Multiple individuals, advocacy groups, local governments, and Congressmen have filed comments in the FERC docket over the past week. Please see the following links and summaries of each comment:
Preserve Roanoke filed a critique of the Section 106 process March 2, particularly as it relates to their response to the Revised Historic Property Treatment Plan for the Bent Mountain Rural Historic District, Bent Mountain Apple Orchard Rural Historic District, and Coles-Terry Rural Historic District. Preserve Roanoke specifically criticized MVP on the following issues:
- MVP has employed a practice of “avoidance of avoidance,” in which they have “sidestepped the vast majority of opportunities to consult with the public to work out mutually agreeable arrangements for avoidance of impacts to historic resources” throughout the Section 106 process as a whole.
- MVP has failed to involve consulting parties, including local governments, when making decisions about the avoidance/mitigation of impacts to historic resources.
- MVP has attempted to equivocate rural historic districts and traditional cultural properties when considering “whether and how much those impacts affect the ways in which the land inside the districts is used.” However, “rural historic districts do not share with traditional cultural properties a dependence on land use as a criterion for eligibility determination.”
- There is no precedent for the use of non-native traditional cultural properties, and thus MVP must seek for the rural historic districts in Virginia for which they consider the “land use” to be a substitute for consideration of impacts to the landscape and topography to be qualified as traditional cultural properties.
- MVP failed to consider the impacts to landscape and topographic features in rural historic districts
In addition to these larger categories, Preserve Roanoke critiqued specific aspects of the treatment plan. The entirety of the group’s comments can be found below.
Preserve Montgomery County, VA
Preserve Montgomery County, VA (PMCVA) filed comments March 8 in response to the Revised Historic Property Treatment Plan for the North Fork Valley Rural Historic District.
PMCVA echoed several of the general concerns about the Section 106 process overall from the filing by Preserve Roanoke. PMCVA also expressed the following additional concerns:
- MVP’s plan to mitigate impacts to the North Fork Valley Rural Historic District by setting aside money to create a museum exhibit about the district is “inchoate and premature, and needs further refinement to insure that it is feasible and won’t atrophy due to necessary time delays and financial depletion before the Museum can develop a well-designed and well-executed exhibit.”
- MVP’s status as an LLC and it’s ability to remain in operation long enough to develop the proposed museum exhibit should be detailed in the Revised Treatment Plan, particularly if MVP is requiring that it oversee the exhibit project itself.
- The Montgomery County Memory project as currently incorporated into the Revised Treatment Plan is infeasible, and should have been discussed with the Museum before the Revised Treatment Plan was proposed, so an alternative could be discussed.
- The group welcomes the proposed reduction in easement width to 10’, but details of the reclamation process are lacking, particularly when addressing problems of corridor and facilities maintenance, reintroduction of native plant species, and sustainability.
As a consulting party, PMCVA urges FERC and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources “to postpone approval of this revision until these conditions are addressed and full transparency regarding the viability of the museum plan is achieved.”
Montgomery County filed objections March 5 regarding the Revised Historic Property Treatment Plan for the North Fork Valley Rural Historic District. Montgomery County, like PMCVA, made comments about MVP’s proposal to fund and manage the development of an exhibit about the district in the Montgomery Museum. Montgomery County asserts that the Museum has not be contacted regarding such a proposal, and should be involved in the discussion before FERC allows the plan to be approved.
While Montgomery County approves the reduction of the visible right-of-way as proposed, the County government expressed concerns that the proposed treatment of the right-of-way and the museum exhibit are not proportional to the amount of permanent damage that will occur within the North Fork Valley Rural Historic District. As a result, the County proposes that MVP establish an additional mitigation compensatory fund that can be used to restore one or more of the historic structures in the district.
Congressman Donald S. Beyer, Jr.
Congressman Donald S. Beyer, Jr., the Democratic representative of Virginia’s 8th District, submitted a letter to FERC February 26. The PDF version of the letter generated by FERC indicates that the letter was received by the Commission’s Office of External Affairs March 6.
In his letter, Rep. Beyer urges FERC to grant rehearings on both the MVP and ACP Certificates, citing the following reasons:
- Two Commissioner seats were vacant during the decision to grant the Certificates of both pipelines, and the decision was made in a 2-1 vote.
- There are serious questions about the FERC process — the completeness of the proposals for each pipeline, alternatives considered, and independent verification of calculated facts — especially for the MVP.
- FERC needs to consider whether there is truly a demand for the natural gas that would be shipped on the pipelines, as the Energy Information Association and the regional grid manager show no calculated increase in need that would be served by these pipelines.
- Mitigation plans for ACP are still incomplete.
James & Karen Scott
James and Karen Scott, landowners along the route in Roanoke County, VA, filed comments March 8 requesting clarification of the FERC-approved route of the pipeline as it runs through their property. The Scotts state that, through the eminent domain early entry process, MVP sought and received possession of an old route that cuts through a historic cemetery on their property (part of the Coles-Terry Rural Historic District) rather than a new route that was filed June 2017 and would avoid the cemetery on their property. An order from the court indicated that, if an easement agreement is reached, MVP and the landowner can jointly file for approval of a route variation, but without an easement agreement MVP will proceed with the original route as approved by FERC.
“We request that FERC immediately clarify to MVP, and the court, that the landowner crossing plans can and should be filed immediately with FERC regardless of easement status. The court agreed MVP did not have to act in good faith in the effort to obtain an easement, and MVP was quick to condemn the wrong route through the cemetery. We should not be ‘forced’ to sign an easement prior to FERC accepting the route ‘change’ to save the cemetery and son’s house site.”
Sheridan Gump, a resident of Metz, WV, filed comments March 3 asking that FERC “reconsider letting the Mountain Valley Pipeline continue to infringe on landowners rights in West Virginia.” Gump indicates that residents should not have property taken from them in order for big corporations to “pad their own pockets without even negotiating fairly” with consenting landowners.
David Witt, a resident of Monroe County, WV, submitted comments to FERC March 1. The paper copy of the comments reached FERC March 8 and were subsequently filed. Witt expresses his frustration that FERC has allowed construction of the MVP to go forward while there are still outstanding issues to be solved, including constitutional challenges filed before the Certificate was issued, the errors of the WV DEP permitting process, MVP’s questionable ability to gain the right of eminent domain as a private corporation, and the fact that partner companies involved in the MVP project are selling the pipeline’s capacity to their own affiliates. Witt closed by asserting the need for a rehearing of the FERC Certificate.
Nan Gray, a resident of Newport, VA filed comments March 9 urging FERC to stop work on MVP, particularly tree cutting. Gray asserted that FERC should do so because there is no show of true public need for the project as well as the company’s consistent submittal of “insufficient information, inadequate and inaccurate information and out-and-out false information.” She also reiterates the serious need for an Order 1 Soil Survey before a route is even finalized, a process MVP did not go through. Gray asserts that the rehearing process should be allowed to go forward before construction continues.
Nancy & Wood Bouldin
Nancy and Wood Bouldin from Monroe and Summers Counties, WV filed comments with FERC March 8, which were added to the FERC docket the evening of March 11.
The Bouldins also sent their comments to Senator Joe Manchin III, Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Representative Evan Jenkins, and Governor Jim Justice, all of whom have voiced support for the MVP project.
In their comments, the Bouldins call upon FERC to uphold landowners’ right to due process by scheduling a rehearing of the FERC Certificate and issue an immediate halt to tree cutting until said rehearing has concluded. They cited the following key reasons:
- Challenges to the grant of authority of eminent domain to MVP have not been adequately considered by FERC or any other authority.
- The due process rights of WV constituents are being violated by FERC’s persistent delay in making a decision on a Rehearing.
- The landowners who are standing up for their property rights against FERC’s granting eminent domain to MVP are not outside agitators or so-called activists.
The Bouldins concluded with the following statement: “We are not asking you to “stop” the pipeline. We are asking you to call for fairness and due process. West Virginians and Virginians have a constitutional right to a prompt Rehearing decision regarding the FERC’s Certificate for the Mountain Valley Pipeline and a halt to tree-cutting and construction until a Rehearing decision has been properly adjudicated.”
For reference, they attached a copy of Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s dissent in the 2-1 approval of the FERC Certificates for MVP and ACP.
Numerous other landowners in Monroe and Summers Counties, WV signed onto the letter in support.