With ACP review, FERC shirks its responsibility to public interest

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is plowing forward by granting next steps to project developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline without considering whether a new natural gas pipeline in our region is necessary.

FERC issued an Environmental Impact Statement for the 600-mile long natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline today that runs from West Virginia, through Virginia to North Carolina. FERC has failed to take a step back and address requests to weigh the demand for natural gas in this region before moving this project on to the next phase, despite calls from SELC and others to do so.

“FERC still hasn’t addressed the most basic question hanging over this project: Is it even needed?” says Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “It’s FERCs responsibility to determine if this pipeline is a public necessity before it allows developers to take private property, clear forests, and carve up mountainsides. Mounting evidence shows that it is not.”

It has become clear that FERC is accepting Dominion and Duke Energy contracts with utilities they themselves own as proof that there is a demand for natural gas to deliver electricity in our region, even though there is evidence that current and future electricity demand is flat. SELC recently requested an evidentiary hearing from FERC to establish what the true energy demands are in our region and urging FERC look behind the Dominion and Duke Energy’s self-contracts to determine whether this project is necessary.

Today’s Environmental Impact Statement also failed to address the serious and permanent environmental harm that would result if this pipeline were built. It crosses some of the most intact conservation landscapes in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, raising serious concerns about the permanent loss of forests and harm to the hundreds of waterways it will cut, plow and blast through.

“The impact of this pipeline is going to be felt from the steep slopes of the Alleghany and Blue Ridge mountains to the wetlands and rivers of Eastern North Carolina,” said Senior Attorney, Gudrun Thompson. “FERC has once again glossed over important environmental impacts in favor of green-lighting another unneeded natural gas pipeline.”

The U.S. Forest Service is expected to issue a draft permit to allow the pipeline to cross national forest lands, though for the last two years it has admitted to not having enough information to make this decision. SELC and its clients and partners plan to formally object to this draft permit in the coming weeks.

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