Late Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur offered a dissenting opinion.
The pipeline is slated to carry natural gas from West Virginia, across the Blue Ridge Mountains and through Virginia, into North Carolina. SELC plans to challenge the decision, having long maintained that FERC's review process is flawed and does not consider important factors like developers' inflated projections for natural gas. In Commissioner LaFleur’s dissent she cited that it is within FERC's purview to look beyond the agreements put forth by the utilities involved in this project to establish proof of need for the pipeline.
State agencies are set to weigh in on permits involving water quality and other environmental impacts under their jurisdiction in the coming months.
"While FERC's anticipated rubber-stamp of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline follows a long trend of this agency's failure to carry out its responsibilities and properly assess projects, Commissioner LaFleur's unexpected dissent shows that, even within FERC, this pipeline is seen as harmful and unnecessary,” said SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “SELC plans to challenge the majority's decision to brush under the rug compelling evidence that this environmentally destructive pipeline is not needed to meet the energy demands of our region. The utilities involved in the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline claim utility customers will save money, when in fact this pipeline will drive up ratepayers' bills—and cause harm to national forests, and to rivers and streams, while threatening to commit our states to fossil fuels for decades to come. But today's decision is not the end. It's now up to North Carolina and Virginia state leaders to actually take a look at the real, serious, and unnecessary risks to water quality and other resources, and put the brakes on this wasteful project."