Dear Editor;

Some people may be making a killing off of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but if approved, the ACP will leave an economic dead zone through the heart of Pocahontas County. Here are a few reasons for concern.

1) Spread of invasive species: Our forests, waterways, and wildlife habitat will suffer severely if invasive species like Japanese Stiltgrass spread along the pipeline route, access roads, and waterways. I have read the ACP’s invasive species management plan – it’s incomplete on paper, has no guarantees, and will surely go sour in practice. Once invasive species get started, they are almost impossible to control. With Japanese Stiltgrass, nothing eats it; it thrives in the sun, shade, dry, and wet and becomes so thick that nothing will grow through it, including tree saplings and ginseng. What will these invasives do to our outdoor economy and forest health?

2) Loss of hotel/motel tax revenue: Long-term lease contracts are now being negotiated for outside contractors including many units at Snowshoe, but none of these will bring in hotel/motel tax revenue past the first 29 days. No economic analysis has been done on the loss of hotel/motel tax revenue caused by hundreds of long-term rental contracts and what this means for the county.

3) A 1,300 feet wide development dead zone: Wilson County, North Carolina – in the path of the pipeline – has learned that the ACP will restrict development within 660 feet from the center of the high-pressured pipeline for the ‘lifetime of the pipeline.’ Officials in Wilson County were so concerned about the lack of transparency that they passed a resolution in Oct. 2017 requiring ACP officials to inform local governments and property owners that the ACP was planning to create a ‘consultation planning zone’; ACP will expect to be consulted for any development within this planning zone. Property owners within this zone have not been offered compensation for restrictions placed on their property outside of the construction and permanent easements. These impacts to land value don’t even include the loss and costs of living near the pipeline; at an estimated 2,000 pounds-per square-inch, the blast zone would extend to 1,800 feet on either side of the pipeline, and the evacuation radius is two miles.

4) Burden on our First Responders: I’ve heard that volunteer fire departments in the county are facing increased costs for pipeline disaster preparedness. What costs and burdens is this pipeline causing our volunteers?

5) Traffic congestion – our time is valuable too and we need safety for school kids: Summers County, West Virginia was so concerned about traffic congestion from proposed pipeline construction that they passed a resolution requiring large industrial construction projects to provide a detailed county roadway use plan on how to limit traffic congestion and a plan for limiting impacts to school bus schedules.

6) Drinking Water – Anyone concerned about their water should have their water tested – prior to any construction. Should your well or spring be negatively impacted by the pipeline, you can only prove wrongdoing by the ACP if you have prior tests on the condition of your water. This is a real concern in the karst terrain (a complex underground system as porous as swiss cheese) of the pipeline route because the source of your well or spring water could be surprisingly close to the pipeline route or be impacted by pipeline blasting.

Big news happened last week in Pennsylvania when state regulators again suspended construction on the Mariner 2 East pipeline after 15 homeowners had “experienced adverse impacts to their private water supplies, which are drawn from groundwater.”

The ACP is not looking out for the economic and environmental interests of Pocahontas County, so we must stand up for ourselves. We’re all in this together.

Thank you,
Traci Hickson
Cass