The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) met on September 20 for the first time since January with the necessary quorum to act (3 members). A decision on the Mountain Valley Pipeline had been scheduled to occur by that meeting, but as of this week no permitting decision on the MVP has been announced by the agency. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) schedule calls for a permitting decision by FERC to be made by October 19, the date of the next meeting of the Commissioners.
It is possible that a permitting decision on either pipeline could be announced at a time other than in conjunction with a scheduled meeting. And, if a decision to permit one or both pipelines is made, it is customary for it to be issued with conditions, such as subject to the issuing of necessary water quality permits by state government with that responsibility. In the case of the MVP, a required water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act has not been issued by Virginia and an earlier issued certification issued in West Virginia has been revoked by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection for further analysis. With the ACP, no certificate has been issued by Virginia or West Virginia, and North Carolina recently indicated it would delay a 401 decision on the ACP because of the absence of sufficient information from the applicant.
In the meantime, new issues continue to be raised. Last week, West Pocahontas Properties (WPP), a coal mining holding company, filed with FERC a letter pointing out that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the ACP incorrectly stated that the pipeline would not have an impact on its coal operations in Randolph County WV. Dominion Transmission Company responded September 21 with a counter version of the “facts,” claiming there would not be an impact on the company’s operations. If WPP is correct in its assertion, it certainly raises a new set of issues that will at the very least require further re-routing of the ACP in the affected area.