It appears Franklin County administrator Rick Huff passes on misinformation for a living. Or maybe he just passes on information from energy companies without taking the necessary trouble of verifying their information with more credible sources.
In an interview with Ducan Peters of The Roanoke Times Sunday, Huff — talking about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline that has, for the moment, abandoned crossing Floyd County in its proposed route from West Virginia to Chatham — said:
EQT/NextEra has offered the ability to access the line, should it be built, as they have to each community they cross, according to them. It is too early at this juncture to speculate about that happening.
If Huff accepted anything EQT or NextEra says as gospel, without double-checking the facts, then he is poor administrator for Franklin County. Neither company offered Floyd County any access to natural gas from the pipeline when it was proposed to cross, pollute and destroy land there.
I’ve read the correspondence from the company to Floyd County and they say the proposed pipeline is a transportation system from West Virginia to Chatham — nothing more.
Huff obviously sees money in the Franklin County hills and puts that before protecting the land and environment of a region that has brought many residents to Franklin.
EQT claims opposition from Floyd prompted their rerouting of the pipeline away from there was not a factor. Sources within the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) say otherwise.
EQT is an energy company company with a soiled track record and now faces criminal charges for water pollution in its operations in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania attorney general is seeking a $4.5 million fine against EQT in the matter and Acting Secretary Dana Aunkst says the company is “less than cooperative” in dealing with environmental problems.
Franklin County administrator Huff, however, is welcoming EQT into his county with open arms while placing limitations of public input and comment from county citizens.
In an email to Times reporter Adams, Huff says: “Our public comment at the beginning of our meeting is, by policy, limited to one [speaker] in favor and one opposed to any particular topic with each receiving three minutes. That is not really designed for public comment on this issue.”
Franklin County Supervisors Acting Chairman Cline Brubaker claims that’s the first he ever heard of that particular rule about public comments to the board of supervisors.
Brubaker, however, seems eager to hear EQT’s claims of “benefit” to Franklin County but does not seem to care to hear from the residents of Franklin County.
“I’d like to have knowledgeable questions and not fear questions,” he told Adams.
Any questions, however, will not come from the Franklin County residents most affected by the proposed pipeline. Brubaker will not allow public comment after EQT and NextEra brief the board on Tuesday. And he will limit citizen input at the board’s regular public comment period in the afternoon.
County administrator Huff says “policy” allows the board to limit topics and comments from county residents.
But the county board members welcomed “individual briefings” on Oct. 14 from pipeline representatives.
We have to wonder who Franklin County government represents: The people who live there or the big money interests who see the land as used and abused.