Tag Archives: virginia

Dominion’s Fracked gas Pipeline Threatens Virginia National Forests & Waterways

McAuliffe defends pipeline support at climate-change meeting

Reposted from Washington Post
September 10, 2014
RICHMOND — During the first meeting of Virginia’s newly reconstituted climate change commission, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) defended his support for a proposed natural gas pipeline, despite concerns from the environmental community.The group met Wednesday, about a week after McAuliffe, amid great fanfare, announced that a consortium of companies led by energy giant Dominion Resources wants to build a 550-mile pipeline through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina.

Environmentalists worry that the pipeline could damage federally protected public lands in the George Washington and Monongahela national forests and indirectly encourage fracking from companies enticed by a cheap, quick way to get their product to market. The National Forest Service is considering whether to make lands in the Virginia lands available for fracking — a practice McAuliffe insisted he would fight.

“They support me on what my decision is. I have told them they will not allow fracking in the national forest,” McAuliffe told reporters outside the meeting. “I do not support fracking as governor of the commonwealth and we’re in mutual agreement on that.”

Calls to the National Forest Service were not returned Wednesday.

The pipeline debate highlighted the competing interests McAuliffe must satisfy.

This summer, McAuliffe reconvened by executive order the Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission. The panel was initially established by former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D), but it went dark under his successor, former governor Robert F. McDonnell (R).

McAuliffe appointed dozens of businesspeople, environmental activists and lawmakers to the commission and charged them with producing a report within one year on ways to combat climate change, which has had particularly devastating effects on the state’s coastal areas. However, when the time came for questions, the first one was about the pipeline.

Henry “Hap” Connors, who sits on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, asked: “Can you give us a little more information about the natural gas pipeline?”

McAuliffe repeated his pitch for the $5 billion project.

“It will be a game changer for the commonwealth on job creation. It will also be very good for our environment,” he said. “This has nothing to do with fracking. That gas is out West. That gas will be taken to Texas or Louisiana or somewhere else. We’re not doing the fracking; I want to be very clear about that … We will take spurs off of this natural gas pipeline to build a huge new manufacturing base.”

In addition, McAuliffe said last week that the pipeline would prevent spikes in energy bills during severe weather and give Virginians “direct access to the most affordable natural gas supply in the United States.” He added that the pipeline would allow Dominion to close old coal-fired power plants, which McAuliffe said emit more emissions than fracking.

Mike Tidwell, founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, disagreed: “There is no question whatsoever that this gas is coming from fracking and fracking drilling vents an enormous amount of methane into the atmosphere — and that’s over 20 years, over 80 times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide,” he said.

Although Tidwell called on McAuliffe to withdraw his support for the pipeline, he praised the governor for re-launching the climate change commission.

Another commission member, Cale Jaffe, director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center, said many recommendations of the previous climate change commission would be satisfied by carbon emission regulations released this summer by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The McAuliffe administration is working on a formal response to the proposed regulations that calls for changes that would take into account Virginia’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, such as reliance on nuclear energy.

“What the EPA is trying to do and the goals are laudable, however one size doesn’t fit all,” McAuliffe said. “If some of the [proposed regulations] were left in there, [this] could absolutely cripple our economy.”

Dominion’s Pipeline Plan

Continue reading

Duke Energy begins work to remove large coal ash deposit in Danville

sludge from river bottom
Enlarge Photo
Dan River Basin Association

Coal ash sludge scooped from the Dan River near the Duke Energy spill in Eden.

Digital Content Editor- Triad Business Journal

Duke Energy Corp. has begun to remove a 2,500-ton coal ash deposit in Danville, Va., with high-tech machinery, the News & Record and Fox 8 report.

The machine agitates the river bottom and vacuums up the water and sediment. The coal ash is then filtered out and sent to a lined landfill in Person County, while clean water is returned to the river.

The deposit, a result of the Feb. 2 spill that dumped between 30,000 and 39,000 tons of ash into the Dan River, is near the Schoolfield Dam and close to where Danville draws its drinking water.

It is the largest deposit found outside of where the spill occurred at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden. Nineteen tons were cleared there.

No coal ash containments have been found to date in drinking water downstream from the spill, including in Danville.

While work at the dam is likely to last through June, the News & Record writes that prospects look grim for recovering most of the ash that spilled. The two other known deposits — both in North Carolina — are a combined 60 tons. Officials say monitoring for deposits will continue for years.

Continue reading

Fracking in George Washington National Forest could threaten D.C. area drinking water

by Robert McCartney Columnist, Washington Post
The future cleanliness of the Washington region’s drinking water has unexpectedly become a central concern in the national debate over the controversial natural-gas drilling method known as “fracking.”

The gas industry is pushing to allow fracking in the George Washington National Forest, despite fears that it could threaten the cleanliness of the Potomac River. It’s the sole source of drinking water for more than 4 million people in our area.

It’s no surprise that environmental groups are pushing hard to ban fracking in the forest, which includes the Potomac’s headwaters in the Appalachian Mountains.

But I’ve been struck by the strong positions taken by more neutral parties, notably major local water utilities. The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, the Washington Aqueduct and the Fairfax County Water Authority all oppose fracking in the forest — at least until the dangers are better understood.

“If we permitted it and we were wrong, it would be a catastrophic problem for the nation’s capital,” D.C. Water General Manager George Hawkins said.

“When you consider the risks to a headwater stream in a pristine national forest . . . this is a case where you would err on the side of caution,” he said.

Numerous cities and counties in western Virginia near the forest also are supporting a ban. Continue reading

NC Mayor Pushes for Uranium Mine Ban

The mayor of Williamston, N.C., Tommy Roberson, has sent a letter to the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors in deep concern about how his area would be impacted if a uranium mine is allowed to be placed in Chatham.  His county commissioners have already sent a letter to the Pittsylvania supervisors in support of the ban.
“It’s a big deal, and most people in eastern North Carolina haven’t awakened to what could happen to us,” Roberson told the Danville Register & Bee on Friday.
Roberson wrote that phosphate mining in eastern North Carolina has already damaged his town’s water availability, despite promises to the contrary.
“Today, our water table has been drawn down severely by that activity and the water level is so low that the state has mandated we reduce our intake from that aquifer by 75 percent,” he wrote. “That has left us no recourse but to build a new regional Surface Water Treatment Plant on the Roanoke River to supply current and future water needs for our community and surrounding area.”
The price tag on that project is $27 million, with another $1 million going to modify its delivery system.
“These costs are being paid for by the citizens in an area that has the dubious distinction of being the fourth poorest area in the United States,” Roberson wrote, noting the area must completely rely on the Roanoke River for drinking water and has no other options.
He told the Register & Bee that he is also concerned about the ecotourism efforts in his region, which produces oysters and shrimp.
“I can’t even imagine what part of the state tourism comes from that estuary area,” he said.
Roberson fears that any catastrophe resulting from uranium mining and milling will not only leave them with no drinking water, but kill off a growing ecotourism industry giving hope to their area, which has been labeled “economically stressed.” Furthermore, he said, the coastal ecosystem needs to be protected.
“It (the Roanoke River) provides 70 percent of the water in our sound,” he said. “That’s the complete estuary program in the eastern part of our state.”
He also fears the General Assembly will punt the issue back to Pittsylvania County and that local authorities will ultimately decide whether the mine happens or not.
“If the state of Virginia is going to shift the burden to them, then we need to be in communication with them,” he said.
Writing letters and talking to people, he said, is all he can do: “We have no way of applying any pressure, because we are not constituents of the state of Virginia.”
Jackson reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

Public Hearing on Uranium Mining

radon/waterForwarded Message:
There is an extremely IMPORTANT MEETING of the Governor’s newly appointed Uranium Working Group (UWG). The date is Monday, June 18th, 2012 @ 6:00 pm @ Chatham High School, Chatham, Va.
Many of our concerned colleagues, having studied the issue without ceasing since it’s origin in 1978, believe that this UWG flies in the face of democratic protocol, and that Governor McDonnell has committed a grave wrong to the citizens he has been elected to represent and protect. His recent attack on the free speech rights of women has already trashed his hopes for thew Republican VEEP canadacy this fall!
Please try to attend this meeting on the 18th of June. There will be time for public comment, for which we must all sign up early, so try to get there by 5:00 or so in order to get on the list of public speakers.
The link to the UWG is   http://www.uwg.vi.virginia.gov  and there should be an agenda at the site. Our understanding is that they will cover Mine permitting, Environmental Impact Analysis and Environmental Monitoring of Mine Sites, Disposal of Mine Waste, Mine Site Reclamation. There will also be a passout on UWG  Comprehensive Work Plan and Schedual.

Keep The Ban: No To Uranium Mines!

For Immediate Release –  December 19, 2011

Virginia & North Carolina Residents Say: Keep The Uranium Ban!

Richmond, VA – An hour North of Chapel Hill, in South Central Virginia, energy companies are planning to mine for uranium for use in nuclear energy within the community of Coles Hill.  They are pushing for the lifting of a 30 year ban on uranium mining that has existed in Virginia and industry is pushing for legislation to be introduced as early as January 2012. On Monday, December 19th, environmental groups are demonstrating outside the General Assembly building at 901 E. Broad St. at 1:00 p.m. in downtown Richmond at the Uranium Mining Subcommittee of the Coal and Energy Commission meeting where the National Academy of Sciences presents their findings on the viability of lifting the moratorium.

The Cole’s Hill community is vehemently opposed to the plan and the group, Virginian’s Against Uranium Mining, has said “If the ban were lifted, processed uranium would be shipped out of state. Left behind for centuries would be huge volumes of radioactive and toxic waste, disposed near farmlands and local waterways. Exposure to this waste has been linked to increases in leukemia, kidney disease and other severe health problems. Uranium mining in the U.S. has typically occurred in dry, sparsely populated climates in the arid Southwest.  Virginia, on the other hand, has wet weather and is prone to extreme flooding and storms. Communities downstream from the first proposed site in Pittsylvania County (including Virginia Beach and Chesapeake) worry that a large storm, like Hurricane Irene, will overwhelm operations putting their drinking water at risk of radioactive contamination.”

Sierra Club will be present inside the meeting to present a statement against lifting the ban and Croatan Earth First! from North Carolina will be demonstrating outside.   Their banners read, “You Can’t Drink Money,” and  “Down With Empire, Up With Spring: No To Uranium Mining!”  Earth First! believes that this is an extremely dangerous type of extraction and is a great risk the region’s water table, the Roanoke River Basin.  The area in which the mining happens feeds into waterways that go to Virginia Beach, Eastern NC, Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh which are all downstream.  “Uranium extraction could contaminate our entire bioregion and water supply, says resident of Chapel Hill, Michelle.  “Until recently, uranium mining has only been done in very remote areas.  Mining inside of a community and right next to a waterway is inexcusable.  This would be the first uranium mine East of the Mississippi River.”  Furthermore, “There are no viable ways to dispose of nuclear waste or even to store it permanently,” says John Bower of Earth First!, “There could be long-term and disastrous repercussions of allowing uranium mining next to the Roanoke River.   The process of mining alone unavoidably contaminates everything around it with toxic solid, liquid and gaseous wastes.”  In 2008, US Congress approved a five-year project of cleaning up hazardous waste and contaminated land, water and buildings inside the Navajo Nation reservation in the Southwest where residents had worked in a uranium mine.  They also paid compensation to those suffering from radon induced cancers caused by the extraction process.

For more information, see:

Virginians Against Uranium Mining


Uranium Free Virginia

Piedmont Environmental Council


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