MARLINTON, W.Va. — Opposition has mounted to plans by a number of companies to create a pipeline to stretch from Harrison County in West Virginia into North Carolina. The most recent plan for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline takes the route through Pocahontas County. Lauren Ragland said that plan is unacceptable.
“This idea has never, ever been done before,” she said. “There is no science behind this, there’s no track record, and there’s no laws. People of this area should be incredibly aware of that.”
Ragland leads a group she formed called West Virginia Wilderness Lovers Versus Proposed Pipelines. She said grassroots groups like hers are popping up in counties all along the proposed route from Clarksburg to the Carolinas. She added they are joining forces in an alliance to challenge the proposed pipeline route.
“The idea of going through two National Forests and going through the most pristine area left of West Virginia and Virginia is horrific,” she said.
Ragland, and many like her, have a laundry list of safety concerns about the project. She said for starters the area is very remote and any emergency would automatically have a lengthy response. She fears late arrival to a pipeline problem would be dangerous to anybody nearby. She said they have air quality concerns armed with data that each pump station along the line would have a nine-percent discharge from every valve.
Ragland has further concerns about the impact not only to air quality, but the water sources which represent the drinking water sources for a sizeable number of people in the eastern United States.
“Any leaks, any fires, any problem would damage the headwaters of eight rivers going from Morgantown to Charleston,” Ragland said. “It’s a very, very poor choice of a location.”
She said the proposal is a 42-inch line, which is bigger than the Keystone XL Pipeline proposed from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico through the Great Plains. Convention pipelines, some of which run through the National Forest already, are 18 to 24 inches.
“Nobody is against natural gas. We’re not, but we are pro-safety,” Ragland explained. “If you look at this project it violates so many laws it can’t possibly be the best idea. They need to have the route go a different way through a right-of-way that one of these gas companies already has.”
She promised to be vocal and vigilant in their concerns as development moved forward.
“We are going to demand a risk assessment,” said Ragland. “If this is such a grand idea to put a transmission pipeline\ through the Allegheny Mountains, going through the National Forest and ruining our trout streams, hunting, fishing, hiking and very possibly our water supply and our air, then they need to show us how safe it’s going to be.”