FERC Holds Comment Session For Draft Environmental Statement
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) hosted a comment session in Monterey, Virginia on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 to discuss their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Supply Header Project. FERC’s Deputy Environmental Project Manager, Gertrude Johnson, spoke with Allegheny Mountain Radio about the public’s voice during this important step of the pipeline project. “Well, the purpose of this session is to gather the public’s input and perhaps other agencies, whether they be federal or state or local agencies, their input on what they’ve read in the draft EIS and their comments so that FERC’s staff can take those comments back and revise the draft EIS as appropriate and issue a final EIS. So folks that are interested in making comments at these comment sessions can come. It’s not truly a sign-up. You grab a number for when it’s your turn to provide a comment. While you’re waiting to provide your comment, you can ask any one of the FERC staff or third-party contractors working for FERC any question you might have about the route itself, the EIS, how we make certain decisions, and then once your number’s called to provide your comment, you speak directly to a court reporter. Your comments are transcribed in to a transcript that will be provided to anyone who requests a copy of the transcript for this session, and it can be mailed to you, and so you’ll have a record of all the comments if you request a copy.”
Gertrude Johnson continues by noting that comments on the EIS are weighed equally, but the more specific the comment is, the more potential it has to be considered in the revision process of the final statement.
“If the contact is very specific to a portion of the project, then we’ll take that time after the comment period closes to look at those comments that are very specific to either a route or a resource concern and do additional analysis if we see, well you know, this is a valid concern. We need to revise our environmental impact statement to address this concern, and we’ll take extra time to look at that concern and revise the portion of the EIS that talks to that concern.
“One thing that’s important is that these sessions are just one way to provide us with comments. You can mail a comment in to the FERC. You can use our electronic system to provide us with comments. All of the different ways are weighted equally, whether you make your way down to one of the sessions, you mail in a typed-up comment or hand-write a comment or you submit one electronically. They’re all weighted exactly the same. And for our environmental impact statements, every single comment that we receive is included in the actual final EIS as an appendix in the exact form that you provided it to us. And, say, you’ve got one sheet of paper, one side of that paper is your comment exactly how you provide it. On the other side is FERC staff’s response to your comment, so if we receive a thousand comments, all those thousand comments will be included in the appendix of the final EIS with our corresponding response to each of the comments.”
Two more public comment sessions were held after this one in Monterey, one on March 1st in Elkins, West Virginia, and one on March 2nd in Marlinton, West Virginia. The comment period is open to all until April 6th. The Final EIS is scheduled to be issued by FERC staff in June of 2017, upon which the Commission will make its final decision on whether to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity that approves the pipeline route.
FERC.gov has more information.