MARLINTON - Groups concerned about the ramifications of Dominion Resources' Southeast Reliability Project - a proposed natural gas pipeline - met in Marlinton Tuesday to share information prior to a Pocahontas County Commission meeting.
Members of the WV Wilderness Lovers and the Wetzel County Action Group have been educating local residents about the proposed pipeline that will wind through the Mountain State, including much of Central West Virginia.
Those gathered Tuesday shared information about the effects and possible damages the proposed pipeline would cause, and prepared to share their concerns with County Commissioners Tuesday evening. Representatives from Dominion Resources, as well as WV Wilderness Lovers spokeswoman Lauren Ragland, planned to address Commission members during the meeting.
Dominion representatives also plan to speak before the Randolph County Commission Thursday. Ragland addressed the Randolph Commissioners last month.
Ragland said she is prepared with the truth.
"We have the facts and the main thrust is knowledge and we just need to ask our elected representatives to do what they know they should do," Ragland said. "All over the country, cities and counties have said this is not what they want in their areas. That's as simple as it really is."
Ragland said this issue is not merely about a pipeline.
"It's all of these above-ground features - valves, meters and acres and acres of equipment that no one talks about," she said. "We have been talking about it. Now that the public is knowledgeable, it's changing the course of it. The emissions given out through all of these features cause cancer."
Ragland has submitted a written request to the Pocahontas County Commission asking them to "draft a resolution to protect the health and safety of the residents of Pocahontas County and ban any natural gas transmission pipelines, above ground facilities and instrument stations throughout Pocahontas County."
She added, "I request that you do the best you can for the people who live here and elected you to take care of their best interest and protect their quality of life."
She said her group is not anti-pipeline nor anti-gas.
"I am pro-right of way," Ragland said. "There is a right of way in the panhandle called the Appalachian Gateway Project that Dominion did two years ago. Why don't they put this there?"
Ragland said the proposal would travel along U.S. Route 250.
"The Staunton Parkersburg Turnpike is protected," Ragland said. "Camp Milroy is protected. So is Camp Allegheny. So why should anyone think they are going to put a pipeline through there? It doesn't make too much sense. They are protected. They are protected for sight, sound and noise."
Duane Nichols, a chemical engineer who used to be a West Virginia University faculty member, said the point is the compressor stations needed for the pipeline also run on fuel.
"In many cases it is a diesel fuel or natural gas," Nichols said. "In any case, it is a fossil fuel in order to compress the gas. We are talking about 1,000 pounds per square inch, so it takes quite a bit of horsepower to do this."
Nichols said the compressors will emit nitrogen oxide.
"The nitrogen oxides are a primary pollutant that can not only damage the lungs, but can also contribute to making acid gases in the atmosphere that can kill plants and animals," he said.
Nichols said companies create the compressor stations so they are just under the allowable size limit for emitting the pollutants.
"That leaves groups like ours challenged to contest that," Nichols said.
The proposed pipeline is part of Dominion Resources' Southeast Reliability Project. It would funnel natural gas supplies from the Upper Ohio Valley to North Carolina to meet increased demand, officials said.
Ragland said her group wants to educate the public about the ill affects of the project, not the least of which is the pipeline's environmental impact.
"People's complacency is equal to their lack of knowledge on the subject," Ragland said.
WV Wilderness Lovers can be found on Facebook at WV Wilderness Lovers vs. Proposed Pipelines and on Google+ Blogs at FERC-101.