LYNCHBURG — Nelson County will officially mark the one-year anniversary of the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — July 5 — as a commemorative day of celebration.
“... [I]n recognition of the success of these citizen-led efforts, the Nelson County Board of Supervisors resolves to publicly congratulate and thank those who put the interests of their fellow citizens at the forefront of their concerns in their successful campaign to defeat this misguided project,” the text of the resolution states.
Approved during the board’s June 8 meeting in a 4-0 vote, the resolution in its current, slimmed-down state comes after a debate from board members over the exact language that should be included in the document.
Supervisor David Parr was absent.
Board Chairman Ernie Reed said the resolution celebrates both the people of Nelson and the local government which took positions against the pipeline, calling the cancellation a “historical victory for all the people who were involved.”
Originally announced in 2014, Dominion had hoped to complete the project in four years, but the pipeline was mired in opposition, court challenges, delays and, at the time of its cancellation, was more than $3 billion over budget. Dominion officially pulled the plug in July 2020.
Federal courts in Montana had also thrown out a national federal water quality permit that the ACP relied upon to cross hundreds of waterbodies in its path, leaving the project with no clear path to completion.
Supervisor Robert “Skip” Barton said the document recognizes multiple reasons why Nelson residents and others stood in opposition of the roughly 600-mile natural gas pipeline slated to go through parts of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina and would have cut through some 27 miles of Nelson.
The controversial project sparked the formation of the nonprofit Friends of Nelson, a grassroots organization that would spend the next half-decade fighting the pipeline.
“I think the key point is the people of Nelson County, for a variety of different reasons, stood up to a corporation that was manipulating the system in order to ensure a profit,” Barton said. “We can debate each of these [bullet points], but we should celebrate that we all got together to stand up to something that didn’t make sense.”
Supervisor Tommy Harvey took issue with some of the resolution’s original language, calling it “political talk,” sparking the conversation that would ultimately remove most of the resolution’s original text.
“I have no problem with recognizing it, but I don’t think we need to go do this angle,” Harvey said.
Supervisor Jesse Rutherford agreed, saying some of the points being made were controversial topics. He said the resolution should more focus on the fact the ACP was canceled and let the people remember their own reasons for why they opposed it.
Reed said the “whereas” portions of the resolution being omitted were “well established.”
“They were all successful arguments to have the pipeline canceled and anyone could go through the record, take a look at these and realize that none of these were effectively refuted in court,” Reed said.
Friends of Nelson also will hold a celebration July 10. The party was delayed last year because of COVID-19.