In a 4-1 vote at their meeting on November 1, 2018, the Augusta County Board of Zoning Appeals denied the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed special use permit for a pipeline storage yard just south of West Augusta. The proposal had been tabled at the Board’s September and October meetings. The action marks the second time this year that the BZA rejected a storage yard in the county, having denied a permit on March 1 for a similar facility that would have been located north of Churchville.
See press coverage in the Staunton News Leader here.
Photo by Sierra Gladfelter
Wild Virginia has a nice blog post on the Spruce Creek Camp. Read it here.
In a November 1, 2018, article in Yahoo Finance, Dominion’s Tom Farrell announced yet another cost increase for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline from a range of $6.0 to $6.5 billion to a range of $6.5 to $7.0 billion, excluding financing costs. “Atlantic Coast Pipeline is pursuing a phased in-service approach with its customers, whereby we maintain a late 2019 in-service for key segments of the project to meet peak winter demand in critically constrained regions served by the project. ACP will be pursuing a mid-2020 in-service date for the remaining segments of the project. Abnormal weather and/or work delays (including delays due to judicial or regulatory action) may result in cost or schedule modifications in the future.”
The original cost projection for the ACP was $4.5 billion and the original expected in-service date was the end of 2018. Numerous independent studies (here, here, and here, for example) have shown that, despite what Dominion says, there are no “critically constrained regions” needing the gas.
On October 23, 2018, the Southern Environmental Law Canter (SELC) wrote to the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board members, reminding them that they have the independent authority to determine whether the draft permit for the proposed ACP compressor station in Buckingham County VA meets the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and of Virginia law. The Air Pollution Control Board will discuss the proposal at its next regular meeting, on November 8 and 9 in Richmond. The SELC letter states:
This Board also has the statutory obligation to consider whether issuance of the permit is reasonable and whether the proposed location is suitable. If this Board determines that the permit should not be issued, that decision cannot be disturbed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). The Natural Gas Act explicitly preserves states’ authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate air pollution and deny permits. 15 U.S.C. § 717b(d)(2). Dominion is eager to convince state officials that control of the project is out of their hands. But Dominion is wrong. Moreover, we strongly disagree with the Administration’s recent suggestion that the Commonwealth does not have independent authority to enforce the Clean Air Act and to consider site suitability when considering this permit.
The Board’s authority to consider environmental justice and to deny the permit is well within the scope of the Board’s authority and is by no means precluded. Virginia law mandates that the Board, when deciding whether to issue any permit, “shall consider facts and circumstances relevant to the reasonableness of the activity involved.”
The agenda (currently tentative) for the State Air Pollution Control Board Meeting in Richmond on November 8-9, 2018, is now posted on the meeting section of the Department of Environmental Quality Web page – on that page, click on the Meeting Agenda link. Note that the first page (of 70!) of the tentative agenda is blank except for the short sentence at the top saying it is tentative; that will probably change when the final agenda is posted. Details on location and time of the meeting are on our Events page. This is a critical meeting, where the Board will consider the air permit for the proposed ACP compressor station in Union Hill.
A related and timely article, Air pollution is the new tobacco. Time to tackle this epidemic, published in The Guardian on October 27, 2018, discusses air pollution and the upcoming World Health Organization First Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, October 30 – November 1, 2018.
Questions about the Pipeline? Listen to this excellent podcast, Infrastructures of Power, aired October 26, 2018, on NPR’s With Good Reason. Discussions on:
- The Science of Natural Gas
- What Railroads Can Teach Us About Pipelines
- The Trade-Offs We Make
- Union Hill vs the Compressor Station