Category Archives: FERC

Pipe Coatings

In a letter to FERC,submitted as a Motion to Intervene on September 16, 2019, Bill Limpert discusses Dominion’s July 22 and August 23 reports to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Dominion reports were in response to FERC’s July 3 request for data regarding possible environmental and health impacts from the 3M Scotchkote Fusion Bonded Epoxy 6233 external pipe coating, and other pipe coating products used for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Limpert says, “I believe Dominion’s reports significantly understate the risk to public health and the environment from this coating, and other products used on the exterior of the pipe. I believe the reports use questionable data, and questionable methodologies to arrive at unreliable conclusions, and therefore, do not adequately answer the FERC’s request for information, or the concerns raised by the Virginia Department of Health.”

Limpert then critiques Dominion’s July 22 report in detail, covering the lack of leaching studies, the impacts of degradation and the long-term health impacts.

He states, “The Dominion reports use questionable data and questionable methodologies to arrive at unreliable conclusions. They do not prove the pipeline coating is safe, or that there will be no negative health or environmental impacts from the coating and associated products used on the exterior of the pipes for the ACP. They do not reliably answer the questions presented in FERC’s request, nor the concerns of the Virginia Department of Health.”

Limpert’s critique of the July 22 report concludes with a list of recommendations for actions FERC should take, including additional study using valid data and methodology, consultation with federal agencies with expertise, advising the US Fish and Wildlife Service that a 3M Material Declaration states that UV degradation byproducts will be toxic to aquatic life, requiring ACP to conduct pre and post construction sampling for chemicals associated with this coating and other products used on the exterior of the pipes in drinking water wells and springs in the vicinity of the proposed pipeline, requiring ACP to provide a potable water source and fair compensation for drinking water sources that are contaminated by these products, and requiring that all pipes be immediately covered to prevent UV degradation material from becoming airborne.

Limpert also writes a detailed critique of Dominion’s August 23 report.

Read the full letter and the attachments to it here.

Filing to FERC on New Landslide Information

In their “Motion to Intervene (Out of Time) in Docket No CP15-554 Atlantic Coast Pipeline – Request to review new information and to issue a stop work order,” filed recently with the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, Richard and Jill Averitt and other family members ask FERC to review the LIDAR work done by Dr. Anne Witt of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. They call attention specifically to the slopes near their home that are part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline path, and the disturbing results of an overlay of LIDAR data with the ACP route.

Read the Motion to Intervene here.

Read more about Dr. Witt’s LIDAR work and the heightened potential for landslides along the ACP route here and here.

FERC Asks Fish and Wildlife to Reconsider


On August 28, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “reinitiate consultation,” asking the Service to reconsider its earlier finding that the MVP would not significantly harm protected fish and bats along the route. The Fish and Wildlife Service has said it will comply.

The announcement came two weeks after environmental groups filed an August 12 challenge to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2017 opinion (see New Lawsuit Launched Against MVP). On August 15, three days after the challenge was filed, MVP said it was voluntarily suspending work on parts of the project where impacts to endangered species were in question. It is not yet clear whether any, some, or all work on the pipeline would now have to stop.

A statement from the Sierra Club, one of the plaintiffs in the August 12 challenge, said, “Because the project does not have a valid Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement, all work on the pipeline should halt until a new one is issued.”

Natalie Cox, director of communications for Mountain Valley Pipeline, attempted to give a positive spin to the FERC request, saying that the company had “received and reviewed the FERC’s letter and we are encouraged that the process is moving forward.”

Petition FERC to Stop Pipeline Construction

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), headed by a three-person voting body, has the power to shut down work for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. With so many ongoing investigations and court cases proving that these projects shouldn’t be built in the first place, there is no excuse for construction to be allowed to continue. But FERC — with a troubling track record of rubber-stamping unnecessary fossil fuel projects — doesn’t do its job without public pressure. So it’s time to dial up that pressure. The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) points out that FERC has issued stop-work orders for these two pipelines in the past, and could do so again. But only if we all continue to speak up.

Sign the CCAN petition! Tell FERC to issue stop-work orders for ACP and MVP immediately!

Challenge to FERC Certificate Scheduled for October 16 Oral Argument

From ABRA Update 241, August 16, 2019

The challenge to the Federal Energy Commission’s (FERC) approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline been scheduled for oral argument on October 16 before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs are 14 conservation groups, including several ABRA members, that are represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Appalachian Mountain Advocates. The petitioners argue that FERC’s Environmental Justice Impact Statement is fatally flawed. Members of the 3-judge panel hearing the case will be announced in mid-September.

Read more about the case in our earlier post, FERC and ACP File Response Briefs in Challenge to ACP Certificate.

FERC Should Stop ACP Now

In an open letter to Kimberly Bose, secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and reprinted in the Nelson County Times on August 15, 2019, Helen Kimble and Doug Wellman (President and Vice-President of Friends of Nelson) discuss the potential for hazardous landslides in the steeply mountainous areas on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route in Nelson County. Some of their letter is reproduced below, but go to the Nelson County Times for the full version.

“A recent public presentation on the potential for hazardous landslides in the mountainous areas of Nelson County VA highlighted longstanding concerns about the dangers of routing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) through the county’s steep terrain. In this letter, we call your attention to the potential for catastrophic slope failures if ACP overcomes its numerous legal challenges and begins construction. We ask you to consider the following information and its implications for your handling of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

“At a public meeting on June 30, geologist Dr. Anne Witt, geohazards specialist with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), presented her analysis of the landslides triggered in Nelson County by Hurricane Camille in 1969. In that horrific storm event, 125 people are known to have lost their lives as landslides triggered by severe rainfall swept down valleys in the middle of the night carrying whole families to their deaths.

“The information Dr. Witt presented stems from her ongoing research assessing the landslide potential of steep slopes in Nelson and western Albemarle counties. Her work will contribute to a new Virginia Hazard Mitigation Plan being prepared with support from FEMA and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Using LIDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) technology to map the bare earth beneath vegetative cover, she unveiled a multitude of historical slides on Nelson’s steep slopes. Noting that previous slides are strong indicators of potential future slides, she concluded that Nelson County’s steep slopes have greater landslide potential than had previously been recognized.

“Dr. Witt’s presentation sharpened the concerns raised by a 2017 study of soil and geologic concerns commissioned by Friends of Nelson and Friends of Wintergreen. The final report by Blackburn Consulting Services, LLC — “Report Analysis and Field Verification of Soil and Geologic concerns with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in Nelson County, VA” — was submitted as part of FERC’s EIS review for issuance of the ACP permit. We strongly believe the Blackburn report was not given sufficient consideration in the Commission’s decision.

“Blackburn scientists reviewed the material Dominion submitted to FERC and conducted field analyses of actual conditions in a sample of sites where the pipeline would traverse steep slopes in Nelson County. In their report, Blackburn concluded that: ‘…many of the statements made in the materials submitted to FERC represented gross generalities … [and] … underestimate the true risks that this project imposes on Nelson County and its residents.'”

Key findings of the Blackburn study include [sections on]:

  •  Landform and soil characteristics
  • Mapping soil conditions
  • Vegetation
  • Soil stabilization and erosion control
  • Expansion of the corridor

“The permit the commission issued ACP constitutes a recipe for disaster. Dominion’s ‘best in class’ erosion and sedimentation control measures have failed repeatedly in the work they have already done in West Virginia. Similar stabilization measures employed by the Mountain Valley Pipeline builders have led to over 300 violations, legal action by the Virginia Attorney General, and events like sections of pipe carried great distances by floodwaters. MVP is demonstrating what will likely happen if and when ACP begins construction on Virginia’s steep slopes.” [see article below on MVP landslides]

The letter continues, saying

  • “Dominion assures concerned citizens that the ACP will be safe. However, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, 11,993 pipeline failures have been reported in the U.S. over the past two decades.”
  • “At present, two federal permits for the ACP have been vacated. Another three federal permits, as well as two state permits, are in the courts or being challenged.”
  • “Renewable energy generation and storage are emerging as fully competitive with coal and natural gas on a levelized cost basis”
  • “The International Panel on Climate Change’s recent report on climate change — which was soon supported by a report from an interagency panel of U.S. government scientists — made it alarmingly clear that we must quickly shift away from fossil fuels.”
  • “Former FERC commissioner Norman Bay warned overbuilding pipelines would likely result in these unnecessary projects becoming ‘stranded assets’ that profit their builders and stockholders at the cost of captive customers and future generations.”

Overwhelming evidence supports the letter’s concluding sentence: “We call on FERC commissioners to bring a halt to this unnecessary and dangerous project.