John P. Flannery: Dominion’s 550 mile toxic gas pipeline
We all resent the fact that Dominion Power owns the elected officials and pols in both parties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, rather than having our elected “representatives” represent “our” interests.
Dominion Power dictates legislation that favors its unrestrained exploitation of our natural resources in derogation of our individual rights and liberties.
Only days ago, our leaders in both parties told us that it was a good deal for us to have a floor on electricity rates and to exempt Dominion from regulatory oversight for seven years.
Last year, the General Assembly gave Dominion a $400 million corporate welfare write-off for a plant that Dominion may never build.
A particularly obvious example of personal excess is a million dollar state grant to Dominion’s CEO, Thomas Farell, to make a civil war movie.
Unsurprisingly, Dominion has no hesitation about planning a 550 mile 42-inch wide pipeline, called the Atlantic Pipeline, from Harrison County, WV, through Virginia, and on to North Carolina, full of fracked and toxic liquid natural gas, 1.5 billion cubic feet a day, at a pressure of 1,440 psig, extracted from the Marcellus shale fields in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
In order to build this pipeline, Dominion shall destroy swaths of forests and private property, compromise wildlife and historic venues, and, when they’re done, if we don’t stop this juggernaut now, there will be toxic liquid natural gas (LNG) spills and leaks.
The leaks have happened before. Indeed, Dominion was cited for 13 water pollution violations by the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) just a couple of months ago including Dominion’s 42-inch natural gas pipeline through Pocahontas County. DEP fined Dominion, the $52 Billion company, a grand total of $55,470, so meager as to be fairly characterized as the cost of doing business indifferently.
Dominion is now set to march onto private property in Virginia without the permission of land owners to survey where the toxic liquid natural gas line will go.
Our Governor and our Attorney General are just fine with that.
One legislator offered a bill in the General Assembly requiring express permission to enter a person’s land; the bill never got out of Committee.
Land owners in Nelson County, Virginia, in the path of Dominion’s march, are challenging a state statute that denies them the right to object to Dominion trespassing on their land.
Dominion and our Attorney General insist that, while the Virginia Code contemplates Dominion requesting permission, Dominion doesn’t actually have to get permission.
This Alice-in-Wonderland fossil-fuel-fiction that our Attorney General has embraced, defending Dominion’s intent to trespass, in the absence of any right of way, when each landowner has withheld permission for Dominion to enter on his land, violates the personal land-owner’s constitutional right to be let alone.
Landowners have rightly objected that the statute is, at best, vague, but they may also object that these trespassing surveyors are conducting unreasonable searches, depriving the landowners of their personal liberty and the use and enjoyment of their real property, and applying law unequally, when allowing Dominion to enjoy the unconsented right to trespass, a crime for virtually anyone else.
It’s high time that all Virginians, as well as the several states, tell their “elected” reps that Dominion’s political reach has gone too far, or our neighborhoods may be the next toxic fossil fuel highway.
Incidentally, Dominion intends to enhance its Loudoun County compressor station so that more liquid natural gas may pass through Loudoun County to Cove Point, the only pipe terminal on the East Coast, re-purposed to export this toxic gas off-shore.
Column by John P. Flannery/Lovettsville, Va.
Editor’s Note: According to a Dominion spokesperson, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would transport natural gas in its gaseous form, not in its liquefied form. It would have the same properties as the natural gas that flows through the existing Columbia Gas pipeline in Augusta County.