Dominion Spokesperson Aaron Ruby on Draft Environmental Impact Statement – Pt. 2
In part one of our interview with Dominion spokesperson Aaron Ruby, he explained the nature of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, recently released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and how it affects the project. In part two, he talks about some of the issues found within the report, and how the company plans to address them.
“There were some areas, some having to do with the width of the permanent right of way, some having to do with the method of crossing certain water bodies, where they have required that we re-evaluate what our proposed water body crossing method would be, or the width of the permanent right of way that we would maintain.
“I know that we’ve heard concerns from some folks in different communities about the impact that pipeline construction and operation would have on tourism. FERC looked at this very carefully, and they determined, based on decades of research, and additional research they conducted for this project, that tourist economies are perfectly compatible with natural gas pipeline development. They also looked at concerns that have been raised about impacts on residential property values, or residential development. And what FERC concluded, that basically re-affirmed decades of research, showing that there is nothing about natural gas pipeline development that diminishes the residential property values or prevents developers from building residential properties.
“They also looked at, in terms of some of the geologic charachteristics that you see in the western part of Virginia, and some areas of West Virginia – I’m sure you’re familiar with karst topography, and what FERC did is they looked very carefully at our karst mitigation plan, and they determined that our plans were adequate, and that they would significantly minimize risks to karst topography and to underground water aquifers, especially in the areas of western Virginia. In the areas of Highland and Bath County, and Augusta County, where we’ve identified existing caves or sinkholes or other karst features, or where we’ve found water wells or other sensitive water resources in close proximity to the route, we’ve adjusted the route in order to avoid those environmentally sensitive areas.
“We understand that there are some folks in bath and Highland, and other parts of western Virginia who’ve expressed concern about our ability to safely build the pipeline in some of the rugged mountainous terrain, and particularly on some of the steep slopes that are in the area. And, so, the environmental report looked at this very carefully, and they determined that we have put in place a very robust program in order to safely build this pipeline in some of the mountainous terrain that you find in western Virginia. What we’ve done is we put in place what we call a “best in class” program. Essentially, that’s an industry leading program that draws on the best industry practices available, and is intended to well above and beyond what is required by Federal regulations. And we believe that is going to serve as really a gold standard for the industry moving forward- not only have we put in place the procedures and the program that you need to control sedimentation and erosion, stabilize the soil, and safely build the pipeline in this kind of terrain, but we’ve also assembled the right team, with the skills and the experience and the qualifications you need in order to do this the right way.
“And, probably, most importantly, I would just say that, beyond a professional commitment that we make, and beyond just because we’re required to do these things by Federal and state regulations, we’ve got a deep personal stake in doing this project the right way. We’ve been here for 100 years – our employees, our sub-contractors that are going to be working on this project, we’ve got roots in Virginia and in the western part of Virginia that go back generations. And so, we’ve got a deeply personal stake in making sure that we do this the right way, that we do it in an environmentally responsible way, we do it safely, so that we preserve the natural beauty and the landscapes of the region for the enjoyment of future generations.”