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How to comment on the Mountain Valley Pipeline

October 12, 2016


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:

  1. Cite the section, page #, etc. of the DEIS that you are responding to.
  2. If there are statements in the DEIS that you disagree with, you should say that—and provide evidence if possible to support your disagreement.
  3. 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:

Sending comments to FERC.  Submit to the FERC by using eComment, eFiling, 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

October 8, 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:


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, or (540) 375-4906


October 12: Roanoke College offering evening Forum on Natural Gas Pipelines

September 21, 2016



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 or (540) 375-4906


September 17: Hands Across the Appalachian Trail!

August 30, 2016

Event photo for FacebookMountain 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

WHERE:  Newport Recreation and Community Center – 434 Blue Grass Trail, Newport, VA 

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

SIGN UP HERE ON FACEBOOK, or contact Dan Crawford at for more information


Cool Cities Confirms Support of Botetourt County Wind Project

October 30, 2015

The Board of Directors of Roanoke Valley Cool Cities coalition today confirmed their support of the proposed wind energy project in Botetourt County. Text of the board’s resolution follows:

Resolved, that Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition supports approval and completion of the wind energy project on private property on North Mountain in Botetourt County, known as the Rocky Forge Wind Project as described on the Apex project web site ROCKYFORGEWIND.COM.

This project has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 186,000 tons a year assuming its output is displacing coal-generated electricity. Apex estimates this project will generate enough energy to power 20,000 homes.

Our support is contingent on the developer’s meeting the existing statutory or regulatory requirements of all applicable authorities who have jurisdiction in this matter including, but not limited to, Botetourt County, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Federal Aviation Agency, on matters concerning environmental impact, public safety, decommissioning provisions and construction standards.

New Study Undercuts MVP Economic Benefits Claims

October 5, 2015

A new study by Key-Log Economics (“Reason for Caution: Mountain Valley Pipeline Economic Studies Overestimate Benefits, Downplay Costs”) casts strong doubts on the claims made by MVP for economic benefits of the pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia. This new report shows that previous studies exaggerate the benefits and largely ignore the public and external costs attending the construction, operation and presence of the MVP.

When FTI Consulting released MVP-funded reports in 2014 describing the purported economic benefits of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, it included disclaimers that, “There is no assurance by anyone that this information is accurate or complete” and that FTI would not vouch for “the completeness and achievability of the projected financial data, information and assessments.”

“The FTI studies are a form of magical thinking,” said Angela Stanton of Preserve the New River Valley. “They overestimate the potential benefits and ignore the costs. It’s like trying to balance your checkbook by fantasizing your income and ignoring your expenses.”

Central findings of the Key-Log Economics critique were that the FTI reports for MVP:

  • Over-estimate “construction benefits” to the MVP region
  • Overestimate total employment effects of pipeline operation and maintenance
  • Overstate benefits from fuel switching, which appear unlikely to occur
  • Overstate financial benefits to local governments.
  • Do not provide sufficient information to support a decision to permit the Mountain Valley Pipeline. A full accounting of public and external costs is needed.

Costs ignored by the FTI reports include reduced landscape productivity, diminished property values, diminished economic development opportunities and reduced desirability of the pipeline-affected region as a destination of choice for businesses and residents. Other impacts include increased community services costs due to damage to roads and bridges and greater need for emergency services. All of these add to the costs of the Mountain Valley Pipeline and clearly show that natural gas development and operations can upset the economic apple cart in local communities.

The study conducted by Key-Log Economics was sponsored by a variety of citizen grassroots and community organization groups in Virginia and West Virginia , including: Blue Ridge Land Conservancy; Preserve Bent Mountain; Preserve Craig; Preserve Franklin County; Preserve Giles County; Preserve Greenbrier; Preserve Monroe; Preserve Montgomery County VA; Preserve the New River Valley; Preserve Roanoke; Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition; Summer County Residents the Against the Pipeline; Greenbrier River Watershed Association; Roanoke Group, New River Group and Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club; and the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council.

The complete report by Spencer Phillips, Ph.D., of Key-Log Economics is available here: MVP_EconBenefitStudyCritique_FINAL_20151006

The full press release with contacts is here: MVP Press Release – 6 October 2015

Senator Kaine notes concerns to FERC about Mountain Valley Pipeline

August 17, 2015

Senator Tim Kaine recently completed a series of listening sessions in communities where Mountain Valley Pipeline proposes to build a 42″ natural gas transmission line, meeting with “affected property owners, local elected officials, local businesses, farmers, organizations dedicated to preserving our natural resources, and numerous other concerned citizens.”

Kaine then wrote directly to the commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) identifying concerns about 1)minimizing impacts of any project through examination of cumulative impacts of different projects and an honest look at community benefits compared to negative impacts; and 2) the need “to empower the public to verify these efforts by ensuring that all relevant information is made available and that there is ample opportunity for public input and comment. Citizens rightly expect that process to be followed to the letter.”

In terms of impact, Kaine specifically requested that FERC clarify:

~ The level of gas demand needed to justify building a distribution branch of the MVP.
~ The steps needed to make this possible —for instance, approximately how much it would cost to
build a transfer station to bring supply via a new MVP distribution branch.
~ The extent to which the gas traveling through the pipeline is likely to be exported because “the people in
this area of Virginia bear the potential risks of this infrastructure and deserve to know where the
gas is going.”

On the environmental front, Kaine asked the FERC to determine:

~ Whether FERC requires or encourages reroutes of the pipeline to avoid land tracts under
conservation easement, which property owners understood would be protected in perpetuity.
~ What measures are being taken to prevent impacts to water resources in areas with no water
access other than groundwater.
~ How the pipeline will be built to safely miss rivers along this route.
~ Where and how technology to build safely on karst topography has been demonstrated.
~ The degree of information-sharing and consultation that has taken place among FERC, the interested companies, and the National Park Service, given that the route would have to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail.

The Senator also noted several major process concerns and concluded by saying that he would “strongly encourage. . . that FERC painstakingly follow the system we have in place for evaluating infrastructure. Permitting a pipeline should involve an exhaustive process of eliminating all but the least disruptive construction options. The people whose livelihoods may be affected by a project should have ample opportunity to gather information, get their questions answered, and analyze alternatives —on a timeline conducive to participation by people for whom energy pipeline permitting is not a professional occupation. In short, simply having a public comment process is insufficient if that process is not easily accessible to the public.”

Click here for a full copy of Kaines letter.

West Virginians win a round against Mountain Valley Pipeline

August 14, 2015

West Virginia landowners won a round in court against Mountain Valley Pipeline recently. They were in Monroe County, where MVP proposes to building up and over Peters Mountain to cross the Appalachian Trail. Here is a terrific short video showing the court testimony and why the won, at least for now. MVP witness testified that tapping into their pipeline would cost 100K to $30 million.

Marino Colmono continues his excellent video series on the pipeline with a new episode, “Winning a RoundWinning a Round W VA.”

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