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Group plans meetings to discuss proposed Pocahontas County natural-gas pipelines

By Paul J. Nyden

A group announced plans Monday to hold several public meetings about natural gas pipelines proposed for Pocahontas County and nearby areas.

The group, Mountain People Stand Together, will hold its first event at 1 p.m. on July 19 at the Pocahontas Wellness Center in Marlinton. Other meetings will be announced later.

Environmental groups are opposing plans by three companies to build the pipelines. Another group, West Virginia Wilderness Lovers, which was founded last month, appeared before the Pocahontas County Commission on July 1. Two 15-minute presentations it made to the commission are now available on YouTube under the title “Pipeline (42 inches).”

Bill McNeel, the Pocahontas Times Editor Emeritus, will moderate the July 19 meeting, which will include speakers and video presentations. Residents will be able to speak and ask questions, and the group has invited representatives from the three companies — Dominion Power, EQT and Spectra Energy — to speak. Mountain People Stand Together also requested video presentations from each of those three groups if they are unable to send representatives to the July 19 meeting.

Jim Norvelle, director of communications for Dominion Energy, said his company is considering plans to build one of those pipelines.

“We are surveying to locate the best possible route with the least impact to the environment, cultural and historic resources,” Norvelle said. “We have not determined the diameter of the pipeline yet. The surveying will help us make that decision.”

Norvelle stressed that his company has not come up with any definite plans yet.

Lauren Ragland, a founder of West Virginia Wilderness Lovers, recently said Dominion was planning to build pipelines 42 inches in diameter to transport natural gas about 450 miles through wilderness areas in Randolph and Pocahontas counties, down through Virginia to Lumberton, North Carolina.

When she spoke before the Pocahontas County Commission, Ragland mentioned and described several negative impacts of pipeline construction. They included: blasting and cutting to build the pipeline, continuous noise from compressor stations and truck traffic, as well as “the potential for catastrophic water pollution.”

The proposed pipelines would pass through the Monongahela National Forest and near the Snowshoe ski resort area, she said.

Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.


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