Friday’s release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline came as no surprise to Friends of Nelson and to those who have been opposing the pipeline since it was first proposed.
The document prepared by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission fails to analyze the purpose and need for the project–something it is, by law, required to do–deferring instead to Dominion’s self-serving statement of uses.
FERC has taken Dominion’s assertions as truths and dismissed the findings of dozens of reports and analysis by experts who know better,” said Ernie Reed, President of Friends of Nelson.
For instance, FERC refuses to raise the obvious subject of energy alternatives, even though they clearly factor into the equation of project need. The agency dodges the issue by stating that “alternative energy sources, energy conservation, and efficiency are not within the scope of this analysis because the purpose of the ACP and SHP is to transport natural gas.”
“This blanket statement conveniently ignores that the purpose of the ACP, as stated elsewhere, is mainly to supply gas to electrical generating stations,” said Jim Bolton of Lovingston. “In what world does the rapidly increasing, cost-effective contribution of wind and solar not figure into the need for gas-powered electricity generation and, by extension, the justification for taking private property via eminent domain? “
“This is in clear violation of federal law that requires analysis of a range of alternatives that are lower-cost and less destructive,” Reed stated.
FERC also dismisses the notion that the gas might be exported, reasoning that “all” of the gas cannot be subscribed for export because the pipeline’s volume exceeds projected export capacity at Cove Point.
The DEIS may be voluminous, but it is far from comprehensive. It defers until later many necessary surveys, analysis and vital information that the public will not be able to review.
FERC’s report is especially dismissive of issues in Nelson County. “FERC has thumbed their nose at the historical and cultural values of Wingina, the James River Basin and the Rockfish Valley, falsely claiming that they can mitigate what would be irreparable damage,” said Joanna Salidis of Friends of Nelson.
“The steep slopes and fragile soils that are prevalent throughout Nelson County are virtually ignored,” said Joyce Burton of Friends of Nelson. “It has been left to us to provide the detailed analysis of the direct impacts to our water, our property and our economy.”
“FERC continues to use data provided indirectly by the industry to draw its conclusions regarding negative impacts on tourist economies and property values and Friend’s of Nelson Key-Log study debunked these long ago,” said Marilyn Shifflett of Friends of Nelson.
Still, “the impacts that are listed in the DEIS are numerous, far-ranging and shocking,” Shifflett continued. “While acknowledging that damages will be both temporary and permanent, FERC basically concludes ‘Oh well, ACP will do its best!’ That is totally unacceptable.”
“Rest assured, we will analyze the DEIS in depth, and challenge any inaccuracies we find,” said Deirdre Skogen. “We have a team of educated and experienced specialists, in a multitude of fields, doing this important work. Only if the DEIS is 100% accurate, and fully comprehensive, can it be considered legitimate and permissible. This is our health, our water, and our land that is at risk with this pipeline. We cannot and will not accept anything less than a precise and all-encompassing impact statement that concludes that the ACP endangers us all.”
“For Nelson County and for all of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, this is just one more giant step in the wrong direction,” Reed concluded.