Will the economic benefits offered by Dominion Energy’s building a natural gas pipeline across parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina outweigh the disruption and potential property devaluation its construction and operation may have on property owners whose land the pipeline will cross? Will the planned pipeline adversely affect the land, water, and air environment along its route? Will the planned pipeline help or hinder the coal mining industry and the people in the locales that rely on that industry?
Find out the answer to these questions and concerns on Monday, April 17, 2017, when James Beamer, Dominion’s Senior Legislative Outreach Policy Director, presents an overview of Dominion’s planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) at the Northern Virginia Tea Party dinner meeting. The time and place for the meeting follows:
Monday, April 17
Dinner: 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Program: 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Brion’s Grill in University Mall
10621 Braddock Road
Fairfax, VA 22032
First, what is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline? As presented on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline website:
The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is an interstate natural gas transmission pipeline that would serve multiple public utilities and their growing energy needs in Virginia and North Carolina. Atlantic, a company formed by four major, regionally based energy companies; Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas, would develop, construct, and operate ACP.
A map of the 600-mile, 42″ diameter pipeline is also available at the website, along with explanations of the following list of benefits promised by Atlantic:
New jobs: Support 17,240 jobs during construction and 2,200 permanent jobs.
Lower energy cost: Saving consumers an estimated $377 million annually.
Cleaner air: Delivering clean-burning natural gas to homes, businesses and power plants; assisting in the transition away from older, higher-emission power sources.
Energy security and independence: Providing access to enough natural gas to reliably power and heat for generations.
Renewable and backup power: Providing reliable backup power during peak times when less sun or wind are available.
Urgent energy needs: Helping multiple public utilities in Virginia and North Carolina meet energy needs exceeding system’s capacity.
The pipeline’s survey and route planning began in May 2014, and the route continues to be refined. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in December 2016. After Atlantic commented on the draft EIS in February 2017, FERC expects to issue a Final EIS in June 2017. If all goes as planned, construction of the pipeline will start in 2017 to meet planned “In-Service” operations in late 2019.
In a telephone interview with the Fairfax Free Citizen, Mr. Beamer emphasized that fracking technology is an energy “game changer” giving energy companies cost effective access to huge reserves of natural gas that, when drilled, will provide energy independence for Virginia and allow profitable export of liquified natural gas to other countries. Energy experts have always known the gas was there; now fracking technology enables tapping those reserves.
As might be expected, environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, oppose the building of the pipeline and have expressed their opposition publicly and to state government authorities. Mr. Beamer stated he welcomes a transparent and robust discussion of the pros and cons of the pipeline, pointing out that Dominion has argued through this process that the pipeline’s advantages to Virginians far outweigh any disadvantages.
Regarding the thorny issue of the pipeline’s passage through private property, the ACP website points out:
More than 85% of landowners along the pipeline route have granted permission for ACP crews to survey their property. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has notified landowners along a 300-foot wide study corridor and the team continues work to refine the proposed route. Crews are surveying and obtaining information from affected landowners along the current, proposed path to determine the best route with least impacts to the environment, and historic and cultural resources.
Mr. Beamer said Dominion is negotiating easements with individual property owners. The 300-foot study corridor during the survey will shrink to 125 feet during construction and then 50 feet permanently. Usage of the 125-foot swath through a property owner’s land will be prohibited during pipeline construction, but Dominion is offering “reimbursement” of lost revenue during this period. After the 50-foot pipeline corridor is in place, property owners can continue growing crops, pasturing livestock, and engaging in other farm activities, but will be barred from placing permanent structures and growing trees in the corridor. Dominion will construct pipeline crossings for use by vehicles.
Mr. Beamer stated Dominion anticipates only a small percentage of property owners along the route will oppose the pipeline even with Dominion making fair compensation offers to them. The company has already reached mutual easement agreements with more than 60 percent of the landowners. If negotiations with individual property owners break down, then Dominion will have to take them to court where a judge will make an eminent domain judgment and determine a value award to the property owner.
There’s the rub: the overall broader economic interests of Virginians vs. the interests of individual property owners.
Come to the Northern Virginia Tea Party meeting to hear how Dominion’s Jim Beamer addresses such issues.