Development of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) was announced June 11 by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The Notice of Intent, published in the Federal Register, is in response to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals action of December 13, 2018 vacating the USFS’s Record of Decision and Special use Permit issued for the ACP. While one of the reasons for the Court’s action – whether the USFS had the authority to authorize the ACP to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) – is on appeal to and awaiting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were several other issues in question that the SEIS process will focus upon:
- Issues identified in the Court ruling including the potential for the proposal to cause adverse impacts to soil, water, and threatened and Endangered Species Act (ESA) Threatened and Endangered species and their habitat;
- The purpose and impact of the Forest Plan amendments on affected resources (soil, water, ESA Threatened and Endangered species, scenic integrity, ANST, and eligible recreation rivers) and consistency with the Planning Rule;
- The feasibility and practicality of having routes that are not on NFS lands; and,
- A re-evaluaton and assessment of erosion, sedimentation, and water quality effects in relation to anticipated mitigation effectiveness.
The USFS Federal Register Notice of Intent states that a draft SEIS will be available in July 2020 and that a final SEIS is anticipated later in 2020. The Notice indicated that when the Draft SEIS is made available there will be information provided about how public comments can be made.