Skip to content

Fracked Natural Gas: Bridge Fuel or Bridge to Nowhere?

March 10, 2015

Fuel sources.lowest costs.2014Wow! What a wonderful turnout for the March 9 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines. Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition and its affiliates were proud to serve as the sponsors for this event hosted by the Cabell Brand Center. Many thanks to Rupert Cutler for organizing and managing the program and to Angela Conroy,Tamim Younos and others at CBC for hosting the conference.

As promised, you can download my presentation here as a pdf file. More news on the event to follow.

The pdf, “Fracked Natural Gs: Bridge Fuel or Bridge to Nowhere is here:


Final agenda for March 9 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines – registration is free!

March 3, 2015

Pipelines.all Virginia proposalsThe Cabell Brand Center has announced the final agenda for the March 9 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines. This session at Virginia Western Community College and FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition helped organize and fund this event, which gives local citizens a chance to hear multiple perspectives on natural gas pipelines in one setting, with an opportunity to ask questions.

Registration is handled through the Cabell Brand Center:!CBC-will-Convene-Expert-Natural-Gas-Pipeline-Forum-on-March-9th/c19rc/09A62F4F-8E76-41C1-A85D-544C922885D3

Please direct any questions about logistics to Angela Conroy the CBC’s Executive Director

The Cabell Brand Center Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines

Whitman Theater, Business Science Building

Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke, Virginia

Monday, March 9, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Moderator:  Dr. M. Rupert Cutler, Board Member, Cabell Brand Center


8:30 a.m.        Registration, coffee

9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. – Opening remarks, Dr. Tamim Younos, President, Cabell Brand Center

9:05-9:15 a.m. – Welcome, Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President, Virginia Western Community College

Overview of Mountain Valley Pipeline Project

9:15 – 9:45 – Importance of the proposed pipelines for local economic development, John D’Orazio, President and CEO, Roanoke Gas Company

9:45 – 10:15 a.m. – Proposed route of the Mountain Valley pipeline, Joseph Dawley, Corporate Director of Government Affairs, EQT Corporation

10:15-10:45 – Environmentalists’ concerns, Joe Lovett, Executive Director, Appalachian Mountain Advocates

10:30-10:45 – Coffee break

Panel of Government Representatives

10:45 – 11:05 a.m. – The role of local government – Charlotte Moore, Member, Roanoke County Board of Supervisors

11:05 – 11:25 a.m. – The role of state government – John S. Edwards. Member, Senate of Virginia (21st District)

11:25 – 11:45 a.m. – The role of the federal government, Gwen Mason, Regional Director, the Office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

11:45 a.m. – 12 noon – Panel interaction

12 noon – 12:30 p.m. – Box Lunches (in cafeteria adjoining auditorium)

Potential Project Impacts

12:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Insurance-related risks and macroeconomic issues associated with pipelines, Freeda Cathcart, FLMI

1:00 – 1:30 p.m. – Impacts on the Appalachian Trail, Laura Belleville, Director of Conservation, Appalachian Trail Conservancy

1:30 – 2:00 p.m. – Landscape impacts of natural gas and other forms of energy, David Perry, Executive Director, Blue Ridge Land Conservancy

2:00 – 2:30 p.m. – Fracked natural gas: bridge fuel or bridge to nowhere?, Diana Christopulos, President, Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. – Assessing critical habitats and future energy development in the Central Appalachians, Marek Smith, Director, Allegheny Highlands Program, The Nature Conservancy

3:00 p.m. – Adjourn

Blue Ridge Land Conservancy votes to oppose natural gas pipelines in key areas

November 21, 2014


Blue Ridge Land Conservancy

Contact: Dave Perry

Telephone: 540-985-0000


Blue Ridge Land Conservancy Opposes Pipeline Projects

Roanoke, VA, Nov. 20, 2014 – The Board of Trustees of the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy (BRLC) voted on Wednesday to oppose the construction of natural gas pipelines through national parks and parkways (including the Blue Ridge Parkway), federal wilderness areas, across the Appalachian Trail, and across lands protected by conservation agreements held by the Conservancy.

Board of Trustees President Dr. M. Rupert Cutler said, “This action is consistent with the mission of the BRLC to promote the conservation of western Virginia’s natural resources. Our goals include assisting local, state and federal partners in the preservation of critical conservation lands, and our priority places for conservation include the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail.”

Cutler added, “We have a legal and moral obligation to defend the properties we’ve conserved in partnership with local landowners. And in Virginia, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent over more than a decade to protect lands across the commonwealth from inappropriate development. We take that investment by the taxpayers very seriously.”

BRLC is a local 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Roanoke that protects more than 16,000 acres of land and 34 miles of streams in Virginia’s Blue Ridge through voluntary legal agreements with local landowners. It was founded in 1996 and is nationally accredited by the Land Trust Alliance. BRLC serves Bedford, Botetourt, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Montgomery, and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Roanoke and Salem.

For more information about the organization, visit

Connect with us:

@landsavers company/blue-ridge-land-conservancy

# # #

Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition Takes Position on Regional Pipeline Proposals

November 11, 2014

Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition opposes the construction of new large-scale natural gas transmission pipeline projects. We believe such projects facilitate increased production and use of natural gas and thus increase carbon pollution, which is known to be a major cause of global warming. Emissions from burning natural gas also cause other significant environmental and health issues.

We believe this strategy is a major step in the wrong direction regarding energy policy and infrastructure. Rather than increasing and perpetuating the use of fossil fuels, we should aggressively:

  •     Promote conservation and efficiency to reduce energy needs.
  •     Develop renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to reduce and supplant our dependence on fossil fuels.

Click here to view all posts on natural gas issues from the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition.

Finally, high resolution maps of Mountain Valley Pipeline available

November 6, 2014

At last, the developers of Mountain Valley Pipeline are offering links to detailed maps of the proposed pipeline.

All maps are here:

The Virginia county links are:

Mountain Valley Pipeline developers make formal pre-filing with FERC

October 29, 2014

Mountain Valley and Atlantic pipelinesAccording to the Roanoke Times, Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin its informal review of the proposed 300-mile natural gas pipeline. The filing specified a 42-inch pipeline, the largest size under discussion.

In Virginia, the pipeline would transport fracked natural gas through Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties.

See the newspaper story here.

Many people are wondering, as Supervisor Jason Peters did, whether local residents and businesses might benefit from access to cheaper natural gas via this pipeline. The short answer is: highly unlikely.

While the developers, EQT Corp. and NextEra Energy, say that  their goal is to deliver gas to “communities along the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline route,” there are no planned connections  to any location in Virginia except the final terminus, and the developer stated in the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors briefing that, “Gas molecules flow all over the place.”

Local columnist Dan Casey recently pointed out that the Pittsylvania County terminus is already connected via pipelines to a Chesapeake Bay exporting facility called Cove Point in Lusby, Maryland.  Cove Point is owned by Dominion Resources, the most powerful lobbying organization in Virginia and the developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in northern Virginia.

Natural gas is more expensive in Europe than in the United States, so seems likely that developers who say there is a “surplus” of fracked natural gas in the United States would rush to reach this lucrative export market.

See Casey’s article here.

Want to dig deeper?

You can see lots of the information on the FERC website.

The project is docket number PF15-3

Easiest is to use FERC’s eLibrary.

1) Point your browser to

2) Use the drop-down menu from the Documents & Filing tab and select eLibrary.

3) Enter the docket number PF15-3 and select “general search.” (these may happen in slightly different order than shown here – but just enter the docket number when it comes up and let it give you all of the documents.)

4) The default dates will search the past 30 days, so you may need to change the date range to capture the documents you need.

5) Click on “submit” at the bottom to find documents.

6) If files are available they will appear in a table format in columns, including a description of the document. To open the file, instead of clicking on the description, go to the right and double click on “FERC generated PDF” or another format. You can then save any documents you want.

If you want automatic notifications, want to make comments and want to dig deeper, you can register to do so here:

You can register for free to follow this proceeding, make comments and review documents. A pamphlet with instructions is here.

State and local asthma coalitions endorse new EPA standards for carbon emissions

October 22, 2014

smoke-stack Medical providers have made the link between carbon emissions and human health. Both the Virginia Asthma Coalition (VAC) and the Greater Roanoke Valley Asthma and Air Quality Coalition have sent comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supporting proposed new limits on carbon emissions. Coal-fired power plants would be impacted by the new rules. In addition to carbon dioxide linked to climate change, the plants emit precursors to both ozone and soot (particle pollution), and both have major impacts on human health.

Here is the text of comments from the two coalitons:

Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602
Comments by the Virginia Asthma Coalition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Virginia Asthma Coalition supports health-based limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Reducing carbon emissions will reduce the impact of climate change on people with asthma. Also, the actions each state will take to reduce carbon emissions will have the additional benefit of reducing emissions of other life-threatening air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.

Climate change is a serious threat to human health, and particularly to the health of people with asthma. The changing climate will alter the distribution of pollutants, enhance conditions for the formation of ozone, and increase emissions from fires, dust and vegetation, such as pollen. All of these changes can trigger asthma attacks.

Ozone can irritate and inflame the respiratory system and lead to asthma attacks and hospitalizations for people with asthma, as well as shortness of breath, chest pain, inflammation of the lung lining, wheezing, coughing, and even premature death for the public at large. Because ozone forms when other pollutants react in the presence of sunlight, it most often reaches dangerous levels on hot days. Current estimates predict warmer temperatures caused by climate change will lead to significantly higher ozone levels than would otherwise be the case by 2050.

Particle pollution, often called soot, comes from smokestacks, tailpipes, and fires. It can exacerbate asthma, particularly in children, and is linked to heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer in the public at large. Climate change is predicted to lead to increased drought conditions and increased wildfires.

Many people with asthma also suffer from allergies, and those allergies often trigger asthma attacks. Excess carbon in the atmosphere can contribute to plant growth that results in more allergens, and warmer weather caused by climate change can shift plants’ growing seasons. Both of these factors are predicted to lead to longer, stronger pollen seasons, causing particular problems for people with both allergies and asthma.

These are just a few of the many and far-reaching impacts that climate change will continue to have on the health of people with asthma, including 700,000 Virginians. The Virginia Asthma Coalition strongly supports reductions of carbon pollution from existing power plants. We also applaud the reductions in other pollutants that are projected to occur alongside reductions in carbon.

We also support the flexible approach EPA has outlined for states to reduce carbon pollution from power plants within their borders. However, we request that EPA revise its plan to exclude biomass combustion as an acceptable alternative energy source. Increasing our nation’s generation of electricity from biomass would be a step backward for public health because of the increase we would see in emissions of particulates and smog-forming pollutants.

Finally, we ask that EPA finalize these lifesaving protections into law without delay.