Fifteen conservation groups, including 9 ABRA members, filed comments on February 9, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to raise concerns over the plan recently submitted to the agency by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (Atlantic) on how the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) route would be restored. The comments also addressed the future of the Supply Header Project (SHP). SHP was formerly a project of Dominion Energy Transmission, Inc. and is now owned by Eastern Gas Transmission, Inc. (GTS), its successor company that is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy. The SHP was originally intended to connect the ACP to natural gas supplies in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The comments were filed on behalf of the conservation organizations by Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Major points made in the comments were:
- Atlantic should release easements upon request from private landowners or open-space easement holders.
The Commission should require Atlantic to give private landowners and open- space easement holders the opportunity to regain full ownership of their property—by releasing easements held by Atlantic for a pipeline it does not intend to build.
- Atlantic should afford all affected landowners the opportunity to communicate specific restoration requirements.
Now that it has abandoned the ACP, it is important that Atlantic permit landowners to have a voice in how their property is to be restored.7 The ACP Plan reports that Atlantic has contacted specific landowners to discuss whether felled trees will be cleared or left in place.8 But it is unclear whether Atlantic intends to contact all landowners with felled trees on their property.
- Atlantic should not be permitted to engage in new tree-felling within established setbacks around wetlands and waterbodies.
- Atlantic should be required to treat non-native invasive species on national forest lands to halt their spread.
- Atlantic should honor its commitment to reseed the high-potential zone and dispersal zone for rusty-patched bumble bee with pollinator-friendly plant species.
- Atlantic should quantify and offset freshwater-mussel impacts from tree-felling and other disturbances by providing funding to regional hatcheries for mussel propagation and release.
- Atlantic should fulfill its specific commitments regarding treatment of historic and cultural resources affected by ACP construction.
- Atlantic should remain responsible for all restoration work until it is determined that such restoration has been successful.
- Eastern GTS still has not demonstrated good cause to extend the deadline for completion of the Supply Header Project.
FERC staff is still involved in reviewing the submitted plans and has informed ABRA that it will continue to accept and consider comments on the plans that are filed on the FERC docket. For information on how to file comments, click here.