A coalition environmental and conservation organizations, most of them ABRA members, filed a motion on May 30 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting that the Commission supplement the Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) to address significant new information bearing on the project’s environmental impacts. The motion was jointly filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The motion points out that the ACP is missing eight needed permits, has had no construction conducted since December 2018 and cites a January 2020 filing by the Virginia Attorney General with the U.S. Supreme Court which stated that because there is “mounting evidence that the pipeline is not needed, the ACP threatens Virginia’s natural resources without clear corresponding benefits.” Continuing, the motion states:
Critically, new information arising since the Commission issued its EIS for the ACP in July 2017 presents a seriously different picture of the project’s available alternatives and environmental impacts than the one considered by the Commission:
- Alternatives. The region’s energy future has undergone a dramatic shift away from gas-fired power generation while the ACP’s projected cost has ballooned and its timeline has been pushed back, compelling the Commission to revisit its consideration of alternatives.
- Vulnerable Species. Surveys have documented multiple new occurrences of the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee along the ACP route, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) has proposed critical habitat for the newly listed candy darter (endangered) and yellow lance (threatened) in streams that the pipeline would cross.
- Water Quality. Well-documented landslides and sedimentation problems along the ACP’s steep terrain, combined with the rollback of federal water protections relied on by the Commission, indicate that the project’s impacts to water quality would be more substantial than previously analyzed.
- Environmental Justice. The Commonwealth of Virginia and Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (“Atlantic”) have now recognized the existence of a minority environmental justice population in Union Hill, Virginia, neighboring the ACP’s proposed Buckingham Compressor Station.
- Climate Change. Scientific understanding about the anticipated impacts of climate change, both globally and in the area of the ACP, has expanded dramatically since the publication of the EIS.
- Cumulative Impacts. The majority of the ACP’s construction is now anticipated to occur between 2020 and 2021 alongside newly proposed area projects whose cumulative impacts the Commission never considered.
The organizations represented in the filing are the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Appalachian Voices, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Cowpasture River Preservation Association, Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Highlanders for Responsible Development, Piedmont Environmental Council, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Sierra Club, Sound Rivers, Inc, Virginia Wilderness Committee, Wild Virginia and Winyah Rivers Foundation