WASHINGTON (WSLS 10) - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has released its environmental impact statement for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Mountain Valley hopes to get certification to build and operate a new 301-mile-long, 42-inch-diameter pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia as part of its proposed project.
About the pipeline:
Aboveground facilities associated with the MVP would include 3 new compressor stations, totaling about 171,600 horsepower (hp); 4 new meter stations and an interconnection; 2 new taps; 5 new pig launchers and receivers; and 36 new mainline block valves. The purpose of the MVP is transport about 2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas from production areas in the Appalachian Basin to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States. Equitrans seeks a Certificate from the Commission under Section 7(c) of the NGA to construct and operate a total of about 8 miles of new various diameter pipelines in 6 segments in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as part of its Equitrans Expansion Project (EEP). Above-ground facilities associated with the EEP would include the new 32,300 hp Redhook Compressor Station; 4 new taps and an interconnection; and 4 new pig launchers and receivers. Under Section 7(b) of the NGA, Equitrans requests Commission permission to abandon and dismantle the existing 4,800 hp Pratt Compressor Station. The EEP is designed to transport about 0.4 Bcf/d of natural gas north-south on Equitrans' existing system, to improve system flexibility and reliability, and serve markets in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast through interconnections with various other interstate systems, including the proposed MVP. Because the MVP and EEP are interrelated and connected actions, we are analyzing them both together in this single comprehensive EIS.
FERC announced the following public session schedule for the Mountain Valley Pipeline. All public sessions will begin at 5:00 pm Eastern time, though venues are subject to change:
Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - Chatham High School - Chatham, VA
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - Franklin County High School - Rocky Mount, VA
Thursday, November 3, 2016 - Sheraton Hotel - Roanoke, VA
The FERC staff says construction and operation of the projects would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but these impacts can be reduced if Mountain Valley implements the measures recommended in the environmental impact statement.
This determination is based on a review of the information provided by Mountain Valley and Equitrans in their applications to the FERC and supplemental filings in response to staff's environmental information requests; field investigations; scoping; literature research; alternatives analyses; and consultations with federal, state, and local agencies, and other stakeholders. Although many factors were considered in this determination, the principal reasons are:
- Mountain Valley would implement the measures outlined in the FERC's Upland Erosion Control, Revegetation, and Maintenance Plan (Plan), its project-specific Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures (Procedures).
- In addition, Mountain Valley would implement the measures outlined in its various resource-specific mitigation plans filed with its application to the FERC, or included in various supplemental filings, including its Karst Mitigation Plan and Karst-specific Erosion and Sediment Control Plan to reduce impacts when crossing karst terrain; its Landslide Mitigation Plan for reducing impacts when crossing steep topography; its Mining Area Construction Plan to reduce impacts when crossing coal mine areas; its Draft Blasting Plan to reduce impacts when crossing areas of shallow bedrock; its Organic Farm Protection Plan to reduce impacts when crossing organic farms; its Water Resources Identification and Testing Plan, Spill Prevention Controls and Countermeasures Plan (SPCCP), and Unanticipated Discovery of Contamination Plan to reduce impacts on water resources; its Compensatory Wetland Mitigation Plan to mitigate for the conversion of forested wetlands to shrub or herbaceous wetlands; its Migratory Bird Habitat Conservation Plan and Exotic and Invasive Species Control Plan to reduce impacts on birds, other animals, and plants; its Fire Prevention and Suppression Plan to reduce the chance of wildfires; its Traffic and Transportation Management Plan to reduce impacts on local road users; its Fugitive Dust Control Plan to reduce air quality impacts during construction; and its Winter Construction Plan.
- Equitrans would follow its project-specific Plan and Procedures, its Erosion and Sediment Control Plan for the Redhook Compressor Station, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Program Manual.
- In addition, Equitrans would implement the measures outlined in its various resource-specific mitigation plans filed with its application to the FERC, or included in various supplemental filings, including its Mine Subsidence Plan to protect its pipelines while crossing abandoned coal mine areas; it project-specific SPCCP and Preparedness, Prevention, and Contingency and Emergency Action Plan to reduce potential impacts on water resources; its HDD Contingency Plan to handle a failure or frac-out while crossing under the Monongahela River and South Fork Tenmile Creek; its Migratory Bird Conservation Plan to minimize impacts on bird species of concern; and its Traffic and Transportation Management Plan to reduce impacts on other local road users.
- Mountain Valley and Equitrans would use mostly dry open-cut methods to cross sensitive waterbodies and cold-water fisheries during state-mandated construction windows. Mountain Valley and Equitrans would obtain permits from the COE and applicable state resource agencies prior to crossing waterbodies and wetlands.
- For the portion of the MVP within the Jefferson National Forest, Mountain Valley would follow the measures outlined in its FS-approved Plan of Development.
- The FERC staff would complete formal consultations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act prior to allowing any construction to begin that could adversely affect federally listed threatened or endangered species.
- The FERC staff would complete the process of complying with the National Historic Preservation Act prior to allowing any construction to begin that could adversely affect historic properties.
- The FERC staff would provide oversight for an environmental inspection and monitoring program that would ensure compliance with all mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorizations.
FERC staff and cooperating agencies have developed site-specific measures that Mountain Valley and Equitrans should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that can result from their projects.
The FERC staff determined that these measures are necessary to reduce the adverse impacts associated with the projects, and in part, are basing conclusions on implementation of these measures. These additional measures are listed as recommendations in section 5.2 of the EIS.
You can read the full statement from FERC here.
In reaction to the decision, Congressman Morgan Griffith released this statement:
"I am disappointed that FERC will continue to exclusively hold one-on-one conversation hearing sessions as opposed to holding any town-hall style public hearings. I believe the DEIS for the MVP project warrants a discussion in an open, public forum so that all parties, for and against, have opportunity to voice and hear opposing views. Additionally, this town-hall style public forum would allow for media coverage of the discussion."
"I am pleased however, that FERC noticed multiple hearings in Virginia as requested by me and Congressmen Goodlatte and Hurt, and doubled the comment period for the DEIS to more than 90 days."
"I plan to review the 781-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the coming weeks."