We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. We really have so much to be thankful for in this extraordinary community.
We took a holiday and did not write a column for last week’s paper. But there was an extraordinary item in that November 22 New Castle Record – a Legal Notice of Condemnation against seven Craig County landowners by the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). In 35+ years reading the New Castle Record, this is a first for me.
Frankly, this is premature, and an upside-down process. MVP has only received a conditional approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and has not met the conditions laid out by the FERC. So, it is even more unbelievable that a for-profit company is proceeding to use the rare and powerful right to eminent domain and taking of private property for private gain before its Virginia and other federal licenses are obtained. We need to stand behind our neighbors and stop this nonsense, or there will be more un-needed pipelines being proposed to roll through Craig County, take our land and pollute our water.
Preserve Craig is working diligently to preserve and protect our way of life and our beautiful mountains and resources against the Mountain Valley Pipeline and future threats. We have confidence that with persistence and hard factual evidence we will put an end to the MVP project.
Three things you can do to help:
- The Virginia State Water Control Board will meet December 6 and 7 to consider issuing 401 Water Quality Permits to MVP. Preserve Craig submitted its petitions and details to the Department of Environmental Quality and the Board as to why MVP will permanently harm our water and soil and does not qualify for this permit. Citizens are needed to sign up to testify at the hearings. Volunteers are also needed to attend and donate their 3-minute timeslot so our expert witnesses can submit important facts. Call or email us if you plan to attend.
- Preserve Craig has collected over $11,500 of its initial $30,000 goal for the Forest Service legal fund to oppose MVP. We have filed appeals and objections and are preparing to file challenges in court based on solid science and violation of public policy. Our efforts are shifting to the court system, which requires money. Tax-deductible donations to Preserve Craig are needed now.
- Write to our elected representatives. Information on how to do this is on our website and at the Appalachian Trail Commission website.
In other MVP news:
- A federal judge in Charleston ordered MVP to contact all landowners it was suing for condemnation rights, not just file papers in court. Also in the court hearing, MVP indicated it may not have enough money in place to pay the landowners.
- MVP is suing the Fayette County Commissioners after their request for a special zoning ordinance to build a compressor station was denied. MVP claims that this is an unnecessary delay to the local permitting process and that this will delay their construction schedule.
- The US Forest Service (FS) has not issued a final Record of Decision to revise its management plan. This change to the Jefferson Forest Management Plan would allow MVP to build on 80 percent slopes, damage viewsheds and the Appalachian Trail, permanently erode soil, pollute public waters, remove old growth timber and build in roadless areas. These changes would be required before the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could issue permits to cross public lands. There has been no public comment period or public meetings on these proposed changes. This would reverse the 2002 Record of Decision that this area is not appropriate for a utility corridor, a decision that Craig County has relied upon for 15 years in developing its economy and tourism plans. Preserve Craig is preparing legal action in this matter if the FS and BLM issue such a permit.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you again for your support.
Bill Wolf, Co-Chair Craig, Inc.