Landowners react to FERC Environmental Impact Statement

The newly released statement denies long term damage

By Rob Manch - Reporter

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. - Landowners and environmentalists speak out after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission releases new information about the Mountain Valley Pipeline. On Friday, June 23, FERC released an environmental impact statement for the proposed pipeline. Carolyn Reilly, who owns Four Corners Farm in Franklin County, said the environmental impact statement puts her expansive farm one step closer to having a pipeline run through it. One of the statements she took issue with was the claim that the natural gas pipeline would not decrease her property value.

"My first reaction was anger," said Reilly. "They do leak, they do explode, and how can that not deteriorate the value of someone's property when you have a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off?"

Reilly's farm is just one small stop on the pipeline's route. The environmental statement says the Mountain Valley Pipeline would cross more than 1,100 water bodies along its entire route - including more than 140 in Franklin County alone. The statement also says that the path of the pipeline would be visible from more than 50 different key observation points, including the Cahas Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Despite those facts, the statement concludes by saying, "The MVP and the EEP would not have significant adverse cumulative impacts on environmental resources."

Environmental attorney, Tammy Belinsky, also takes issue with the statement's findings. She said construction will add sediment to waterways.

"They want us to accept a new normal, a new baseline of more sedimentation in our systems, and that's the main threat to the aquatic species and it's the main threat to our water supply systems," said Belinsky.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline responded to concerns like Belinsky's, citing three years of study and more than 700 route changes.

Pipeline representative Natalie Cox said, "These efforts have produced a thoughtfully-designed route and led to the development of comprehensive plans to mitigate any potential impacts to the greatest extent possible."

As for landowners like Reilly - she says to mitigate the impacts would be not to build the pipeline at all, and that's something she continues to fight for.

"We've got to work across county lines, state lines, to stand up and defend what is sacred to us," said Reilly.

FERC will review all of the evidence gathered during the environmental study and make a decision whether or not to approve the pipeline later this year.

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