Category Archives: National Forest Service

US Forest Service Comments on DEIS

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.

Comment on ACP on Forest Service Lands


The April 6, 2017, deadline for commenting to FERC on the DEIS has passed, but you still have time to comment to the Forest Service! Their deadline is April 10, 2017.

The Forest Service has requested comments on the authorization of the ACP on National Forest lands and on the proposed amendments of the Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs) that would allow the ACP to be constructed across the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests.

Comments to the Forest Service regarding the authorization of the ACP through National Forest Lands and the proposed amendments to the LRMPs for the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests need to be submitted to FERC.  You can file comments online using FERC’s eComment feature (for brief, text-only comments) or eFiling feature (for longer comments).  You can also mail comments to FERC at the address below:

Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426

As always, remember to include the ACP’s project docket number when submitting comments to FERC: CP15-554-000.  Comments are due by April 10, 2017.

In order for the ACP to be built across National Forest lands, the Forest Service would need to authorize the pipeline crossing, issue a special use permit, and amend the LRMPs for both National Forests, as the current LRMPs do not permit such large-scale infrastructure construction.  Amendments to the LMRPs would allow the ACP to exceed current Forest Service standards for soils and water, cross the Appalachian trail, remove old growth trees, fail to meet current Scenic Integrity Objectives, and construct access roads in the National Forests.  For more information about the specific amendments to the LRMPs for the National Forests, please see the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the ACP

For background on Forest Service frustrations with Dominions incomplete and evasive answers to their questions, see the February 22, 2017 letter to Monongahela Forest supervisor Clyde Thompson from James Thompson, a West Virginia University professor and specialist in soils and land use who has been contracted by the Forest Service as a third-party reviewer for the pipeline project, discusses in detail Dominion’s failures.

Forest Service Satisfied with Feasibility of Reed’s Gap HDD

The April 6, 2017, Richmond-Times Dispatch article reporting on DEQ’s announcement that it will require individual water quality certifications also reported that “the U.S. Forest Service said it is satisfied with the feasibility of [Dominion’s] proposal to drill through the Blue Ridge Mountain to avoid the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway between Augusta and Nelson counties.” Further, “Clyde Thompson, Forest Service supervisor in the Monongahela in West Virginia, told federal regulators this week that the agency has concluded that the use of horizontal directional drilling and a contingency plan for a more conventional drilling method both would be ‘feasible at the proposed location.’ ”

Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article here (scroll down to the second half of the article).

Friction between Forest Service and Dominion Over Pipeline Permitting

A lengthy March 20, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch article, “Testimony, correspondence, show friction between Dominion, U.S. Forest Service, over pipeline permitting,” discusses the many ways in which Dominion has repeatedly failed to provide information requested and required by the U.S. Forest Service, information relevant to Dominion’s proposed pipeline through steep slope areas of the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. But despite Dominion’s failure to respond to Forest Service requests, during a U.S. Senate committee hearing on energy infrastructure last week a top Dominion official complained about the Forest Service’s slowness in responding to Dominion’s application!

A February 22, 2017 letter to Monongahela Forest supervisor Clyde Thompson from James Thompson, a West Virginia University professor and specialist in soils and land use who has been contracted by the Forest Service as a third-party reviewer for the pipeline project, discusses in detail Dominion’s failures. Teleconferences with the Forest Service on November 21 and December 8, 2016, and another on February 17, 2017, were planned as opportunities for Dominon to present their proposed “Best in Class” Steep Slopes Program and solicit Forest Service feedback. At none of these meetings did Dominion provide any specific or targeted information that would allow the Forest Service to properly evaluate Dominion’s proposal. Further, the analyses and documentation from Dominion does not include data or information derived from the Order 1 Soil Survey previously prepared for National Forest lands along the route. Professor Thompson also notes that Dominion is not making available to meeting participants the documents and data critical for discussion of agenda topics until less than 24 hours before the scheduled teleconferences!

Read Professor Thompson’s letter here and the Richmond Times-Dispatch article here.

Remember that the Forest Service is requesting public comments on the authorization of the ACP on National Forest lands and on the proposed amendments of the Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs) that would allow the ACP to be constructed across the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests. For instructions on how to comment, see our January 10, 2017, Web page posting.

The ACP in Our National Forests: FERC’s Problematic DEIS and How You Can Help

Photo by Lynn Cameron

The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC) released a new story map this week about the major problems with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s (ACP’s) route through the National Forests.  The report highlights seven major issues with the DEIS and provides information on how you can help protect our National Forests by submitting a comment to FERC that asks the Forest Service to deny a Special Use Permit that would allow construction of the ACP through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests.

The DPMC has identified seven problem areas in the DEIS for the ACP:

  1. The request for an amendment to the forest plans for the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests would lower standards for soil retention, water quality protection, harvesting old growth trees, crossing the Appalachian Trail, construction of roads in a Scenic River Corridor, and the maintenance of scenic integrity.
  2. The construction of the ACP and its many access roads would result in significant loss of forestland and increased forest fragmentation.  A total of 2,406 acres of core forestland would be lost in the National Forests.  This impact cannot be mitigated.
  3. The DEIS fails to acknowledge and address the many endangered and sensitive species that will be negatively impacted by the ACP.  The DEIS only identifies five species that would be adversely affected, but the US Fish & Wildlife Service has identified 30 federally threatened or endangered species, 2 designated critical habitats, 1 proposed species, 5 proposed critical habitats, and 6 species under review for federal listing that are known to occur along the ACP route.  Furthermore, forest fragmentation or slight shifts in the route of the ACP could negatively impact many additional species.  Many of the biological surveys for special species may not be completed until September 2017; therefore, survey results are not included in the DEIS.  The DEIS is thus incomplete with regard to impacts to sensitive species and cannot inform the Forest Service regarding its decision to issue a Special Use Permit. 
  4. The ACP will threaten water quality in pristine streams and rivers in the National Forests.  The ACP and it access roads would cross 58 streams in the National Forests, including 26 native brook trout streams.
  5. The ACP route passes through high-hazard areas with steep terrain that would be prone to severe erosion, landslides, and harmful stream sedimentation.  The DEIS identified over 100 possible slope instability hazard locations along the proposed ACP route.  The Forest Service asked Dominion to provide detailed plans for 10 high-hazard areas with steep slopes, unstable soils, and problematic bedrock types, but, due to Dominion’s lack of a timely response, this information is not in the DEIS.
  6. The proposed use of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) to cross the Appalachian Trail at the Augusta County–Nelson County line poses a substantial risk of failure and environmental damage, given workspace limitations and the topographic and geologic characteristics of the proposed drilling locations.  The Forest Service has stipulated that its issuance of a permit for the ACP to cross National Forest lands is contingent on the successful completion of the HDD under the Appalachian Trail.
  7. The ACP passes through some of the most scenic locations in the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests and would destroy the scenic integrity of these areas.  The DEIS states that the ACP would not meet Forest plan standards for scenic integrity and thus would require a plan amendment to bypass the standards.

You can help protect our National Forests by submitting a comment to FERC that asks the Forest Service to deny a Special Use Permit for the ACP and reject forest plan amendments.  The DPMC encourages you to submit comments that emphasize that the DEIS is incomplete, inconsistent, and incorrect and does not provide adequate information for Forest Service decisions.

You can submit comments to FERC through FERC’s online comment system or send written comments to the following address:

Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426

Be sure to use the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s docket number CP15-554-000 when submitting your comment to FERC, whether you submit electronically or by mail.  The deadline for comments to FERC regarding the ACP on National Forest lands is April 10, 2017.

For more information on how to send comments to FERC, please visit our FERC page.  To view the DPMC’s excellent story map (which contains much more information that the overview presented here) in its entirety, click here

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Forest Service Calls for Comments on the Authorization of the ACP on National Forest Lands

The Forest Service is requesting public comments on the authorization of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) on National Forest lands and on the proposed amendments of the Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs) that would allow the ACP to be constructed across the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests. 

In order for the ACP to be built across National Forest lands, the Forest Service would need to authorize the pipeline crossing, issue a special use permit, and amend the LRMPs for both National Forests, as the current LRMPs do not permit such large-scale infrastructure construction.  Amendments to the LMRPs would allow the ACP to exceed current Forest Service standards for soils and water, cross the Appalachian trail, remove old growth trees, fail to meet current Scenic Integrity Objectives, and construct access roads in the National Forests.  For more information about the specific amendments to the LRMPs for the National Forests, please see the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the ACP

Comments to the Forest Service regarding the authorization of the ACP through National Forest Lands and the proposed amendments to the LRMPs for the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests need to be submitted to FERC.  You can file comments online using FERC’s eComment feature (for brief, text-only comments) or eFiling feature (for longer comments).  You can also make comments at one of the upcoming public comment sessions or mail comments to FERC at the address below:

Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426

As always, remember to include the ACP’s project docket number when submitting comments to FERC: CP15-554-000.  Comments are due by April 10, 2017 (please note that this deadline for comments regarding the Forest Service’s authorization of the ACP is different than the deadline for comments to FERC regarding the DEIS!). For more information on writing and sending comments to FERC, please visit our FERC page

Please take the time to send a comment to the Forest Service via FERC and let them know that you oppose the authorization of the ACP through National Forest lands and the proposed amendments of the LRMPs for the Monongahela and George Washington National Forests.