Draft Environmental Impact Statement is a Moving Target and Fatally Flawed
By Jim Warren, NC WARN
On April 6, 2017, more than 20 citizen groups and statewide nonprofits told federal regulators that the environmental review process for a proposed $5.6 billion fracked gas pipeline is incomplete, fatally flawed and that it unlawfully represents a moving target due to continuing, sweeping additions by Dominion and Duke Energy.
The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run 600 miles through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, bringing natural gas from fracking operations that are plaguing communities in Pennsylvania. The proposal is being hotly contested in each of those states. North Carolina’s opposition is anchored by NC APPPL: Stop the Pipeline, the Frack Free NC alliance, and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.
NC WARN attorney John Runkle led the effort to develop the 116-page filing, with help from Clean Water for NC’s Hope Taylor and NC WARN’s Nancy LaPlaca, on behalf of the 20-plus groups. Their core arguments are that the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is fatally flawed because it lacks large blocks of analysis and information about the environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural impacts of the pipeline project.
Also, they say that, since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued the draft EIS for public comment on December 30, Dominion has updated its original application – six times – with thousands of pages of additional information. They say this creates a moving target for reviews, thus requiring FERC to rescind the DEIS and restart the public review period when a complete document is available and fully reviewed by FERC itself.
Sections of the nonprofit filing include:
- FERC failed to determine the need for the proposed project or evaluate reasonable alternatives.
- FERC failed to consider the reasonably foreseeable decline of shale gas supply for the ACP, that industry-friendly regulators have overestimated future U.S. natural gas supplies by 50% or more, and the fact that U.S. natural gas production peaked in February 2016.
- FERC failed to include critical analysis of environmental and socioeconomic impacts, including safety concerns, water and land impacts, cultural resources of Native Americans, economic impacts, and issues related to environmental justice.
- FERC failed to adequately assess greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts, especially the large amount of super-potent methane that typically is vented and leaked from compressor stations, valve control stations and other natural gas infrastructure.
- FERC failed to adequately consider all reasonable direct and indirect impacts and cumulative impacts, including those impacts associated with gas development.
NC WARN is based in Durham, North Carolina and is online at www.ncwarn.org. From their Facebook page, upcoming local presentations may be found, including April presentations at local libraries and community locations.