Pipeline Air Force tracks Dominion

WHEELING – As Dominion Resources and its partners await federal approval to build the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline to send natural gas from West Virginia to North Carolina, opposition from residents living in the Appalachian Mountains is taking flight.

Referring to themselves as both the “Pipeline Air Force” and the “Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition,” those who fear the 42-inch diameter interstate transmission pipeline will endanger environmental quality of the mountains plan to follow the pipeline’s progress through the skies.

“It seems unlikely that Dominion officials have been properly informed about the problems associated with this proposed project,” said Rick Webb, coordinator for the coalition.

Webb said his group’s primary concern is the pipeline’s effect on water resources in the mountains of Randolph, Pocahontas and several other counties in southeastern West Virginia. He said the project will impact multiple headwater streams in the mountains. He said the project would require developers to remove portions of the Monongahela National Forest.

Webb said the Pipeline Air Force includes three airplanes, which will allow volunteers to conduct surveillance of the pipeline work as it occurs.

“The sheer scope of this project means that the staff and resources of the regulatory agencies will be stretched beyond their limits. Without detailed oversight, irreversible environmental damage could easily occur. We can’t let a project on this scale, in this environment, go forward on that basis,” he said.

However, Dominion spokesman Frank Mack said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission continues reviewing a multitude of potential environmental and cultural impacts as it evaluates whether to allow the pipeline.

“Input from numerous local, state and federal entities and private citizens is solicited. Public safety, air quality, water resources, geology, soils, wildlife and vegetation, threatened and endangered species, land and visual resources, cultural and historic resources, noise, cumulative impacts and reasonable alternatives, are fully examined during the FERC process,” Mack said.

“Once the pipeline is operational, Dominion will continue to monitor the pipeline and associated right of way to ensure both safe and environmental compliant operation,” he added.