In their comments to FERC submitted on April 6, 2017, the Forest Service cited shortcomings in both the ACP and MVP proposals and asked FERC to reconsider merging the two proposals into a single pipeline proposal. In the DEIS, FERC said, “Construction and operation of a merged system alternative may hold an environmental advantage when compared to construction and operation of both (ACP) and (MVP) separately.”
But FERC also said in the DEIS, “Pursuing this (merged system) alternative would require significant time for the planning and design, result in a significant delay to the delivery of … natural gas to the proposed customers of both (ACP and MVP), and would limit the ability to provide additional gas to the projects’ customers. When the environmental factors, technical feasibility, and ability to meet the purpose and need of the projects are cumulatively considered, we do not find that the merged system alternative holds a significant advantage over the proposed actions and have eliminated it from further consideration.”
The Forest Service response: “This statement is not supported by the information presented. If the merged system is potentially environmentally advantageous, then it is possible that the merged system is preferable to the proposed actions.”
In addition to discussing the merge of the MVP and ACP, the Forest Service filing also discusses concerns about water pollution, landslides, ridge removal, wildlife habitat, forcing the Forest Service to amend its publicly vetted plans and – most of all – the DEIS implications that project approval as proposed is certain.
Friends of Nelson has submitted comments to FERC on the DEIS – 96 pages including charts, diagrams, maps, and photos. Read it here: http://elibrary.FERC.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20170405-5161.
In mid-March 2017, Friends of Nelson released the Steep Slope Report by Blackburn Consulting Services, which concluded that “Dominion has not adequately identified those soils and landforms that are prone to debris flows (and) landslides.” The report also states that “the potential for debris flows in the very steep mountainous portions of Nelson County is underestimated by the reports submitted to FERC by Dominion.”
For ease of reference, we list below links to the Steep Slope Report and related materials:
Steep Slopes Study by Blackburn Consulting:
Comments on the DEIS by consultant Dr. W. Lee Daniels (he is at Virginia Tech. He also did consulting work for the MVP):
Comments on the DEIS by Blackburn Consulting/Soil Foundations (the guy who did our steep slopes soil study):
Joyce Burton’s comments to FERC on why the DEIS is deficient and misleading, with the unexamined impacts to Roberts Mountain as a illustrated case-in-point, comments inspired by the extremely narrow ridges during the Steep Slopes study (see photo above – top of ridge is only 40 feet wide and the ACP requires a 125 foot right-of-way for construction):
Time is running out! Speak up about the flawed DEIS for the ACP! Deadline for comments to FERC is 5 pm on Thursday April 6th, 2017.
Need some pointers? The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) has an excellent document summarizing the DEIS – what’s in it and how you can respond to it. See also our FERC page for instructions on how to make your comments to FERC.
On March 10, 2017, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) wrote FERC reiterating concerns over the proposed crossing of 10 VOF conservation easements. FERC’s DEIS refers to the proposed easement conversions as “minor.” The VOF letter states that “The VOF has consistently taken the position that construction, maintenance and operation of the interstate gas transmission line is inconsistent with the open space protections afforded by the subject easements. Therefore, the construction, operation and maintenance of the ACP will constitute a conversion of the easement property as outlined in Va. Code § 10.11704. VOF has stated on many previous occasions that the impact is very significant and by no means ‘minor’.”
The VOF letter also outlines recommended conditions that should be imposed if FERC approves the proposed ACP. Conditions include permitting only a permanent 50-foot easement for one 42-inch diameter underground natural gas pipeline and the associated permanent access road easement, transfer of properties from ACP to VOF as substitutes for the converted properties, and acceptance of stewardship funds from ACP for management of the substitute properties and to offset VOF’s unreimbursed costs associated with the ACP.
Read the full VOF letter here.
If built, the ACP could mar the beautiful, unfragmented viewshed of the southern end of the proposed 90,000-acre Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area that stretches from Rt. 250 north to Rt. 33 on the western side of the Shenandoah Valley. The currently unspoiled area, proposed to Congress for National Scenic Area designation with the endorsement of many organizations and businesses, would no longer look as it does in this wonderful photo of Shenandoah Mountain from Reddish Knob (© Brad Striebig, used with permission). A new utility corridor across the Braley Pond area and Hankey Mountain would:
- diminish scenic beauty
- degrade popular recreational resources
- fragment core forests
- damage wild brook trout streams
- industrialize a major gateway to the scenic area
A permanent corridor of this magnitude could degrade the natural and scenic characteristics of the proposed National Scenic area to the point where it could jeopardize its viability for Congressional designation. Although the Natural Gas Act requires FERC to assess impacts to scenic areas and recreational trails, the Draft EIS for the ACP does not consider impacts to this special area.
The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition has created a new Story Map: Proposed Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Explore the Story Map for in-depth information about the Scenic Area and the effect the ACP would have upon it.