The annual meeting of Friends of Nelson at Rockfish Valley Community Center January 12 included an update on efforts to keep the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from crossing the county.
David Schwiesow pointed to the importance of finding alternative routes to crossing Reeds Gap, stating that “moving the route 30-40 miles takes it out of Nelson County.” In 2019, all pipeline construction was halted after eight permits were revoked or suspended when issues were discovered by federal courts or agencies. Environmental concerns along the route, through the steep forested mountains of Nelson County, were revealed when the expedited permitting process slowed down. In the past year, the pipeline project’s effect on a national park, two national forests and the Appalachian Trail (AT) was determined to be detrimental. In January, a decision was made by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to vacate the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s compressor station permit in the Union Hill community of Buckingham County.
An act of Congress would be required to change the law protecting the AT. Dominion Energy has been lobbying to change the Mineral Leasing Act 1973 that prohibits new oil and gas pipelines from crossing the national park system. The U.S. Supreme Court is now poised to hear the issue of approval to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and AT on federal land with a decision expected in June. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) was acknowledged for leading the legal challenges. For more information and updates, visit SouthernEnvironment.org or friendsofnelson.com.
The gathering shared a supper and members welcome new board members Jim Bolton, Ron Enders, Kathy Versluys, Marilyn Shifflet, Doug Wellman and Julie Burns to two-year terms. Continuing on the board are Ellen Bouton, Connie Brennan, Woody Greenberg, Charlie Hickox, Cheryl Klueh and David Schwiesow. Helen Kimble retired as president. Kim and Jimbo Cary provided the music and there was a spirit of celebration.