We are delighted to share the video of the Friends of Nelson online celebration of the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We couldn’t celebrate in person, but on September 5, 2020, two months after Dominion’s announcement, we had a wonderful online party – with speakers, music, and slide shows – and we now offer the video of the party for your enjoyment. Many thanks to our party’s planning team, Mary Eiserman, Jill Averitt, and Joyce Burton, to Irene Leech for her video editing, and to Charlie Hickox for help with the video upload to YouTube.
And – hold the date! – we hope to have an in-person celebration on July 5, 2021, the first anniversary of the ACP cancellation.
On October 9, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a request from the Mountain Valley Pipeline for a two-year extension of the project’s certificate to complete construction of the pipeline. The existing certificate was to expire October 13, 2020. Many organizations and individuals had opposed MVP’s request.
The vote was 2-1, with Commissioner Glick dissenting. Read the FERC decision here. Note especially the last two pages where Commissioner Glick registers his partial dissent, and delivers a scathing criticism of FERC for their decision to deny intervenor status to a number of landowners who had not been formal intervenors in the original Certificate process, but who had attempted to intervene in the time extension request proceeding.
Glick writes, “Time and time again, landowners do their very best to navigate the complexity of FERC proceedings. And, time and time again, the Commission relies on technicalities to prevent them from even having the opportunity to vindicate their interests. When it comes to protecting landowner interests, we should look at what the Commission does, not what it says. With that in mind, today’s order tells you everything need to know about how much the Commission cares about landowners.”
Glick’s dissent indicates the “care” landowners may expect in upcoming ACP extension decision. ACP’s original Certificate of Public Convenience and Need expires on Oct. 13, 2020. That means they can do nothing after that date – including cleaning up the mess they made on many people’s properties. So, ACP asked for a one-year extension to complete necessary “stand down” activities, remove pipe that has been staged but not buried, stabilize and restore the abandoned construction sites, etc.
Many organizations (including Friends of Nelson), the lawyers from SELC, and many individuals submitted comments to FERC this summer requesting that certain conditions be met as part of the process of such an extension being granted. A couple of notable conditions were 1) that all landowners be released from the easement agreements they signed and 2) that there be a formal opportunity for landowners and other stakeholders to submit further comments to FERC delineating exactly what kind of restoration or other things are needed to restore impacted lands and make impacted property owners “whole” so that those needs could be taken into account in whatever orders FERC gives to ACP as the “stand down” process begins.
We expect to hear FERC’s decision about the extension — and thus on whether they will require conditions that would help landowners — any day now.
Southerly’s Lyndsey Gilpin speaks with organizers from West Virginia and North Carolina and a lawyer from the Southern Environmental Law Center about their successful efforts to stop the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. After years of fighting new oil and gas pipelines in rural areas, activists have scored major victories that cloud the future or eliminate several big projects. Three people who helped lead anti-pipeline campaigns talk about their work and what lies ahead.
The article, Pipeline opponents discuss lessons learned (in Southerly magazine), and video were produced in collaboration with Southerly and the Rural Assembly. The Rural Assembly is a project of the Center for Rural Strategies, which also publishes the Daily Yonder.
On September 2, 2020, the U.S. Forest Service (NFS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that would ease existing restrictions on oil and gas development in the National Forests. The action follows a September 2018 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR).
“Fifty-seven public comments included statements of general opposition, and twenty-three included statements of general support for the proposed rule. The remainder expressed neither opposition nor support.
“Stated reasons for general opposition include the destruction of national forests and natural resources for financial or political interests; inadequate protection of human and environmental health; adverse impacts to recreation opportunities and tourism; and unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels.
“Stated reasons for general support include the generation of revenue; large existing demands for oil and gas; decreases in regulatory burden on the oil and gas industry; promotion of domestic energy production; and creation of a simplified process leading to quicker leasing decisions and elimination of duplication with the Bureau of Land Management.”
In his August 10, 2020 article, Despite company claims, only a fraction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline is complete in Virginia, Jonathan Sokolow writes, “”While substantial work appears to have been done in West Virginia, according to MVP’s own numbers they barely have gotten started in Virginia. The truth is that in Virginia MVP is less than 15 percent complete. That’s 15.75 miles complete in Virginia out of a total of 108 miles. …. It turns out MVP is, to be generous, manipulating numbers to create a false impression. It would be like a contractor telling you your new house is ‘almost complete’ because ‘most’ of the wood framing is ‘done’ even though you have no electricity, no water, no roof, no walls, no floors – and the contractor is missing multiple permits to do that work because they got sued in federal court – and lost.”
On September 2, 2020, a Virginia Mercury article points out that Despite rosy projections, all is not well with the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Following the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the developers of the Mountain Valley Pipeline have not been shy about talking up their own project in the Appalachian region. However, behind the rosy pronouncements of late, all is far from well with the MVP. …. MVP has requested the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission grant an extension of its construction timeline until Oct. 13, 2022. The reality is that MVP is over two years behind schedule and $2 billion over budget. Given federal permit suspensions, a nearly year-long — and counting — project-wide Stop Work order, ongoing legal challenges and ballooning financial woes, MVP cannot forecast when, or if, the project will be finished.”