U.S. Senators Capito (WV), Burr (NC), Tills (NC) and Strange (AL) wrote the FERC Commissioners on September 20, 2017, urging FERC to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in time for tree clearing to occur in November. Their letter ignores the fact that the NC Department of Environmental Quality has delayed any decision on 401 water permits and the WV Department of Environmental Protection has rescinded their previous decision on permits, with both departments saying they need further study. The state environmental agencies recognize the potential problems even if their senators are pushing a “hurry up” agenda.
The Senators’ letter echoes a similar request made to FERC on September 7 by the CEOs of the three partner companies of the ACP. One of the September 20 signatories, Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama, was appointed to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions; he represents a state that is not along the path of the ACP. He is, however, a candidate in a September 26 Alabama Republican primary to elect someone to the seat to which he was appointed. It is not clear if or how his endorsement of an expedited ACP approval will impact his chances in the primary. However, Sen. Strange is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over FERC. Senators Capito, Burr and Tillis are not committee members.
Read the Senators’ letter here.
Check out Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition’s (DPMC) new map showing the ACP’s proposed sequence of construction. The sequencing is based on ACP receiving project approval in September 2017 (ahead of schedule), something Dominion and others requested in a September 7, 2017 letter to FERC. On the map, click on the legend icon (second icon from right on top right) to see the dates indicated by the various colors on the map, with site prep proposed to begin November 2017 and actual construction proposed to start in February 2018.
The cover story in the C-ville issue for September 6-12, 2017, Dividing Line: the ACP Will Change the Lay of Our Land, is a lengthy and carefully researched article on ways in which the proposed ACP, despite assertions to the contrary by Dominion and Duke Energy, would change forever the lay of the land along its route. The article includes extended interviews with Richard Averitt, Nancy and David Schwiesow of Wintergreen, and Ernie Reed, along with comments by C-ville Rising’s Lee White and pipeline supporter Carlton Ballowe. There are photographs and a large map, plus a set of questions, each answered (quite differently, as one might imagine!) by both Dominion’s Aaron Ruby and Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Greg Buppert.
Although this September 2, 2017, Roanoke Times article is about the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, the same issues of steep slope construction will be faced by the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. As indicated in this article, MVP seems to say that if they can’t do what they want, they will do things that are even worse. We suspect Dominion would use the same tactics.
“Mountain Valley Pipeline reacted forcefully after its plan to establish a permanent access road through a conservation easement on Poor Mountain was nixed by the federal commission reviewing the project. The company’s protest, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, offers a glimpse of some of the challenges and risks Mountain Valley could face burying a 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline on remarkably steep slopes in Roanoke County. For example, Mountain Valley described scenarios ‘that would require up to 10 winch tractors daisy-chained together to move a single load of materials, equipment, fuel or personnel up and down the slopes’ if use of the access road is denied.”
Read the full article here.
Davis Creek area, August 1969
Friends of Nelson has submitted extensive comments on the proposed 401 Water Quality Certifications for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The comments include:
- A letter written by Board member Jim Bolton related to activity on steep slopes and in slide-prone areas such as found in Nelson County, including patterns of recurrent destructive landslides and resulting debris flows and fans, and similar rapid erosional processes; includes links to supporting documents and U.S.G.S. maps and documents
- A letter by Board member Joyce Burton on water quality issues, specifically those related to activity on the steep, landslide-prone slopes found in Nelson County
- Comments on FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the ACP prepared by Dr. W. Lee Daniels on behalf of Friends of Nelson in April of 2017 addressing (among other things) disposal of excess spoil, risks posed by acid forming materials (AFM) in the soils along the pipeline route and inadequate procedures to mitigate them, and adverse impacts of the proposed soil disturbances on farmland productivity, with the overall conclusion that the project as proposed could potentially negatively affect soils and water quality in Nelson County and surrounding landscapes.
- August 2017 memo by Dr. Daniels confirming that his April 3, 2017, report is also clearly applicable to the current DEQ review process
- A bound copy of Blackburn Consulting Services, Nelson County Report, Report Analysis and Field Verification of Soil and Geologic Concerns with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Nelson County, VA, dated March 2017, discussing pipeline construction and the potential for increased landslide risk and increased soil erosion, especially on steep slopes
It is DEQ’s responsibility to safeguard our Virginia’s water resources. Building the ACP in terrain that is as steep, difficult to stabilize, and nearly impossible to successfully revegetate such as that found in much of Nelson County poses an unacceptable risk to our precious water resources. ACP has not committed to adhering to the same standards and safeguards on private lands as on Forest Service lands, leaving Nelson’s steep, landslide-prone slopes particularly vulnerable.
Contrary to what has been implied in their aggressive marketing campaign, ACP’s “Best in Class” (BIC) program for managing the challenges of steep slope and narrow ridgetop construction is still “under development,” and other slope instability/landslide risk reduction measures have not yet been adopted. Because of this, and because of the inadequacy of ACP’s landslide risk analysis on non-USFS lands along the route, neither stakeholders nor the DEQ can thoroughly assess the likelihood and magnitude of the slope stability-related environmental effects of the project nor the sufficiency of their plans for the multiple sites that we anticipate to be at high risk.
The cited inadequacies in the ACP’s plans are not isolated aberrations, but rather constitute an underlying pattern of inadequate analysis and planning which has the potential to severely impact Virginia’s waterways.
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