On June 23, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mountain Valley Project. A summary of that document and access to the full document are available online at https://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/eis/2017/06-23-17-FEIS.asp (as of 6/27/17). An excerpt of the Final EIS summary is given below in this post.
According to that summary, the Final EIS concludes “construction and operation of the projects would result in some adverse environmental impacts. In the case of the clearing of forest, effects may be long-term and significant. However, for most other environmental resources, effects should be temporary or short-term, and impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of the applicants’ proposed mitigation measures and the additional measures recommended in the EIS.”
Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC and Equitrans LP have proposed the approximately 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline from West Virginia to a connection at Chatham, in Pittsylvania County, Va., with the existing Transcontinental, or Transco, pipeline, which runs from Texas to New York.
The release of the Final EIS starts a 90-day process for other federal agencies to review the project to determine whether or not certain federal permits should be issued. FERC commissioners will determine whether or not to issue the project a certificate of public convenience and necessity. As of June 27, FERC had only two commissioners and lacked a quorum for votes; two commissioners nominated by President Donald Trump were awaiting Senate confirmation.
FERC’s final environmental impact statement for Mountain Valley Pipeline elicits controversy, Roanoke Times, 6/23/17.
For more on this and other natural-gas issues and developments in Virginia, please see the Water Central News Grouper post, Natural Gas Drilling and Transport in Virginia under Close Scrutiny in 2014-16.
Excerpt from the Summary of the Final EIS
(accessed on https://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/eis/2017/06-23-17-FEIS.asp, 6/27/17; bolding added)
“The FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of the projects would result in some adverse environmental impacts. In the case of the clearing of forest, effects may be long-term and significant. However, for most other environmental resources, effects should be temporary or short-term, and impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels with the implementation of the applicants’ proposed mitigation measures and the additional measures recommended in the EIS. 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 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. As indicated in the EIS, we have reviewed these plans and determined that they are acceptable.
*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 Horizontal Directional Drill 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. As indicated in the EIS, we have reviewed these plans and determined that they are acceptable.
*Mountain Valley and Equitrans would use mostly dry open-cut methods to cross sensitive waterbodies and coldwater 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 FWS 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.
“In addition, the FERC staff and cooperating agencies developed site-specific mitigation measures that Mountain Valley and Equitrans should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that would otherwise result from construction of 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 [41 areas of actions] are listed as recommendations in section 5.2 of the EIS.”