Category Archives: Intervenors

Please submit comments about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Restoration Plan! (Docket #CP15-554-009)

Earlier this year, ACP submitted a Restoration Plan to FERC, delineating how the company proposes to clean up the mess its pipeline project had left behind and asking for a year-long extension to the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity so that it can do that work.

There are many problems with the proposed Restoration Plan. In addition to having significant environmental deficiencies the plan does absolutely nothing to restore landowners’ full
property rights.

FERC has opened up a new “Scoping Period” to allow the public to comment on ACP’s
Restoration Plan.

COMMENTS MUST BE SUBMITTED NO LATER THAN Friday, April 16, 2021 at 5:00pm.

Friends of Nelson encourages all our supporters to submit comments urging FERC to deny ACP’s Certificate Extension request unless the deficiencies in the current plan are corrected.

To learn more about some of the Environmental problems with their plan, we have prepared this summary. If you want more detail, please check out the letter that the Southern Environmental Law Center submitted to FERC a few weeks ago.

A summary of the Easement Release issue, can be found here as well as some bulleted “ talking points ”. For more detail, please see the extensive comments that the Friends of Nelson recently submitted to FERC.

If you wish to use FERC’s e-Comment process to submit short comments (up to 6,000
characters), go to https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx and fill out the form. FERC will e-mail you a link within a few minutes which you can use to submit your comment.

If you want to write longer comments using the e-File process, and/or you wish to formally become an Intervenor in this proceeding (we especially encourage landowners with easements on their property to become Intervenors), we have put together a detailed Guide to help you do either or both of those things

NOTE: The Docket Number to use (for both eComments and eFiling) is:

CP15-554-009

FERC Process Skewed Against Landowners


On April 28, 2020, the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released preliminary investigative findings showing that the natural gas pipeline approval process used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unjustly tramples on the rights of private landowners.

The Subcommittee released a video report outlining its preliminary findings and interviewing landowners Richard Averitt and Maury Johnson, who have battled FERC and pipeline companies to protect their land, and Carolyn Elefant, a lawyer and expert in FERC issues.

In a press release, Subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin said, “The deck is totally stacked against landowners who want to defend their family’s land against takeover by private natural gas companies It’s not a fair process. FERC habitually delays its administrative duties to respond to landowner requests so long that those landowners have no opportunity to have their voices heard. By the time they have the chance to speak up, their land has already been invaded and in some cases destroyed.”

The press release states, “The Subcommittee’s investigation found that in the last twelve years, FERC issued a tolling order to every single landowner who requested a rehearing. In every single case, FERC eventually denied the request. On average, 212 days—about seven months—passed between the time a landowner made a request for rehearing and when FERC ultimately denied it. While those cases are tolled, the eminent domain cases can continue, landowners can lose their property rights, and pipeline companies can destroy their land.”

Read the full press release here.

Motion to Intervene Filed with FERC

1999 USGS image of debris flows associated with Roberts Mt. and vicinity; ACP route marked in blue.

At the Friends of Nelson public meeting on June 30, 2019, Anne Witt, a Geohazards Geologist from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, presented her preliminary work on a VDEM-FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Project. This project is to develop a risk assessment of landslides in western Albemarle and Nelson counties based on previous landslide events that occurred largely during Hurricane Camille, and utilizes remote sensing of landslides in the study area using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanning technology.

Friends of Nelson Board Member Jim Bolton has used some of Witt’s findings, including maps and LIDAR images, in his August 2, 2019, letter to FERC, filed as a Motion to Intervene. He says, “Clearly, these new data render the claim made in the FEIS, that ‘Atlantic incorporated a route alternative (the East of Lovingston Major Route Alternative) to avoid the debris flows and other features identified by the USGS,’ substantially less accurate (and potentially more misleading) than previously thought, and in fact, function to reinforce the already convincing evidence summarized above that the conclusions of the EIS are flawed, and that rather than avoiding them, the current route cuts directly through some of the areas of highest density of debris slides and flows.”

Bolton states in his conclusion that “the risk to public safety is significantly exacerbated when pipeline projects are constructed through areas of steep slopes, especially those that have historically experienced major soil slippage, and it is increasingly apparent that the analysis of the evidence in the EIS regarding the threat for increased debris flow activity along the ACP’s route through Nelson County, and other areas of similar terrain, is both incomplete and seriously flawed. Furthermore, the appearance of new data showing that the pre-existing disturbance of soils covering the steep terrain of Nelson County may actually be even more prevalent than thought previously, must amount to additional grounds for reconsideration of the ACP’s permit of public necessity and convenience. The Commission is therefore called upon not only to take any time that may be required to thoroughly revisit this situation, but also to review, on an ongoing basis, any emerging data that are relevant, and to take them, and their implications for public safety, into account in any subsequent decisions that may become appropriate and/or necessary in the future, and especially in any consideration of alternate routing that may be made necessary by subsequent court decisions.”

Read the full Motion to Intervene here.

Request for Rehearing and Motion for Stay of FERC’s ACP Decision

Breaking news from the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA):

Late afternoon on November 13, 2017, a motion was filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting a rehearing of the Commission’s order issuing a certificate for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The petition, filed on behalf of 22 organizations (including Friends of Nelson) and 10 individuals, requests that the Commission:

1. Grant Intervenors’ request for rehearing;

2. Grant Intervenors’ motion for a stay and immediately stay applicants and their contractors from taking any action authorized by the Certificate Order including, but not limited to, construction of the projects (including tree clearing) and any attempt to use the power of eminent domain pending final action on the request for rehearing;

3. Upon completion of the rehearing process, rescind the Certificate Order;

4. Grant Intervenors’ request for an evidentiary hearing concerning the market demand for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline;

5. Before making any new certificate ruling, conduct an analysis of whether the projects are required by the public convenience and necessity, as required under the NGA, that complies with the Commission’s Certificate Policy Statement;

6. Before making any new certificate ruling, conduct a NEPA analysis that addresses the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of the projects; provides a robust analysis of alternatives, including the existing infrastructure alternatives; and addresses the other NEPA-specific issues set forth in this request and Intervenors’ previous comments in these dockets.

7. Grant any and all other relief to which Intervenors are entitled.

A copy of the 210 page petition is available on the ABRA website, see https://www.abralliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Petition_for_Rehearing_to_FERC_20171113.pdf.

Legal Objections to FERC Process

Carolyn Elefant, an attorney representing the Bold Alliance, is also an intervenor in the certificate proceedings for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. On September 22, 2017, she filed a letter with FERC pointing out that the environmental review process for both pipelines closed without any meaningful opportunity for intervenors to raise comments on issues not related to the environment. She states that because the deadline for intervention in both MVP and ACP was 30 days after the original applications were filed, the parties were unable to raise all of their objections at the time because the details of the project were not known, and noting that since each application was filed in 2015, both MVP and ACP have “submitted thousands of pages of additional information in response to (FERC) requests. Thus, it was not until late in the process that the parties have had access to sufficient information to raise all of these issues.”

She continues, “The Alliance has already raised statutory and constitutional challenges in federal district court challenging the commission’s delegation of eminent domain and other issues and believes that the federal district court remains the appropriate forum for resolving the issues raised in the complaint. Nevertheless, in the interest of creating a complete record, the Alliance now submits comments in the two proceedings.”

Her letter states:

  • Certificates for export and conditioned and blanket certificates are not authorized by the Natural Gas Act and are not constitutional.
  • The commission’s failure to require bond or to prohibit companies from exercising eminent domain prior to issuance of all necessary permits is unconstitutional.

She then provides a lengthy list of “the particular legal objections that my clients have to the commission’s process in reviewing and granting applications, including to MVP and ACP.”

Read her letter to FERC here (FERC-generated pdf). Her letter was also published in full in the Highland Recorder (subscription required).

Environmental Groups Plan Legal Challenge of Atlantic Coast Pipeline

On behalf of numerous groups in Virginia and West Virginia (including Friends of Nelson), Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a motion to intervene in the permit process for the project and a formal protest. In addition, the groups are asking for an evidentiary hearing. In their 50-page filing, the environmental groups describe in detail how the companies presented flawed and exaggerated information about the need for the pipeline, while ignoring the impacts to the environment, landowners, communities and the general public, as well as the economic and environmental benefits of cleaner sources of energy that development of the pipeline would displace. In particular, the project would:

  • Fragment the heart of the largest remaining wild landscape in the eastern U.S.;
  • Cut through farms that have been held in families for generations, severing people’s attachment to their home place;
  • Lower property values in the vicinity of the pipeline and gas production areas;
  • Exacerbate health and environmental threats in communities near the gas drilling; and
  • Further commit the nation to long-term dependence on climate-altering fossil fuels.

Read the full text of the Appalachian Mountain Advocates press release.

Read the Appalachian Mountain Advocates filing with FERC.