The 50 Ways-Rockbridge group meeting for Tuesday, July 18 has been cancelled.(We tried to arrange for a couple of guest speakers and neither was available.) Instead, Ralph Northam will be speaking in Lexington on Sunday, July 23 from 1:30 – 3:00 at Hopkins Green. We hope you’ll be able to attend and meet Dr. Northam.

Also, the Lexington Police Department is sponsoring the 3rd Annual Community Cookout at Richardson Park on Wednesday, July 19 from 6 PM – 8 PM. We hope you’ll attend that event! (Details are on the Lex PD Facebook Page)

If you haven’t yet expressed your concerns about net neutrality, you can do it here: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/express. The deceptively named “Restore Internet Freedom” rule-change would roll back net neutrality. Look for the word “express,” click it, and “express yourself.” Your name and address will be made public, but this is an opportunity to voice your opposition to communications companies controlling how you use the internet.

50 Ways-Rockbridge member Emma Worth is hosting a phone bank next Thursday the 20th! Volunteers will be making calls across our Shenandoah region for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. The event will start at 5 pm and go until 8. Emma will train the volunteers and they will have a script in front of them, all they would need to bring is a cell phone. My address is 8 Edmondson Ave. Send Emma an email at emmarworth@gmail.com to let her know you are coming  or if you have any questions. Emma has three cats and a dog (although they are all very friendly), in case anyone is allergic.

News from the County Unity subcommittee:

We are organizing for our next Trash Talk scheduled for August 29th at the Rockbridge Baths Fire Department.

This time the citizens of Kerrs Creek,  Walkers Creek and South River Districts will be invited to hear two board of Supervisors, our County Administer and our Landfill Director of Solid Waste speak with an opportunity to ask questions and get answers about the plans for county dumpsters and recycling centers. And of course have refreshments!

We want to print bumper stickers to hand out at the  gathering to encourage recycling. We were wondering if there is any money in the 50Ways budget or ‘donation pot’ to help us with the printing costs. We are exploring now what that cost will be and thought we would check with you to see if this is a possibility.

We were also brainstorming about our next County Unity organized activity !! (hopefully in October) We want to organize a tour of the new Landfill perhaps followed by a huge picnic in Glenn Maury Park for all Rockbridge County citizens. Lots of planning ahead of us!

And finally, news from the Environment subcommittee:

ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE ACTIONS:

ACTION 1 of 2:
MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE (MVP) Public Hearing – DEQ 401 Draft Section Water Quality Conditions

Please SUBMIT COMMENTS to Virginia’s DEQ either online or by attending one of these public meetings about additional DEQ 401 Water Quality Conditions regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Senator Creigh Deeds submitted a letter which I’m including to help you write your own comments.

A strong presence at these meetings to show our outrage is encouraged. Consider car pooling!

In the event you cannot attend one of these hearings to publicly make your comment, submit your written comments and show opposition to the MVP, instructions for submitting written comments to the DEQ are at the bottom of this post.

The Board will accept written and oral comments at public hearings. Instructions for making oral comments will be provided at the public hearings. An allotment of three minutes is typical for each oral comment, but the time allowed is set by the hearing officers at the hearings. To make a written comment, the person commenting must include:

1.) The names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the person commenting and of all people represented by that person.

2.) A brief, informal statement on how the proposal affects the person or people.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:

1.) Radford University, Preston/Bondurant Auditorium, 801 East Main Street, Radford, VA 24142 on August 8, 2017 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Park only in Lot A (adjacent to Auditorium), or Lots E and U (University Drive bridge access to Auditorium).

2.) Chatham High School Auditorium, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, Virginia 24531 on August 9, 2017 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Park only in designated areas on school property.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD: July 3, 2017 to August 22, 2017.

PURPOSE OF NOTICE: To seek public comment on a draft Section 401 Certification for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline project that would establish additional conditions for activities in upland areas that are located near state waters and that may indirectly affect state water along the route of the proposed pipeline. The conditions address, among other things, engineering and best management practices for steep slopes and slide prone areas; environmental monitoring and inspections; and development and implementation of plans and procedures for karst mitigation, spill prevention control, water quality monitoring, protection of riparian buffers, protection of water quality from acid forming materials, protection of public water supplies, hydrostatic testing, and dust control activities.

PROJECT PROPONENT’S NAME: Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: For project information and location, please see:

http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/ProtectionRequirementsforPipelines.aspx.
Proposed interstate natural gas transmission pipeline, Mountain Valley Pipeline, approximately 106 miles through the Virginia Counties of Pittsylvania, Franklin, Roanoke, Montgomery, Craig, and Giles, including activities such as but not limited to installation of best management practices; survey and staking; clearing, mowing, grubbing, and grading; trenching and/or blasting; pipe assembly (including stringing, bending, welding, testing, coating, and lowering-in); backfilling; construction of new access roads; final grading; right-of-way cleanup and restoration; and compliance monitoring. DEQ’s preliminary decision is to recommend issuance of a Section 401 Certification with conditions. After close of the public comment period, DEQ will review comments received and present recommendations to the State Water Control Board for its consideration at a future meeting.

HOW TO SUBMIT WRITTEN COMMENTS:

The Board accepts written comments by hand-delivery, e-mail, or postal mail. All comments must be in writing and be received by DEQ during the comment period. To make a written comment, the person commenting must include:

1.) The names, mailing addresses and telephone numbers of the person commenting and of all people represented by that person.

2.) A brief, informal statement on how the proposal affects the person or people.

SUBMITTING COMMENTS:

Hand-Delivery:

DEQ
629 East Main Street,
Richmond, VA 23219

Postal Mail:

DEQ,
P.O. Box 1105,
Richmond, VA 23218

Email:
e-mail to comment-mvp@deq.virginia.gov.

CONTACT ONLY FOR DOCUMENT REQUESTS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Brenda Winn, DEQ Office of Wetlands & Stream Protection:

brenda. winn@deq.virginia.gov
(804) 698-4516
DEQ
P.O. Box 1105,
Richmond, VA 23218

Senator Creigh Deeds Letter about DEQ Additional Water Conditions:

The Honorable Molly Ward
Secretary of Natural Resources
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

David K. Paylor, Director
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
629 East Main St.
Richmond, VA 23219

Robert Dunn, Chair
State Water Control Board
c/o Office of Regulatory Affairs
Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218

Dear Secretary Ward, Director Paylor and Chairman Dunn,

I’m writing to urge the Commonwealth to use the full scope of its authority to assess the impacts of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. I and my constituents are counting on the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the State Water Control Board (Water Board) to conduct a thorough and transparent review of stream and wetland crossings, as well as all upland activities, and ensure that Virginia water quality standards are met.

As you know, Virginia has broad authority to conduct its own analysis under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. These enormous infrastructure projects would cross hundreds of sensitive waterways, including waterways in some of the steepest terrain in the eastern United States. Both pipelines pose some of the most significant threats to Virginia’s water quality and aquatic environment in decades.

Virginians rely on these waters for recreation, habitat, and the health of our watersheds. Analysis of these crossings by DEQ and the State Water Control Board is critical to insure that water quality and our aquatic environment in Virginia are protected.

I urge you not to rush any part of the Commonwealth’s review of these pipelines. Protection of Virginia’s streams, rivers, and wetlands is too important to place at risk. DEQ must take the time to insure it has all necessary information, review that information, give the public an opportunity to thoroughly review the information, and then conduct a thorough and transparent analysis of critical water crossings and all related upland activities. Such an approach will allow DEQ to fulfill its responsibilities to protect the waterways of Virginia.

Specifically, I am requesting the following:

1. DEQ to perform individual 401 certifications for wetland and stream crossings, rather than relying on the Army Corps of Engineers’ (the Corps) Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12).

2. DEQ to postpone any public hearings or other activities that move forward with Section 401 certification until the pipeline developers have provided all information necessary for thorough DEQ and public review. At the very least DEQ should extend any public comment periods on this issue to ninety days or more.

3. DEQ to expand the number and locations within impacted Counties for the Section 401 Certification public hearings to maximize opportunities for public input and participation

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Senator Creigh Deeds

*****

ACTION 2 of 2:

Pick up the phone and call Governor Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and tell them how appalled we are by the blatant conflict of interest between Dominion, DEQ, and the firm EEE Consulting. Also, the DEQ allowed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to review and comment on the proposal submitted by the consultant seeking the contract – totally inappropriate!

Governor Terry McAuliffe
(804) 786-2211
Online Email Form:
https://governor.virginia.gov/constituent-services/communicating-with-the-governors-office/

Ralph Northam
Lieutenant Governor
ltgov@ltgov.virginia.gov
(804) 786-2078
Fax:
(804) 786-7514
Online Form:
https://www.ltgov.virginia.gov/contactus.htm

*****.

We also decided as a committee, that writing letters to newspaper editors would be an effective action. Pick which newspapers you want to submit a letter to and just do it!

It’s worth noting that I believe in sending your letter to multiple newspapers, especially the Richmond Times and the Roanoke Times. Heck, I send mine to the Post! You never know, you might get lucky! It’s a goal to be heard where our legislators work.

The Rockbridge Advocate
7 East Washington Street
Lexington, Virginia 24450
(540) 463-2062
Email: rbadvocate@embarqmail.com

*****

The News-Gazette
ATTN: Letters to the Editor
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
300 words max
(540) 463-3113
http://www.thenews-gazette.com/content/letter-editor

*****

The Roanoke Times
ATTN: Letters to the Editor
201 W. Campbell Avenue
Roanoke, Virginia 24011
(800) 346-1234
https://www.roanoke.com/site/forms/online_services/letter/

*****

Augusta Free Press LLC *
200 S. Wayne Ave. #1193
Waynesboro, Va. 22980
Phone: 540.949.6574
Fax: 866.295.8799
Editor Email: chris@augustafreepress.com

*****

The News Leader
11 N. Central Avenue
Staunton, VA 24401
Phone: (540) 885-7281 or (800) 793-2459
News Tips: localnews@newsleader.com

*****

The News Virginian
1300 W Main St, Waynesboro, VA 22980
Main: (540) 949-8213
Web Site:
http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/about/contact.html

*****

Richmond Times Dispatch
To submit a letter by mail:
ATTN: Letters to the Editor
300 E. Franklin Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
300 words max
To submit online:
https://richmond.com/contact-us/forms/online-account-management-question/

*****

Eminent Domain and Mountaintop Removal Decisions Under Shady Dealings Of Entities Charged With Caring For Our Best Interests

Lt. Governor Ralph Northam,
As part of its review of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality hired a firm who currently works for Dominion to review Dominion’s ACP plans.

According to a memo between the DEQ and Dominion, obtained by DeSmog via a FOIA request, the DEQ hired EEE Consulting to review Dominion’s plans. Dominion agreed earlier to pay over $1.8 million for this review! Dominion also had the opportunity to look at EEE Consulting’s proposal and comment on it prior to the hiring.

Government affairs lobbyist, Craig Holman, says this case raises serious concern. “First, given that the contractor is being funded by the company building the pipeline, its allegiance may be primarily toward the private interest. Moreover, when Dominion is paying for the contractor to perform more than one job, the contractor is in effect incentivized to please Dominion in order to secure future contracts.”

Other conflicts of interest have occurred in the permitting process of the ACP. Merjent, a contractor hired by FERC, is tied to Dominion’s main ACP environmental consultant, the Natural Resource Group. GAI Consultants, a contractor hired by the U.S. Forest Service to review drilling, is one of Dominion main contractors on the ACP!

I’m appalled at the conflict of interest between Dominion Power, Virginia’s DEQ, and EEE Consulting, and the conflicts of interest with FERC and the U.S. Forest Service. Are people who will lose their land, livelihoods or homes through eminent domain, supposed to believe that no conflict of interests exist because these entities say so? Are we to watch over 30 miles of our mountain tops removed, all under the shady dealings of the entities charged with taking care of our best interests?

Aren’t there laws prohibiting this type of insider trading?

Please respond back to me on this issue. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline permitting process is flawed and I want you to speak out against it.

Your Name
Your Address including Zip Code

 

*****
Phone Script:

Contact Ralph Northam:
by phone at (804) 786-2078
by fax at (804) 786-7514, or
by email at ltgov@ltgov.virginia.gov

Script if you need a little inspiration……

“My name is ________. I am a Virginia resident who lives at _____________, zip code _____. I am appalled at the blatant conflict of interests between Dominion Power, Virginia’s DEQ, and EEE Consulting, as well as the conflicts of interest between Dominion and FERC and Dominion and the U.S. Forest Service regarding the review and permitting process of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

I am extremely opposed to this unnecessary, unsafe, and environmentally hazardous pipeline proposed in Virginia. Please denounce Dominion’s unethical conflicts of interest in the review and permitting process and any support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

*****

Thank you!

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