Last week’s request by Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc. (DETI) for a two-month extension of the deadline for felling trees for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) has had vociferous opposition. DETI’s March 15 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it would be “unable to complete the scheduled tree felling . . . before the existing time-of-year restrictions go into effect.” Tree felling was to end March 15 in Virginia and April 1 in West Virginia and North Carolina, in accordance with recommendations in the Environmental Impact Statement for the ACP.
On March 17, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, on behalf of their clients with pending rehearing requests before FERC (most of whom are ABRA members), filed a letter of opposition to the Dominion request. That filing of opposition has been joined by numerous other communications to FERC urging the rejection of the DETI request that the tree felling deadline be extended to May 15.
At this writing, FERC has not yet responded to the DETI request. However, a recent policy change by the U.S. Department of Interior, narrowing the application of federal regulations governing migratory birds, may become a factor in the decision. Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service has already weighed in with an opinion on another pipeline project that is seeking FERC approval for a tree felling deadline extension. More on that development here.