Pipeline Protesters Deliver Letters to McAuliffe

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RICHMOND, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- The persistence of those opposed to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been noted over the past year, and on Tuesday, they hand delivered 5,000 letters of protest to the governor's office.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline saga continues as Friends of Nelson, Augusta and Buckingham Counties made their voices heard in Richmond.

"First actually is, really what is the purpose of the pipeline, we don't really have that," said Joanna Salidis of Friends of Nelson.

Protesters lined up outside of a government building to let Gov. Terry McAuliffe know how they felt about a potential 42-inch pipeline that could come through their back yards,

"He has a responsibility to the people of Virginia, to make sure that public benefit it means more than making Dominion money," said Salidis.

"We'd really love the governor to think big, and really consider what it would mean to put $5 billion behind renewables," added Heather Nolen from Friends of Buckingham.

For many of the protesters, including Nancy Sorrells from the Augusta Alliance,environmental concerns about their communities and how the pipeline could damage that rank high.

"Washington, D.C. drinking water is coming from us as well, so to us, inserting this 42-inch high pressure pipeline underground where all that water originates and goes through all these caves and fissures and fragile underground ecosystems is just asking for a disaster to happen," said Sorrells.

There were more than 5,000 letters and signatures opposing the pipeline, but could there be a way for the pipeline and the wishes of protesters to co-exist?

"i would need to see an analysis of alternatives," said Salidis.

"Well, in a perfect world there wouldn't be any 42-inch pipeline across the state of Virginia," commented Sorrells.

"Existing rights of way do give you an option because those easements are owned already by utility companies and they can be shared," suggested Nolen.

Protesters finally handed over the letters to a government aide who delivered the messages to McAuliffe. They said they will do everything in their power to stop construction, which is scheduled to start in 2016.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is also drafting new letters to send to some landowners requesting permission to survey their properties.

The initial letter requesting permission came from Dominion Transmission Inc, not ACP. Because of that, a court in Suffolk, Virginia dismissed a lawsuit against one landowner.

ACP is planning to withdraw any Virginia lawsuits in which landowners received the letters from Dominion Transmission Inc. There were more than 100 such lawsuits filed.

When Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources joined the Dominion Transmission project, then called the Southeast Reliability Project, the ACP LLC was created. At that time, a court ruled that the ACP must send a letter to landowners.

However, if landowners do not allow surveys after they get the new letters, the company may start legal proceedings again.

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