A new Fact Sheet highlights the serious problem of ridgetop removal that would be necessary should the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) be built as planned. The document was released April 27 by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad), Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC), Friends of Nelson and ABRA. Among highlights from the Fact Sheet:
- Documents show that—in a massive undertaking—between 10 and 60 feet of the tops of mountain ridges would be “reduced” along 38 miles of the proposed pipeline route in West Virginia and Virginia. For perspective, the height equivalent of a five-story building would be erased in places from fully forested and ancient mountains.
- The choice to build along ridgelines is part of Dominion’s preferred and deliberate design. Working on these ridgelines will require creating a wide and flat surface to allow Dominion’s earth-moving vehicles and deep-trenching machines to operate and maneuver. The federal government’s report on the environmental impacts of the pipeline declares that “narrow ridgetops [will] require widening and flattening in order to provide workspace in the temporary right-of-way.” This bland statement belies the truth: mountains will need to be decapitated for Dominion to build this pipeline.
- Dominion proposes to “restore all areas as close as practicable to their preconstruction contours.” What is practicable in this extreme case? Engineers studied a two-mile-long ridgeline. After Dominion finishes re-applying the massive amounts of damaged rock and earth to the ridgeline—known as “backfilling”—these experts concluded that 130,000 cubic yards of excess spoil would remain. In other words, the overburden from building the pipeline on just two miles of ridgeline would fill a football field nearly 80 feet deep.
The issue of mountaintop removal associated with the ACP was first highlighted in a March 10 ABRA Update article and was prominently featured in comments filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the ACP’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement by Appalmad and DPMC. It was also included in DEIS comments filed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which observed:
Multiple aspects of Project construction and operation will create risks of increased sedimentation to waterbodies across a wide swath of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Virginia and neighboring states. . . Following construction, the risk of erosion and sedimentation from the previously-active construction sites, particularly from the denuded and disturbed segments on steep slopes, will continue throughout the Project’s operational periods. (emphasis added)
Readers of ABRA Update are strongly urged to share this Fact Sheet with others, particularly their local officials and legislative representatives, state and federal. ABRA is sending the Fact Sheet to state legislators and congressional delegations from Virginia and West Virginia. However, it wouldn’t hurt at all if these legislators received multiple copies.