The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a Scoping Meeting last night at the Eastern Montgomery High School in Elliston to solicit input about environmental concerns from residents along the route of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. Almost 400 people from around the New River Valley attended the meeting, and expressed serious concerns about the potential impact pipeline construction would have on the delicate eco-systems along the proposed route, as well as safety concerns posed by the high-pressure 42 inch gas pipeline.
Among those who spoke was Richard Caywood, assistant county administrator for Roanoke who expressed similar concerns to the other speakers. Caywood, speaking on behalf of Roanoke County, asked the FERC to hold similar meetings in Roanoke, and echoed a request by the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors to extend the public comment period by 90 days to give affected residents time to consider the impact of alternative routes recently proposed by the pipeline’s developers.
Martha Murphy, who is a member of the Craig County Board of Supervisors and an affected landowner also asked for more meetings, calling the current schedule “woefully inadequate”. She also noted that home construction and property development has slowed drastically due to uncertainty over the route of the pipeline, resulting in a drop in tax revenue for the county.
Not surprisingly, the overall view of those in attendance was in opposition to construction of the pipeline. As well as the environmental and safety issues addressed, some also spoke about the lack of benefit to those affected, particularly in light of the use of eminent domain to obtain the necessary right of way through landowners’ property.
One speaker commented that she believed the “intersection of the Second Amendment and Eminent Domain will be a significant issue”, and another drew applause when she noted that “This is the stuff for which the Revolutionary War was fought”.