On June 1, 2020, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline “to address significant new information bearing on the ACP’s environmental impacts.” SELC filed the motion asking for the EIS supplement on behalf of 16 organizations, including Friends of Nelson.
The motion lists areas in which new information has arisen since FERC issued the EIS for the ACP in July 2017, and says that new information “presents a seriously different picture of the project’s available alternatives and environmental impacts than the one considered by the Commission.”
Issues considered in the motion include:
- Alternatives. The region’s energy future has undergone a dramatic shift away from gas-fired power generation while the ACP’s projected cost has ballooned and its timeline has been pushed back, compelling the Commission to revisit its consideration of alternatives.
- Vulnerable Species. Surveys have documented multiple new occurrences of the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee along the ACP route, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) has proposed critical habitat for the newly listed candy darter (endangered) and yellow lance (threatened) in streams that the pipeline would cross.
- Water Quality. Well-documented landslides and sedimentation problems along the ACP’s steep terrain, combined with the rollback of federal water protections relied on by the Commission, indicate that the project’s impacts to water quality would be more substantial than previously analyzed.
- Environmental Justice. The Commonwealth of Virginia and Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (“Atlantic”) have now recognized the existence of a minority environmental justice population in Union Hill, Virginia, neighboring the ACP’s proposed Buckingham Compressor Station.
- Climate Change. Scientific understanding about the anticipated impacts of climate change, both globally and in the area of the ACP, has expanded dramatically since the publication of the EIS.
- Cumulative Impacts. The majority of the ACP’s construction is now anticipated to occur between 2020 and 2021 alongside newly proposed area projects whose cumulative impacts the Commission never considered.
The motion further states that “In light of this substantial new information, the Commission’s prior environmental review of the ACP is stale and fails to address significant effects of the project. The ACP is far from complete — less than 6% of the 604-mile pipeline has been installed — and cannot be completed without further action by the Commission, including a decision whether to extend the ACP’s construction and in-service deadline of October 2020. As such, the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) requires the Commission to analyze new information and to disclose its analysis for public review. With this motion, Conservation Groups request that the Commission supplement the EIS to address the new information, circulate the supplemental EIS for public comment, and stay its certificate of public convenience and necessity for the ACP pending finalization of the supplemental EIS.”
Our thanks to SELC for this massive and detailed filing!
Click here for the full motion. Links for the 56 exhibit documents filed with the motion are are included in the exhibit listing at the end of the motion.