News You May Have Missed


There’s been a lot going on – here are some news items from our In the News page you may have missed (many additional interesting news articles on that page):

5th FERC Commissioner Nominated

On October 3, 2018, the White House announced the President’s intention to appoint Bernard L. McNamee of Virginia, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, for the term expiring June 30, 2020.  He would fill the seat vacated by Commissioner Robert Powelson, who resigned from FERC in August to accept a position in the private sector.

According to the White House announcement, Mr. McNamee currently serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Policy for the U.S. Department of Energy. Previously, he served as Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy and practiced energy law with McGuireWoods LLP. Additionally, Mr. McNamee served four Attorney Generals in two states (Virginia and Texas), was a policy advisor to a Virginia governor, and served as a senior domestic policy advisor to a United States Senator. He earned his B.A. from the University of Virginia and J.D. from Emory University School of Law.

Fourth Circuit Court Halts MVP Construction in WV


On October 2, 2018, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order that will significantly impede construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, halting MVP construction through rivers and streams in southern West Virginia for the foreseeable future. Last week, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, representing the Sierra Club, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Indian Creek Watershed Association, Appalachian Voices, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, challenged the Army Corps of Engineers’ certification for the pipeline under a general permit, Clean Water Act Nationwide Permit 12. The Court agreed with their argument that the Corps improperly certified the MVP under the general permit.

The petitioners asserted that the Corps improperly imposed one condition requiring use of a “dry cut” method for constructing four river crossings “in lieu of” a special condition imposed by West Virginia which said “[i]ndividual stream crossings must be completed in a continuous, progressive manner within 72 hours.” Construction using the “dry cut” method was expected to take four-six weeks rather than 72 hours.

The Court vacated “in its entirety the Corps’ verification of the Pipeline’s compliance with NWP 12.” The order explained that if any part of the project requires an individual permit, then “the NWP does not apply and all portions of the project must be evaluated as part of the individual permit process.”

Appalachian Mountain Advocates expects the Corps will now be required to issue an individual permit for the project, requiring a significant environmental assessment, before it may proceed to construction.

Read the Court’s order here.

Press coverage in the Charleston Gazette-Mail is here.

Ivy Main and Rick Cornelius Speak at Public Meeting

The September 30, 2018, Friends of Nelson public meeting featured two excellent speakers, Ivy Main (Sierra Club and Power for the People) and Rick Cornelius (environmental lawyer).

Photo by Kathy Versluys

Ivy gave us an update on Virginia’s energy future and the effort to move toward renewable energy that would decrease the need for fossil fuels, including the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, which most economic studies show are not needed to meet either current or future energy needs. See her PowerPoint presentation here. She also discussed how to remove barriers to customer solar by supporting 8 reforms to open the market, create jobs, and save money:

Virginia law contains numerous restrictions on the ability of local governments, residents and businesses to install solar facilities for their own use. Legislation is required to remove barriers and create a stronger market for distributed solar.

The 2018 “grid mod” legislation supported utility solar, but did not address the barriers that hold back private investment in the distributed solar market.

Local governments and residents are coming together around legislation in 2019 that will support customer solar.

The “Easy 8” reforms include:

  • Lifting the 1% cap on the total amount of solar that can be net metered in a utility territory
  • Making third-party financing using power purchase agreements (PPAs) legal statewide for all customer classes
  • Allowing local government entities to install solar facilities of up to 5 MW on government-owned property and use the electricity for schools or other government-owned buildings located on nearby property, even if not contiguous
  • Allowing all customers to attribute output from a single solar array to multiple meters on the same or adjacent property of the same customer
  • Allowing the owner of a multi-family residential building to install a solar facility on the building or surrounding property and sell the electricity to tenants
  • Removing the restriction on customers installing a net-metered solar facility larger than required to meet their previous 12 months’ demand
  • Raising the size cap for net metered non-residential solar facilities from 1 MW to 2 MW
  • Removing standby charges on residential facilities sized between 10-20 kW

Enacting these reforms will give local governments more opportunities to install solar on government property as well as help residents and businesses invest in solar. This can create savings for taxpayers, decrease the need for fossil fuels, help meet local sustainability goals, and support local jobs and economic development.


Rick reviewed the salient points of a number of current cases before the Fourth

Photo by Kathy Versluys

Circuit Court of Appeals, including:

  • the challenge to the December 13, 2017, decision by the Virginia State Water Control Board to grant a water quality certificate for the ACP (pursuant to requirements of Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act)
  • the challenge to the decisions of the U.S. Forest Service to amend the Forest Plans of the Monongahela National Forest and the George Washington National Forest and to accordingly issue a Special Use Permit for the ACP to cross the two forests
  • the challenge brought by landowners in Virginia and West Virginia to both the “quick-take” authority federal regulators granted to Mountain valley Pipeline and a lower court ruling saying MVP could go forward even though property owners have not been compensated
  • SELC’s recent challenge to the new permits issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service re: the “incidental take” of endangered species and the crossing of the Blue Ridge Parkway, respectively
  • the challenge in West Virginia brought on July 3, 2018, by Appalachian Mountain Advocates for the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and others regarding the time frame for crossing the Greenbrier River not following the stipulations of section 404 of the Clean Water Act re: discharges of sedimentation into waterways at stream crossings
  • the challenge recently filed by Appalachian Voices arguing that FERC didn’t adequately adhere to stipulations in the Natural Gas Act (including addressing the need for the project)

News coverage of the meeting and of the unveiling of The Defenders sculpture earlier in the afternoon: