by Chuck Kiehl, private citizen and Nelson County resident
(Excerpts from letter sent to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 28, 2017:
After 23 years in Charlottesville, I retired to beautiful Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County in 2008. I have seen this tourism economy grow from pretty much just Wintergreen Resort to many tourism related businesses, adding even more dollars to the state coffers. Many more are on the drawing board, placed on hold because of this absolutely unnecessary and ridiculous idea by a greedy public utility to try to bring a 42” natural gas pipeline through an already fragile mountain at the peril of every resident in its proximity. Does anyone remember Hurricane Camille and what it did to that mountain?? If the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is built, it is just a matter of when a catastrophic accident will happen, NOT if.
Other than just sending a letter of resistance, I am offering a pragmatic option which I hope will be considered. First, a few things I do know after living in Virginia for all these years and following this whole process:
- Dominion has always been the Big Dog in this state and has almost always got what they wanted. Projects rubber stamped without much resistance.
- Most politicians in this state, ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, are in bed with Dominion.
- In this age of fake news, nobody has given out more misinformation
to the public on this Pipeline than Dominion.
- The ONLY people who would benefit from this Pipeline is Dominion Resources and all of their investors in this insane unnecessary project.
- There is no benefit to the people of Virginia for this Pipeline. The natural gas is slated to go right to the coast and shipped overseas. Other than a few temporary jobs in the initial construction, no jobs will come out of it for the people in the path of its construction and ruining. As a matter of fact, Dominion, being the Big Dog and as confident as they are, has already had the majority of the pipe manufactured and NOT in Virginia.
- I have great respect and have supported all the work that Friends Of Wintergreen, Friends Of Nelson, and other groups have dedicated to this effort in providing technically sound research and options to this Pipeline. However, with the election changes that have occurred, the proposal that follows seems to be a viable and pragmatic option that needs to be considered.
BURN CLEAN COAL
First of all, we were moving in that direction, even our Governor who, by the way, I don’t think has ever been to Nelson County, was pushing that technology before his Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, campaigned to shut down the coal mines of our neighbors in West Virginia, ruining the lives of those people by destroying their jobs and economy. All of a sudden, fracking and natural gas pipelines became popular and our Democratic Governor jumped on the bandwagon. This, while great progress had been made in Clean Coal Technology, much of it at Virginia Tech University.
President Trump campaigned on opening the coal mines in West Virginia. Get the coal mines operational, stimulating the economies of West Virginia and southwest Virginia. That coal needs a market and can be transported safely via the railroad, stimulating that economy. Finally, use clean coal technology to burn it, protecting our environment.
By doing the above, there is absolutely no immediate need for natural gas and, if Dominion still maintains that there is, let them utilize and share existing pipelines already proposed by Friends Of Wintergreen and other groups.
I do not feel any need for this natural gas pipeline, endangering the safety and lives of everyone in its path, not to mention the absolute destruction of a robust tourism industry in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am not one to normally kick the can down the road but, in this case, at the very minimum, the option I have just proposed deserves a chance to work before this ridiculous project by Dominion is approved. It also provides more time for other alternative energy sources to continue to develop, such as wind and solar. It is going to take all of these sources, not just one.