Letter: Legislators: Review pipeline proposals

A number of Republican and Democrat Virginia legislators — 15 so far — have proposed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it conduct a comprehensive review of the cumulative regional environmental and possibly adverse economic impacts of having at least two if not four new large fracked natural gas pipelines crossing the state, possibly as early as 2017.

FERC normally conducts impact reviews one by one for each pipeline seeking its approval to move forward. But in separate letters to FERC, Sen. Tim Kaine (D) and Republican Congressmen Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith, and Robert Hurt suggested this one by one review  might not suffice this time around for a variety of reasons.

Kaine and the Congressmen — who have been joined by four state senators and seven state delegates in requesting a more comprehensive review (formally known as a programmatic environmental impact statement, or PEIS) — all acknowledged FERC’s authority in pipeline permitting but strongly expressed constituent concerns about the cumulative effect of two if not four sets of new pipeline rights of way traversing some of the state’s most rural and heavily agricultural and forested lands amid questions  about whether all these pipelines are needed.      

After examining routes proposed by EQT and NextEra for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and by Williams for the Appalachian Connector (AC), Kaine noted to FERC that the routes are “nearly identical.” He had similar questions about the need for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) proposed by Dominion and Duke Energy and the WB Xpress proposed by Columbia. In both his recent letters to FERC, he concluded by stressing the possible need for a comprehensive analysis of the cumulative impact of all these proposals.

In their recent letter, Goodlatte, Griffith and Hurt stated they, “believe it is important that [the ACP and MVP pipelines in particular] are collectively considered in the context of existing regional energy infrastructure and projected regional energy needs. Such a review process is important because of the geographic proximity of the proposals and the sheer number of communities and property owners that could be impacted…” The Congressmen also asked FERC to explain how it assesses “potential economic impacts” of multiple pipeline proposals in one region.

For more, contact the Chesapeake Climate Action Network at www.chesapeakeclimate.org and join us on Tues., Jan. 19, for Pipeline Lobby Day at the state Capitol.  

Kit Johnston,