Category Archives: Environmental Impact

Forest Service Proposes Easing Curbs on Oil and as Development in National Forests

On September 2, 2020, the U.S. Forest Service (NFS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule that would ease existing restrictions on oil and gas development in the National Forests. The action follows a September 2018 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR).

The NFS proposal, available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/01/2020-18518/oil-and-gas-resources, summarized the comments received on the ANPR, as follows:

  • “Fifty-seven public comments included statements of general opposition, and twenty-three included statements of general support for the proposed rule. The remainder expressed neither opposition nor support.
  • “Stated reasons for general opposition include the destruction of national forests and natural resources for financial or political interests; inadequate protection of human and environmental health; adverse impacts to recreation opportunities and tourism; and unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels.
  • “Stated reasons for general support include the generation of revenue; large existing demands for oil and gas; decreases in regulatory burden on the oil and gas industry; promotion of domestic energy production; and creation of a simplified process leading to quicker leasing decisions and elimination of duplication with the Bureau of Land Management.”

Comments to the Forest Service on the proposed rule are due November 2, 2020.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/01/2020-18518/oil-and-gas-resources

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.

New Report: Impact of Pipelines Crossing Streams and Rivers


From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update 281, June 18, 2020

West Virginia Rivers Coalition and Trout Unlimited have released a new report [June 2020] discussing the impact pipeline construction has on rivers and streams. Reducing Impacts of Pipelines Crossing Rivers and Streams notes that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline routes include over 2,600 waterbody crossings in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, including approximately 250 rivers and streams containing species of concern such as native and naturally reproducing trout, anadromous fish and sensitive mussels. The 7-page study discusses the various methods used for pipelines to cross streams and rivers and includes several case studies that document the environmental challenges posed by pipelines crossing water bodies.

Ten Reasons to Oppose the ACP


Back in January we posted ten reasons why Friends of Nelson opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and said you’d be hearing more about them. Now we’re happy to share our slide show on the 10 reasons – use it to help you to explain to family, friends, neighbors, and legislators why you oppose the ACP.

Forest Service Announces Supplemental EIS Process for ACP


From the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #280, June 11, 2020

Development of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was announced June 11 [2020] by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The Notice of Intent, published in the Federal Register, is in response to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals action of December 13, 2018 vacating the USFS’s Record of Decision and Special use Permit issued for the ACP. While one of the reasons for the Court’s action – whether the USFS had the authority to authorize the ACP to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) – is on appeal to and awaiting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were several other issues in question that the SEIS process will focus upon:

  • Issues identified in the Court ruling including the potential for the proposal to cause adverse impacts to soil, water, and threatened and Endangered Species Act (ESA) Threatened and Endangered species and their habitat;
  • The purpose and impact of the Forest Plan amendments on affected resources (soil, water, ESA Threatened and Endangered species, scenic integrity, ANST, and eligible recreation rivers) and consistency with the Planning Rule;
  • The feasibility and practicality of having routes that are not on NFS lands; and,
  • A re-evaluation and assessment of erosion, sedimentation, and water quality effects in relation to anticipated mitigation effectiveness.

The USFS Federal Register Notice of Intent states that a draft SEIS will be available in July 2020 and that a final SEIS is anticipated later in 2020. The Notice indicated that when the Draft SEIS is made available there will be information provided about how public comments can be made.

Your Voice Is Needed

A request from Wild Virginia:

The Trump administration has acted to weaken Virginia’s ability to protect our water from projects like the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

We need your voice!

Please call Attorney General Mark Herring today at 804-786-2071.
Tell him to challenge an illegal regulation just finalized by the Trump administration to weaken state powers under the Clean Water Act

Background:
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has now finalized a change to the regulation governing states’ authorities under section 401 of the Clean Water Act; a portion of the law through which Congress intended to retain historic state authorities over their own environments and to veto or alter federally-licensed projects that would damage their waters and their people.

Last October, Wild Virginia sent this letter to Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring urging him to strongly oppose this regulatory change and many of you contacted him as well. We are grateful that AG Herring acted in our interest to preserve Virginia’s authority by joining 23 other states in comments to the EPA opposing this move. Predictably, EPA ignored those comments and others from thousands of citizens across the country, in favor of industry interests who seek to avoid proper environmental regulation.

Now, it’s time for our Attorney General to go to court to defeat EPA’s unlawful action. 

Please join us in calling on the Attorney General today! (and thank him for his previous action) As stated in our letter from last year: The Commonwealth of Virginia, since its founding, has a strong history of independence and we must not now defer to the wishes of a President who would trample our rights in favor of fossil fuel companies and others who would despoil our state for profit. 

Please take a moment to add your voice and urge Mark Herring to stand up for our right to protect our water 804-786-2071.