Category Archives: Right of Ways

SELC Comments to Forest Service on AT

From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update 235:

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) wrote the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) on June 24 regarding the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ December 18 decision that the USFS lacked the authority to grant a right-of-way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST). The SELC letter follows an April 30 communication from USFS to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (ACP, LLC) asking the company if it would like the USFS to “renew is consideration of the right-a-way application for the ACP.” The company responded in the affirmative. The SELC letter points out that:

  • “(1) the Cowpasture decision does not affect the Forest Service’s other management authorities for the ANST;
  • “(2) reasonable off-forest alternatives exist for the ACP to cross the ANST; and
  • “(3) while the Forest Service has never before and cannot now issue a new gas pipeline right-of-way across the ANST, options exist for new pipelines to be built in the eastern United States, and existing pipelines are unaffected by the Cowpasture decision.”

SELC further explains to USFS:

  • “We have examined every existing crossing of the ANST by an oil or gas pipeline and confirmed that the Forest Service has never before granted a new right-of-way for an oil or gas pipeline to cross the ANST where it traverses a national forest, until it did so for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.”
  • “Of the pipelines that do cross the Appalachian Trail on federally-owned land, nearly all existed before the creation of the Appalachian Trail or before the land was acquired by the federal government. The Mineral Leasing Act applies only to the initial grant of a right-of-way or the renewal of temporary rights-of-way for oil and gas pipelines. See 30 U.S.C. § 185(a), (q). Permanent rights-of-way granted before the creation of the ANST as land in the National Park System are unaffected by the Cowpasture decision because they require no new authorization under the Mineral Leasing Act. Similarly, the federal government took ownership subject to any property rights for permanent rights-of-way that existed prior to federal acquisition; such property rights do not require renewal under the Mineral Leasing Act and are unaffected by the Cowpasture decision.”

Watch Out for Chain Saws

A story in the Roanoke Times on September 28, 2017, tells us that both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines want to start clearing trees from their proposed construction rights-of-way in mid-November 2017. They need to suspend tree clearing after March 31 to comply with federal conservation guidelines tied to potential impacts on the Indiana bat, a federally endangered species, and the northern long-eared bat, a threatened species. Also, restricting tree clearing to the period from mid-November to the end of March protects some species of migratory birds that nest during other months of the year.

If there is a delay, the chainsaws and other clearing equipment might have to wait until November 2018 to start work. Both proposed pipelines plan to clear all vegetation from a temporary construction right-of-way that would be 125 feet wide in most terrain. The permanently treeless rights-of-way would be 50 feet in most places.

FERC Finally Asking the Right Questions

On September 7, 2016, Richard Laska (Bartow, WV) wrote to FERC asking how ACP planned to traverse 600 miles with only two compressor stations (Lewis County, WV and Buckingham, VA), when the industry standard is to have compressor stations every 100 miles. He suggested that ACP might be planning to run at partial capacity, and would then ask to put in an additional compressor station later.  He argued that if that were true, the location of the additional compressor needed to be identified now, not later.

Apparently FERC hadn’t thought of that! On November 23, 2016, FERC requested that ACP explain their compression numbers.

In the same request to ACP, FERC is finally asking about several other important issues:

  • The number and percentage of parcels that are collocated with existing rights of way,
  • The number and percentage of parcels for which ACP has easements.
  • What existing and proposed power generation facilities would be served by the ACP — apparently this is not specified in ACP’s application! (Was FERC supposed to just take ACP’s word for it that 79.2% of the gas was going to go for electricity generation?)
  • Information about whether local distribution companies had sought service from ACP prior to or after ACP’s “open season.”

FERC has asked that ACP provide a response within 15 days.

Richard Laska’s September 2016 letter to FERC is here.

FERC’s November 2016 request to ACP is here.

Send Comments to FERC: No Pipelines in National Forests!

Comments due June 2, 2016!

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has just announced a scoping period and scoping meetings to take your comments on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).  They want to know if you think the Atlantic Coast Pipeline belongs in our national forests.
Comments are due June 2nd.

There are two important questions to address in your comments:

1) Should the USFS issue a right of way for the Pipeline?

The Forest Service is calling for comments on whether or not to issue a “right-of-way grant” that would allow the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross and occupy National Forest lands.

2) Should the George Washington National Forest amend its 10 year plan to allow the ACP to cross the forest?

Because the ACP does not utilize a designated utility corridor through the George Washington National Forest (GWNF) the Land Resource and Management Plan (LRMP) for the GWNF would need to be amended to allow the pipeline across.

Comment through FERC’s online system or by mail:

Reference the ACP Docket # CP15-554-000

Please carefully follow these instructions so that your comments are properly recorded.

(1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature located on the Commission’s website (http://www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method for interested persons to submit brief, text-only comments on a project;

(2) You can file your comments electronically using the eFiling feature located on the Commission’s website (http://www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “eRegister.” You must select the type of filing you are making. If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing;” or

(3) You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address:

Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street NE, Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426

Need ideas on what to say? Wild VA Sample Scoping Comments

Comment via the means above and then please also sign and share Wild Virginia’s ONLINE PETITION

Don’t Let Dominion Get Away with Misinformation: Confirm That You Have Denied Permission for Survey for the ACP

The Augusta County Alliance has reported that Dominion may be misrepresenting the numbers of landowners who have granted or denied permission for survey for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on their land.  You can check how Dominion is reporting your stance regarding permission for survey by taking a look at their map.

If you are on the route of the ACP, go to the map and enlarge it. On the map, select “show parcel lines” and then click on your parcel number. A box will pop up and Dominion will note whether or not you have granted them permission to survey. In other places,
Dominion has said permission has been granted when that is not really the case.

If you find that you have denied permission and Dominion says that you have granted survey permission, please contact Friends of Nelson to let us know and we will file a protest on your behalf. Don’t let Dominion get away with misinformation!