Forest Service Criticizes Dominion’s Archaeology Report and Plan

As part of its proposal to FERC for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project, Dominion submitted a Phase 1 Archaeology Study Report and its proposed Plan for the Unanticipated Discovery of Historic Properties or Human Remains during Construction ACP [in the Monongahela and the George Washington National Forests]. The Report and Plan was prepared by Dominion and/or its consultant, Natural Resources Group.

On November 27, 2015 the U.S. Forest Service submitted a filing to FERC outlining point by point the ways in which the Report and Plan are flawed, incomplete, or unacceptable. Going item by item, the Forest Service repeatedly notes that state and federal guidelines were not followed, statements and claims are made without any supporting maps or documentation, assumptions are incorrect, and methodology is unacceptable.

Read the full filing here.

If Dominion’s work in Forest Service land is this poor, any surveys done on private property are likely to be conducted even more carelessly and incorrectly.

DEQ Inspects Only on a “Complaint Driven Basis”

Hard though it may be to believe, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) only inspects pipeline projects on a “complaint driven basis.” In an effort to determine just how this works and to address an immediate and serious environmental problem, the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) filed a complaint with the DEQ on November 11, 2015 concerning non-compliance with erosion and sediment control and stormwater management requirements at the Columbia Gas of Virginia (CGV) pipeline project on Peters Mountain in Giles County, Virginia.

At the end of their November 29, 2015 post about the complaint and the response (or lack thereof), DPMC says, “Our complaint to the DEQ concerns the agency’s failure to review pipeline construction plans, to practice meaningful oversight, and to enforce compliance with basic environmental law and regulations. Our complaint to the DEQ is about a particular immediate and serious environmental problem, and it is about regulatory effectiveness in general. We are testing the system. We need to understand how it fails and we need to find out what we can do about it.”

Read the full story from DPMC here.

Key Congressman Calls for Extension of FERC’s Review of ACP’s Application

The Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ, 7th District), has called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to “adjust the schedule for review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in order to provide sufficient time for the U.S. Forest Service and other potentially participating agencies to work with the applicant to identify and resolve potential concerns before the Environmental Impact Statement for the project is initiated.”

Read the full letter here.

Fix FERC – Sign the Petition!

fix-FERCThe petition calls on our Federal Legislators, the President, and the Inspector General of DOE to:

  • Conduct an INVESTIGATION by independent researchers of FERC’s procedures.
  • Based on investigation results, REVISE and UPDATE FERC’s POLICIES to reflect the critical need to decrease fossil fuel reliance and rapidly expand renewable energy technologies.
  • Enact a MORATORIUM on new fossil fuel infrastructure approvals by FERC until the investigation is complete and changes are implemented.

The woman from Massachusetts who started the petition hopes to surpass 10,000 signatures, and she has arranged to take a paper copy of the petition and signatures to Capitol Hill in January.

Add your name! Sign the petition here.

Ernie Reed Testifies on EPA Clean Power Plan

On November 18, 2015, Friends of Nelson VP Ernie Reed testified to the EPA on their Clean Power Plan, focusing on “how this plan in its current form is ultimately a direct threat to all” by encouraging “energy companies to extract natural gas as quickly as possible and to greatly increase natural gas infrastructure to get gas to market while externalizing the huge environmental impacts and avoiding liability.” He concluded by saying, “We need a clean power plan that doesn’t incentivize dangerous and unnecessary new gas pipeline infrastructure. We need a clean power plan that considers full life-cycle accounting of any fuel source. We need a clean power plan that does not clearcut our forests for fuel or for duplicative pipeline corridors. We need a clean power plan that doesn’t inequitably impact communities where the emissions are most concentrated. We need a clean power plan that recognizes that natural gas, like biomass generation, is a false solution. We need a clean power plan that rewards large-scale energy efficiency and community-scale renewable technologies. Finally we need a clean power plan that keeps our forests and our communities standing strong against climate change.”

Read Ernie’s full testimony here.

State Senator McEachin Urges PEIS

State Senator A. Donald McEachin, of the 9th Senatorial District (all of Charles City County, parts of Hanover and Henrico Counties and part of Richmond) has written to FERC expressing concerns about the cumulative negative impact of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Mountain Valley Pipeline, Appalachian Connector Pipeline, and WB Express proposal. He urges FERC to conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement which “would allow FERC to develop and assess alternatives – including developing renewable energy within the region – that would minimize of avoid the impacts of these pipelines.” Read Senator McEachin’s letter here.

ABRA Asks FERC to Question ACP Application

On November 17, 2015, the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) [Friends of Nelson is an ABRA member] issued a press release and submitted a comment letter to FERC calling on the agency to reexamine the pending application of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACPLLC) and question the soil surveys conducted along the entire pipeline route. Both the press release and the letter strongly endorse the position of the US Forest Service in its refusal to utilize the soils data collected last month by ACPLLC in the Monongahela National Forest and its recommendation to FERC that it adopt a similar position. ABRA urges FERC to conduct a more rigorous evaluation of the ACPLLC application and carefully scrutinize surveys on private lands for the same flaw, noting that, “Soils surveying is a crucial part of determining whether or not the land through which a proposed pipeline is suitable for such construction, and improper judgments about soils can exacerbate the environmental impact of a project. ‘There is a troubling pattern of corporate incompetence and strong evidence of purposeful deceit,’ said Lew Freeman, Chair of Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance. ‘Citizens across West Virginia and Virginia have already raised concerns about the impacts of this proposed pipeline. How are they expected to trust the claims the company makes about the safety of the pipeline?’ ”

Read the full press release here, and read the full letter to FERC here.

Call for Research Volunteers

The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) has assembled an Environmental Resources Committee and is looking for volunteers to help with environmental research and information gathering related to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The information you compile will support subject-area experts, who are being recruited now, to provide an in-depth analysis and provide local information on these topics. These analyses will be used in submissions to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) during the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as part of the NEPA analysis process.

We need to complete the information gathering work now to be ready when the Draft EIS is published. You are helping us respond in the best and quickest way possible. It will also be easier to recruit and obtain expert help if we are able to do as much of the work in advance as possible.

For more information, a list of topics available, and coordinators to contact, go here.

Reminder of Upcoming Events

Reminder #1: Regular protest on alternate Wednesdays (Nov. 18, Dec. 2, etc.), 11:30-12:30 at Dominion’s Charlottesville headquarters, 1719 Hydraulic Rd (park at Whole Foods). Your presence makes a statement to Dominion that we oppose their Atlantic Coast Pipeline, their plan to increase our reliance on fracked gas instead of renewables and efficiency, and their domination of our state energy policy and politicians. This is a great photo opp for passersby and the press!

Reminder #2: Thursday evening Nov. 19 – drop in 6-9 p.m. at McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville for discussion of Natural Gas in Virginia: Pipelines, Power Plants, and Delaying Renewable Energy. Details on our Events page.