The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should not act on the extension request for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to be granted one year to address abandonment and restoration activities along the project’s right-of-way without providing an opportunity for a public comment period of at least 30-days, according to a July 17 letter from Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Southern Environmental Law Center and Chesapeake Bay Foundation on behalf of a client group of 11 ABRA member organizations and others.
The letter states that “if the Commission grants the extension of time for construction activities, it must, at a minimum, address the following issues:
- “Limiting Atlantic’s activities to only those necessary for restoration of the right-of-way and abandonment of the pipeline and vacating the remainder of the Certificate Order, in turn removing Atlantic’s eminent domain authority over the pipeline right-of-way. Identifying the mechanisms by which affected landowners will communicate specific restoration requirements to Atlantic.
- “Requiring Atlantic to immediately commence consultation with all relevant state and federal agencies to promptly establish appropriate standards for completing restoration of the right-of-way.
- “Identifying how the Commission and other state and federal agencies will monitor restoration activities and associated environmental impacts. Monitoring could include a requirement that Atlantic continue to submit regular status reports and environmental compliance monitoring reports during the restoration period.
- “Requiring Atlantic to promptly contact all landowners where a right-of-way easement exists and inform them that (i) Atlantic will release the right-of-way easement within 90 days of a written request from an affected landowner, (ii) Atlantic will provide the affected landowner with the proposed written release of the right-of-way easement, (iii) Atlantic will pay the reasonable attorneys’ fees of the affected landowner in reviewing and negotiating changes to the proposed written release of the right-of-way easement, and (iv) Atlantic will file the final, executed written release of the right-of-way easement in the land records of the appropriate jurisdiction. Atlantic has already committed that landowners will keep the easement compensation they have received.”