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Presentations from October 12, 2016 Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines

October 16, 2016

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.

Dr. 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” explained the study by Dr. Ernst Kastning that found the proposed route includes several “no-build zones” due to a combination of hazards including karst, steep slopes, poor soils, landslide potential, and seismic activity.

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,” noted issues related to Roanoke County surface and groundwater.

David Hill, Principal, Hill Studio explained how visual impacts of projects can be chosen and simulated and shared three simulations of potential impacts of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline in the Roanoke Valley. If you have trouble downloading the ppt, there is a smaller pdf version here, but it does not show the full process of before/after and how simulations are prepared.

 

PANEL ON ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF NATURAL GAS PIPELINES:

Joyce Waugh, CEcD, President and CEO, Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, outlined the Chamber’s reasons for supporting the project, including a poll taken of Chamber members before the decision was made.

RGC Resources, Inc./Roanoke Gas, was invited to present at the forum as a 1% owner of the proposed pipeline and as a 0.5% customer. They reported scheduling conflicts precluded their participation.

Kate Asquith, Director of Programs, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, reviewed data from the US Department of Energy and other sources to suggest that new pipelines are not needed.

Spencer Phillips, Principal, Key-Log Economics, discussed problems with the FERC process and costs borne by communities and local governments that are not considered by the FERC.

Afterwards, about a dozen audience members offered brief comments in favor of or opposed to the project.

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