FERC shares timeline of final review steps
For many in the area it may be hard to remember the time before we were talking about the pipeline. And for others, the only thought is, “when will it be over”? Last week FERC, or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sent out its timeline of steps left to complete before Dominion could begin construction.
It all began in 2014, and February 2016 was when it drew the attention of Bath County residents because of the change in the proposed route. No future dates for steps are established, but FERC will tell us which tasks need to be completed before moving on to the next ones. Ever since two scoping meetings back in May, FERC staff has had thousands of pages of comments, letters, and questions to review. The agency has asked for more information from Dominion to address concerns, and they have officially declined to perform a programmatic impact study. Opponents to the pipeline believe such a study would reveal whether or not the ACP is even necessary by taking into consideration all of the other pipelines both being proposed, and those already in existence.
As FERC proceeds with these last six steps, the agency continues to accept comments, and encourage attendance at its public meetings. Step nine of these final six began back in May when there were two rapidly scheduled scoping meetings, one near Snowshoe, and the other at Bath County High School. Next FERC will:
-Issue the DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement, and open the public comment period.
Next, -hold public comment meetings.
Followed by -Respond to comments, revise the DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement, and issue a final EIS.
Then-Commission issues order approving or denying the application.
Finally- the public can request a rehearing of the FERC decision, and if that does not take place, IF approved, and once certain conditions are met, FERC would issue a notice to proceed with construction.
All of this careful, procedure following might lead one to believe that the result would be a safe, efficient and effective product. Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition begs to differ on those descriptions, but also states the pipeline is illegal. Because, until recently, FERC has approved all the pipeline applications coming across its desk, Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition asserts that method does not match projects on the scale of the Atlantic Coast and the Mountain Valley Pipelines, and violates the Clean Water Act.
It is the Army Corps of Engineers job to make sure all the repairs, or “mitigation” to stream crossings and wetlands that are impacted by the construction are effective. They use a blanket permitting process, the NWP 12, that was put in place before 42 inch pipelines were even a consideration. No data is available showing that such repairs work on “steep slopes, unstable soils, lands slide prone conditions and karst geology.” That would be this area.