The Pipeline: "What does this all mean? We aren't sure."

Reports in November indicated Wintergreen might see land clearing for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at it entrance to the mountain before the end of 2017. That didn't happen.

A December 18th email from Friends of Wintergreen Chairman Jon Ansell made a good attempt to update the community on where the fight over the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline stands.

We're posting Ansell's email below in its entirety, along with some of the remarks by Jay Roberts at the 2017 WPOA annual meeting. The Wintergreen Mountain Homesteaders Association has made no recommendations to its membership on what actions, if any, are appropriate regarding the ACP.

December 18, 2017 email from the Friends of Wintergreen's Jon Ansell

DEQ Makes A Conditional "Certification" In a Contentious Vote
This week, during a fractious and confusing set of public meetings and by a controversial 4 to 3 vote, the Virginia State Water Control Board approved the Section 401 Clean Water Act certificate for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This approval, however, is subject to the pipeline company providing, and DEQ evaluating and approving, detailed engineering plans to effectively mitigate soil, stormwater and erosion damage, steep slope issues, etc.–all critical concerns for Wintergreen. According to DEQ, some of these studies won't be completed until April 2018 or later. No construction or tree removal can start until then.

What does this all mean?  We aren't sure. And neither is DEQ (see video). Some even view it as a block to the pipeline. To us it seems months of delay to any start of construction and more time for us to prepare and mount our best legal challenge.  Editors' note: Also view Washington Post's report on the DEQ meeting here.

Construction also cannot begin on WPOA land until Dominion obtains the legal authority to “take” the land.  That process first requires the ACP to present an “easement offer” to WPOA, an action that has not yet occurred. Then, if WPOA does not accept this “easement offer,” Dominion is obliged to enter into eminent domain court proceedings, a process which could take a month or longer. 

FERC Rehearing Request
On November 13th, Friends of Wintergreen and WPOA jointly petitioned for a FERC Rehearing because FERC’s decision–as it specifically relates to Wintergreen–fell far short of meeting minimum legal requirements.  FERC has since informed us and others that the agency needs more time to respond to our request, a process which historically has taken seven months or more.

Inverse Condemnation Lawsuits
Nearly 1,000 Wintergreen property owners are signed up to seek “just compensation” from Dominion if WPOA land is “taken”. Friends of Wintergreen is helping to coordinate this initiative between the eminent domain firm Waldo & Lyle, PC and Wintergreen landowners.  If you haven’t already signed up, please do so here.

Friends of Wintergreen Needs Your Help, Now More Than Ever
Friends of Wintergreen is right in the middle of fighting for Wintergreen and Wintergreen landowners on all these fronts–and more.  

We will continue to fight so long as we still have an excellent chance of winning–inside and outside of court.  Our primary goal is to move the pipeline from Wintergreen entrance. Failing that, our secondary goal is to obtain maximum compensation for the “damages” suffered by all Wintergreen landowners.

We need to replenish our war chest to support these future challenges.  Please consider us in your 2017 year-end giving plans. Friends of Wintergreen is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization– all contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Thank you! 
Happy Holidays!    
Jonathan M. Ansell, Chairman, Friends of Wintergreen

Addressing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline at the Wintergreen Property Owners Association's annual meeting in November, Jay Roberts, WPOA's Executive Director, gave the Friends of Wintergreen full support.

He noted, however, that for some people within the Wintergreen community, "not enough is being done, not enough money is being spent, and there is very little room for compromise.

"For others here, the exact opposite is true.

"For a third group, this entire issue is lost in their busy lives. 

"Many of you have heard me say that I am concerned about the long-term consequences of this fight. My concerns include the pipeline itself and, also, the bad press associated with fighting the pipeline.

"We have to remain aware of the unintended consequences our actions and comments can have.

"If WPOA becomes the face of the pipeline fight, do we end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy? If we push the message of all the harm the pipeline can cause to our community, do we end doing more harm?

"As a result of these kinds of concerns, WPOA often works hard behind the scenes. We are working hard on solutions without bringing attention to the challenges this community faces with a pipeline at our entrance."

At the end of 2017 The News & Advance published these two features by Emily Brown on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline: