The U.S. Forest Service’s draft Record of Decision (ROD) to amend the Forest Plans of the Monongahela National Forest (MFN) and George Washington National Forest (GWNF) to accommodate the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) received strong objections from numerous commenters.  The deadline for submissions of objection was September 5. The draft ROD was discussed in ABRA Update 140.

             The following organizations were among those who submitted comments (copies of which are available here.)

  • West Virginia Rivers Coalition

“The United States Forest Service (“Forest Service”) may not adopt the Environmental Impact Statement issued for this project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and must take necessary actions to meet all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act independently of FERC’s action.”

“The environmental analyses, and the record on which the draft ROD is based, fail to provide adequate support for ROD. The record omits vital analyses and fails to meet the needs the Forest Service has described throughout its review process for this project.”

  • Southern Environmental Law Center (on behalf of a group of conservation organizations)

“The Forest Service’s approach to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline changed abruptly in Documents in the record confirm that political pressure at levels above the Office of the Chief and pressure from Dominion Energy, one of the project’s proponents, forced the agency to accelerate its decision even though critical environmental information on resources, and mitigation remained incomplete. The final EIS reflects a hasty and cursory environmental review that leaves many critical questions unanswered. While we are sympathetic that political pressure and pressure from Dominion have been significant, the Forest Service may not avoid its legal responsibilities to fully account for and analyze the likely harm from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

“The draft ROD is based on an incomplete EIS and other incomplete analyses and plans, its issuance is premature. The Conservation Groups object to the release of a premature draft ROD. The final EIS itself and other agency records plainly admit that the effects analyses and mitigation measures are not yet complete. Therefore, the Forest Service has not met its NEPA obligations to publicly disclose and consider impacts and alternatives before making a decision.”

  • Wild Virginia

“The USFS proposal to approve the Special Use Permit and plan amendments based on the flawed NEPA process, after the Service itself explained that the DEIS and the information available at that time was insufficient for its purposes and for the public, is the very definition of an arbitrary and capricious act. The Service’s compliance with NEPA and its own regulatory mandates cannot be upheld on such a basis. The only acceptable remedy for the insufficiency of the DEIS in specific aspects described below is for the USFS to issue its own revised DEIS and include the necessary information that was omitted by FERC.”

Objections Voiced to Forest Service About Amending Forest Plans for ACP
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