Letter – Surry citizens feel ‘helpless’

Published 5:25 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

I had the opportunity in my business and legal work to observe community meetings in many rural counties and towns discussing how to survive. The successful ones actively involved and advocated for all citizens. 

I live south of the Blackwater River in Surry County, and many of us feel under assault from two energy projects attempting to develop there. I feel we have no advocate. Columbia/TRC Energy is proposing a new 24-inch natural gas line through our woodlands and croplands. Trespassing sometimes occurs and survey stakes appear. It is a helpless feeling. 

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Smithfield Foods/Dominion Power (Align project) are proposing a methane project nearby. I am legally contesting citizen notices of the project and soon will be heard in court. In the interim, Align is moving forward with gas lines and industrial site clearing. 

The company in North Carolina was required by a lawsuit to monitor potential gas emissions from the industrial site and underground lines. In Surry County they offered no monitoring, nor did our county government require it. The project will transport hog lagoon gas from potentially 20 commercial hog farms (representing a majority of the hogs raised in Virginia) to a small parcel surrounded by approximately 36 residences within a half-mile. 

Surry County code currently does not allow a farmer to have one commercial hog operation within a half-mile of a surrounding residence. No county official has visited our homes and farms to hear and see our concerns. 

I so want Surry County to care and work for all citizens and advocate for us. It is not a good feeling when you feel your local government and elected board do not have your back. It leaves me with the feeling that our county will continue its decline and has become a county that does not care.


Michael H. Drewry