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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:

Oil Change International Responds to FERC Approvals

Lorne Stockman, Senior Analyst with Oil Change International, released the following statement:

“In spite of FERC’s irresponsible action, these fracked gas pipelines still face massive opposition in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. FERC cannot sneak these mega-projects past the hundreds of communities in their path in the dead of night.

“Oil Change International and the many groups fighting these pipelines have documented the extensive damage these projects will do. Both projects are bad deals for ratepayers, and huge threats to our mountains, rivers, farms, and local economies. They threaten our climate and disproportionately impact our low-income and minority communities. FERC has ignored all the evidence and certified these destructive projects as ‘convenient and necessary’ – when in fact they are neither.

“There is no public convenience or necessity associated with either of these pipelines, and the only people they serve is shareholders. No assessment of actual need has been conducted for either of them, as noted by Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur in her rarely-seen dissent opposing today’s approvals. Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley will cause irreparable harm to our climate, and to the communities and environment along their routes.

“Despite the certificates granted today, these fights are far from over. The responsibility to protect the climate, ratepayer interests, and the precious water in these states now rests squarely on the shoulders of Governors Terry McAuliffe, Roy Cooper, and Jim Justice. We will join our partners and communities in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia to increase pressure for the rejection of 401 water permits in these states and stop these reckless pipelines.”

Legal Objections to FERC Process

Carolyn Elefant, an attorney representing the Bold Alliance, is also an intervenor in the certificate proceedings for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. On September 22, 2017, she filed a letter with FERC pointing out that the environmental review process for both pipelines closed without any meaningful opportunity for intervenors to raise comments on issues not related to the environment. She states that because the deadline for intervention in both MVP and ACP was 30 days after the original applications were filed, the parties were unable to raise all of their objections at the time because the details of the project were not known, and noting that since each application was filed in 2015, both MVP and ACP have “submitted thousands of pages of additional information in response to (FERC) requests. Thus, it was not until late in the process that the parties have had access to sufficient information to raise all of these issues.”

She continues, “The Alliance has already raised statutory and constitutional challenges in federal district court challenging the commission’s delegation of eminent domain and other issues and believes that the federal district court remains the appropriate forum for resolving the issues raised in the complaint. Nevertheless, in the interest of creating a complete record, the Alliance now submits comments in the two proceedings.”

Her letter states:

  • Certificates for export and conditioned and blanket certificates are not authorized by the Natural Gas Act and are not constitutional.
  • The commission’s failure to require bond or to prohibit companies from exercising eminent domain prior to issuance of all necessary permits is unconstitutional.

She then provides a lengthy list of “the particular legal objections that my clients have to the commission’s process in reviewing and granting applications, including to MVP and ACP.”

Read her letter to FERC here (FERC-generated pdf). Her letter was also published in full in the Highland Recorder (subscription required).

NC Delays Decision on ACP

Southeast Energy News reports on September 15, 2017, that North Carolina has delayed by three months its decision on certification of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline under section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. This follows West Virginia’s September 7 announcement that the state was vacating its water quality certification for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality had received 9,000+ written public comments, 85% of which urged rejection. On September 14, without fanfare or press release, the NC DEQ sent a four-page “request for additional information” to the ACP. The NC DEQ had a deadline of Monday September 18, 2017, for their decision on certification, a decision now delayed until mid-December 2017.

Time for Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality to heed the examples of North Carolina and West Virginia!

Read the full Southeast Energy News story, and read the NC DEQ letter requesting additional information.

Lawsuit Filed Against FERC and MVP

On July 27, 2017, attorneys of the Virginia law firm Gentry Locke filed a Complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Roanoke Division, challenging the constitutionality of actions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (“MVP”). A Motion for a Preliminary Injunction has been filed along with the Complaint. The Motion seeks assistance from the Court in preventing FERC from granting MVP the power of eminent domain, and seeks to prevent MVP from attempting to exercise any power of eminent domain in its quest to build a 303-mile-long, 42-inch natural gas pipeline that will traverse across Virginia and West Virginia.

This has obvious implications for the ACP!

Read the full press release from Gentry Lock here.

Read news coverage from the Roanoke Times here.

DEQ Announces Public Comment Periods for ACP amd MVP

Press release from Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, For Immediate Release, June 30, 2017.

Contact: Ann Regn, (804) 698-4442,

RICHMOND, VA. — The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public comment period, including five public hearings around the Commonwealth in August, to receive comments on draft water quality certifications designed to protect water quality along the routes of the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

Two hearings will be held for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and three will be held for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The public comment period to receive written comments on both pipelines will run from July 3 through August 22, 2017.

“These hearings and the comment period are very important to helping DEQ meet its goal of protecting water quality,” DEQ Director David K. Paylor said. “The pipeline construction is a complicated process, and we look forward to receiving valuable public input as these projects proceed.”

The public hearings schedule for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is:

  • August 7, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — James Madison University, Festival Conference and Student Center, Grand Ballroom, 1301 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg, VA 22807. Parking is in Lots C11, C12, and D3.
  • August 10, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Longwood University, Jarman Auditorium, 201 High St., Farmville, VA 23901. Parking is in Wheeler Lot, Crafts Lot, High Street Lot, Randolph Lot or other university-owned lots.
  • August 14, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Dinwiddie High School Auditorium, 11501 Boisseau Road, Dinwiddie, VA 23841. Parking is only in designated areas on school property.

The public hearing schedule for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is:

  • August 8, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Radford University, Preston/Bondurant Auditorium, 801 East Main St., Radford, VA 24142. Parking is only in Lot A, or Lots E and U.
  • August 9, 2017, from 6 to 10 p.m. — Chatham High School Auditorium, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, VA 24531. Parking is only in designated areas on school property.

The documents on which DEQ is seeking comments are referred to as “401 certifications.” These draft certifications will place conditions on activities in upland areas that are near state waters and that may indirectly affect state water along the pipeline routes. These certifications are in addition to the requirements imposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, by the Commonwealth of Virginia for stormwater, erosion and sediment control, and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands and streams.

The conditions address, among other matters, impacts to public water supplies; engineering and best management practices for steep slopes and slide-prone areas; environmental monitoring and inspections; and development and implementation of plans and procedures for karst mitigation, spill prevention control, water quality monitoring, and protection of riparian buffers.

Additional information is available on the DEQ website at