To the Editor: Tell Northam, Stop the Pipeline

Drone photograph of the pipeline under construction in West Virginia. Photo: Blue Ridge Geographics LLC.

I want to alert you to a threat faced by our neighbors south of us in Buckingham County that will affect our children, too, and ask you to write to Governor Northam, who has been siding against us. 

You might think of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline as a necessary and safe way to transport gas. Perhaps other forms of energy are cleaner, you say, but maybe we need this for now and better to pipe than truck. 

I’d like to share some details that show the ACP is unnecessary, damaging, a scam, and a threat to our health. Even if fracking weren’t creating unacceptable contamination in West Virginia, where it would increase if this pipeline is built, this pipeline would be a catastrophe for Virginia. I am using facts from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of Buckingham websites as sources, but I urge you to research this yourself.

1. It’s not safe.

• There have been many explosions and leaks at compressor stations since companies started doing in-ground gas transportation.

• Mountain ridges would be razed and some of the steepest slopes in the eastern U.S. would likely landslide, ruining forests, waterways, and even homes. 

• Spills always happen with pipelines, though the news rarely covers them; contaminated water cannot be un-contaminated.

• Compressor stations along the line regularly release toxic emissions with extremely noisy “blow-down events,” sickening everyone for miles. One study of compressor stations in New York State found that “Exposure to these chemicals can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, neurological and developmental diseases and cancer.”

2. It’s not fair.

• Farmers would have their land confiscated.

• The community targeted for the compressor station happens to be African-American and low-income, a typical choice for locating these projects, because low-income communities do not have the resources to fight back. In North Carolina, the pipeline cuts through Native American communities.

• The ACP gas would be sold to affiliates that will pass on costs to their customers. So Dominion will reap the profit, but we will bear the additional $1.6-2.3 billion passed on to our electricity bills. Dominion can make us pay for the project even if we never use the gas.

• Compressor stations cost the regional economy. A report in 2013,by the RAND Corp. estimated the dollar cost “to health and the environment from shale gas development emissions in Pennsylvania at $7.2 million to $32 million in 2011, with up to 75 percent of it related to compressor stations.”

3. It’s unnecessary.

• The pipeline investors say affiliates need the gas. But the affiliates have not needed new gas in recent years, and they estimated needing even less in future! So why would they now ask for more gas? Because they are owned by Dominion! 

• Existing pipelines only use about half of their capacity, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the green light to 38 major pipelines in 2016. This one isn’t needed for the public good, only for the profits it provides Dominion.

• When considering these the pipelines, the ONLY options FERC entertained or investigated were old, dirty energy options. And in doing so, they didn’t look at what it would mean to have billions of dollars tied up in dirty energy infrastructure far into the future. How will this harm the development of clean energy options? How will it increase the production and burning of dirty fuels, accelerating global warming?

Why would Governor Northam side against Virginians? Well, Dominion has basically paid him to. You and I cannot hope to buy him back, but we can ask him to show some integrity. Please write to him now at: Governor Ralph Northam, P.O. Box 1475, Richmond, VA 23218.

Atieno Bird


Send your letters to the editor to [email protected] Letters will not be printed anonymously. Letters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Crozet Gazette.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here