Master List of MVP Variance Requests Through FERC

This post contains a running spreadsheet of all variances requested by MVP through the FERC docket, most recently updated December 18, 2019.

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.

In-the-Field Variances

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

Date ranges highlighted in green are those with no associated ECM Reports found on the FERC docket as of the most recent update. ECM Reports highlighted in blue have no associated variance requests.

>> View the full spreadsheet here <<

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.

POWHR’s 11/12/2019 Variance Report to Senators Warner and Kaine

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.

Dr. Hileman’s 7/15/2019 piece in the Virginia Mercury

Formal Variances Per Spread

  • Spread A: 39
  • Spread B: 17
  • Spread C: 10
  • Spread D: 15
  • Spread E: 5
  • Spread F: 7
  • Spread G: 5
  • Spread H: 6
  • Spread I: 9
  • Compressor Station/Interconnect Sites: 5
  • Route-wide Variances: 14
  • Jefferson National Forest Variances: 2

Variances of Note

MVP-1

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.

MVP-003

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.”

MVP-004

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.

MVP-006

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.

MVP-007

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.

MVP-008

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.

Army Corps Suspends Stream Crossing Permit in VA

At close of business October 5, the Army Corps of Engineers published a notice that the Nationwide 12 Permit Verification for the Mountain Valley Pipeline was being suspended.

The verification was previously issued January 23, 2018 and allowed MVP to construct a pipeline across “383 separate stream crossings and 142 separate wetlands.” However, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order October 2 in Sierra Club v. Army Corps of Engineers (Case No. 18-1173) vacating the Nationwide 12 Permit verification for the Huntington District of West Virginia.

“Because of that order, it is uncertain whether NWP 12 will ultimately be available to authorize work for MVP in West Virginia,” the Corps’ letter said. “Therefore, the Norfolk District finds it appropriate to suspend your authorization and await clarity on this issue.”

“Effective immediately you must stop all activities being done in reliance upon the authorization under the NWP,” the letter said.

MVP has ten days to request a meeting with the Norfolk District office of the Army Corps to discuss the issue.

In the order issued October 2, the court agreed with plaintiff attorneys that “if any part of a project requires an individual permit, then the NWP does not apply and all portions of the project must be evaluated as part of the individual permit process.” Shortly after the order was filed, plaintiff attorneys at Appalachian Mountain Advocates filed a letter with FERC asserting that the Commission must issue a Stop Work Order for the full route of the pipeline, as a condition of the permit that requires the company to obtain all state and federal permits is no longer satisfied. FERC has not yet issued a Stop Work Order as a result of the Army Corps verification being vacated and suspended.

Roberta Bondurant, POWHR Coalition Co-Chair 

“We are encouraged the Corps saw the wisdom in deferring to the Fourth Circuit in the Court’s vacation of the Section 404 permit on MVP. This decision does not go far enough, though. The POWHR Coalition today filed a request with FERC to stop all work, noting MVP’s reckless and assaultive rush to build through and near streams before the shell LLC — whose stock is plummeting — could be stopped.

“The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Army Corps Section 404 permits are now vacated, and the Natural Streams Preservation Act permit for the proposed Greenbrier River crossing is stayed in circuit court in Summers County. MVP is unquestionably noncompliant with FERC certificate — FERC should revoke the certificate, and all work should stop.”

Related Documents

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling on Army Corps Case, Issued 10/2/18

>Appalachian Mountain Advocates Letter to FERC, Filed 10/3/18

>Army Corps Letter Suspending Authorization in the Norfolk District, Issued 10/5/18

Relevant Media Coverage

Stream-crossing permit suspended for Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia [Roanoke Times]

Army Corps suspends stream-crossing permit in Virginia [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

Mountain Valley Pipeline permit for water crossings suspended in Virginia [WDBJ 7]

Mountain Valley Pipeline loses key permit, all work must stop [WSLS 10]

FERC Lifts MVP Stop Work Order

FERC’s Director of the Office of Energy Projects Terry Turpin posted a letter to the Mountain Valley Pipeline docket August 29 granting what the Commission calls a “partial authorization to resume construction.” The authorization allows for all construction along the 303-mile pipeline to resume, with the following exceptions:

  • The crossing of the Weston and Gauley Bridge Turnpike on lands owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in Braxton County, West Virginia; and
  • Between milepost 196.0 and milepost 221.0, an area encompassing the two watersheds containing the 3.5 miles of pipeline route across the Jefferson National Forest, in Monroe County, West Virginia and Giles County, Virginia.

Turpin stated that the continuation of construction was permitted “because construction will best mitigate further environmental impacts.” This statement  comes despite the ongoing egregious erosion and sedimentation incidents that have been reported by citizen volunteers over the course of construction thus far.

Attached to Turpin’s letter was a document from the Bureau of Land Management outlining the agency’s analysis of the MVP route on federal lands through the lens of Mineral Leasing Act Section 28(p), the section of law that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals deemed was not adequately considered and thus led the court to vacate and remand the previously granted permit.

Just a few hours after Turpin’s letter was issued, Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick filed a joint statement expressing “significant concerns” with FERC staff’s decision to allow construction to continue along the bulk of the MVP route. In the letter, the Commissioners stated they supported staff’s previous decision to stop all work on the pipeline project in light of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to vacate and remand permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service.

“In response to recent court decisions, Commission staff has acted within its delegated authority to address the impact of those court decisions on post-certificate pipeline activities, as it did today,” the statement read. “However, given the increasing complexity of such issues, we believe the Commission should revisit this practice. In the future, when a court remands or vacates a required federal authorization following the issuance of a notice to proceed, we believe the decision regarding whether and how to proceed with the pipeline should be made by the Commission rather than its staff.”

Roberta Bondurant, POWHR Coalition Co-Chair:

“FERC’s authorization does nothing to protect the environment as directed by the Fourth Circuit in its decision to vacate and remand the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management permits. Rather, it inflicts yet more environmental and economic harms on our communities. It’s a glaring example of the doublespeak that has been substituted for real environmental protection through a factually and legally unsupportable response to the Fourth Circuit ruling. 

“Elected officials should be walking their talk of democracy now — landowners and communities are rightfully outraged by the industry abuse of small, mostly rural communities in West Virginia and Virginia, and we will not lay down for environmental devastation and economic disaster.

“The citizen monitors of Mountain Valley Watch who have taken on the work of failing state and federal agencies in monitoring MVP’s march of destruction across southern Virginia and West Virginia will carry on. Our volunteer coalition will continue to challenge MVP by all available legal actions.”

Maury Johnson, Executive Committee Member for POWHR Coalition, Affected Landowner in Monroe County, WV

“Although today’s action by FERC and the BLM was not unexpected, the swiftness of their action goes to show that no real effort was made to analyze the concerns outlined by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. We will continue to fight for our water, air, environment and property rights and demand that the courts do what our state and federal agencies have not done and protect the citizens of WV and VA from this predatory corporation, whose only concern is it’s profits over the lives and livelihood of those citizens whom will be severely and irreparably harmed if this project is allowed to continue.”

# # #

Visit the Mountain Valley Watch Portal to see evidence of incident reports along the MVP route and to learn more about the volunteers working to hold MVP and regulators accountable. To support the Mountain Valley Watch, make a donation through Virginia Organizing designated to POWHR!

Related Documents & Statements

FERC Letter Granting Partial Authorization to Resume Construction, Issued 8/29/18

Joint Statement from Commissioners LaFleur and Glick, Filed 8/29/18

Related Media Coverage

Federal regulators allow Mountain Valley Pipeline construction to resume [WDBJ 7]

Work on Mountain Valley Pipeline allowed to resume [Roanoke Times]

Mountain Valley Pipeline construction ban partially lifted [WSLS 10]

“We Had to Destroy the Village In Order to Save It?” FERC Says Mountain Valley Pipeline “construction will best mitigate further environmental impacts” [Blue Virginia]

FERC Approves Portions of MVP Stabilization Plan

Two days after Mountain Valley Pipeline’s proposed Stabilization Plan was submitted August 8, FERC approved 15 of the 22 proposed actions there included. The approval came despite ongoing objections from over 25 advocacy groups, local governments, and individuals.

The Stabilization Plan was filed in response to FERC’s Notice of Stop Work Order, issued August 3.

Along approximately 80 miles of the route, MVP proposed to fully install the pipeline in order to restore the area to “final stabilization,” which would allow MVP to ostensibly complete almost one-third of the pipeline’s construction while under a full stop work order from FERC along the entire route.

In addition to the public filing for MVP’s proposed stabilization plan, there were documents filed in the FERC docket marked as “Privileged,” and thus are not available to the public.

MVP Proposed Stabilization Plan, Submitted 8/8/18

FERC Partial Approval of MVP Stabilization Plan, Filed 8/10/18

Related Media Coverage

Plan to stabilize the shutdown Mountain Valley Pipeline approved by federal regulators [Roanoke Times]

FERC Stops All Work on MVP

After close of business August 3, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) filed a Notification of Stop Work Order in their official docket for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. The notification comes as a result of a ruling from the Fourth Circuit last week vacating and remanding permits issued by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Roberta Bondurant, Co-Chair for the POWHR Coalition

“FERC’s Notification of Stop Work Order, issued today in accordance with the Fourth Circuit’s ruling last week, is a leap in the right direction that landowners and advocates have worked toward for four years. We honor and applaud the landowners and communities in the pipeline’s path as they steadfastly researched and challenged this dangerous, destructive, and unneeded fracked gas pipeline.
“We proceed in the next weeks and months with continued determination and optimism as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management re-evaluate their respective permits. We will monitor MVP through the stabilization process as vigilantly as we have throughout construction.”

Maury Johnson, Executive Committee Member for POWHR and affected landowner

“The Stop Work order issued by FERC for the Mountain Valley Pipeline is just one step in the right direction. It is one battle in creating a clean energy future that our children and grandchildren deserve. Unfortunately, the Certificate should have never been issued to begin with, as it was based on false information and illegal actions.  Hopefully the Appalachian Trail will not be impacted any further and the region can kill this project forever and start the long process of restoring the damage already done to our beautiful region and pristine waters.”

Related Documents

FERC Notice of Stop Work Order, Issued 8/3/18

An Accident Waiting to Happen

Indian Creek Watershed Association (ICWA) has called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to stop work on Mountain Valley Pipeline after the June 7, 2018 explosion of the 36-inch gas Leach Xpress pipeline near Moundsville, West Virginia. Citing “the similarities of terrain—particularly the prevalence of steep slopes and landslide-prone areas along MVP’s 300-mile route through West Virginia and Virginia,” ICWA calls on FERC to:

  1. Order an immediate halt to construction of the MVP and instruct MVP to reanalyze its route and construction plans to identify locations with conditions similar to those involved in the Leach Xpress explosion and to other sites subsequently identified by TransCanada as areas of concern.
  2. Reconsider its Rehearing Order, issued June 15, 2018 on a 3-to-2 vote, that rejected, dismissed or denied all Requests for Rehearing of the MVP Certificate (FERC Accession No. 20180615- 3053).

Read the full ICWA letter to FERC below.

Related Coverage From the Roanoke Times.