The Greater Newport Rural Historic District is now subject to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Notice to Proceed, authorizing construction activity for Mountain Valley Pipeline in an area designated as one of Virginia’s most endangered historic places. Preservation Virginia described the threat to the district as follows:
Newport Historic District & Greater Newport Rural Historic District
One specific example is in Giles County, where two existing historic districts are threatened by the MVP. Minimization or avoidance of the negative impacts on the historic resources and traditionally agricultural landscape of Giles County is not feasible. The covered bridges and historic structures that lend the district integrity and the continued agricultural pattern of land use in this area would be permanently and irrevocably impacted by the pipeline. Though a National Register of Historic Places listing is mainly honorific, it does trigger a Section 106 review under the National Historic Preservation Act when a federal agency is involved in a project impacting a registered resource. Historic districts are generally to be avoided as part of a proposed project’s Area of Potential Effect (APE).
Like others potentially impacted by the MVP and ACP, local groups in Giles County opposed to the projects such as Preserve Giles County and Preserve Newport Historic Properties, find themselves involved in a flawed public engagement process contrary to Section 106. Consulting party status for appropriate organizations to take part in an exchange of information has been denied. Public meetings held by FERC have not been truly public and have instead relied on one-on-one recorded exchanges. Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) cultural resource survey reports have been difficult to obtain and incomplete or non-existent for sections of the proposed pipeline routes.
Despite intense opposition from conservation groups and Giles County residents, FERC Environmental Project Manager Paul Friedman granted the March 13, 2018 request (Request for Notice to Proceed No. 15), supplemented by a March 14, 2018 filing, for Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC (Mountain Valley) to commence construction of discontiguous portions of its pipeline in Doddridge, Harrison, Monroe, and Nicholas Counties, West Virginia, and Craig, Giles, and Montgomery Counties, Virginia, listed on Attachment A of the request.
In Giles County, MVP may construct within the boundaries of the Greater Newport Rural Historic District between about mileposts 210.8 and 216.9. The Management Summary provided in Attachment B of the request indicated that there would be no on-the-ground cultural resources fieldwork within the Historic District as part of the Treatment Plan, and that all treatment measures, including but not limited to revegetation and preservation of buildings, would be implemented after installation of the pipeline.