In a letter on February 15, 2019, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s Interim Right-of-Way and Work Area Stabilization Plan.
SELC points out that the ACP’s “stabilization” actions were merely an excuse to do new construction. ACP had said that several areas had already been trenched, and that installation of strung pipe in those areas was necessary to stabilize the right-of-way. In reality, none of the areas, totaling almost half a mile in length, had been trenched.
The letter states, “Atlantic and DETI have now asked the Commission for authorization to trench and install pipe in those three areas and six others, covering a total of approximately 1.5 miles along the pipeline right-of-way. Trenching, however, is not necessary to stabilize a right-of-way; on the contrary, it is one of the most destabilizing activities involved in pipeline construction. The Commission’s own Final Environmental Impact Statement for the ACP is replete with examples of the environmental risks associated with trenching. Accordingly, Atlantic and DETI’s construction plans call for installing additional erosion control devices once trenching begins and ‘minimizing the length of open trench at any given time.’ Far from a stabilization method, trenching actually demands further mitigation measures due to its destabilizing effects on a landscape.”
The SELC letter concludes, “We urge the Commission to enforce the terms of its certificate and to reject Atlantic and DETI’s request to proceed with construction that cannot be justified by environmental or safety concerns.”
Read the full letter here.
The Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative (CSI) Surveillance Report for January 24, 2019, includes analysis of the November and December 2018 flight photos by CSI Aerial ImageReviewers. After the analysis, 22 separate complaints concerning regulatory non-compliance were submitted by the West Virginia Rivers Coalition to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
- Failure to install, or delayed installation of, erosion and sediment control measures. (5 incidents)
- Deviation from approved erosion and sediment control and construction plans. (1 incident)
- Missing, failed, damaged, or improperly installed or maintained silt fences, filter socks, or other perimeter control devices. (13 incidents)
- Missing, failed, damaged, or improperly constructed right-of-way diversions (water bars or slope breakers) and outlet structures. (2 incidents)
- Sediment discharge into streams and wetlands. (1 incident)
Following a December 10, 2018 inspection conducted in response to some of these
complaints, WVDEP issued a Notice of Violation to Dominion Energy Transportation, Inc. for noncompliance with permit terms and conditions and failure to comply with the project’s approved Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan.
Read further details of the January report here.
The CSI is a program of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) and its member groups. The central strength of ABRA’s CSI program is its citizen volunteers. Many people have already signed on to be part of the program, but many more are needed. Persons interested in becoming CSI volunteers can sign up by clicking here.
On January 16, 2019, the US Park Service filed a motion (made public on January 18) with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for a voluntarily remand of the construction and right-of-way permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Park Service explains that upon the Court granting the request, the agency will vacate the previously issued permit for the ACP to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and “consider whether issuance of a right-of-way permit for the pipeline to cross an adjacent segment of the Parkway is appropriate.”
The Fourth Circuit granted the Park Service’s request to remand the permit back to the agency for reconsideration on January 24, 2019.
Read a copy of the motion.
Read Platt S&P Global January 18 coverage of the motion and the Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage.
From ABRA Update #213 for January 17, 2019: “A plan for stabilization measures on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route during cessation of construction activity on the project was approved January 10 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The plan had been submitted to the agency in the wake of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals December 7 decision to stay the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement for the project. The Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and Chesapeake Bay Foundation had written FERC on December 21 asking that the agency to require the company to remove strung pipe from the right-of-way rather than allow it to continue to install pipe along a route that is not authorized by law, but the request was ignored.”
Here’s Dominion’s approach to ground stabilization: putting new pipe into the ground on January 15, 2019. Note the right angle bend, something to remember when Dominion tells a landowner the ACP can’t divert around some important feature of property. Thanks to the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper [NC] for the photo.
Wintergreen Property Owners Association released this statement on December 19, 2018:
Following extensive negotiations, Wintergreen Property Owners (WPOA) and Dominion Energy have reached a financial settlement related to the condemnation of WPOA property for construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Terms of the settlement are confidential.
The WPOA, while understanding the principle of eminent domain, remains opposed to the chosen location of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through its property. Like other landowners having property taken through eminent domain, WPOA had no good legal remedy to fight the condemnation of our land. While the settlement eliminates a costly protracted legal battle over condemnation, it leaves open other legal options to protect our community and allows our community an opportunity to move forward.
On December 6, 2018, Atlantic Coast Pipeline filed a lawsuit against the Nelson County Board of Supervisors in the Western District of Virginia’s federal court. On December 3, 2018, the Nelson County Board of Zoning Appeals denied Dominion’s request for variances to the County’s floodplain ordinance which would have allowed ACP construction across four Nelson County wetlands. The ACP suit is in response to the Board of Zoning Appeal’s denial.
The suit asks the Court to:
- enter judgement declaring that Nelson’s zoning ordinance and floodplain regulations are preempted by federal regulations and therefore null and void as applied to the ACP
- enter an injunction enjoining Nelson County from enforcing any of its zoning ordinances and floodplain regulations that may affect ACP construction
The ACP has no federal permit to cross any waterbodies, including wetlands and floodplains, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated three other critical federal permits. It is, therefore, questionable what standing ACP has to file suit.
Read the full ACP complaint here.
Read CBS19 news coverage here.
Fuller coverage in the Lynchburg News & Advance.