The public comment period on the proposed plan for the restoration of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) route, which was formally announced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in a March 8 Federal Register notice and preliminary discussed in the March 4 ABRA Update, provides an important opportunity for ABRA members and landowners to express their views. Comments are due by Friday, April 16 at 5 pm. Instructions on how to file are included in the Federal Register notice linked above.
The Federal Register Notice directs Atlantic Coasts Pipeline, LLC (which submitted the restoration plan for the ACP) and Eastern Gas Transmission (which submitted the plan for the Supply Header Project) to provide notice of the FERC comment opportunity “to all affected landowners and towns, communities and local, state and federal governments and agencies involved in the project” by March 18. Any recipients of ABRA Update who are among those who should receive such notification and have not received the required notification, are urged to contact ABRA (email ) so that we can bring that information to the attention of appropriate authorities at FERC.
The issues that particularly deserve being brought to FERC’s attention were articulated in comments filed with the FERC docket on February by several ABRA members and other conservation groups. Below are highlights from their filing:
- 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.
For a copy of the complete comments that were filed on the FERC docket by the conservation groups, click here.