Writer: Attend BZA’s Feb. 12 hearing
Nelson County residents should be aware of what’s been happening in Pennsylvania regarding the Mariner East 2 natural gas pipeline. It may be a harbinger of what will happen here if the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project isn’t stopped. An upcoming public hearing called by the Board of Zoning Appeals on Feb. 12 gives all of us a chance to weigh in on how to protect our county.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper reports that the state of Pennsylvania has stopped construction of Mariner East 2 due to a pattern of “egregious and willful violations” by Sunoco Logistics, the builder of the pipeline.
“Landowners have been complaining about cloudy water, permit violations, illegal drilling and dumping since construction began almost a year ago,” the Post-Gazette reports. “Sunoco has racked up dozens of violations for spills of drilling mud along its path, some flowing into sensitive streams and others clouding water supplies for nearby residents.”
Patrick Robinson, one of the people who live along the pipeline route is quoted as saying: “I have lived here 14 years and never had an issue until they started digging the pipeline” last summer. “My drinking water now has a lot of mud and sediment in it. All my faucet screens are eaten through. I have a sediment filter for washing and flushing, but it clogs. I don’t know how they got away with some of the stuff they did.”
The paper also reports that Sunoco Logistics cited its “commitment to the highest levels of construction expertise and our dedication to preserving and protecting the environment in which we conduct our work.”
There are other reports of water contamination:
“Rolfe Blume lives on 60 acres in Cumberland County, where he has lived since 1961. His wife has lived there for 74 years. They could always depend on their well, he said. ‘We never had a water problem before,’ he said. ‘It all started after they [Sunoco] stripped the topsoil and water ran into my hand-dug well, which was 33 feet deep. They offered to put a water buffalo in, but that meant I would have to sign an agreement’ not to hold the company responsible for anything else. He said he spent $6,000 on a new well, 80 feet away and 140 feet deep, ‘a temporary fix so we could wash clothes and flush the commode.’
“To prove to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that the drilling caused contamination of his water, he hired a hydrologist — ‘cost me $2,300, and he said it was a no-brainer,’ Mr. Blume said. ‘I sent the report to DEP over two weeks ago and haven’t heard anything.’”
This is the sort of thing that is at stake in Nelson County. However good Dominion’s promises of best practices and environmental sensitivity may sound, its own record and that of the industry indicates on-the-ground results that fail to match their promises. The process needs our constant scrutiny.
The next significant opportunity to exercise that scrutiny is coming up. The Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals will hold a public hearing Monday, Feb. 12, on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s applications for 11 variances from the provisions of our local Flood Plain Ordinance in order to cross water bodies and flood plains. Friends of Nelson urges the public to attend this hearing and ask the BZA to strictly enforce the provisions of our local ordinance, designed to protect the citizens of the county from the practices cited above. The hearing will be held in the auditorium of Nelson County High School at 7 p.m.
President, Friends of Nelson
Dominion’s empty promises
Dominion’s pipeline plunder has entered a new phase now that trees are being cut in Buckingham County. The mega-corporation missed a grand opportunity on Day 1, when photographs taken on site showed every truck had out-of-state licenses. So much for their “local jobs” claim. If Dominion can’t find locals to fell trees, they certainly won’t be looking locally for skilled labor to do the more specialized work.
Augusta County residents are reeling from the second of two public hearings on Dominion’s planned construction yard there. Despite an obviously dangerous selected site and the potential decimation of a local small business, the community was told at the end of the Jan. 4 hearing that “the pipeline’s going in and the yard is going somewhere.”
Across the country, citizens’ property, livelihoods and safety are being stolen by corporations intent on one purpose only: profit. Empty promises of low energy costs and jobs never come to fruition. Explosions, polluted streams, stolen land and undrinkable water are left behind.
Dominion is a prime example of corporate raiding of our environment and property: They bribe politicians with “contributions,” refuse to invest in renewable energy because of the huge windfalls to be made by building pipelines for which they are guaranteed a 14 percent return and scam the “independent” State Corporation Commission into further rate freezes despite their already windfall-level profits from us, the ratepayers.
Tragically, our system allows these atrocities. Local governments allow for unregulated commerce such as Dominion’s steamroller profit-at-any-cost tactics. There is no “regulation” in our regulatory process, as we see time and again at public hearings, when local boards consistently step aside and allow corporations to plunder our resources, health and property. After we wring our hands and scratch our heads, we have no choice but to spring into action. From showing up to vote, to running for office to revamp our broken system, to getting in our elected officials’ faces and call them out in public at every turn. Are we paying attention? Are we angry yet?
Nation hangs in balance in 2018
This is one of the most important election years of our lifetime. Republicans, without the leadership of the president, can’t stop sniffing roses, and Democrats are unable to stray from their “identity politics” campaigns.
Republicans must step out of the “elite political establishment” box and embrace both the president and his agenda. They must make the case to their constituents that the time has come for all Americans to reaffirm our heritage of a family-centered, God-fearing, self-reliant people with a vision of a nation governed by the people and not by an unrestricted federal elite political establishment. The American people must know that their voices are being heard and that the president’s cause is for a brighter tomorrow for all Americans. Failure to convey this message will cause voter turnout to be low and Republicans, en masse, will lose.
Democrats have decided to stay in their establishment box and increase the “Hispanic” constituent vote count on their identity politics play list, while keeping the several other base constituent groups on board. This will be a very complicated task, as there are now many contradicting issues in the several constituent groups. For the election outcome to be positive, the Democratic Party campaign must strive to keep the overall voter turnout low.
The 2018 elections will be a harbinger of the fate of the nation. These elections, like never before, will be contests between “We the people” and the power of the elite political establishment.” This moment has been a long time coming. When the Constitutional Convention in 1787 ended, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” He replied, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” We will decide in November.