This is a compilation of the comments filed with FERC by landowners, concerned residents, county governments, and other interested parties for the week of March 26, 2018.
Save Monroe filed comments with FERC March 26 and 27. The first filing requested that Joby Timm, Supervisor for the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, offer some clarification of the March 19, 2018 Closure Order for portions of the Jefferson National Forest. The March 19 Order was the third rendition of the Forest Service’s Closure Order. Save Monroe cited the following issues with the Order:
- The closure limits of the Order infringe on a portion of the Peters Mountain Wilderness Area, which Joby Timm indicated is not permissible in a May 16, 2016 letter to FERC.
- The Order is unclear in delineating exactly what portions of Mystery Ridge Road fall under the closure, as part of the road does not fall within the 100 foot buffer zone created by the closure, and another segment of the road is contained within the Peters Mountain Wilderness Area, which should not be subject to closure.
- The most recent version of the Closure Order failed to state that it replaced the first version of the Closure Order.
- The Closure Order limits citizens’ ability to monitor MVP’s activity in the Peters Mountain Wilderness Area and the Jefferson National Forest as a whole, and thus methods of ensuring MVP does not cross the border of their 125 foot right-of-way is unclear based on the Order.
The filing included the following requests from Save Monroe:
1. We respectfully request answers to the above questions that reflect some of the public’s concerns. Clearly these questions and others would have been raised by the public if there had been an opportunity to comment before the Forest Supervisor issued such a broad Order.
2. Since the penalties contained in the Order are draconian and infringe on the public’s access to their PUBLIC LANDS, we request that the JNF fence the 100 ft buffer on either side of the “disturbance corridor” so that there can be no ambiguity in the Forest Service’s intent.
3. We respectfully request that Supervisor Timm rescinds the Order which is an infringement of the Public’s right to unrestricted access to the Public’s own land. This new semi-permanent 325 foot wide corridor was not proposed during the scoping, EIS, or ROD processes.
4. Finally, if the Forest Supervisor is going to continue to invoke an emergency closure, we request that he issue a new Order that rescinds 08-08-11-18-01 and clarifies the status of the interior section of FSR #11080 that runs through the middle of the Wilderness Area.
The second filing included information showing evidence that the Bureau of Land Management is now requiring employees to wear “vision cards” along with their badges that depict oil rigs. On these “vision cards” is information about the BLM’s commitment to stakeholders and customers, but the cards fail to mention any protection of public lands.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Steve Vance, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, filed comments March 18 with FERC on behalf of the Tribe. The comments were marked as received and added to the FERC docket March 26.
Vance indicated he had previously requested January 16 that FERC provide him with documents relating to the Section 106 Consultation process, to which FERC responded that the information being requested is “privileged” and recommended Vance refer to the Programmatic Agreement and the Environmental Impact Statement for the MVP project.
“I am discouraged at the response from Paul Friedman’s January 30, 2018 letter from FERC that a THPO cannot review MVP project reports,” Vance responded in his comments. “I am very sure FERC provided this same information I requested to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). Is FERC discriminating CRST?”
Vance also told FERC that he informed the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and the Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) of his concerns after receiving limited communication from FERC. Specifically, he expressed concerns that evidence of a Lakota Sioux burial site had been recently discovered, and the relevant tribes had not been consulted, yet surveying, tree-felling, and construction has been allowed to proceed by FERC.
“Not being able to contact anyone at FERC I sent emails to ACHP that there will be adverse effects from the ongoing cutting of trees and archaeological diggings presently being done along the APE. I informed ACHP that the continued destruction is deemed anticipatory demolition and should stop until all cultural resources are sufficiently identified. This letter is only repeating what has been addressed previously but I feel the previous emails, phone calls, and other requests are ignored and deem not official. The communication I am doing is far greater then what FERC has done to date to address consultation with Tribes.”
The County of Craig filed comments with FERC March 21 that were not added to the FERC docket until March 27.
In the filing, the County reinforced comments from Preserve Craig indicating that the presence of historic property in Craig County had not been properly identified by MVP. The County also noted that, while they are a consulting party in the Section 106 process with MVP, the county government had been consulted by neither the Office of Energy Projects nor MVP on historic properties that would be impacted by the project.
The County requested that FERC not allow any tree-clearing or construction activity to proceed in the area until the potential impacts of the project are evaluated and the adverse effects are resolved in consultation with the County.
Andrea Ferster, on behalf of Elizabeth Reynolds
Andrea Ferster, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney, filed comments on behalf of Elizabeth Reynolds of Roanoke County March 23, though the comments were not placed in the FERC docket until March 26.
Ferster indicated that MVP is in violation of the Programmatic Agreement; FERC approved implementation of historic resource Treatment Plans on Reynolds’ property January 29, and specifically noted that “[i]n the case of all sites to be treated, Mountain Valley must have landowner permission or executed easement agreements prior to implementation of measures.” However, MVP has not gained permission from or executed an easement agreement with Reynolds as of the date of the filing.
Additionally, Ferster noted that Reynolds’ property is impacted by the input provided by a representative of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe as an attachment to landowner comments March 13. Because MVP failed to consult with the Rosebud Sioux during the historic resource consideration process, the company is now in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act. Ferster attached a copy of the letter written by Ben Rhodd.
Thomas Bouldin, a resident of Pence Springs, WV, filed comments with FERC March 29 detailing the necessity of scheduling rehearing of MVP’s FERC Certificate.
Bouldin cited the following key issues with FERC’s approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline project:
- Deep-rooted objection to EQT’s “assumption of some inherent right to appropriate and ‘own’ over 300 miles of Appalachian farm and forest land — most of which is in private hands — in order to extend a corporate empire involving billions of dollars in profitable assets,” as well as the fact that this assumption of inherent right has been endorsed by the federal government through FERC and other agencies.
- FERC’s abuse of authority and evidence of being “too cozy” with the oil and gas industry, as was shown in the decorum of multiple meetings involving FERC and MVP, as well as FERC’s denouncing of expert public comment and arbitrary ruling on the acceptability of certain arguments.
- FERC’s blind acceptance of MVP’s “bad science” in the face of numerous objections from scientific experts who participated in the public comment process.
- FERC’s subversion of due process by “summarily dismissing the procedural and conceptual requirements posed by NEPA,” refusal to require adequate mitigation of MVP’s impacts on the environment, and the use of tolling orders to indefinitely delay the rehearing process.
Bouldin asserted that FERC should conduct “a rehearing that reviews all the existing evidence, allowing for the cross examination of the agency’s arguments in light of the testimony of citizens and various trained specialists.”
“Such a rehearing is virtually necessary to preserve the integrity of the decision-making process,” Bouldin said. “It might also have the additional advantage of restoring some degree of public trust in FERC’s capacity to render meaningful public service as a regulatory body.”
Congressman David Price
Congressman David Price (D-NC) filed comments March 29 supporting recent appeals to FERC to initiate the rehearing process for the MVP and ACP.
Price cited concerns about the unusual nature of the 2-1 vote approving each pipeline, the use of tolling orders to delay the rehearing process, and the inclusion of new information about the projects less than a month before project approval.