Supervisors unite in pipeline opposition

CHRISTIANSBURG — They are against it, they just aren’t sure what they can do about it.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing the Mountain Valley Pipeline 5-1 on Wednesday night, with supervisor Gary Creed dissenting on the grounds that the resolution wasn’t forceful enough for his liking.

“We are the first defense for our constituents. We don’t have any statutory power to block it… but we’re leading the fight,” board chair Bill Brown said.

The resolution raised a number of concerns about the pipeline, including its impact on residential neighborhoods such as the Preston Forest subdivision as well as its impact on scenic, recreational and environmentally sensitive areas. The resolution also raised concerns about the pipeline route’s proximity to fault lines and the potential for water pollution or well damage due to the area’s karst topography.

The supervisors had a lengthy debate on whether to include supervisor Christopher Tuck’s amendment to the resolution, which added that the board may reconsider its opposition of the 42-inch diameter, natural gas pipeline if it was redirected away from populated areas.

Supporters of the amendment argued that it left the door open for future negotiations with pipeline officials, while supervisors Creed and Mary Biggs didn’t want the amendment to obfuscate the board’s opposition to building a pipeline of that magnitude anywhere in the region.

“It’s going to come. We can’t stop it, but if we can get it away from residences,” supervisor Todd King said in support of the resolution and potential future negotiations with the pipeline company.

“We keep saying it’s going to come, but just a few weeks ago they moved it out of Floyd (County) didn’t they?” Creed responded.

Ultimately, Biggs voted with the amended resolution to show unity with other board members, while Creed voted “absolutely no” to the amended resolution, preferring the original. The entire board is united in opposition to the project, however, with supervisor Matthew Gabriele stating by email that he also opposes the pipeline and supported the resolution, though he was unable to attend the meeting. All the board members in attendance pledged to help the community work against the current proposal.

“The revised resolution doesn’t mean that I’m backing off of anything,” supervisor Annette Perkins said.

Max Macon of NextEra Energy, one of the two companies collaborating on the pipeline project, attended the meeting and told the board that “we are in the early stages of the route planning” and that the company plans to work with the board and the community to identify concerns and sensitive areas.

Six members of the public also spoke at the meeting, all opposed to the project, with several citizens in attendance to hear the proceedings on the pipeline project.

– Spencer Dennis, contributing writer