HRD Files Motion with F.E.R.C.
On the heels of the news that a group of 30 organizations has sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging them to take a comprehensive look at all the proposed natural gas pipeline projects in Virginia comes a new legal motion regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Highlanders for Responsible Development has joined with four other organizations to intervene in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline proceeding before the F.E.R.C.. Intervenor status grants a party the right to have standing in future legal proceedings involving the project. The October 23 motion was filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of HRD, the Shenandoah Valley Network, Virginia Wilderness Committee, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The ACP filed on September 18 its formal application with FERC for approval to build the pipeline.
The HRD filing points out that under law FERC will approve an application “only if the public benefits from the project outweigh any adverse effects” and that the agency must consider “all relevant factors reflecting on the need for the project.”
Among the major points made in the motion to intervene are:
- Evidence concerning multiple related pipeline proposals in the Allegheny-Blue Ridge region raise serious questions about the need for the project. A 2015 Department of Energy study on the nation’s pipeline infrastructure concluded that a combination of available pipeline capacity, flow reversals ad capacity increases on existing lines are a viable set of alternatives to new pipeline infrastructure.
- Adverse impacts of the project on the Allegheny Mountains, Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains are unacceptable. The proposed route of the ACP is not the product of a deliberate planning process designed to avoid or minimize harm to natural and cultural resources.
- FERC must prepare a region-wide environmental statement (EIS) that includes an analysis of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, as well as the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Appalachian Connector and the WB Xpress Project (an upgrade of an existing pipeline operated by Columbia Gas. FERC can only rationally evaluate viable alternatives in the context of a complete understanding of the demand for natural gas, the capacity of existing pipelines and the proposed capacity of new pipelines – in other words a regional EIS.