Category Archives: Construction

Mountain Valley gets another approval for pipeline construction

From The Roanoke Times. The pipeline gained another 17 miles Thursday in its quest to complete construction of the natural gas pipeline by the end of next year. December 17, 2020.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the company’s request to resume work on a stretch of the 303-mile pipeline that passes through Giles and Craig counties, between two sections of the Jefferson National Forest.

In 2018 FERC issued a stop-work order on an approximately 25 mile section of planned pipeline following an appellate court throwing out a U.S. Forest Service permit for the pipeline to cross 3.5 miles of national forest.

But, in a 2-1 decision Thursday, the commission ruled that Mountain Valley had presented sufficient evidence to show that resuming work on a 17-mile segment of the pipeline on private land would not harm the forest. The decision was not without dissent however, with Commissioner Richard Glick writing ‘That is a serious mistake’.

Many Comments Filed with FERC Opposing Extra Time for Dominion

Dominion asked FERC for a two year extension on its expiring certificate to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Without the extension, no ACP construction could happen after October 13, 2020. The comment period opened on June 17, 2020, and the deadline for comments was 5 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2020. We are pleased to report that many people submitted comments opposing a construction extension for this unnecessary pipeline.

Here are links to a few of the powerful submissions opposing the extension:

  • Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Johns & Counsel PLLC filed a Motion to Intervene and Comments in Opposition to Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s request for extension of its Certificate in FERC Docket Nos. CP15-554-000 et seq. & CP15-555-000 et seq. The filing was made on behalf of Conservation Groups and Landowners.
  • Comments on behalf of Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) submitted to FERC in opposition to the extension of the certificate for the ACP.  Note that the comments themselves are only 3 pages.  The rest are referenced attachments (Tom Hadwin’s paper released in January on need and the recently released landslide paper).
  • Comments from members of the Virginia General Assembly:  “As members of the Virginia General Assembly each representing tens of thousands of Virginians, we respectfully request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission deny an extension of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Further, we also request that the Commission deny any requests from Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, for permission to cut trees, clear land, or install pipe in the Commonwealth.”  [Signed by Senators Creigh Deeds, John Bell, Jennifer Boysko, John Edwards, Ghazala Hashmi; Delegates Betsy Carr, Patrick Hope, Elizabeth Guzman, Chris Hurst, Mark Keam, Ken Plum, Sam Rasoul, Danica Roem, Kathy Tran]
  • Comments from members of the North Carolina General Assembly, explaining why “The ACP is unnecessary to meet our energy demands in North Carolina, and we are concerned that harmful impacts on communities, the environment, and ratepayers outweigh any potential benefits to North Carolina’s citizens. We urge FERC to deny ACP’s request for a two-year extension to construct the pipeline and place it into service.”  [Signed by 8 Senators and fifteen Representatives]

There were many, many other eloquent and detailed comments in opposition from both individuals and organizations filed during the 15-day comment period.  To see all the comments, go to, set the date range to 06/17/202 through 07/02/2020, un-click “Issuance” (so the only checked category is “Submittal”), for Library click “Natural Gas,” enter CP15-554 in the Docket Number box, and then click Submit at the bottom of the page.  The results pages give a variety of options for viewing the individual submissions.

Tell FERC: Time’s Up for Dominion!

Dominion has asked FERC for a two year extension on its expiring certificate to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. WITHOUT THE EXTENSION, NO ACP CONSTRUCTION COULD HAPPEN AFTER OCTOBER 13, 2020.

Submit your comments to FERC by 5 pm on Thursday, July 2, 2020, asking FERC to DENY Dominion’s request for an extension! Be sure to cite the ACP docket number in your comments, CP15-554.

In their June 17 Notice of Request for Extension of Time, FERC says, “The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and three copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426.” Note that comments sent in paper must also arrive at FERC by 5 pm on July 2.

ABRA has put together a helpful sheet of information on how to file with FERC as an individual or as an organization.

For talking points, see:

The eight permits the ACP is still missing are explained here.

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.

Just 2 Minutes?

After the cracking sound and the water pouring from the concrete basement floor, building inspectors determined the foundation was crumbling as a crew was doing horizontal drilling 100 feet from her house for New Jersey Natural Gas’ Southern Reliability Link. The inspectors gave her two minutes to take what she could before leaving the house.

An “inadvertent return” is the unintended discharge of drilling mud to the surface through a natural crack or fissure in the bedrock being drilled. A New Jersey Natural Gas spokesman said the drilling mud that leaked was a non-toxic mix of water and naturally occurring clay. Small consolation when the foundation of your house is crumbling.

Horizontal drilling is the same process that Dominion would use to drill under the Blue Ridge Parkway near the entrance to Wintergreen – if they are ever able to resolve the remaining eight legal barriers to ACP construction, and if FERC grants them an extension on the expiring construction permit.

See the press account here.

For insight into a few of the other kinds of problems caused by horizontal drilling, see Drilling Mud Is Apparently Difficult to Control and U.S. blocks major pipeline after 18 leaks and a 2 million gallon spill of drilling mud.

Should Dominion Get a 2-Year Extension? NO!

The certificate issued on October 13, 2017 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granting Dominion authority to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) expires on October 13, 2020. Under that certificate, NO construction is allowable after that date.

Dominion, of course, has only a few miles of the ACP actually built and in the ground, so they have asked FERC for a two-year extension. If FERC denies the extension, the ACP is dead, as it should be.

On June 17, 2020, FERC published a Notice of Request for Extension of Time, noting Dominion’s request, and establishing a 15-day intervention and comment period deadline, and saying, “Any person wishing to comment on Atlantic’s and DETI’s request for an extension of time may do so.” This means you must submit comments before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on July 2, 2020.

In their Notice, FERC says, “The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and three copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20426.”

Submit your comments to FERC asking them to DENY Dominion’s request for an extension!  Cite the ACP docket number in your comments, CP15-554.

Some talking points  (and see also the Friends of Nelson slide show below on 10 Reasons to Oppose the ACP):

  • The delays that Dominion cites as causing them to require more time are self-inflicted and result from their own failures to do due diligence in collecting valid data during the permitting process and responding in a reasonable, responsible fashion to environmental and other concerns that opponents to the Pipeline have raised in a timely fashion. These failures have, in several cases, led the courts to label their efforts as arbitrary and capricious. If Dominion had, from the get-go, done a credible job of route selection, and thorough data-collection surveys, as well as following these up with sound analysis, and responding promptly and reasonably to legitimate environmental and other concerns that were raised, they would not now find it necessary to beg for more time.
  • FERC has recently committed itself to changing its policies with the goal of making them more fair and equitable to landowners. There is no justifiable and consistent reason to continue to hold landowners in ongoing limbo over the fate of their property.
  • Increased understanding of the impact of climate change, both globally and locally, has made it clear that we are called upon to respond without further delay by weaning ourselves away from the use of all fossil fuels, and especially those that contribute to the release of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than C02, into the environment.
  • Costs associated with the project have ballooned over the intervening period by several billion dollars. The longer this is allowed to continue, the more ratepayers will have to fight to avoid being charged to cover these exorbitant, wasteful project expenses.
  • The Virginia Clean Economy Act that became law earlier this year requires Dominion to shut down all of its existing gas-fired power plants by 2045, and the utility has itself stated to Virginia regulators that the build-out of new gas-fired power plants (the original justification of need for the project) is no longer “viable” in the current climate. Due to the evolving energy market, as well as the increased competitiveness of other transmission projects, the project looks more and more like an obsolete effort that is more and more likely to leave investors, as well as ratepayers, liable for a huge stranded “asset”.
  • In view of all these considerations, FERC shouldn’t be thinking about extending the time for the construction of the Pipeline. Instead, it should be reconsidering its determination that the Pipeline is required by the public convenience and necessity, especially in light of significant changes to the region’s energy landscape and new information about the project’s environmental impacts.

For all of these reasons, the Commission should allow this ill-conceived and ill-executed project to die a natural death at such time as its deadline for completion expires.

Send your comments to FERC before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on July 2, 2020.  Cite docket number CP15-554.  Tell them NOT to give Dominion a two year extension!