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PNS Daily Newscast - April 20, 2018 


The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Northam Moves to Protect VA Water as Pipeline Protests Continue

Supporters rally around a small group of people sitting in two trees atop Peters Mountain in Monroe County to protest proposed pipelines. (Appalachians Against Pipelines)
Supporters rally around a small group of people sitting in two trees atop Peters Mountain in Monroe County to protest proposed pipelines. (Appalachians Against Pipelines)
March 19, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. — Protests continue over construction of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast underground natural gas pipelines. And opponents hope Gov. Ralph Northam takes more action to halt the projects.

Northam recently announced new state authority to protect its clean water, allowing the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to issue a stop-work order for the pipelines if it deems the work harmful to water quality. Now, protesters say they want to see the work actually halted and the tree-clearing process ended.

Michael James-Deramo, community organizer for Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, said he is concerned about Northam's silence on those matters.

"Northam has been incredibly quiet about his stance on the pipelines,” James-Deramo said; “which is, in our opinion, implicit support."

Supporters of the project say the pipelines will breathe new life into the region's natural gas industry and revitalize manufacturing. Opponents held rallies last week in Richmond, Blacksburg, Floyd, Roanoke and Franklin in support of landowners through whose property the pipelines will run - often without their consent.

The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines have seen opposition since construction began in West Virginia. Some protesters have resorted to living in trees along the more than 300 mile planned route of the Mountain Valley pipeline.

The protests caught the attention of the DEQ, which said the pipeline builders violated state laws last month by cutting down trees that would impact streams and wetlands. James-Deramo said the builders' recent actions have forced the pushback from landowners.

"We're there to show solidarity with these people, to help boost morale and to generally send the statement that this fight isn't over and will continue,” he said; “because a lot of folks have pretty much everything on the line, and they don't really have a choice whether or not they're in this fight."

Construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline started in northwest West Virginia en route to southern Virginia, while the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run through the center of Virginia into North Carolina.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA