Last Monday’s decision by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) to permit the conversion of ten environmental easements it holds on properties along the ACP route and one along the MVP route (reported to ABRA Update readers in a special email Monday night) were a serious disappointment to all who believe in the integrity and importance of the concept of environmental easements. The VOF statement on the actions states:
In the resolutions approving the applications, the trustees said that, while the developers failed to demonstrate the projects are “essential to the orderly development and growth of the locality” under section 1704 of the Virginia Open-space Land Act, this requirement is superseded and preempted by the federal Natural Gas Act that authorizes FERC’s certificate process. The Natural Gas Act does not, however, strip VOF’s authority to review the projects and require substitute land of greater conservation value under Virginia law.
Many would strongly disagree with that stated conclusion.