly. John Colter, an important scout on that famous expedition and later an explorer and mountain man in the Rockies, was born on a farm in Stuarts Draft, in Augusta County. One of the proposed pipeline routes crosses through that farm.
  • One proposed route for the ACP included the Historic Wingina estate, which began as a Monacan Indian settlement before the land was granted to Dr. William Cabell in 1738.  The property has remained with the same family for 277 years and its current residents, Andrew and Digna Gantt, have discovered many Monacan artifacts such as axes, tomahawks and bowls on their property.  The site of the Monacan settlement is only a third of a mile from one of the proposed routes of the ACP. 
  • The Rose Estate is owned by Reverend James Rose, a descendant of Albemarle County slaves who became owners of a 28.5 acre parcel following Emancipation.  Reverend Rose’s property, which is subject to invasion by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, holds a cemetery spanning two centuries of the Rose family, including former slaves. 

Environment

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be constructed of 42-inch pipe designed to carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas (methane) per day.  The pipeline will also be laid across the diverse and mountainous landscape of western Virginia, crossing both sides of at least 20 steep forested mountains in the central Allegheny Highlands.  The proposed ACP route features unique topography, including karst, caverns, and massive sinkholes that can occur without warning and compromise the safety of communities and of the pipeline itself. In some counties, seasonal erosion, landslides, and flooding could result in pipeline rupture or spillage, putting both the natural environment and human safety at great risk.  The Atlantic Coast Pipeline presents a direct risk to our municipal and drinking water supplies as well as the aquatic habitats of wild species and recreational waterways enjoyed by countless visitors every year.

  • According to a study conducted by Emery and Garrett Groundwater Investigations, water quality and quantity will be threatened by blasting during pipeline construction. Blasting chemicals will be introduced into the groundwater system, and blasting can open up fractures which contribute to sinkholes. Blasting can also decrease well and spring yields by collapsing well bores or lowering the water table, or altering the course of underground streams, thereby threatening citizens who depend on wells for potable water for their homes, farms, and businesses.
  • Construction of the ACP will require excavating under streams, wetlands, and riparian groundwater. 
  • Clear cutting during construction of the ACP will fragment densely forested areas, reduce habitats, and restrict movement for many animals native to western Virginia, including several listed as Endangered Species and several found nowhere else on earth. Even when the pipeline has been successfully buried and grass planted above it, original forest conditions cannot be replicated, and invasive plant species will appear and disrupt or destroy the natural balance of the local ecosystem. 
  • ACP construction will necessitate the clear cutting and removal of a significant number of Red Spruce trees, which will directly impact the Northern Flying Squirrel, a registered Endangered Species (2008) that depends on the Red Spruce for its habitat. The Indiana Bat is also protected by both the Virginia and United States Endangered Species Acts and inhabits caves and roosts within the ACP construction corridor.
  • The ACP’s current route also crosses native brook trout streams as well as Laurel Fork, the George Washington National Forest Special Management Area and watershed in Highland County, which contains 90 documented state-rare species. 

Public Safety

If a slow, long-term natural gas leak goes undetected, natural gas has the potential to enter the aquifer system and travel to wells used for domestic, industrial, or public use. Concentration of natural gas from groundwater can result in a highly explosive atmosphere, placing lives and property at risk.

Local fire departments along the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route have worked hard to prepare themselves for any emergency that is likely to face their community.  However, the ACP, if compromised, poses a potential threat of such magnitude that local first responders lack both the training and the personnel to respond to a pipeline fire quickly and proportionally.  The proposed pipeline also travels through “high consequence areas” meaning that there are large numbers of structures and vulnerable individuals, such as school children and nursing home residents, within close proximity to the pipeline route.

For more information about the All Pain, No Gain Campaign please visit www.allpainnogain.com.


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