2018-01-10 / Letters

Pipeline project won’t benefit county

While attending the State Water Control Board hearing on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Dec. 11, I listened to Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, and former state Sen. John Watkins give misguided praise to the project, citing vague claims of benefits it would bring to Chesterfield. What they claim will help the county will actually endanger the James River, one of three major drinking sources for Chesterfield residents. The ACP would choke the headwaters of the James, allow sediment dumps and herbicides into the river, alter the water’s temperature through removal of forest tree cover and introduce lubrication chemicals into the historic waterway as they drill under the James River for construction.

Chesterfield’s representatives should have the health and welfare of its citizens in mind, not the perspective of the state’s utility monopoly presenting an unneeded and destructive 600-mile-long project. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would bring no benefit to Chesterfield. It will not bring employment opportunities as Dominion’s own report listed less than 50 permanent jobs from the project. It will not bring natural gas availability to the county, as the fracked gas’ eventual use will be for export, via connections to existing pipelines and its secondary path into Tidewater. What it will bring is ruinous results to a drinking source.

Del. Robinson’s promotion of the project is both troubling and telling when considering a bill she sponsored in 2017, House Bill 1678, which is designed to conceal from the public the dangerous chemicals used in fracking. Her defeated bill highlights her disregard for water safety, as fracking for natural gas damages beyond repair any water sources adjacent to the drill site. Her dangerous stance is mirrored by the ACP applicant, Dominion Energy.

We need only look to Dominion’s Dutch Gap Plant in Chesterfield to see that water quality protection is not one of their primary concerns. Presented in Jim McConnell’s Dec. 6 article, “Dominion: Moving coal ash would cost billions,” Dominion announced its coal ash cleanup plan ahead of their legally required presentation to the State Water Commission. Their recommendation to “cap in place” means continued leaching into groundwater. In the interim, coal ash wastewater, laced with arsenic, sloughs directly into the James after any heavy rain that raises the water table. This is an existing and documented danger. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would introduce a new danger to over 1,000 waterway crossings. Our representatives should not tout new ways to threaten the James. The county and state’s water supply should be protected, not exploited as an expendable resource.

Jessica Sims

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