Forest Service to Decide Whether to Allow Site Survey on New Alternate Atlantic Coast Pipeline Route Through the Monongahela National Forest
On June 23rd 2015 Clyde Thompson, Forest Supervisor for the Monongahela National Forest in Elkins sent out a letter addressed to “Interested Parties” and titled “Public Scoping for Atlantic Coast Pipeline Proposed Route.”
The gist of the letter is that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, has applied to conduct a site survey on a proposed alternate route for the pipeline through Pocahontas County which would be known as the MNF5 route.
Last April the Forest Service authorized the Pipeline to conduct a site survey on the MNF2 Northern route, through the Cheat Mountain area of the National Forest. Now the Pipeline wants the Forest Service to conduct a site survey on this alternate route known as MNF5. This alternate route would also involve a 2000 foot right-of-way but would cross a 5.13 mile stretch of the Mon Forest in the vicinity of Elk River, Slaty Ridge and Dunmore.
According to the Forest Service’s letter, all public comments must be received by July 6th at the Monongahela Forest Office. They may be delivered in person or mailed to “Monongahela National Forest, Attn: Atlantic Coast Pipeline Proposed Alternate Route, 200 Sycamore St, Elkins, WV 26241” or emailed to them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or by fAX at 304-637-0582.
If you missed any of these you can find them printed out in this story on the Allegheny Mountain Radio website.
We talked with Beth Little, an outspoken opponent of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, about how she sees the Alternate Route. She is concerned with the short period of time the public has to comment to the National Forest on this proposed new survey.
“The problem now is that there is only a comment period of 2 weeks which is really short, especially since it is over the 3 day 4th of July holiday when a lot of people go visit family” said Little. “It doesn’t give people a lot of time to figure out what’s happening and what it might impact and make their comments on it.”
Little talks about the different the impacts of this new route compared to the original route.
“There is less National Forest impacted on this route, the Monongahela National Forest Route 5 Alternative” said Little “There’s just pieces of the National forest that this route would go through but they are more spread out than the Northern route and so more landowners are adjacent to the National Forest that would be impacted.”
Little feels that this new survey application could be ominous.
“They actually had this on maps a long time ago but they never surveyed for it” Little says. “So this makes it look like they’re more serious about considering this route.”
Little says that landowners in Pocahontas County have not really had a chance to attend meetings about the pipeline.
“FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, hasn’t had any meetings in Pocahontas County” Little says. “They didn’t do much publicity of the one meeting they had up in Elkins. So these people now that would be impacted by this route haven’t had a chance to go to a FERC meeting. There was one Dominion meeting held up in Durbin, so they haven’t had a chance to ask questions and make their comments known about this route.”
Little discusses the possible impact on tourism if this route is chosen.
“I thought at first it went through Sharps Farm, but it just goes right next to Sharps Farm” said Little. “But it goes through Sharps Cave which is a huge major draw for cavers all over the country and the fishery up there, Big Springs, major contributor to the Elk river and it draws anglers from all over the country, even from Scotland every year, so this would have a huge impact on Elk river Touring Center, Sharps Farm has a Bed and Breakfast, Slaty Fork Ridge and all the other businesses up there.”
Beth Little explains that private landowners do not have to allow the Pipeline to survey on their property unless they have a court order, and there are law firms that will help them protect this right.
In upcoming stories we will talk to Dominion and possibly to some of the affected landowners about this alternate route.