Category Archives: Certificates of Approval

Many Comments Filed with FERC Opposing Extra Time for Dominion

Dominion asked FERC for a two year extension on its expiring certificate to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Without the extension, no ACP construction could happen after October 13, 2020. The comment period opened on June 17, 2020, and the deadline for comments was 5 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2020. We are pleased to report that many people submitted comments opposing a construction extension for this unnecessary pipeline.

Here are links to a few of the powerful submissions opposing the extension:

  • Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Johns & Counsel PLLC filed a Motion to Intervene and Comments in Opposition to Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s request for extension of its Certificate in FERC Docket Nos. CP15-554-000 et seq. & CP15-555-000 et seq. The filing was made on behalf of Conservation Groups and Landowners.
  • Comments on behalf of Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) submitted to FERC in opposition to the extension of the certificate for the ACP.  Note that the comments themselves are only 3 pages.  The rest are referenced attachments (Tom Hadwin’s paper released in January on need and the recently released landslide paper).
  • Comments from members of the Virginia General Assembly:  “As members of the Virginia General Assembly each representing tens of thousands of Virginians, we respectfully request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission deny an extension of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Further, we also request that the Commission deny any requests from Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, for permission to cut trees, clear land, or install pipe in the Commonwealth.”  [Signed by Senators Creigh Deeds, John Bell, Jennifer Boysko, John Edwards, Ghazala Hashmi; Delegates Betsy Carr, Patrick Hope, Elizabeth Guzman, Chris Hurst, Mark Keam, Ken Plum, Sam Rasoul, Danica Roem, Kathy Tran]
  • Comments from members of the North Carolina General Assembly, explaining why “The ACP is unnecessary to meet our energy demands in North Carolina, and we are concerned that harmful impacts on communities, the environment, and ratepayers outweigh any potential benefits to North Carolina’s citizens. We urge FERC to deny ACP’s request for a two-year extension to construct the pipeline and place it into service.”  [Signed by 8 Senators and fifteen Representatives]

There were many, many other eloquent and detailed comments in opposition from both individuals and organizations filed during the 15-day comment period.  To see all the comments, go to https://elibrary.ferc.gov/, set the date range to 06/17/202 through 07/02/2020, un-click “Issuance” (so the only checked category is “Submittal”), for Library click “Natural Gas,” enter CP15-554 in the Docket Number box, and then click Submit at the bottom of the page.  The results pages give a variety of options for viewing the individual submissions.

Virginia Withholds Key Permit for “Header Injustice Project”

Press release from Chesapeake Climate Action Network:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2020
CONTACT:
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, denise@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-1889
Anne Havemann, General Counsel, anne@chesapeakeclimate.org, 240-630-2146
Lauren Landis, Grassroots Coordinator, lauren@chesapeakeclimate.org, 757-634-9567

Richmond, VA — Today, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued a preliminary ruling against a controversial fracked-gas expansion project referred to as the “Header Injustice Project” by affected communities. Under the terms of the decision, the utility may re-apply for a permit but must comply with certain conditions that could prove extremely difficult to meet. If the utility, Virginia Natural Gas (VNG), can show by December 31, 2020, that its main customer — the 1050-megawatt C4GT gas plant — has the financing it needs to build, VNG must also submit information about needed environmental justice analyses and confirm that it will protect VNG’s customers from unnecessary rate increases.

The second condition related to cost protections might prove especially challenging for VNG to meet. To shield VNG’s customers from “holding the bag” for the costs of the project should the gas plant cease operation, the Commission is requiring that the capital cost of the project must be recovered over 20 years instead of the 70 years proposed. VNG’s own rebuttal testimony recognized that “[t]here is a very real risk that if the entire cost of the Project is required to be amortized over 20 years that the Project will be cost prohibitive and not be completed.”

The Commission found that there was a “very real risk” that C4GT might shut down before VNG fully recovered the costs of the Project. In its 2020 session, the Virginia General Assembly voted to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will raise the cost of all carbon-emitting facilities in Virginia, making it more difficult for merchant facilities like C4GT, which sell energy and capacity into the regional power grid, to make a profit.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Sierra Club, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, intervened in the proceeding and consistently raised concerns about the potential impacts to ratepayers from the proposed 70-year cost-recovery period, among other issues. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation also intervened as did the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Appalachian Voices and Virginia Interfaith Power & Light.

Anne Havemann, CCAN General Counsel, stated:

“This was a needed win in these trying times. The Header Injustice Project is so named because it is an absolute travesty in terms of environmental justice. Major components would go through majority-minority communities, and virtual hearings were held about an issue that would impact areas that have limited internet access. As a result, these communities, with little knowledge or say in the project, would have been the worst impacted by its harms: toxic air pollution, noise, threats of explosion. This is the textbook definition of environmental racism.

“But, at the end of the day, it was the arguments around need and cost that moved the needle. This decision recognizes that there is great risk in continuing investments in fossil fuel infrastructure and affirms that ratepayers should not be forced to subsidize these projects. Virginia is on the pathway to 100% clean electricity. Fracked gas should no longer enter the equation.

“We thank the SCC Commissioners who did the right thing today. The tide is turning in Virginia toward clean energy and toward justice. We hope that Governor Northam is paying attention and will use his authority to reject the other terrible fracked-gas projects proposed in the Commonwealth, including Dominion’s Buckingham Compressor Station.”

Additional information:

Virginia Natural Gas is calling the proposal the “Header Improvement Project.” But the organizations fighting it call it the “Header Injustice Project” because it would harm countless communities.

The proposal is for three new gas pipelines, totaling 24 miles, and three new or expanded gas compressor stations from Northern Virginia, through the middle of the state, and to the shore in Hampton Roads. The primary purpose of HIP is to supply gas to the C4GT merchant gas plant proposed for Charles County City. This merchant plant would be located about a mile from the proposed Chickahominy Power Station, a separate gas-fired merchant power plant that would be the largest in the state of Virginia. VNG wants this network of fracked-gas infrastructure to be up and running by the end of 2022.

The project has been tangled in justice concerns from the beginning. The massive gas plant the project is intended to serve is one of two such plants proposed to be built in a community with higher minority populations than the Virginia average. And one key component of the HIP project itself — the Gidley Compressor Station — is also proposed for a predominantly Black community. Yet there has been no environmental justice review carried out.

Furthermore, holding regulatory hearings for the project during the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns in itself because internet coverage in the area surrounding the Gidley Compressor falls below the state average, leaving residents unable to access information and participate in the process. The first hearing on the HIP proposal was held up by technical issues.

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A coalition called the Stop the Abuse of Virginian Energy (SAVE) Coalition has formed to stop this project. Learn more here: www.stophip.org.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 17 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit www.chesapeakeclimate.org

Tell FERC: Time’s Up for Dominion!


Dominion has asked FERC for a two year extension on its expiring certificate to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. WITHOUT THE EXTENSION, NO ACP CONSTRUCTION COULD HAPPEN AFTER OCTOBER 13, 2020.

Submit your comments to FERC by 5 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2020, asking FERC to DENY Dominion’s request for an extension! Be sure to cite the ACP docket number in your comments, CP15-554.

In their June 17 Notice of Request for Extension of Time, FERC says, “The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and three copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426.” Note that comments sent in paper must also arrive at FERC by 5 pm on July 2.

ABRA has put together a helpful sheet of information on how to file with FERC as an individual or as an organization.

For talking points, see:

The eight permits the ACP is still missing are explained here.

Forest Service Cautioned Against Relying on FERC’s EIS for the ACP


From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #282, June 25, 2020

The U.S. Forest Service has been cautioned that it should not depend upon the reliability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) developed in 2017 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the agency develops a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the project. The Forest Service announced on June 11 that it was developing a SEIS in response to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ vacating of the Forest Service permit for the ACP. While one portion of that opinion (e.g. authority to grant the ACP the right to cross the Appalachian Trail) was overturned on June 15 by the U.S. Supreme Court, several deficiencies in the permit for the ACP are required to be remedied by the Forest Service before it can issue the ACP a new permit. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) stated in a June 22 letter to the Forest Service:

The Forest Service cannot continue to rely on FERC’s obsolete FEIS. The original analyses of potential alternatives to the project and the environmental consequences of its risky and costly preferred route are in question. Significant, new and relevant information related to endangered and threatened species, water quality, landslides and slope failures, environmental justice communities, and climate change demonstrates the original analysis is stale and incapable of allowing effective review of the environmental consequences of the project. Meanwhile, the energy landscape of the region the ACP purports to serve also has transformed dramatically, the costs of the project have ballooned, and its timeline has been pushed back.

A motion was filed with FERC on May 30 by SELC, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation asking that FERC conduct an SEIS for the ACP to address significant new information bearing on the project’s environmental impacts.

New Biological Assessment Filed With FERC, But Not Made Public

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #282, June 25, 2020

Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc. filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 22 a new Biological Assessment (BA) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), but designated the information as “privileged and confidential” and thus not available to the public. The new BA, which was developed in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is a necessary step toward the issuance of a new Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement (BiOp/ITC) for the ACP, as required under the Endangered Species Act. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously twice vacated the BiOp/ITC for the ACP, which led to construction activity on the ACP being suspended in December 2018.

Southern Environmental law Center wrote FERC on June 24 requesting that a public version of the new BA be posted on the FERC docket within five business days (by June 30), in accordance with statutory requirements.

Should Dominion Get a 2-Year Extension? NO!

The certificate issued on October 13, 2017 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granting Dominion authority to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) expires on October 13, 2020. Under that certificate, NO construction is allowable after that date.

Dominion, of course, has only a few miles of the ACP actually built and in the ground, so they have asked FERC for a two-year extension. If FERC denies the extension, the ACP is dead, as it should be.

On June 17, 2020, FERC published a Notice of Request for Extension of Time, noting Dominion’s request, and establishing a 15-day intervention and comment period deadline, and saying, “Any person wishing to comment on Atlantic’s and DETI’s request for an extension of time may do so.” This means you must submit comments before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on July 2, 2020.

In their Notice, FERC says, “The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and three copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426.”

Submit your comments to FERC asking them to DENY Dominion’s request for an extension!  Cite the ACP docket number in your comments, CP15-554.

Some talking points  (and see also the Friends of Nelson slide show below on 10 Reasons to Oppose the ACP):

  • The delays that Dominion cites as causing them to require more time are self-inflicted and result from their own failures to do due diligence in collecting valid data during the permitting process and responding in a reasonable, responsible fashion to environmental and other concerns that opponents to the Pipeline have raised in a timely fashion. These failures have, in several cases, led the courts to label their efforts as arbitrary and capricious. If Dominion had, from the get-go, done a credible job of route selection, and thorough data-collection surveys, as well as following these up with sound analysis, and responding promptly and reasonably to legitimate environmental and other concerns that were raised, they would not now find it necessary to beg for more time.
  • FERC has recently committed itself to changing its policies with the goal of making them more fair and equitable to landowners. There is no justifiable and consistent reason to continue to hold landowners in ongoing limbo over the fate of their property.
  • Increased understanding of the impact of climate change, both globally and locally, has made it clear that we are called upon to respond without further delay by weaning ourselves away from the use of all fossil fuels, and especially those that contribute to the release of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than C02, into the environment.
  • Costs associated with the project have ballooned over the intervening period by several billion dollars. The longer this is allowed to continue, the more ratepayers will have to fight to avoid being charged to cover these exorbitant, wasteful project expenses.
  • The Virginia Clean Economy Act that became law earlier this year requires Dominion to shut down all of its existing gas-fired power plants by 2045, and the utility has itself stated to Virginia regulators that the build-out of new gas-fired power plants (the original justification of need for the project) is no longer “viable” in the current climate. Due to the evolving energy market, as well as the increased competitiveness of other transmission projects, the project looks more and more like an obsolete effort that is more and more likely to leave investors, as well as ratepayers, liable for a huge stranded “asset”.
  • In view of all these considerations, FERC shouldn’t be thinking about extending the time for the construction of the Pipeline. Instead, it should be reconsidering its determination that the Pipeline is required by the public convenience and necessity, especially in light of significant changes to the region’s energy landscape and new information about the project’s environmental impacts.

For all of these reasons, the Commission should allow this ill-conceived and ill-executed project to die a natural death at such time as its deadline for completion expires.

Send your comments to FERC before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on July 2, 2020.  Cite docket number CP15-554.  Tell them NOT to give Dominion a two year extension!