The Virginia Outdoors Foundation recently learned that the historic Elk Hill property in Nelson County, which is protected by a VOF easement, has been added to the formal scoping process for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) being conducted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
In response, VOF issued a letter to FERC stating that if the route through Elk Hill were to be approved, it would be considered a violation of the easement. As such, VOF is urging FERC to reject the route. If avoidance is impossible and the easement must be crossed, VOF would require ACP to go through a state process outlined in Section 10.1-1704 of the Virginia Code that ensures the public conservation values of the easement would be protected.
Before learning about the inclusion of Elk Hill in the scoping process, VOF was already aware that the official proposed route for ACP could place the pipeline through 10 VOF easements in Bath, Highland, Augusta and Nelson counties. VOF continues to assert its preference for total avoidance of all its easements. The foundation has also advised Dominion that if FERC approves a route through any easement, the company would need to go through the 1704 process, which requires applications and consideration by the VOF board of trustees. Dominion has begun to work on these applications, but a date for board consideration has not been set.
“Our focus throughout this process is to make sure that the public’s interest in our easements remains protected,” says VOF Executive Director Brett Glymph. “We have been very direct with both ACP and FERC that our easements represent significant public investment, and we will do our best to protect that investment.”