Letter: Natalie Pien, Leesburg

Editor:  I am probably just one of the many Loudoun residents who were encouraged to read that the Environmental Protection Agency is at last proposing national limits on methane pollution from new and modified natural gas infrastructure projects.

Here in our beautiful county, my neighbors and I have had to repeatedly fight a series of natural gas projects that will bring industrial methane pollution to our own backyard; first the 778 MW Leesburg Panda Power Stonewall plant and then Dominion’s Leidy South proposal to expand the compressor station and add a new metering station in Leesburg. We fight because methane is an extremely dangerous greenhouse gas. Over a 20-year period, methane causes 86 times global warming than carbon dioxide.

Across Virginia, four natural gas pipeline projects crisscross the commonwealth. These projects promote hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking, of the Marcellus Shale bedrock underlying West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. This extreme method of extraction is devastating to the human health and economic welfare of communities directly impacted. In addition, communities along pipelines are subjected to unacceptable levels of risk from explosion. Finally, releases of methane to the atmosphere by either deliberate compressor station blow-downs or unintended fugitive emissions from infrastructure accelerates global warming.

My church, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Loudoun, teaches respect for “the interconnected web of existence of which we are all a part.” These natural gas projects, as well as all fossil fuel projects, do not respect the web of existence. They destroy the web of existence.

I am thankful that the EPA is taking this positive first step to cut down methane pollution from new projects. Mindful of our interconnectedness, though, I pray for continued action to address existing methane pollution sources, including those right here in Loudoun County, that are already polluting our climate and hurting our neighbors.

Natalie Pien, Leesburg

2 thoughts on “Letter: Natalie Pien, Leesburg

  • 2016-05-24 at 4:15 pm

    Natalie – I’ve been a pain to you often in the past, but agree with you in many respects on this subject and the Panda Plant. I am not opposed to fracking per say, just the unintended consequences to the water sources and residents in surrounded areas. I am a firm believer of the benefit that we gain in National Security by distancing ourselves from purchasing from our enemies, but not to the point of polluting our water sources and residents, and destroying our Eco-system. In regards to methane, the EPA is relatively clueless and in many instances just an extension of Dominion (the same way OSHA us just an extension of the fracking industry or any construction firm). I wouldn’t get too comfortable with the EPA, as the appearance under Obama is that they have tightened the reigns with regulation, while the reality is they don’t know their head from their behind. Obama and his EPA opened the flood-gates to the shale exploraration, or might I say, exploitation, so you should truly worry about Methane flooding into our air. I am just glad the Panda Plant is being constructed SE of Leesburg as most prevailing winds will blow away from our Town. This won’t help the environment as a whole, but as you know, these types of plants are known to emit massive amounts of methane, often through leakage as was the case in LA areas for years. In closing, I think we should require unbiased “3rd party” inspections, ultimately paid for through indirectly by Panda, to periodically monitor and test the Plant (something probably in theory to what we have on the books like the Iran Nuclear Deal) to ensure that pollution and other data isn’t being skewed. Some of the similar Dominion work in Woodbridge very recently caused issues with discharging polluted water into the Potomac River. Although different, it is similar and has the same outcome by affecting the water source, killing animals, etc. If not familiar, you can get the data by doing a search for Dominion and InsideNova. I am no liberal, and believe in stable taxes, but also believe in protecting our planet, and being moral and ethical, which I don’t particular trust too many energy corporations at the moment. FYI… I’ve watched the pro and anti-fracking documentary films (such as GasLand) and there are many valid and touching points on both sides. I am no, and I mean no bleeding heart, and mainly feel bad for the “poor” folks who get screwed and those with health issues, whether perceived or not.

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