The drums and whistles overpowered traffic noise at Eighth and Main this morning as a group of protesters opposing Virginia’s two natural gas pipeline projects moved away from Department of Environmental Quality headquarters, perhaps coming from a State Water Control Board hearing down the street.
With both the Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley (MVP) projects entangled in legal challenges that have suspended some or all work, and with the shorter project releasing part of its workforce and pushing back its completion date, giving opponents opportunities to write articles hinting at a momentum shift. It is hard from the outside to judge and certainly nobody expected this to go easily, but the setbacks have come quickly.
One concern I haven’t seen addressed: With work stalled in several places, are there large swaths of cleared land sitting untouched and waiting for the next storm to cause more erosion? Once the work is started, the best practice I would think is to quickly place and test the new line then get it back underground, so ground cover can be planted and start to grow.
The EnergySure Coalition public relations effort supporting the Dominion Energy-backed ACP is suddenly active again, with recent emails and a mailing focused on the needed air pollution permit for the ACP’s Buckingham County compressor station, which may be the next flashpoint. The EnergySure mailer includes conveniently pre-printed post cards addressed to Governor Ralph Northam and to DEQ asking them to support the permit.
There is also an appeal for recipients to file further written comments and appear at a September 11 public hearing in the county. A recent Virginia Mercury story focused on the compressor station and its proximity to a majority African-American community, which has added a different layer to the debate.
Whether or not an industrial facility meets air emissions quality standards is, to me anyway, an engineering question, answerable yes or no. Any doubt about the developer’s claim that it is proposing a facility that will produce minimal air emissions should be easy to resolve without politics or emotion. But this is now the battle line and the supporters are showing some sweat on their foreheads.
The EnergySure effort is now directly lobbying a state agency over a specific permit decision. The cost of the television, social media and direct mail campaigns is being paid by someone and eventually needs to be reported somewhere. But here is another example of Virginia’s devil-take-the-hindmost approach to transparency and disclosure. Just try to find and follow the dollars (and frankly the same also goes for the opponents.)There are currently no comments highlighted.