A year and a half ago when Governor McAuliffe and Dominion CEO Tom Farrell unveiled their plans for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, I was scared. Shortly thereafter, three more proposals for mega pipelines came forward – I was really scared.
Virginia was in the crosshairs of the fossil fuel industry, but over the last year we’ve built something. And dare I say it, we’re heading into 2016 with momentum.
Over the past few months we have racked up victories.
The US Forest Service has proven to be a staunch ally. In October they asked Dominion to reroute the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to avoid the endangered Cow Knob Salamander. A month later, they flatly rejected the current proposed route. They cited unavoidable environmental damages, dealing an enormous setback to Dominion’s plans. Considering the original route took almost a year to design before submittal to FERC, one can only guess as to how long it will take to design a reroute.
Further exemplifying the shoddiness with which Dominion has approached this process, the US Forest Service blasted Dominion for misrepresenting their soil samples. The US Forest Service thoroughly documented the instructions they gave to Dominion. Not only did their soil surveying team disregard instruction after instruction, they falsely presented the credentials of the sampling team. The US Forest Service publicly lambasted them for their complete disregard of protocol and demanded the samples be disregarded.
As this reckless planning has become more evident, the need to slow down and thoroughly plan this project has become increasingly apparent. More than a dozen legislators have written to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting they conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). This would require FERC to examine all pipeline proposals in a regional, comprehensive manner. Virginia Democrats and Republicans at all levels of state and federal government have now written to FERC demanding a PEIS. And just last week, the Roanoke Times editorialized on the need for a PEIS as well.
Legislators on both sides of the aisles have introduced bills this General Assembly session to curtail the effects of these pipelines. And why unfortunately they don’t have authority to stop the pipeline, it’s a good step forward, and we’re fighting everyday to get them passed. To get involved in lobbying for these bills, email me at Drew@chesapeakeclimate.org.
We’re going to keep the momentum going through 2016.