F.E.R.C. Present at Highland Dominion Open House

The January 15th Dominion open house in Highland County featured the presence of representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the entity which will ultimately decide the fate of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Kevin Bowman, an environmental protection specialist working on the review of the project, explained.

“Currently, the project is in the pre-filing stage, an area, or a time really, when F.E.R.C. is actively engaging with both the public, the applicant, stakeholders, and other agencies. For us, it’s really a learning process, for us to learn the issues and the concerns that the people have, and it’s also a chance for us to explain to people who the F.E.R.C. is, what we do, and how our review process works.”

“So the public record for this project is actually already open. We’ve already received a wealth of comments on the project, and we’re already working to review those comments, and sometime in the near future, I’m not exactly sure what that date will be, we will formally open the public record for the scoping period for this project. It doesn’t add any specific weight to the comments that come in during the scoping period, but we will formally notice it, just so that the public is officially aware that it’s started. We will have public scoping hearings in the project area, for people to come and give us verbal comments, and we will take them down – a court reporter will transcribe them, and place them into the public record for the project. We will continue to take public comments, even after the public comment period does close for the project.”

Mr.Bowman relayed feedback he had received at these events.

“I don’t know if there’s any number one thing at this point – it’s really been a wide range, a gamut of questions and concerns. A lot of them have been environmental, a lot of them have been about Dominion, how the F.E.R.C. process works. All of the concerns and questions that have been brought up will help us tailor our environmental analysis in a better way, and that better way will have come from the comments that we’re getting.”

Mr. Bowman was asked what criteria F.E.R.C. will use to make it’s decision.

“It’s in a lot of different things. Certainly, I’m with the environmental staff, so that’s one of the things that the F.E.R.C. commissioners consider in the ultimate decision. The commissioners are presidentially appointed, and they consider several things, among them, after the EIS or Environmental Impact Statement, they’ll look at the markets for the project, they’ll look at the applicant’s proposed tariffs and rates. I can’t give you any inclination as to what the commissioners would be considering, but it is a wide range of things that they are ultimately putting together to think about.”

Some Highland landowners are facing litigation regarding the company’s right to survey their property, and Mr. Bowman commented on the need for a defined route in the review process.

“It definitely is one of the things that we want to see. Having surveys are important to us, because it helps us make comparative assessments between routes. That’s one of our main jobs in reviewing the project, is to compare routes, and say what are the impacts of A versus B versus C, so having surveys as part of the application helps us to do our job.”

Mr. Bowman urged that interested parties provide feedback.

“I encourage landowners and stakeholders to continue to file comments at F.E.R.C. Comments can continue to be taken at any point throughout the process – comments are really what helps us tailor the analysis and address the issues that are concerning to the public. For the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, the docket number is PF15-6. Make sure you put that number on any comment that is concerning the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We accept comments either online, at www.ferc.gov, or they can be mailed in to the commission, and that’s 888 1st Street Northeast, Washington, DC, 20426.”

These addresses are available on this story’s transcript at alleghenymountainradio.org. Tune in Friday for commentary from attendees in opposition to the project.


Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

Current Weather