Category Archives: Natural Resources

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 ABRA Program: The Conservation Hub

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #289, August 20, 2020

The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) is pleased to announce an exciting new program: The Conservation Hub. ABRA’s Conservation Hub program promotes responsible resource management by providing data-focused tools that enhance a project’s transparency, strengthen its accountability to regulatory agencies and facilitate public participation in its evaluation process. The Hub is a regional information and mapping portal, tailored to specific projects in the central Appalachian region of Virginia and West Virginia encompassing 52 counties (26 in VA and 26 in WV, see map below), but also an information resource on the natural resources and character of the region.

Projects beyond the region will be considered on a case by case basis.

The Conservation Hub is an outgrowth of the mapping system developed for ABRA’s Construction Surveillance Initiative (CSI), a program that was created to monitor construction activity of the now-cancelled Atlantic Coast Pipeline. (Note: The CSI program will continue until restoration of the ACP route has been completed.)

For more information, see the ABRA Web page.

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.

ACP Survey Claims Are Contested as Outdated

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance ABRA Update #271, April 9, 2020

Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC’s has contended to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that bat surveys it conducted in 2015 should be considered “current.” This contention was challenged in an April 2, 2020, letter to FERC by the Southern Environmental Law Center. SELC pointed out that the surveys were valid only for two years, in accordance with established guidelines by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The SELC letter also a similar problem exists for mussel surveys done by the ACP in Virginia and North Carolina.

For a copy of the SELC letter to FERC, click here.