Late yesterday, Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed sharp, comprehensive comments eviscerating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s flawed review of the impacts of and need for Mountain Valley Pipeline. In over 100 pages of legal analysis, informed by expert reports completed by leading scientists and economists, Appalmad outlines a series of substantial problems with FERC’s rushed review.
If built, the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline would carry natural gas fracked in northern West Virginia over 300 miles through prime agricultural and forest land in West Virginia and Virginia.
The full document can be view here.
Chief among Appalmad’s criticism is FERC’s consistent failure to include the information required to determine the impacts of the MVP. FERC’s dangerous practice of allowing the pipeline builder to submit critical information after the release of the DEIS denies the public the federally guaranteed opportunity to participate in the review process. Without access to this information, the public cannot push back on misinformation, or question dubious conclusions. Nor can the public fully understand the full impacts of the project that FERC would thrust upon them.
FERC itself acknowledges significant information critical to its analysis is entirely absent from the DEIS.
For example, FERC acknowledges it cannot determine the impacts to aquatic life because it MVP has not yet analyzed the project’s three major river crossings. MVP will not even be required to submit this information before FERC issues its certification, meaning that the public may never have the opportunity to review this important information. Yet despite admitting that it cannot determine those impacts, FERC remarkably goes on to conclude that those impacts would not be significant.
Appalmad’s comments document similar problems with the DEIS’s vague information on mitigation measures and plans for major unknowns like karst and sedimentation impacts, both of which could have unprecedented harm to drinking water. Extensive expert reports included in the comments detail the considerable problems that can be expected from such a massive project as the MVP.
Likewise, FERC entirely failed to analyze the need underlying the pipeline’s massive expected impacts. FERC has a federal duty to analyze the “purpose and need” for the project; instead, it simply relied on MVP’s own claims of a need, despite the builder’s clear self-interest in pushing the project forward.
An expert report outlined in the comments demonstrates that such minimal analysis would encourage overbuilding pipeline infrastructure, rather than tailoring the projects (and their significant impacts) to what is needed to serve the public. The comments also detail another expert report showing that existing infrastructure is more than sufficient to meet expected future peak energy demand, meaning that if this project moves forward, family homes and prime agricultural and forest land could be taken without any strong public need.
This document is likely to be a big indicator of how FERC will review the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the Draft EIS expected later this month.
Appalmad filed these comments on behalf of more than 20 community and conservation groups.
Read the full comments here.