(Higher quality versions of the videos may be found at the FERC Roanoke 11/3/16 Facebook page)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – a federal government agency – did not use tear gas or water hoses at the November 3 “public” hearing about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline in Roanoke, but they did impose troubling rules and used an undercover agent and local police to enforce them. (According to a front-page story in the Roanoke Times, approximately 200 people showed up to oppose the pipeline at this hearing and a peaceful public gathering in another part of the hotel.)
FERC is required to have public hearings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. But these were not your father’s public hearings. Instead of an open meeting, with speakers seen and heard by everyone including the media, FERC mandated a shrouded procedure where anyone who wanted to comment picked a number, waited in a large room, and then testified alone to a FERC official and a bored stenographer. We will have more on this later.
In addition to conducting their “public” hearing in secret, the FERC imposed strange rules that were enforced in the large waiting room at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center near the airport.
People gave their private testimony in Turin Salons B or C (#2 in red on map). They waited in Salons 1-4 of the Botany Ballroom (#1 on map – in red on bottom). An unrelated dinner was going on in the Turin Grand Ballroom (#3 on the map – in blue on top).
POLICE ACTION PART 1 (click to see entire video). A woman in the waiting room was quietly holding up a small handmade sign that asked, “Who owns FERC?” She was approached by a man in a red shirt with no uniform or badge (apparently an undercover FERC operative), who told her that she could not hold up the sign. After being asked who he represented, he stared at the camera and said he had not given permission to be videotaped (as if he were NOT acting for a federal agency in what was supposed to be a public hearing). He eventually produced an ID and gave his name (this may not be exact) as Jerrod Linman. He later returned with a two-page list of rules from FERC for this meeting, pointing to a statement that no signs for or against the pipeline could be displayed. When the woman peacefully declined to leave, Linman called in local police (not clear whether they were working for the hotel or local government) and a hotel official.
POLICE ACTION PART 2 (click to see entire video). Both the police and the hotel official tell this citizen that the FERC public hearing is a PRIVATE meeting (although they also admit it is a public meeting) and that she is disrupting the meeting by silently holding up a small sign. At about 2:38, the hotel official states that she must “protect” a private dinner going on in a ballroom down the hall – which seems pretty astonishing. A person from the dinner would have to walk out of the ballroom, cross a hallway, enter the waiting room and look around to even see this sign. And the police do in fact compel the woman to leave – though they tell her they are not going to drag her out of the room.
Whose police are these and why are they treating a quiet citizen this way? Oh, and who does own FERC?
There is some good news. Virginia Tech students appeared in the waiting room later in the evening and periodically sang and chanted with a very large sign until escorted out by police. Their high spirits contributed to unity and positive feelings among the large number of people who turned out to express their opposition to this unnecessary and destructive project.
WHAT: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Public Comments Session AND Community Hearing and Press Conference
WHEN: Thursday, November 3, 2016 ~ come when you can (sign up to speak beginning at 5 PM ~ first come, first served)
- 4:00 PM ~ Community hearing begins ~ Mnemonic Conference Theater (this room is next to the FERC hearing and will have information sheets and help on how to make comments)
- 4:30 PM ~ Community press conference ~ Mnemonic Conference Theater (hear about the impacts of the proposed pipeline on landowners, the regional economy, and forests, trails and water
- 5 to 8 PM ~ sign up for FERC 3-minute comments ~ present your views to a FERC staff member and a stenographer in private. FERC will hand out numbers beginning at 5 PM.
- 5-10 PM ~ ask FERC staff members questions and share your views with them on the process that FERC is using to review the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. According to the agency, FERC staff will be in the public waiting area to answer administrative questions about the process.
Over 150 people – a mix of students and community members from as far away as West Virginia – attended the October 12 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines at Roanoke College. The full program with presenter backgrounds is here.
Dr. Richard A. Smith (Vice President and Dean of the College) and Dr. Valerie Banschbach (Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies) provided welcoming comments.
Dr. Diana Christopulos gave an overview of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, including changes since the March 9, 2015 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines at Virginia Western Community College. This forum was intended as an update on developments since that forum. The full Draft Environmental Impact Statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can be found here. Information on how to make comments on the DEIS, which are due by December 22, 2016, can be found here.
Dr. Rupert Cutler then took over as moderator, the same role he played at the March 2015 forum. After each set of presentations, the panelists answered questions from the audience.
PANEL ON ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF NATURAL GAS PIPELINES:
Laura Belleville, Senior Conservation Director, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, discussed potential impacts of the project on the Appalachian Trail, especially the proposed crossing of the AT on Peters Mountain. Read more…
MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE
FERC Docket CP16-10
DEADLINE: December 22, 2016
Below is a skeleton model for a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for comment for the DEIS. Be sure to:
- Cite the section, page #, etc. of the DEIS that you are responding to.
- If there are statements in the DEIS that you disagree with, you should say that—and provide evidence if possible to support your disagreement.
- If you have previously submitted a comment, reference it to show how the FERC failed to consider that comment.
Where can I find the DEIS? It is available for download on the FERC website: https://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/eis/2016/09-16-16-eis.asp
Sending comments to FERC. Submit to the FERC by using eComment, eFiling, http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp or by US Mail. For all online searches in the FERC e-library be sure to use FERC Docket CP16-10. Any other number will return incorrect results or no results.
Should I send my comment to anyone else? We will provide an updated list soon. Read more…
Details Free Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines:How Many? At What Cost?Roanoke College, 6 PM, October 12, 2016
What has happened since the March 2015 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines at Virginia Western Community College? Would the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline provide natural gas to the Roanoke and New River valleys? What would be its economic and environmental impacts? Find out here:
ROANOKE COLLEGE, SALEM, VIRGINIA, COLKET CENTER MAIN BALLROOM (map and directions here)
5:40 PM ~ Refreshments and student projects on the pipeline outside the ballroom
6:00 pm ~ Program begins
Welcome Dr. Richard A. Smith, Vice President and Dean of the College
Why a forum on pipelines? Dr. Valerie Banschbach, Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies
Moderator Dr. M. Rupert Cutler
Overview Dr. Diana Christopulos
Panel on Environmental Impacts of Natural Gas Pipelines
- Laura Belleville, Conservation Director, Appalachian Trail Conservancy
- Carl Zipper, contributor and editor, “An Expert Report on the Geologic Hazards in the Karst Regions of Virginia and West Virginia: Investigations and Analysis Concerning the Proposed Mountain Valley Gas Pipeline”
- Pam Dodds, Licensed Professional Geologist and author of “Hydrological Assessment of Watershed Impacts Caused by Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline Through Summers and Monroe Counties, West Virginia.”
- David Hill, Principal, Hill Studio
Panel on Economics of Natural Gas Pipelines
- Joyce Waugh, President, Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
- John D’Orazio, Chief Executive Officer and President at RGC Resources, Inc. (invited)
- Kate Asquith, Director of Programs, Appalachian Mountain Advocates
- Spencer Phillips, Principal, Key-Log Economics
AUDIENCE COMMENTS. After the panel, audience members may offer their comments. We ask that you sign up on the sheet provided in the back of the room if you wish to speak. Please limit your comments to one minute.
Questions? Contact Prof. Valerie Banschbach, email@example.com or (540) 375-4906
FORUM ON NATURAL GAS PIPELINES: DO WE NEED THEM? AT WHAT COST?
WHEN: Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 6 PM
WHERE: Roanoke College, Colket Center, main ballroom (3rd floor)
Free and open to the public
A Pittsburgh-based shale drilling company (EQT) and its partners have filed to build the 300+-mile, 42” natural gas transmission Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia. Numerous new large pipelines have been proposed on the East Coast, including as many as five in Virginia. This event updates pipeline status and research since the March 2015 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines held at Virginia Western Community College, including major research projects completed in the past year.
The program will be moderated by Rupert Cutler. Presenters will include:
Presenter who was involved in development of “An Expert Report on the Geologic Hazards in the Karst Regions of Virginia and West Virginia: Investigations and Analysis Concerning the Proposed Mountain Valley Gas Pipeline”
Spencer Phillips, PhD, lead author, “Economic Costs of the Mountain Valley Pipeline: Effects on Property Value, Ecosystem Services, and Economic Development in Virginia and West Virginia”
Roanoke College students will display research projects related to the MVP in the lobby prior to the event, starting at 5:40 p.m. and refreshments will be served. Both supporters and opponents of the project have been invited to speak. Audience members who wish to speak will have a chance at the end of the event.
Questions? Contact Valerie Banschbach, Chair, Environmental Studies, Roanoke College
firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 375-4906
Mountain Valley Pipeline has proposed a route that may be visible from many locations along the Appalachian Trail for over 100 miles of its length – from Sugar Run Mountain south of Pearisburg to Tinker Mountain near Daleville. Join this morning rally and show your support for the AT and for the town of Newport, which would be decimated by the pipeline proposal.
JOIN HANDS with us to ensure the Trail remains protected!
WHAT: Hands Across the Appalachian Trail
WHEN: 10:30 to noon, Saturday, September 17, 2016
This event features the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision to “connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy.” Everyone should have the opportunity for that experience.
Event plan: sign making, a few short speeches then we will stretch our joined hands for a photo shoot. Bring signs or make one when you arrive – we will provide materials.
Sponsored by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club; Roanoke Group, Sierra Club; Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition and Preserve Giles