Category Archives: FERC

Four Senators Tell FERC to Hurry Up

U.S. Senators Capito (WV), Burr (NC), Tills (NC) and Strange (AL) wrote the FERC Commissioners on September 20, 2017, urging FERC to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in time for tree clearing to occur in November. Their letter ignores the fact that the NC Department of Environmental Quality has delayed any decision on 401 water permits and the WV Department of Environmental Protection has rescinded their previous decision on permits, with both departments saying they need further study. The state environmental agencies recognize the potential problems even if their senators are pushing a “hurry up” agenda.

The Senators’ letter echoes a similar request made to FERC on September 7 by the CEOs of the three partner companies of the ACP. One of the September 20 signatories, Sen. Luther Strange of Alabama, was appointed to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions; he represents a state that is not along the path of the ACP. He is, however, a candidate in a September 26 Alabama Republican primary to elect someone to the seat to which he was appointed. It is not clear if or how his endorsement of an expedited ACP approval will impact his chances in the primary. However, Sen. Strange is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over FERC. Senators Capito, Burr and Tillis are not committee members.

Read the Senators’ letter here.

Update on FERC

In August 2017, the Senate confirmed FERC Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson, thus giving FERC a quorum for the first time since February. Recent FERC-related news:

  • The Commission held its first meeting on September 20, 2017, but took no action on either the proposed ACP or MVP.
  • Washington Examiner story on 9-20-17:  Anti-pipeline protestors sing ‘We shall overcome’ at FERC meeting. “More than 100 organizations planned and endorsed the protest on Wednesday, mostly local and national environmental groups. There are more than 40 pipelines set to be considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Anti-pipeline protesters on Wednesday interrupted the first meeting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has held since January. The FERC’s agenda was light at it faces a backlog of pipeline cases, but that did not stop demonstrators singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ and shouting ‘you should be ashamed’ as the commission returned to business after being shut down for six months due to a lack of members.”
  • S&P Global Platts story on 9-20-17:  FERC picks up where it left off, tackles backlog. “The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission renewed its monthly meetings Wednesday, with commissioners applauding efforts that kept the agency moving through its workload during the unprecedented six-month lapse of a quorum and acknowledging the still-hefty backlog of draft orders awaiting their decisions.”
  • DeSmog story on 9-19-17:  Exclusive: Here are the Energy Companies Represented by Trump’s Nominee to Head FERC. “President Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has, as a corporate attorney, personally represented a host of energy and utility companies, many of which do business that is directly impacted by FERC’s decision making. According to Kevin McIntyre’s financial disclosure — obtained by DeSmog and published here for the first time — these include major utilities, fracking companies, pipeline builders, and international energy corporations.”

Sierra Club Sends Request for Supplemental ACP EIS to FERC

In light of the recent decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 16-1329 (August 22, 2017), the Sierra Club wrote to FERC on September 18, 2017, submitting a new authority and request for FERC to revisit its impact analysis in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). The Sierra Club writes that FERC should reopen the evidentiary record for the purpose of taking additional evidence regarding greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts, and issue a Supplemental EIS. In the course of that process, FERC should also address previously identified deficiencies in the EIS, as well as new information received after the close of the comment period for the Draft EIS.

The 9-page Sierra Club letter, written on behalf of a number of organizations including Friends of Nelson, describes in detail the reasons why a Supplemental EIS is required and why it must also address new information and previously identified EIS deficiencies.

Appended to the letter is a copy of the August 22 decision issued by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read the full submission from the Sierra Club here.

Press Release: Dominion Asks FERC to Approve ACP Ahead of Schedule

Friends of Nelson Press Release: Dominion Asks Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to Approve Atlantic Coast Pipeline Ahead of Schedule

Contact: Ernie Reed, Friends of Nelson, 434-249-8330,

Yesterday [September 7, 2017], in a move to speed up the regulatory process, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline ahead of schedule.

The letter requested that FERC “issue an order granting the certificate for the project at the earliest possible time, consistent with the rules and regulations of the commission.” This action was taken unilaterally and on behalf of those companies who would make almost a billion dollars of profit on the project, even if the pipeline never comes into service.

“For 3 years Dominion has been bullying its way through this process, throwing its enormous weight at landowners, politicians and ratepayers,” said Ernie Reed of Friends of Nelson. “Nothing is more dangerous than a desperate bully. This action also clearly demonstrates Dominion’s vulnerability and how much it fears getting its comeuppance.”

On the same day that Dominion’s letter was submitted to FERC, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service submitted comments to FERC on an Endangered Species Act consultation, noting that their biological opinion has yet to be issued.

The letter also noted that “as a reminder, Section 7(d) of the ESA requires that after initiation of formal consultation, the Federal action agency and applicant shall make no irreversible or irretrievable commitment of resources that limits future options. This practice ensures agency actions do not preclude the formulation or implementation of reasonable and prudent alternatives that avoid jeopardizing the continued existence of endangered or threatened species or destroying or modifying their critical habitat. “

“Regardless of the outcome, one thing is certain: Dominion will not have the last word on this,” Reed concluded.

Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) also issued a press release taking strong exception to ACP’s efforts to pressure FERC.  Read their press release here.

ACP Asks FERC to Approve Project ASAP

On September 7, 2017, officials from Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, and Southern Company Gas, partners in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), wrote the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking for a certificate approving the ACP to be issued in September so that the project can begin tree clearing in November 2017. Their letter, addressed to FERC chair Neil Chatterjee, commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Robert F. Powelson requested FERC “issue an order granting the certificate for the project at the earliest possible time.”

The request pressures FERC to make a quick decision, but does not mention the landmark August 22, 2017, U.S. Court of Appeals decision ordering FERC to write a second Environmental Impact Statement of the Spectra (now Enbridge) Sabal Trail Pipeline taking greenhouse gas emissions into account as integral to the pipeline overall environmental impact. Nor did it mention the lawsuit filed against FERC yesterday, September 6, 2017, by landowners seeking to stop eminent domain by the ACP and the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).

The letter says a quickly issued certificate would allow ACP to meet contract obligations, ensure customers realize energy savings, provide manufacturing access to needed supplies of natural gas, and offer enhanced energy security and reliability to the region.

However, as the ACP is undoubtedly aware, evidence continues to mount that those ACP contract obligations are to its own subsidiaries, that the cost of ACP construction will increase customer energy bills, and that the already existing pipelines are able to provide the necessary natural gas for manufacturing, security and reliability.

Read the ACP letter to FERC here.