Environment and Outdoors

CHATHAM, Va. (AP) _ The federal government is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit over Virginia’s ban on uranium mining. Attorneys for the Department of Justice and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission filed a brief with the high court earlier this month supporting a Virginia company’s bid to have its challenge heard. The brief says a decision last year in the case from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was incorrect. It also says the central question of the lawsuit is an important one that’s likely to recur in other nuclear-safety contexts. Pittsylvania County-based Virginia Uranium Inc. wants to mine a huge deposit of the radioactive ore. It argues a federal law should pre-empt state regulations, which prohibit the mining. Virginia’s ban has been in place since the 1980s.

Roanoke County Fire and Rescue crews brought five lost hikers to safety Wednesday night from the Dragon’s Tooth Trail. Officials say rescue personnel got the call as darkness was setting in, and they needed close to three hours to locate the hikers and bring them safely back. There are no injuries reported.

From Roanoke County Fire and Rescue: Crews were dispatched to the Dragon ’s Tooth Trail in Roanoke County at about 8 p.m. last night for lost hikers. It took career and volunteer rescue personnel nearly three hours to locate the five adult hikers and escort them down the trail to the parking area.  The hikers were not injured. This time of year is a great time for day hiking, and we encourage day-hikers to follow these safety tips.

Use the following checklist to make sure your backpack is packed with everything you will need:
  • Wear closed-toe shoes
  • Warm layers (depending on season/location/elevation)
  • Water (at least 1 liter per person, more if your hike is long or hot)
  • Snacks
  • Whistle for each hiker
  • Map of the trail
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Garbage bag
  • Cell phone with extra charger
  • Rain jacket or poncho for each hiker
  • First aid kit adapted for young hikers – include bandages, children’s Tylenol, tweezers, gloves, blister treatment, and any personal medications
  • Hike during daylight hours only and research how long the roundtrip hike will take

Roanoke County released a statement today saying recent statements from state lawmakers alleging inhumane treatment of Mountain Valley Pipeline protestors are “factually wrong” and “needlessly disparaging” of the public safety staff. Officials say county police are not taking sides in enforcing a federal court order prohibiting interference with pipeline construction.

From Roanoke County: With regard to recent comments by several legislative representatives regarding the manner in which the Roanoke County Police Department is addressing ongoing protests of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, statements suggesting inhumane treatment of individuals is factually wrong and needlessly disparaging of our public safety staff. While protesters occupying tree stands in defiance of the federal court order have been denied supplies from their supporters, Roanoke County will ensure their physical needs are being met. In addition, routine wellness checks of protesters have been initiated by qualified emergency medical staff. To date, the protesters have indicated they have all necessary supplies and they have reported no medical concerns to our staff. Interactions with those protesting the Mountain Valley Pipeline have been cordial and well‐received. County public safety staff will remain diligent in ensuring enforcement of the federal court order while protecting the health and safety of all concerned. Roanoke County has consistently and publicly stated that it will follow the direction determined by the court system as it applies to the MVP project. The federal and state courts have ruled consistently in favor of MVP. The Roanoke County Police Department is not taking sides in this  matter. As a local law enforcement agency, the Roanoke County Police Department is required to follow the instructions ordered by the federal court as well as the laws of the Commonwealth which have been determined to permit the use of eminent domain for this project.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Democratic lawmakers say a Virginia woman who has spent weeks up in trees protesting a natural gas pipeline that would cross her property is being treated inhumanely by authorities, who have cut off her deliveries of food and water.
Around a dozen Democratic members of the Virginia House and Senate held a press conference in Richmond to protest authorities’ response to the 61-year-old Mountain Valley Pipeline protester.
They also raised a host of other concerns about that multistate project as well as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and called on Gov. Ralph Northam to impose further conditions on both.
Developers of both projects say they can be built in a way that’s protective of the environment and pledge they will help lower energy costs and boost the economy.

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory from late Wednesday night through early Friday morning. Forecasters say wind gusts could reach 50 miles per hour along and west of the Blue Ridge, especially in higher elevations. The weather service says that could cause some tree limbs to break and fall, and sporadic power outages are possible.

The National Weather Service:  A Wind Advisory is in effect from 10 PM this evening to 6 AM EDT Friday.

Locations: along and west of the Blue Ridge, especially the higher elevations.
Hazards: Strong gusty winds.
Winds: West 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph
Timing: Tonight and continuing through Thursday and Thursday night.
Impacts: Small tree limbs may break and fall. Sporadic power outages are possible.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A panel of Virginia regulators wants to hear from the public about whether they believe the water quality approvals granted for two natural gas pipelines are adequate to protect the state’s waterways. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the State Water Control Board on Thursday approved a 30-day period to solicit comment on the approvals granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. Critics have argued the corps’ review process was overly broad and that the Department of Environmental Quality should have done a stream-by-stream study. The department has said the review it did undertake, combined with the corps’ work, will be adequately protective. Asked how the public can weigh in and what will happen at the end of the comment period, DEQ spokeswoman Ann Regn told The Associated Press Friday that additional information will be available “in the near future.”

Red Terry – the woman who has been living in a tree stand on her family’s Bent Mountain property for two weeks while Mountain Valley Pipeline crews fell trees for the natural gas pipeline all around her – told WFIR this afternoon that a rescue worker indicated they won’t let her go without basic necessities. Terry says she will be in the tree at least through the weekend. “Red” is in violation of the law since Mountain Valley Pipeline seized a swath of land via eminent domain. She says a group of friends and supporters are on hand – along with law enforcement agencies and MVP crews – and some supporters have camped overnight on her property.

4-13 Red Terry#1-WEB