Dominion Spokesperson Aaron Ruby on Draft Environmental Impact Statement – Pt. 1
We recently spoke with Aaron Ruby, Dominion spokesperson for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline following the release of the Draft Environmental Statement on the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In part one of this multi-part story, Mr. Ruby talks about what the report is, his impressions of the findings, and what the next steps are.
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is the lead federal agency that oversees the permitting process for our pipeline, and in late December, they released what is known as the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project. And this draft environmental report is the comprehensive report that is produced by the agency which outlines all the potential environmental, and other, impacts of the project, and it also describes all of the measures that we will take, and that the agencies will require us to take, in order to minimize those impacts to the greatest extent possible.
“This was a major step forward for the project – it was a very significant milestone in the environmental review process. The conclusions of the report were very favorable – essentially, what the agency concluded is that all of the environmental measures, and the safety protections that we have put in place for the project would significantly reduce the impacts, and that the project will be built in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. This report is the culmination of more than two years of exhaustive study, by the agency, by our company, and a host of other state and federal agencies that are involved in the review, and it’s also the result of two years of very meaningful engagement with communities along the proposed route.
“The report drew from more that 100,000 of reports and documentation that we submitted to the agency. It drew from more than 35,000 public comments that have been submitted to FERC by landowners, agencies and other folks in the impacted communities. By any measure, this has, and will continue to be, a thorough process. It has afforded numerous opportunities for the public to help shape the project in a positive way, and ensure that it’s developed in an environmentally responsible manner.
“This is a draft environmental report, and what it does, as the name implies, is it will initiate – it has initiated a 90 day public comment period, and that is the opportunity for folks in the community, the general public, as well as all the other coordinating agencies that are involved in the permitting process to provide feedback to FERC on the contents of the draft environmental report. That comment period, I believe, closes in the first week of April, and once FERC has compiled all those public comments, they will then incorporate those into the final environmental impact statement, or the final environmental report, which will be released in June. And that final Environmental Impact Statement is going to serve as, essentially, the formal guidance document for the FERC commissioners in their decision making process on our certificate application. The final Environmental Impact Statement, and the recommendations that FERC staff makes in that final environmental report, that will guide the decision making of the FERC commissioners when they consider whether to approve the project.
“Beyond the measures and procedures and technologies that we have put in place for the project, FERC has required that we adopt some additional measures in order to further minimize impacts, or avoid and mitigate impacts in certain areas. So our responsibility over the next several months will be to demonstrate to FERC that we will comply with those additional conditions that they’ve placed on the application, and demonstrate that we will further minimize those impacts that they’ve identified.”
Stay tuned to AMR for more from this interview.