Federal agency fails to assess need for pipeline and its environmental impacts

SELC and partners flagged a number of problems with the recent federal environmental assessment of Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, including consideration of whether the natural gas pipeline is needed. (© Ryan McKnight)

The fate of Dominion Power’s unnecessary and environmentally risky Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is now in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

The public comment period for responding to FERC’s draft Environmental Impact Statement closed Thursday, April 6 with tens of thousands of citizens submitting comments and signatures opposing the pipeline proposed to cut through 600 miles of land in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

“If FERC approves this pipeline it will tie generations to an antiquated fossil fuel system for the sole purpose of enriching shareholders of Dominion Resources and Duke Energy,” said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “There is no public necessity for a pipeline in a region where the demand for new gas-fired power generation is flat.”

SELC has submitted comments with detailed evidence that FERC’s draft environmental assessment contains misleading information and is missing adequate and accurate data concerning the most critical aspects of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Most importantly, FERC fails to take a step back and consider whether there is any true demand for this pipeline.

“The proposed pipeline would harm North Carolina rivers, streams, wetlands, and air quality—and the communities along the pipeline route that deserve clean air and clean water. It deserves a full environmental review, not a rubber stamp,” said Senior Attorney Gudrun Thomspon.

Among other things, FERC’s draft assessment of the pipeline fails to:

  • Consider the true market demand for natural gas in the region of the proposed pipeline
  • Take a hard look at the effects of the proposed route on predominantly minority and low-income communities
  • Consider the devastation construction would have across steep, forested Appalachian ridges; farmlands; rivers and wetlands
  • Recognize the potential devastation of vulnerable ecosystems and already endangered and threatened species
  • Assess impacts to two national forests

SELC submitted these comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement on behalf of a large coalition of conservation groups from across the region and is urging FERC to issue a revised draft of the EIS for public comment. 

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