Awesome leadership by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA08). Your move, Gov. Northam. 😉
UPDATE: Also see below for a letter sent earlier this month from Reps. Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin.
Beyer Requests Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Re-Hearing On Virginia Pipelines
February 26, 2018 (Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Don Beyer today sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asking for a rehearing on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Congressman Beyer is deeply concerned that an incomplete, divided Commission rubberstamped the pipelines despite three significant issues: there was a lack of verified need for the infrastructure, there is potential for the pipelines to ruin the ANST and its environs, and finally, the proposals considered were not fully vetted nor did they allow stakeholder input.
“On October 13, 2017, the Commission approved the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) without a vote from the entire Commission and despite legitimate concerns about the thoroughness of the pipeline proposals considered and their public comment process, the assessed demand for the new pipelines, and an incomplete Environmental Impact Statement. For these reasons, I request that FERC grant rehearings on the MVP and ACP petitions.
FERC voted 2-1 to approve both the MVP and ACP on October 13, 2017, at which time two of the five commissioner seats stood vacant. New FERC commissioners were subsequently sworn in on November 29 and December 7. 98 percent of FERC’s orders in 2016 were unanimous.
The full text of the letter appears below and the signed copy is here.
The Honorable Kevin McIntyre
Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Dear Chairman McIntyre and Commissioners:
On October 13, 2017, the Commission approved the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) without a vote from the entire Commission and despite legitimate concerns about the thoroughness of the pipeline proposals considered and their public comment process, the assessed demand for the new pipelines, and an incomplete Environmental Impact Statement. For these reasons, I request that FERC grant rehearings on the MVP and ACP petitions.
When the Commission approved the MVP and ACP applications, two of the five commissioner seats were vacant at the time. The final approving vote was 2-1, a split decision rare for the Commission when 98 percent of FERC votes in 2016 were unanimous. Since the vote, both of the vacant commissioner seats have been filled. A partial decision of this magnitude may not accurately reflect the position of FERC, and thus the Commission should allow for rehearings to ensure that the ruling fairly reflect the entire Commission.
A rehearing is valid also because affected stakeholders were not able to offer comments on thousands of pages of updates for FERC consideration. In particular, the Mountain Valley Pipeline process raised legitimate questions on both the completeness of the proposals and alternatives considered, as well as whether calculated impacts were independently verified. It is deeply concerning that the MVP would still destroy miles of iconic viewshed through a major portion of the Appalachian Trial, a vital natural and tourism resource to the state of Virginia and a congressionally designated national scenic trail. It reinforces process concerns about whether FERC had feedback from affected stakeholders on the final updates from Mountain Valley LLC.
In addition, FERC needs to consider whether both these pipelines are necessary for the natural gas demand in the regions that are to be served by these pipelines. The Energy Information Administration and the regional grid manager show no growth in demand for natural gas needs in Virginia through 2030. FERC should conduct a thorough, publicly transparent evaluation of the need for the new pipelines, based on independent evidence.
Moreover, mitigation plans that are part of the Environmental Impact Statement for the ACP are still incomplete. Therefore, the effects on water resources and fish and other aquatic species are still somewhat unknown. Any leak or spill will have detrimental effects to local watersheds and communities, so it is important that all information be given special consideration.
Gas pipelines are long-term investments with long-term consequences, and FERC should take the time to carefully assess these proposals and the concerns I have raised. For these reasons, FERC should grant a re-hearing.