I have owned a beautiful parcel of land in Pocahontas County for the past 45 years. Ironically, when I retired, I was a senior trial attorney for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, specializing in pipeline applications just like that of Dominion, which now proposes to cross the County with a 42-inch mainline. I have 30 years experience running scoping meetings [where the FERC Environmental Staff ask the public what the Staff should study in the nature of architectural, biological, cultural and social phenomena to get a true picture of what will be the environmental impact of such a project], helping to write the Environmental Impact Statements, litigating the many issues as needed, and manning the telephone hotline the Commission offers to assist the public.
I personally am not in favor of this project, as I don’t see how it will benefit the County or its residents. The jobs it will provide to County residents during construction will be relatively menial compared to the welders [who traditionally come from a union in Tulsa, Oklahoma] or heavy equipment operators [who similarly come from Texas]. Residents will get a one-time payment for the 125-foot scar across their land, established by a company assessor, and contestable at their own expense. A cost/benefit analysis would also have to examine the short-term losses, up to eight years, for reduced revenue to motels, diners and stores dependent on sportsmen who have discovered that their fishing or hunting areas have been disturbed to the point of being unproductive for that period of time.
On the positive side, I can say with confidence that Dominion and its construction crew are highly experienced and the project, if undertaken, will be quite safe. A 42-inch line is not unusual – the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, built in 1968 -69, is 72 inches and over terrain much more mountainous than Pocahontas County.
Failures noted by the public are almost all due to human error or omission after construction, such as lack of maintenance, which is correctable by vigorous oversight.