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At Pipeline Hearings, Voices of Protest and Support

On Monday (Aug. 7) at James Madison University, several hundred people attended the first of five public hearings across the state to be held by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Dominion Energy says the pipeline, set to cross Virginia, will create lots of jobs, provide much-needed domestic and “clean burning” natural gas, and more. A small group of about 20 pipeline supporters gathered outside before the hearing to echo those sentiments. They faced about 150 other people there who had different thoughts to share in what turned out to be an at-times lively protest and counter protest. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz filed this audio collage.

SUPPORTERS: Build it now!

OPPONENTS: No pipeline!

FLINT ENGLEMAN: My name is Flint Engleman, I'm from Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm a senior field director with Americans for Prosperity. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline will be a great asset to Virginia, it'll do so much, it'll help us with jobs, it'll also help reduce energy costs for Virginians and Virginia's families, so it will help put some money [fades out].

JENNIFER AVES, Leesburg: I’m an environmentalist. I truly believe we should be living with respect and responsibility for a living planet, and here is the time for us to finally make the difference that all of mankind should have been making all along.

BILL LIMPERT, Bath County: Not through my property. You're not putting that pipeline through my property. We have 3,000 feet of the damn thing coming right through the center of our property. It will lower our property values by a quarter of a million dollars. We'd be in the blast zone of the pipeline. This is a dangerous and unnecessary and unwanted intrusion on our private property rights and our freedom as Americans, and I'm really mad about it.

TIM BRENNEMAN, Harrisonburg: More jobs are available through energy conservation as well as alternative energies, in the solar and the wind sector. This pipeline is a waste.

DAVID RAMPY, Stanley [leading chant]: Our ancestors and future generations, and my brothers and sisters of all species…. Peace to all.

SANDY GREENE, Mt. Sidney: We're being friends across the aisle.

RON WILCOX, Fairfax: We're bridging the divide. I should tell you I'm the organizer of the Northern Virginia Tea Party, and I've been such since 2009.

GREENE: That explains some of your political thoughts.

WILCOX: Based on John Locke. Thank you very much. I'm a Lockean conservative.

GREENE: I understand that, I do. Sandy Greene. So go back to conservation easements [fades out].....

WILCOX: We don't have enough natural gas in Virginia. In the winters when the temperature drops, the existing pipeline cannot generate enough energy to power all of the energy generation plants, and we have to switch to more expensive energy generating sources of fuel. This will be helpful in creating a revival of jobs in Virginia especially after the last eight years of anti-energy policies.



KAY FERGUSON, Charlottesville: Governor McAuliffe will be defined by this decision. He will either be the Democratic governor who sold half of his geographic constituency to fossil fuel, or he will be the Democratic governor who at the very last minute realized that this is a bad deal for Virginia and had the courage to stand up and say, ‘You know what, we're going to take a little more time. I'm going to direct my department of environmental quality to do its job carefully and slowly as it should do, we’re not using a blanket permit, and we're going to slow this whole thing down.’ The pipeline's not about jobs, it's not about needed energy, it's not about keeping the lights on, it's about one thing: It's about profit.

Christopher Clymer Kurtz was a freelance journalist for WMRA from 2015 - 2019.