Forest Service rejects all objections to MVP
The US Forest Service announced this week that it has rejected all 760 objections to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The four-page response posted to its website on October 23, 2017, defends its draft record of decision, which would lower eleven standards in its management plan in order to allow the Mountain Valley Pipeline to be built across the Jefferson National Forest. These include weakening soil and riparian protections, cutting old growth timber, protecting the Appalachian Trail and scenic integrity.
The letter from Frank Beum, Deputy Regional Forester, did not specifically respond to any of the objections, simply categorizing them into 100 distinct issues covering procedure, best science, mitigation, and the amendment itself and then dismissing them. The letter concludes, “My review determined that the proposed amendment meets the required law, regulation and policy.” He further stated that there is no further appeal process with the Forest Service.
Preserve Craig co-chair Bill Wolf indicated that it’s attorneys are reviewing the letter and making plans to challenge any changes to the management of the Forest in court.
FERC approves MVP in 2 to 1 vote
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued rulings on Friday night, October 13, 2017, issuing certificates authorizing both the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline and the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Both pipelines were approved by only two commissioners on a panel that normally has five members. The third sitting commissioner, former Chair Cheryl LaFleur, issued a dissenting opinion on both projects. She indicated that since both are intended to transport fracked gas under high pressure from the same location, northern West Virginia and will both connect to the Transco pipeline in Virginia, further study is needed; especially considering the impact it will have on the Appalachian environment. Commissioner LeFleur’s dissenting opinion was unusual, as the FERC generally issues unanimous decision.
The order came as a surprise, given that the FERC had indicated in September that they would not be voting on major decisions until the two vacancies had been filled by new Presidential appointees, who are awaiting approval by the US Senate. In addition, the schedule for its October 19 public meeting of the Commission had been posted the day before the Friday night announcement and the MVP was not on the agenda.
The deadline for re-hearing this decision is November 12, 2017, 30 days after the authorization was issued. Several governments and organizations, including Preserve Craig, are planning to appeal the ruling.
-Submitted by Preserve Craig, Inc.