Category Archives: DEIS

Sierra Club Asks FERC to Issue Revised DEIS

In a letter dated July 19, 2017, the Sierra Club requested that FERC issue a revised or supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, citing the substantial defects in the DEIS pointed out by government agencies, environmental organizations, and individuals. They ask that a revised DEIS both correct the known defects as well as address the significant new information associated with the project that has come to light since the DEIS public comment period closed on April 6, 2017, and point out that additional information necessary for a fully informed evaluation of potential impacts remains undisclosed.

The letter discusses the legal requirements for a revised or supplemental EIS and documents the lack of relevant environmental information in the DEIS. It states that alternatively FERC must prepare a Supplemental DEIS, that a revised or supplemental DEIS should be prepared to address the inadequacies of the DEIS in furtherance of the purposes of NEPA, and that the issuance of a Final EIS with a comment period is inconsistent with the requirements and purpose of NEPA.

Read the full letter here.

Red Flags on ACP DEIS from US Fish and Wildlife Service


A lengthy article in The Recorder for June 29, 2017, reports on a letter to FERC from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), blocked on the FERC Website, but obtained by The Recorder through a FOIA request.

“The federal agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior dedicated to management of fish, wildlife and natural habitats has sent up red flags over the draft environmental impact statement for Dominion and Duke Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. A letter stamped ‘privileged’ from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expresses deep concerns over incomplete surveys and data. The Recorder obtained the letter, dated March 30 and blocked on the FERC website on April 6, under the Freedom of Information Act on June 22. The newspaper made the FOIA request April 7. The roughly one-month processing of FERC and the month-and-a-half it took USFWS to fill the request took a total of 76 days. Martin Miller, chief of the USFWS Division of Endangered Species Ecological Services, responded by sending an email attachment to his letter granting the request. John Schmidt, USFWS field supervisor, wrote the ‘privileged’ letter containing a four-page table of concerns over draft EIS shortcomings in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina to FERC deputy secretary Nathaniel Davis.”

Among the concerns listed in the USFWS letter:

  • “The draft EIS was so sketchy with respect to karst, and endangered and threatened species survey data that the USFWS could not begin discussions about the document”
  • Lack sufficient data to form a biological opinion for multiple species due to incomplete survey data
  • DEIS says karst protection personnel will be consulted – will this be for all karst crossings in all states?
  • How could FERC claim damaging karst conditions in Bath County’s Little Valley would be adequately minimized when Little Valley hasn’t been surveyed?
  • Several comments repudiated FERC’s claims, based on Dominion’s input, that threatened and endangered species would be minimally impacted
  • Deforestation and fragmentation by temporary and permanent right-of-ways: “Even the ‘temporary’ disturbance in forested areas will be long-term because these forest stands will take decades to return to their former state on the area of the ROW allowed to return to its former state.”

Over and over, the USFWS letter asks if surveys have been completed, e.g. “Mussel surveys need to be completed,” or “have sediment analyses been completed?” or “need to provide the status of the habitat assessment or survey.”

Bottom line of this letter, blocked on the FERC Website: “The [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] Service cannot initiate formal consultation with this DEIS” because it is so incomplete or lacking in necessary data.

Calls for Supplemental DEIS


A June 5, 2017, Roanoke Times article discusses the immense number of supplemental filings submitted to FERC by the Mountain Valley Pipeline after the December 22, 2016, closing date for public comment (10s of 1000s of pages) and the calls by watchdogs for a properly indexed (so “the average person can navigate and understand”) supplemental DEIS before the release of the MVP’s final environmental impact statement, currently scheduled for June 23, 2017. Speaking about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion’s Aaron Ruby said Dominion has “submitted about 10,000 pages since the close of the [ACP] comment period” on April 6, 2017.

Carolyn Elefant, whose law firm often represents pipeline opponents, said substantial filings with FERC after the release of a draft environmental impact statement are not uncommon and are sometimes warranted, but that “her experience suggests the bulk of supplemental filings relate to requests by FERC for more information about known impacts. ‘Often, companies will wait until after the draft EIS deadline to file these materials to prevent landowners from commenting — and that is unfair,’ she said. She said that even though pipeline companies sometimes blame federal and state agencies and the public for project delays, the companies themselves often delay submission of information.”

Meanwhile, many commenters continue to call for a “programmatic environmental impact statement, which would provide, they say, a more comprehensive review of the environmental and other cumulative impacts of several interstate pipelines designed to transport natural gas extracted from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the Appalachian Basin.” Such a programmatic EIS would include both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

Read the full article, As filings pile up, pipeline watchdogs call for supplemental draft environmental impact statement.

FERC Shows Its True Colors


Doug Wellman’s letter to the editor, published in the Roanoke Times on May 29, 2017, discusses FERC’s rubber-stamp approval of pipeline projects despite evidence against them. “The draft environmental impact statement on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is massive — over 2,300 pages. Reviewing it is a daunting task. But in their one and a half page treatment of the ‘No Action Alternative’ required by law, FERC’s bottom line is clear: the pipeline proposal will be approved. In justifying their cursory dismissal of reasons why the Atlantic Coast Pipeline should not be built, FERC brushes aside the many well-documented comments submitted by pipeline opponents. At least three of their explanations for dismissing ‘no action’ are highly questionable.”  He goes on to list FERC’s three “explanations” and the strong case against each of them. Read the full letter here.

HDD: A Limited Review by a Company Working for Dominion

[Photo by John Claman:  Piney Mountain,Three Ridges, Reed’s Gap]

On April 17, 2017, the US Forest Service submitted a supplement to a filing made on April 6, 2017, which transmitted Forest Service approval of the primary and contingency proposals for the horizontal direct drilling (HDD) drilling under Reeds Gap and the Appalachian Trail near the sole entrance/exit for Wintergreen. The supplement provides the documents the Forest Service received from GAI, the 3rd-party contractor who conducted the review.

The GAI review should have included – but didn’t – the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) report, A High Risk Proposal: Drilling Through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Instead of being comprehensive, GAI’s review is limited, stating only, “Based on our review of the geotechnical and geological data provided for the proposed HDD, GAI believes an HDD in this location is feasible.”

DPMC’s Rick Webb says there is, “No real discussion or analysis of the issues or even reference to most of the issues – just an opinion – no reference to the lack of geophysical info for most of the drill-path or the extreme conditions.” The DPMC report on drilling through the mountain includes detailed information on how the HDD could fail, which GAI seems to have ignored, and GAI did not address at all the extreme environmental footprint of the project.

Webb continues, “I expressed concern about an obvious conflict of interest to the Forest Service when I heard that GAI was the reviewer. GAI works for Dominion on the ACP. See: https://gaiconsultants.com/project/atlantic-coast-pipeline-project/

Webb adds, “GAI reps were at the open houses during the EIS scoping period – assuring us of the high-environmental standards and technical capacity of Dominion and the pipeline industry. GAI was also the company that prepared the Erosion and Sediment Control Plans for the recent Stonewall Gathering Pipeline in WV (notable for poor behavior with respect to implementation of the ESC plans on the ground; see http://pipelineupdate.org/2015/08/28/stream-zero/; also in the path of the ACP).”

Note added on April 21, 2017DeSmog reported on April 20, 2017, that after DeSmog’s story linking GAI to Dominion, GAI removed mention of its link to Dominion from its Web page.

You May Still Make Comments

The April 10, 2017, deadline for commenting to FERC on the DEIS has passed. However, comments may still be submitted about new information. Friends of Nelson encourages everyone to file comments if/when there is new information about the ACP, including the proposed route and the compressor station. Comments filed after April 10 will not be legally relevant to the final EIS, but such comments can be referenced in any administrative review or subsequent litigation. If you wish to submit comments on new information, see the instructions on our FERC page.