Question #5: What do you consider as appropriate and inappropriate applications of Eminent Domain? Please explain how you view the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and how it might positively or negatively affect Pocahontas?
Gandee, Debra Jo Galford
Groseclose, Jesse A.
Mr. Walker did not respond to Eight Rivers Council by the deadline.
Eminent Domain used for Private gain is an aggressive abuse of power and overstep of essential rights. My two greatest fears regarding Eminent Domain is the threat of one losing their property rights and the impact on our citizens and environment. I have and always will be a strong supporter of individual property rights. Private property protection is one of our most fundamental rights. I do not and will not support eminent domain being used for destructive purposes for private gain. We have all seen detrimental effects of the use of eminent domain over history, but there have been instances where it provided significant benefit to the public, for example roadway and interstate systems as well as transmission power lines/utility lines to provide service desired by the public and enhancement of communities and services available over time.
Please explain how you view the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipelines and how it might positively or negatively affect Pocahontas?
Whether for or against this pipeline, every citizen of Pocahontas County takes our environment and its quality very seriously. The Pipeline has the potential to harm our environment; however, proponents will state that there is an economic benefit. I have personally been to areas where pipelines were being constructed and have seen the finished product. The areas in which I have seen the construction just, as any other construction site, can be an eyesore, however, the aftermath and long term effect is what I put a stronger focus on. What are the effects? On a particular farm the pipeline went directly through a high quality hayfield. Of course during construction there was a major impact, but within a year the exact spot was practically unnoticeable. On the opposite spectrum I have been on a farm on separate project completed several years ago where the individual farmer is still experiencing issues with the aftermath the company left. The path through forested areas can provide additional habitat for a wider diversity of wildlife, in addition to increased nutritional opportunities for current wildlife species. A concern over environmental impact can be related to any man made or human to environment connection, however the difference lies in the way of reclamation and responsibility.
In relation to economic impact, at this point I am not convinced that it will bring a plethora of sustainable local employment to the area. I relate the employment as I would to the construction of a bridge, outside companies are contracted through trusted sources of the originating company and few locals are hired. The project takes X number of months to complete and upon completion we are left with a finished usable product and no sustainable employment. But I also have to look at the number of fathers who are our neighbors, that pack up every Sunday and drive 4 or 5 hours to work to support their families. Dads who are absent all week and missing out their children’s lives, their ball games, winning a science fair project, and simply their life growing up. It is disheartening to watch every week, without a solution for them to be able to work here. Perhaps this project isn’t going to provide that long term fix, but it could very well provide that needed employment to keep a father home right here while providing for his family and watching them grow.
I am here to represent a binding relation for both sides to come together and do what is best for our county if the pipeline gains approval. Both sides of the argument can propose facts and numbers to prove their respective positions one way or the other. Technically, the County Commission does not have a lot of authority to stop the Pipeline (I believe this is often overlooked), yet the County Commission must be a voice for us all, IF the green light is given by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). I do believe that as a commissioner we must have the mindset to keep our community at the forefront of our vision and discussion. Questions I have raised are those of IF the ACP is given a greenlight, where does our county get the extra funding for EMS, Fire, Law, and who is responsible for maintaining and preserving our roadways. I have asked these questions to current commissioners, Dominion, Department of Highways, and our leaders in Charleston to have a structured factual and responsible plan in place before it happens. I firmly believe we must always have a plan B in our sights and on the table to be able to properly adjust or make changes that may come about, I believe this proves true leadership in understanding things can change and being ready for those changes is imperative to success. The County Commission needs to lead our community, to promote individual responsibility and equal opportunity, to protect life and property, to provide efficient, innovative, and quality public services; to provide services required by Federal and State mandates; to stimulate economic growth and regional cooperation, and to balance the preservation and utilization of all of our resources.