This post contains a running spreadsheet of all variances requested by MVP through the FERC docket, most recently updated August 11, 2020.
Formally Requested Variances
MVP has made numerous variance requests through formal filings in the FERC docket. The first page of the spreadsheet contains the following information on each request of this sort:
- Title of the variance request
- Date request was submitted (and revised, if applicable)
- Associated request documents
- Summary of the request
- Date approved by FERC
- Associated approval document
Some fields in the spreadsheet may need to be expanded to be viewed. Requests highlighted in green on this sheet have not yet been approved by FERC or are missing approval documentation.
Additionally, MVP has been obtaining in-field variances, approved by FERC’s Environmental Compliance Monitors and Managers. Those approvals are included in the Environmental Compliance Monitoring Reports, which each cover weekly reports from the Monitors and are often posted to the FERC docket several weeks after the monitoring period concludes. Another page of the spreadsheet has been added to reflect these approvals made in the field, and contains the following information:
- Environmental Compliance Monitoring Report period, with link to associated approval document
- Variance request number
- Categorization of the variance, either
- Level 1: Reviewed and approved or denied by the Compliance Monitors. These requests must be within the approved workspace or of like use and are for site-specific, minor, performance-based changes to Project specifications or mitigation measures that provide equal or better protection to environmental resources.
- Level 2: Reviewed and approved or denied by the Compliance Manager. These requests involve Project changes that would affect an area outside of the previously approved work area, but within the corridor previously surveyed for cultural resources, sensitive species, sensitive resources, etc.
- Construction spread (some with nearest associated milepost)
- Date the request was received by compliance monitors
- Description of the request as listed in the report
- Date the request was approved by compliance monitors
- Date ECM report was filed on FERC docket
ECM Reports highlighted in blue in the spreadsheet have no associated variance requests.
A report based on this spreadsheet and contextual information was prepared and submitted to the offices of Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine on November 12, 2019. An update to this report was prepared June 12, 2020 and submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and several members of the US House of Representatives.
Environmental hydrologist Dr. Jacob Hileman conducted some analysis on the variance requests submitted, and incorporated his findings in an op-ed published in the Virginia Mercury.
Formal Variances Per Spread
- Spread A: 40
- Spread B: 17
- Spread C: 10
- Spread D: 16
- Spread E: 5
- Spread F: 7
- Spread G: 6
- Spread H: 7
- Spread I: 9
- Compressor Station/Interconnect Sites: 5
- Route-wide Variances: 14
- Jefferson National Forest Variances: 2
Variances of Note
Date Requested: March 27, 2018
Date Approved: March 27, 2018
The Request: This variance is to clarify the General Blasting Plan. The following is a list of the changes MVP made to their General Blasting Plan, originally drafted and approved April 2016. Quoted changes within context are underlined:
- Blasting Specifications: Blasting for pipeline facilities grade or trench excavation, compressor station and interconnect site development will be considered only after all other reasonable means of excavation have been evaluated and determined to be unlikely to achieve the required results.
- Blasting Requirements, General Provisions: The Contractor shall be responsible for supplying explosives and blasting materials that are perchlorate-free in order to eliminate the potential for perchlorate contamination of ground water, except that detonators containing non-combined amounts of perchlorate, such as Dyno Nobel NONEL EZ Det or equivalent, are an industry standard and shall be permitted. Further, while the use of bulk ammonium nitrate is prohibited, the use of emulsion type explosives, including those having ammonium nitrate as a constituent, such as Dyna 1062 Bulk Emulsion or equivalent, shall be permitted, as these types of explosives are considered industry standard for area blasting related to large scale earthwork construction.
- MVP Project Contacts and Related Permitting Prior to Blasting (Table 7.1.1): MVP added contact information for the West Virginia Fire Marshall, which requires a permit and notification before blasting occurs
- Storage Use at Sites: MVP added a provision that Contractors “shall maintain a daily and/or blast inventory record of all explosive materials transported, used, and returned to off-site storage, when no storage is located on the blast site.”
- Pre-Blast Operations: Dyno Nobel 1062 Bulk Emulsion (or equivalent) was added to the list of explosive and initiation system types that can be used. The substance is described as “an emulsion/gel product commonly used for area blasting such as road alignments or large pads. It contains the following major components: ammonium nitrate (30 to 80% w/w, calcium nitrate, sodium nitrate, and No. 2 diesel fuel (1 to 8% w/w).”
Other Notes: Those subscribing to the FERC eSubscription system for the MVP docket received notification of MVP’s request at 9:51am, then received notice of FERC’s approval of the request at 1:01pm the same day; this could be the fastest turnaround within the FERC’s MVP docket to date.
Variances to Tree Felling Restrictions in the Jefferson National Forest
Date Requested: April 23, 2018 and June 8, 2018
Date Approved: April 23, 2018 and June 11, 2018
The Request: MVP requested on two occasions that the deadline for tree clearing on U.S. Forest Service property be extended beyond the original deadline of March 31. The company indicated that the request was granted by other relevant agencies, and would be in compliance with the FEIS for the following reasons:
- The affected area is very small;
- Unforeseen circumstances necessitate an extension;
- All other federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, approved the request;
- No impacts to migratory birds are expected;
- The variance would be consistent with the Biological Opinion on bats;
MVP said the work on the remaining 0.31 acres of forest land could not be completed “due to the actions of obstructionists,” referring to the various aerial blockades erected by forest protectors that prevented work. MVP requested that the variance be approved “as soon as possible,” and FERC approved the first request the same day, extending the deadline for tree cutting in the Jefferson National Forest to May 31, 2018. FERC approved the second request three days after it was made, extending the deadline further to July 31, 2018.
Date Requested: June 7, 2018
Date Approved: July 24, 2018
The Request: Route-wide request to further define the hours when construction activities will generally occur project-wide by using the FAA definition of “night” based on civil twilight times. As such, MVP proposes that activities generally take place 7am to 7pm, with exceptions made for construction of aboveground facilities, where work will be conducted from start times listed in Attachment A — as early 5:28am in June — until 10pm. The request notes additional exceptions for activities “including 24-hour drilling for HDD or bores, 24-hour work at compressor stations (as approved by FERC), extended work to comply with stream crossing time requirements, extended work due to upcoming inclement weather, extended work to resolve a safety issue, hydrostatic testing, tie-ins, and other similar circumstances.”
Date Requested: September 19, 2018
Date Approved: September 24, 2018
The Request: Route-wide request to further the distance between wildlife escape ramps in the trench for all areas outside the Jefferson National Forest. MVP indicates in the request that the 50-foot distance between wildlife ramps indicated in the FEIS for the Jefferson National Forest was not intended to apply for the entire route, and asks the distance between ramps be extended to no greater than 1/2-mile in West Virginia and 1/10-mile in Virginia.
Date Requested: September 21, 2018
Date Approved: September 25, 2018
The Request: Request to update two project plans: the Vertical Scour and Lateral Channel Erosion Analyses and the Traffic and Transportation Management Plan. Changes to the plans are highlighted in yellow within the request.
Specifically, MVP indicates that the Vertical Scour and Lateral Channel Erosion Analyses were only “a theoretical desktop analysis and did not take site specific constructibility issues (elevations, terrain, and workspace) into account.” As a result, crews determined that the mitigation measures indicated in the plan could not be implemented as described. MVP also revised the central point of command noted in the Traffic and Transportation Management Plan.
Date Requested: September 25, 2018
Date Approved: September 27, 2018
The Request: Request for extended work hours at 44 stream crossings in West Virginia in order to comply with condition set forth in the State’s approval of the Nationwide 12 permit requiring stream crossings be completed in 72 hours or less.
Other Notes: This variance was requested and approved before the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that neither the Army Corps of Engineers nor the State of West Virginia could waive the 72-hour requirement — Special Condition C — and thus vacated the authorization of MVP under the Corps’ Nationwide 12 Permit in the Huntington District. The Corps subsequently suspended the same authorizations in the Norfolk and Pittsburgh Districts, preventing MVP from crossing any streams or wetlands on the route. The permit has not yet been fully reinstated.
Date Requested: October 2, 2018
Date Approved: October 17, 2018
The Request: Request to update Attachment IP-13b (sheet detail from erosion control plan for West Virginia that includes seed mixes) that was submitted as part of the Implementation Plan. MVP notes that, in the process of restoring some areas in West Virginia, some seed mixes noted in the plan are unavailable or “have prohibitive lead times.” As a result, MVP developed a mix of native and non-native (but non-invasive) seed mixes including switchgrass and annual ryegrass.
B-31 & MVP-014
Date Requested: May 16, 2019 & June 11, 2019
Date Approved: May 17, 2019 & June 14, 2019
The Request: B-31 was a request to change the method for crossing six streams and one wetland in Lewis County, WV from an open dry cut method to a conventional bore. MVP-014 was a request to change the method for crossing twelve streams and one wetland in several counties along the route from an open dry cut method to either a conventional bore or a direct pipe method. MVP asserts that these changes can be made without the need for a water crossing permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers, which was vacated by the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals since October 2018 and prevented MVP from constructing across regulated streams and wetlands.
Other Notes: FERC approved all the crossing method changes requested except for S-I28 (Meadow River) and S-L26 (UNT to Meadow River) in Greenbrier County, WV from an open dry cut to a direct pipe method, indicating that the requests for those two crossings “is not approved at this time.” Request MVP-014 was approved June 14 along with Request A-43, but was not labeled as such in the FERC docket.
Update: MVP filed a supplement to their request MVP-014 July 24, in which the company detailed the direct pipe method proposed on the two as-yet-unapproved crossings. Included in this supplement were construction plans for the new method dated September 25, 2018. FERC approved the remainder of the requested crossings July 26.