Flood the FERC

flood-the-ferc1
The view from the Kelly Knob overlook on the AT, before and after MVP.

FERC DEIS Public Comment Deadline is December 22nd, 2016.

Submit at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/FERCOnline.aspx and mention docket # CP16-10-000.  Choose the e-filing option, not e-comment. You will have to create a free account in order to submit your comment. Be sure to enter the docket number.

All public comments are important, but write a more strategic one….

It feels good to write a raging litany of why you hate the pipeline, why we should invest in a clean energy future, why it will leave us with all the risk and no reward, but to be blunt: FERC doesn’t care about that. If that is all you say, they can and will disregard your comment because it does not pertain to their regulatory framework. It is good to mention all your reasons for opposing the pipeline, but please include the key items below:  

Here are some important things to mention in your comment that FERC is looking for, and legally must respond to:

FIRST: Mention the Jefferson National Forest and its Forest Management Plan. MOST IMPORTANT.

Currently, the environmental protections within the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan will not allow the pipeline….the Forest Service has publicly said that in this terrain, the MVP could not be built in compliance with the current Forest Management Plan.  In response, FERC suggests that the Forest Management plan should be amended to reduce standards and allow for construction.

The proposed amendments to the USFS Land and Resource Management Plan are:

Re-zone part of the Jefferson National Forest to create a 500-foot wide “Utility Corridor” for future gas, electricity and water lines.

Permit the MVP corridor to exceed existing restrictions on soil and riparian conditions.

Permit removal of currently preserved old growth forests within the construction corridor of the MVP.

Permit the MVP to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) on Peters Mountain; reduce the Scenic Integrity Objective for the ANST from “high” to “moderate” at pipeline crossing; and allow vegetation restoration to take up to 10 years following construction.

Oppose these amendments in your comment to FERC. They are going to weaken existing protections on public land so that the pipeline can be built.

Places within the Jefferson National Forest that will be impacted by the pipeline:

View from Angel’s Rest

Rice Fields and Peters Mountain Wilderness

Sinking Creek Mountain across from Kelly Knob

Brush Mountain Wilderness

View from Dragon’s Tooth

View from McAfee Knob

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has publicly taken a stance against the MVP.  More info here.

The Forest Service has downplayed their powerful role in the permitting process.  They have the legal power to tell FERC that the MVP cannot go through the National Forest.  Any comment that mentions the Jefferson National Forest or the Forest Service must be sent to the Forest Service for their review and approval.  The more comments that are sent their way, the better.  Rank and file Forest Service employees have expressed off the record that they are not in favor of the project.

Sign a petition to the Forest Service asking them to not amend the Jefferson National Forest Management Plan.

SECOND: Mention that studies show that current energy demand can be met by existing infrastructure.  We don’t even need these pipelines!

FERC has said that they will not assess the need for either pipeline (MVP and ACP) in the environmental impact statement.  This is a violation of the NEPA process.

That process requires that FERC’s environmental impact statement first assess the need for the project and include reasonable alternatives to the project in addition to investigating environmental impacts..

Study showing risks of overbuilding pipeline infrastructure.

THIRD: Mention climate change.

The draft EIS doesn’t even mention cumulative impacts such as climate change. The EPA sent a recommendation to FERC that they need to address climate change and the need for this infrastructure.  Addressing cumulative impacts (i.e. climate change) is a required part of the NEPA process.

FOURTH: Mention the Karst Hydrology and Erosion Control on steep slopes.

Even if MVP follows FERC’s best management practices to the letter, it is still not enough to prevent erosion and landslides in this mountainous and wet landscape. Some helpful language on this can be found here.

Again you can mention the Jefferson National Forest Management plan which currently has good language about steep slope erosion control.

FIFTH: Mention Historic Preservation.

The pipeline route is currently headed straight through Newport, between Mt. Olivet Church and the Newport Rec Center.  The National Historical Preservation Act protects historic districts like Newport.  Mention in your comment that threats to historic places are not mitigatable.

SIXTH: Use the phrases “not mitigatable” and “irreparable harm” to describe your objections.

This is FERC’s own language.  They have to reject a project if there is evidence that the project poses the threat of irreparable harm or if the consequences of the pipeline construction is not mitigatable.

More Resources for writing your comment:

Appalachian Trail Conservancy Comment Guide

Indian Creek Watershed Comment Guide

Chesapeake Climate Action Network Comment Guide

Appalachian Voices Comment Guide

Wild Virginia Comment Guide (PDF)

Here you can download an editable letter to the FERC Secretary, which can be submitted online or mailed in.