Six days ago, in a Friday-evening news dump, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Certificates of Need and Necessity for the proposed Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines.
Grassroots organizations across West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina were unanimous in their opposition to this cowardly act, but vowed to fight on even harder to stop these dangerous pipelines that threaten our land, air, water, climate, and sovereignty.
Fortunately for pipeline fighters and water protectors, the fights against these two fracked gas pipelines is far from over. Here’s a selection of community voices responding to FERC’s terrible pipeline approvals of Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast’s certificates.
Note: This list is by NO means exhaustive – there are millions of residents of these three states firmly opposed to these fracked gas pipelines, and millions more supporting them from around the globe. If you don’t see your community represented here or know of other reactions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to this compilation.
PROTECT OUR WATER, HERITAGE, RIGHTS (West Virginia, in the route of MVP and ACP)
Roanoke County resident Roberta Bondurant of POWHR, a bi-state coalition of community groups along the path of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, said:
“This project is far from a done deal. With the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and other agency permitting still necessary, we’ve now begun a new phase of our challenge in protecting our waters, farms and businesses, and our future.
“Localities face the prospect of whole communities in water crises, disasters that no amount of bonding could compensate. Permitting MVP would be antithetical to our region that boasts clean air, pristine waters, outdoor adventure, scenic byways, fertile farming, and economies of health care, education and burgeoning breweries and distilleries dependent on clean water. That would be a shameful legacy for Governor McAuliffe.”
Russell Chisholm of POWHR, an Army veteran of Desert Storm, said:
“Here along the proposed path of Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County, we’ve had yet another earthquake,” said “Mountain Valley Pipeline, a newly formed LLC with no experience building a line this massive, expects us to believe they can safely blast, trench and build though an active seismic zone in Giles. Communities are right to be angry that FERC will allow them to do it on the backs of law abiding, tax-paying residents, many of whom are elderly, served in our armed forces, or worked as public servants in our schools, police and fire departments. It would be a bitter injustice to have these citizens displaced – either literally or effectively – by eminent domain for private gain.”
“This project poses unprecedented economic and environmental threats. We encourage all Virginians to stand with us and call on Governor McAuliffe and his Department of Environmental Quality to reject this ill-conceived and unneeded project.”
ALLEGHANY-BLUE RIDGE ALLIANCE (West Virginia and Virginia, in route of MVP and ACP)
Lewis Freedman, Chair and Executive Director of the Alleghany-Blue Ridge Alliance, said:
“The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of 52 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia, is appalled at the action tonight by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in approving the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Commission’s judgment has been made in advance of necessary and required decisions by the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the state environmental authorities in the affected states of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina on critical environmental issues.
“We concur with the thoughtful dissent of Commissioner LaFleur, who has served on the Commission for 7 years, raising serious questions about the basis of need for both the ACP and the Mountain Valley Pipeline and expressing concerns about environmental impacts that both projects present. The majority decision does not reflect an understanding of the issues at hand and is clearly not in the public interest. It calls into serious question the agency’s regulatory credibility.”
CLEAN WATER FOR NORTH CAROLINA (North Carolina, in route of ACP)
Clean Water for North Carolina, the RiverGuardian Foundation, Appalachian Voices, and many other North Carolina based allies who have been working to prevent the building of the unnecessary, costly and dangerous Atlantic Coast Pipeline, are outraged by the hasty and unjustified granting of a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity today for the ACP, claiming that significant adverse impacts can be mitigated.
This decision came despite the lack of federally required 401 Water Quality Certifications from all three of the states the ACP would cross. West Virginia has rescinded its previous 401 certification for the pipeline, Virginia will not hold public hearings before the state Water Board before December, and North Carolina has sent extensive additional information requests to ACP, LLC and disapproved the required Sediment and Erosion Control Plan.
Hope Taylor, Executive Director of Clean Water for North Carolina said:
“In fact, with this clear trend of states along the pipeline route reluctant to grant approvals for critical permits, we suspect that the newly appointed commissioners were responding to evidence the ACP was rapidly losing momentum as a project with credible public support.
“Recent hearings in all three states indicated strong public opposition. FERC wanted to make a show of forward motion as public acceptance was slipping daily, based on facts and reality, rather than ACP mythmaking.
“We call on North Carolina DEQ to hold firm in its rigorous review of pipeline permits and to be prepared to reject them if, as we believe, the ACP’s builders want to negligently construct what would be the most damaging, costly and wasteful project ever to be considered for North Carolina.”
Communities, environmental justice groups and state agencies have learned a lot about the economic and environmental costs to build an unneeded pipeline to be paid for by utility customers, and the lack of realistic prospects for permanent jobs, or economic development.
The Certificate was issued with 73 conditions, ranging from documented consultations with Tribal groups to completing groundwater studies, but NONE of them would be clearly enforceable if construction is allowed to go forward.
Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, recent past Chairwoman and longest serving FERC Commissioner, issued a strong dissent to this decision, expressing great concern about the extensive environmental damage the ACP would cause, the inadequate assessment of need and the failure to consider less damaging alternatives.
FRIENDS OF NELSON (Nelson County, Virginia, in route of ACP)
We all knew that FERC would use its rubber stamp to issue a certificate to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but we weren’t sure just when. Now that FERC has given its blessings to this wretched project, Friends of Nelson and our many friends and colleagues throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia are moving forward on strategies that could not be initiated until now.
Friends of Nelson is continuing to fight to stop the ACP in every way that we can. This includes:
- Keeping our membership and allies informed and engaged through email, Facebook and our webpage;
- Acting on strategic opportunities with our membership, Board of Directors, allies, and colleagues;
- Being represented in legal actions wherever possible and whenever necessary
- Keeping pressure on all federal, state, and local agencies to do the right thing; and
- Continuing to build the public record through continued water monitoring and engagement with experts and resource professionals.
It only takes one agency or one judge doing the right thing to stop this runaway train.
NO ACP (Virginia, in route of ACP)
Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline tonight just after 7:00 PM.
We must all get prepared to fight with all of our collective strength.
These pipelines will not get built, and we do this for the earth and for the children.
AUGUSTA COUNTY ALLIANCE (Virginia, in route of ACP)
Nancy Sorrels, co-chair of the Augusta County Alliance, said:
“This decision isn’t the end – there are a lot of hurdles to go. What the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the state water control board do is paramount. FERC’s decision is appalling, ignoring tens of thousands of community comments that were not considered – and it was done without Forest Service approval.”
BOLD ALLIANCE (West Virginia and Virginia, in route of MVP and ACP)
Landowners in the path of the proposed Atlantic Coast & Mountain Valley fracked gas pipelines vowed on Friday to continue their fight, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued certificates of public convenience and necessity for both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) projects. FERC Chairwoman, Cheryl LaFleur dissented, stating that the projects are not in the public interest.
Despite FERC’s reckless decision, made by Trump’s nominees, Bold Alliance and more than 50 landowners, have a federal lawsuit challenging the use of eminent domain for private gain and intend to continue the fight for property rights in the court system.
Carolyn Reilly, Pipeline Fighter with Bold Alliance and an impacted landowner on the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, responded:
“Thousands of landowners and citizens have stood strong in the battle to defend land, protect water and preserve communities. FERC has, yet again, pulled out its rubber stamp and permitted two more risky, fracked gas pipelines that put our homes, our land, our water, and our communities at risk. But, our fight is far from over. The ACP and MVP are not a done deal; between the Bold lawsuit against FERC and water permits needed from West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, we, the people, press on and persevere to defend and protect what is sacred.”
Despite receiving federal approvals from FERC, the ACP and MVP still require a 401 Clean Water Act permit from the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality, and landowners and opponents of the proposed fracked gas pipeline continue to urge Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Northam and DEQ Director David Paylor to reject these projects, which are abusing eminent domain for private gain, and threatening our land and water. States are empowered to reject these pipeline applications utilizing the clean water act. Governor Andrew Cuomo has done so in New York and Governors McAuliffe, Cooper, and Justice can do it in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia, too.
Serina Garst, President of Occaneechi, Inc., and an impacted landowner on the route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline shared:
“Five generations of my family have lived on our Virginia land, it is special, it is important to us. The U.S. Constitution allows a government entity to take private property only if necessary for a public purpose. In the MVP, we have not a government, not even a public utility, but a newly-formed private shell company.
“That private company wants to take land that it does need and ignore alternate forms of transporting the gas because the pipeline is more lucrative. And the use of the gas is not for the public – at least, not for the American public. Does the constitution mean nothing? Can any company that wants to make money off my family’s land take it if they get government backing? Many of men who wrote the Constitution, such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, were also Virginians. Can anyone truly believe this is what they intended?”
Richard Averitt, an impacted landowner on the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, stated:
“Sadly, it’s no surprise. FERC’s decision further demonstrates that they’re in the back pocket of the industry. But, hundreds of landowners have stood strong and have refused to negotiate with the pipeline companies. We have vowed to fight to protect and defend what is constitutionally ours, and we will win.”
WILD VIRGINIA (Virginia, in route of MVP and ACP)
Despite recent bad news, the future remains uncertain for two huge, destructive natural gas pipelines proposed to mar our precious mountains and forests. Approvals for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline issued on Friday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are just one step in a continuing battle to determine the fates of these pipelines. The outcome in each case is still to be determined and we, the public, can still act to preserve our natural treasures. We have no intention of relenting in our fight and believe these bad projects can still be stopped.
When FERC granted Certificates for MVP and ACP, it betrayed the public interest in favor of private corporate greed. We understand the disappointment many of you are feeling. It is always discouraging when supposed “public servants” fail in their duties to protect our environment and our communities. But there are a number of reasons to maintain hope. First, in a relatively unusual action, one of the FERC members dissented from her colleagues’ decisions. Such divisions within the Commission in regard to pipeline proposals have been very rare and Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s conclusion, that neither project was shown to best serve the public, will be useful in the court challenges that we anticipate will begin soon. The many serious deficiencies in FERC’s environmental analyses and its failure to honestly assess the need for the pipelines could be fatal flaws.
In addition, we continue to pursue formal objections before the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Draft approvals for the pipelines to cross the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and amend forest plans are unsupported by the facts and the law. It is clear that Trump administration officials overruled the resource managers who know our National Forests best. The hard work those scientists did in defining necessary studies and identifying major threats to the forests and users interests was largely discarded and ignored by the political appointees in the Service and the Department of Agriculture.
Another vitally-important forum in which the pipelines can be stopped is the State of Virginia’s process for applying the Clean Water Act. The Department of Environmental Quality will make recommendations for approval or denial of each project in December. Neither Dominion nor EQT has met its burden of proof to show construction and operation of the pipelines will fully protect water quality – to the contrary, the very difficult terrain through which the pipelines would cross and the sensitive resources that could be destroyed or degraded make it impossible to predict that water quality standards can be met, based on the severely deficient evidence provided. Further, the unfair and legally-flawed processes DEQ has conducted have deprived the public of its rights. We will expect and demand that the citizen members of the State Water Control Board do the right thing and veto the projects in Virginia.
The pipeline companies would love for us to become discouraged by the news from FERC but we will not give them that satisfaction. From the start, we knew that FERC has traditionally been a mere “rubber stamp” for the power industry. So, while the Commission’s failure to do its duty honestly is disappointing it is not a surprise.
We need you to stick with us to enable us to continue to work to protect Virginia’s natural forests and landscapes.
APPALACHIAN VOICES (West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, in route of MVP and ACP)
Late yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the controversial and dangerous inter-state Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines. The projects are still pending approval from state agencies like the Virginia State Water Control Board, which meets in December to consider the projects’ impacts on state waters.
North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality recently rejected the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, citing an insufficient erosion and sediment control plan for the project. And West Virginia’s environmental agency has asked a court to remand its state approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline as inadequately assessing harm to state waters.
Lara Mack, Virginia Field Organizer for Appalachian Voices, released the following statement:
“We condemn FERC’s decision to grant approval for both of these pipelines, but ultimately, the fate of these projects will be decided by Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. It is up to the states to properly evaluate the harm posed by these projects and deny their approval.
“In Virginia alone, the pipelines would cross pristine streams, rivers, wetlands and other waters at more than 1,000 places – including tunneling dozens of feet underneath the James and other major rivers – and bring significant peril to the quality and safety of our water supply. While we expected this decision given FERC’s history of rubber stamping approvals — including pipeline projects that have been rejected by courts and sent back to the agency for further review – we are nonetheless disappointed in the disregard for Virginia’s water quality.
“We applaud Commissioner LaFleur for the careful consideration that was expressed in her dissenting opinion rejecting the pipelines as not being in the public interest, and, noting that FERC has not properly balanced the environmental issues ‘including the downstream impacts’ of the projects with the need.
“In Virginia, residents will now rely on the State Water Control Board, which has the authority to deny the required state water permits if the pipelines are likely to fail Virginia’s water quality standards. We call on the water board members to fulfill their duty to protect Virginians and deny the energy companies their needless pipelines, which would harm Virginia businesses, communities and resident across the state. At the very least, we urge them to meet their obligation to request more information and time to ensure they are sufficiently analyzing the effect on our water.”
SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CENTER (Virginia and North Carolina, in route of MVP and ACP)
Late Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects.
Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which had petitioned FERC for an evidentiary heading on the ACP, issued the following statement in response:
“While FERC’s anticipated rubber-stamp of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline follows a long trend of this agency’s failure to carry out its responsibilities and properly assess projects, Commissioner LaFleur’s unexpected dissent shows that even within FERC, this pipeline is seen as harmful and unnecessary. SELC plans to challenge the majority’s decision to brush under the rug compelling evidence that this environmentally destructive pipeline is not needed to meet the energy demands of our region.
“The utilities involved in the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline claim utility customers will save money, when in fact this pipeline will drive up ratepayers’ bills – and cause harm to national forests and to rivers and streams while threatening to commit our states to fossil fuels for decades to come. But today’s decision is not the end. It’s now up to North Carolina and Virginia state leaders to actually take a look at the real, serious, and unnecessary risks to water quality and other resources, and put the brakes on this wasteful project.”
CHESAPEAKE CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK (Virginia, in route of MVP and ACP)
Anne Havemann, General Counsel at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said:
“We are living in a climate emergency. In just the past several weeks we’ve seen the tragic consequences of a warmer world, from devastating hurricanes to raging wildfires. Now is the time to move to renewable energy, not build new pipelines that would lock us into climate-warming infrastructure for generations to come.”
SIERRA CLUB (West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, in route of MVP and ACP)
Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), after recently regaining a quorum, granted federal approval for the fracked gas Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley (MVP) pipelines. Fracked gas is primarily composed of methane, a dangerous pollutant 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years in the atmosphere. Commissioner LaFleur notably dissented, saying the pipelines were not in the public interest.
Both the ACP and MVP would take fracked gas from West Virginia to southern Virginia, slicing through some of the most beautiful parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains and our national forests, with the ACP continuing into eastern North Carolina, crossing more than 1,000 waterways. If the pipeline receives the necessary state approvals, construction will pollute pristine streams and rivers, further threaten endangered species that are already on the brink, devastate forested wetlands and other valuable ecosystems, and threaten communities with the dangers of an explosion. The Sierra Club and a broad coalition of environmental and community groups plan to urge FERC to reconsider its decision.
Additional federal and state permits are required before construction can begin. North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia are each considering the potential water quality impacts of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and must grant Water Quality Certification (WQC) under section 401 of the Clean Water Act before construction may proceed. North Carolina has delayed its WCQ decision on the ACP and asked the pipeline developer for more specific information on how it will affect certain water crossings. Virginia has yet to issue WQC for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and Sierra Club’s lawsuit against West Virginia recently resulted in the state asking the Court to allow it to reconsider its certificate for the MVP. Several other federal reviews are still required, including a separate Endangered Species Act analysis, air permits, and local land use approvals for the fracked gas compressor stations and other facilities along the route.
In response, Sierra Club Dirty Fuels Campaign Director Kelly Martin released the following statement:
“Despite new commissioners, FERC continues to show itself to be nothing more than a rubber stamp for dirty and dangerous fossil fuel projects. Greenlighting the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines doesn’t advance West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina communities – it threatens them by pumping fracked gas through them, releasing methane every step of the way.
“Despite the talking points of the fossil fuel industry and FERC, fracked gas is not a clean fuel or the future. It’s yet another dirty fuel polluting our air and water, threatening our public health and the climate. Clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind are readily available and affordable today. Building these antiquated, expensive, and dangerous projects only locks us into to the dirty and dangerous fuels of the last century when we should be investing in clean energy.
“We applaud Commissioner LaFleur for recognizing what West Virginians, Virginians and North Carolinians already know – these fracked gas pipelines are not in the public interest.”
OIL CHANGE INTERNATIONAL (West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina, in route of MVP and ACP)
Today, on a Friday evening at 7:00 PM, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. Both projects were approved by a vote of 2 to 1, with Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur issuing dissenting statements for both approvals.
In response, Lorne Stockman, Senior Analyst with Oil Change International, released the following statement:
“In spite of FERC’s irresponsible action, these fracked gas pipelines still face massive opposition in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. FERC cannot sneak these mega-projects past the hundreds of communities in their path in the dead of night.
“Oil Change International and the many groups fighting these pipelines have documented the extensive damage these projects will do. Both projects are bad deals for ratepayers, and huge threats to our mountains, rivers, farms, and local economies. They threaten our climate and disproportionately impact our low-income and minority communities. FERC has ignored all the evidence and certified these destructive projects as ‘convenient and necessary’ – when in fact they are neither.
“There is no public convenience or necessity associated with either of these pipelines, and the only people they serve is shareholders. No assessment of actual need has been conducted for either of them, as noted by Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur in her rarely-seen dissent opposing today’s approvals. Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley will cause irreparable harm to our climate, and to the communities and environment along their routes.
“Despite the certificates granted today, these fights are far from over. The responsibility to protect the climate, ratepayer interests, and the precious water in these states now rests squarely on the shoulders of Governors Terry McAuliffe, Roy Cooper, and Jim Justice. We will join our partners and communities in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia to increase pressure for the rejection of 401 water permits in these states and stop these reckless pipelines.”
Notes to Editors:
For more information on the risks of these gas pipelines, see the following reports from Oil Change International:
- Ratepayer & Pipeline Regulation: “Art of the Self-Deal: How Regulatory Failure Lets Gas Pipeline Companies Fabricate Need and Fleece Ratepayers” (Sept 2017)
- Atlantic Coast Emissions: “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Briefing”(Feb 2017)
- Mountain Valley Emissions: “The Mountain Valley Pipeline: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Briefing” (Feb 2017)
- Mountain Valley Financing: “The Money Behind the Mountain Valley Pipeline: Is Your Bank Financing Another Fracked-Gas Disaster?” (May 2017)
- Appalachian Gas Pipelines: “A Bridge Too Far: How Appalachian Basin Gas Pipeline Expansion Will Undermine U.S. Climate Goals” (July 2016)
FERC’s approval documents can be found here:
- Atlantic Coast: “Order Issuing Certificates for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” (13 Oct 2017)
- Mountain Valley: “Order Issuing Certificates and Granting Abandonment Authority for the Mountain Valley Pipeline” (13 Oct 2017)
FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s dissenting statements can be found here:
- Atlantic Coast: “Commissioner LaFleur, Dissenting – Atlantic Coast” (13 Oct 2017)
- Mountain Valley: “Commissioner LaFleur, Dissenting – Mountain Valley (13 Oct 2017)