FERC Grants Approval For ACP
In a late night decision Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced it had issued the Certificate for Public Convenience and Necessity for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline projects. While this is a large step towards final approval for construction of the ACP, both Virginia and North Carolina must still issue environmental permits for the project.
FERC’s decision was not unanimous. Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, recently appointed by President Trump, voted to approve the certificates, saying “We find the benefits that the ACP Project, Supply Header Project, and Capacity Lease will provide to the market outweigh any adverse effects on existing shippers, other pipelines and their captive customers, and landowners or surrounding communities.” Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur dissented on both, saying “I cannot conclude that either of these projects as proposed is in the public interest.”
Leslie Hartz, , Dominion Energy’s Vice President, Engineering & Construction said “We are very pleased to receive FERC approval for this vitally important project. This is the most significant milestone yet for a project that will bring jobs, economic growth and cleaner energy to our region. In the coming days we will fully review the Certificate and finalize our plans for complying with its conditions. We will also continue working with the other state and federal agencies to complete the environmental review process and make this critically important project a reality.
All three commissioners acknowledge the need for more natural gas infrastructure to serve consumers in Virginia and North Carolina. In her dissent, Commissioner LaFleur noted that more than 90 percent of the ACP’s capacity is subscribed by public utility customers in the two states. The end use of this gas is well established on the public record and is a matter of urgent public necessity. Our public utility customers are depending on this infrastructure to generate cleaner electricity, heat homes and power local businesses. The project will result in a growing economy, a cleaner environment, and lower energy costs for consumers and businesses across the region.
We look forward to getting to work on this project and helping to build a brighter economic and environmental future for our region.”
Greg Buppert, senior attorney for the Southern Law Environmental Center indicated his firm intends to challenge the decision, saying “The utilities involved in the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline claim utility customers will save money, when in fact this pipeline will drive up ratepayers’ bills – and cause harm to national forests and to rivers and streams while threatening to commit our states to fossil fuels for decades to come.”
The Allegheny Blue Ridge Alliance also issued a statement in opposition to the decision, saying “The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 52 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia, is appalled at the action tonight by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in approving the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Commission’s judgment has been made in advance of necessary and required decisions by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the state environmental authorities in the affected states of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina on critical environmental issues. We concur with the thoughtful dissent of Commissioner LeFleur’s, who has served on the Commission for 7 years, raising serious questions about the basis of need for both the ACP and the Mountain Valley Pipeline and expressing concerns about environmental impacts that both projects present. The majority decision does not reflect an understanding of the issues at hand and is clearly not in the public interest. It calls into serious question the agency’s regulatory credibility.”
The link to the FERC Certificates can be found here: https://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20171013-4003
Our thanks to the Roanoke Times and Bizjournal.com for portions of this report.