Supervisors favor ACP project

Published 11:01 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

A majority of county supervisors in Buckingham favors the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project.

Four of the seven supervisors agree the project will benefit the county, believe it’s going to get approved or agree with actions of the planning commission. District Five Supervisor Harry W. Bryant, for example, said he sees much benefit coming from the proposed 600-mile natural gas project planned to span the county.

Harry W. Bryant

Harry W. Bryant

“It’s going to be a tax base for the county and natural gas is the cheapest fuel we can get now, and I think that … every citizen in the county will benefit from it if they want to use natural gas,” said Bryant, whose district includes the site of a proposed 53,515 horsepower natural gas fired compressor station to be used in conjunction with the pipeline.

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During their December meeting, supervisors will consider a special use permit being sought to build and operate the compressor station by Dominion — the project’s and ACP LLC’s lead partner. Planners recently voted to recommend approval of the permit, amid almost unanimous public disapproval of the station and the project.

“I think we, as supervisors, have come to the conclusion that we’re going to get that tap,” Bryant said, adding it would “help Buckingham County.”

Bryant was referring to a tap Kyanite Mining Corp. is working to acquire by entering into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Columbia Gas and ACP. The MOU would also include metering, a decompression station and construction of a lateral pipeline off of the ACP that will provide natural gas to Kyanite.

Morgan Dunnavant

Morgan Dunnavant

Kyanite Mining Corp. President and General Manager Guy Dixon previously said the MOU would be signed “in the very near future.”

When the county learned of Kyanite’s agreement, resulting in the tap and access to the natural gas, the county was approached about the possibility of entering into a MOU with the firm “that would give the county the option to control approximately 200 acres through which this lateral pipeline would go,” County Attorney E.M. Wright Jr. told the board of supervisors during its November meeting.

“We’ve got people who don’t like it, of course,” Bryant acknowledged. “I’ve gotten about 20 letters (from) people saying that it’d be a good thing to have the pipeline and the compressor station.”

While Bryant said he hadn’t totally made up his mind on how he intends to vote on the permit application from Dominion, “As far as I know right now, I’m thinking that I’m going to vote for it.”

While District Four Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant says he hasn’t seen the latest conditions recommended by the planning commission, he said the project is “going to be a gain, overall, in the county.”

Donnie Bryan

Donnie Bryan

Before the possibility of a tap, the project was a net neutral, Dunnavant said. Now, he says it’s a “net gain.”

“Is it going to cause stress and discomfort to a few people? Yes. But, it’s a whole lot safer having it in a stationary pipeline than 1,000 trucks a day with pressurized tanks running up and down the road, which is the other option to move the material,” he said.

Dunnavant said rural communities “make sense for this type of infrastructure to pass through because the risk is less.”

If federal regulators grant the project approval, “it’s going to happen,” Dunnavant said, “Just as sure as the sun is going to come up, it’s going to happen.”

Dunnavant said the county has negotiated a deal “prior to it being forced upon us” in federal court.

Board Chairman and District Six Supervisor Joe N. Chambers Jr. said he thought the planning commission “did the right thing. I’m just looking at the conditions.”

Chambers said he will look at the conditions and come to a conclusion, seeing “if (they have) enough in it to protect the neighborhood.”

If approved, the compressor station, which has drawn widespread criticism from those living near the site, would be built along Route 56 between Shelton Store and Union Hill roads.

“If you look at it the right way, it might be a good thing for the county,” Chambers said. “I believe in progress. I know things have to change at times, but at the same time, we want to protect our citizens.”

Joe N. Chambers Jr.

Joe N. Chambers Jr.

District Two Supervisor Donnie Bryan said he knows there are concerns with the project.

“(But) I think with the conditions set by the planning commission and the federal regs, the residents will be safe,” Bryan said. He said there’s support in Washington and Richmond for the project “and I feel in my heart it’s coming, no matter what we say.

“We already have pipelines here in the county, and I have gotten just as many letters of support as I have heard the negative comments,” he said.

District Seven Supervisor Danny R. Allen said he will abstain from voting on the permit application, citing his employment with Dominion.

District One Supervisor R.C. “Bobby” Jones couldn’t be reached for comment, while District Three Supervisor Don Matthews didn’t respond to telephone calls for comment.