From Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance’s ABRA Update #282, June 25, 2020
The U.S. Forest Service has been cautioned that it should not depend upon the reliability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) developed in 2017 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the agency develops a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the project. The Forest Service announced on June 11 that it was developing a SEIS in response to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ vacating of the Forest Service permit for the ACP. While one portion of that opinion (e.g. authority to grant the ACP the right to cross the Appalachian Trail) was overturned on June 15 by the U.S. Supreme Court, several deficiencies in the permit for the ACP are required to be remedied by the Forest Service before it can issue the ACP a new permit. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) stated in a June 22 letter to the Forest Service:
The Forest Service cannot continue to rely on FERC’s obsolete FEIS. The original analyses of potential alternatives to the project and the environmental consequences of its risky and costly preferred route are in question. Significant, new and relevant information related to endangered and threatened species, water quality, landslides and slope failures, environmental justice communities, and climate change demonstrates the original analysis is stale and incapable of allowing effective review of the environmental consequences of the project. Meanwhile, the energy landscape of the region the ACP purports to serve also has transformed dramatically, the costs of the project have ballooned, and its timeline has been pushed back.
A motion was filed with FERC on May 30 by SELC, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation asking that FERC conduct an SEIS for the ACP to address significant new information bearing on the project’s environmental impacts.
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