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FERC Authorizes Transco’s Proposal

Virginia Run community 'disappointed' in decision.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on April 12 approved the construction of one of two above-ground, natural gas pipelines to be built in a high-density neighborhood in Virginia Run.

THE APPROVED pipeline will be a 42-inch pig launcher that will deliver gas to an increasing number of consumers next winter. An additional pipeline remains in question, but as part of an effort to compromise with the Virginia Run community, the natural gas company, Williams/Transco, has offered to determine the feasibility of installing a “piggable Y” pipeline, which would eliminate the need for the second pipeline.

If this adjustment is possible and only one pipeline is needed, the total fenced area will be less than 2,000 square feet. However, in its official report, the FERC said, “In the event that Transco determines that the “piggable Y” is not technologically feasible, Transco shall submit, for our approval, reports to justify its conclusion and submit a revised plan.”

In other words, if the “piggable Y” is not a viable option, it is likely that Williams/Transco will revert to its earlier plan from January, which includes both above-ground pipelines. If this happens, it will increase the total fenced in area to 4,500 square ft.

The FERC ruling leaves residents of the Virginia Run community unhappy and concerned. The President of the Virginia Run Homeowner’s Association, Tom Martin, describes the community as being disappointed. “The FERC has made its decision, but the question now is what to do with it,” says Martin.

There will be a meeting this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Run community center to discuss all options. The meeting will be open to the public, and all Virginia Run board members will attend. The purpose of the meeting will be to review all possible options and determine what actions the community as a whole would like to take.

POSSIBLE ACTIONS include appealing the decision back to the FERC, requesting a stay in this decision, or refusing to sell the land to Williams/Transco, which would likely get the court involved.

“I fully support taking further action,” says resident Melinda Welsh. “Everyone I’ve talked to has said let’s continue — we’re not happy about this.”

Still, the efforts of the Virginia Run community have had an impact. Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th) says, “This reduction would not have happened without the hard work of everyone in Virginia Run.” For months, the Virginia Run community has been collecting all of the facts and working together to speak with one voice.

Without the help of local politicians such as Del. Hugo, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th), and State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-37th), the task would have been much more difficult. “Mr. Hugo has been one of our strongest supporters,” said Martin. “He called to say he was disappointed with the ruling and he has done everything possible to help us.”

Martin also mentions that Wolf has helped by making the meeting in March with Williams/Transco possible, and by assisting in delaying the FERC hearing, which provided time for the community to present its case.

“My hope is that many people will come to our meeting on Thursday,” says Welsh. “We’re going to regroup and decide what to do now.”

As for Williams/Transco, representative Christopher Stockton says, “As this project moves forward, we are committed to working with residents of Virginia Run to address their concerns related to the aesthetics of the above-ground facilities.”