About 200 Attend Scoping Meeting in Elkins on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

by Duane Nichols on March 29, 2015

FERC is starting to listen to thousands of protests

Public Comments at FERC Scoping Meeting on ACP Pipeline in Elkins (3/25/15)

Submitted by April P. Keating, Concerned Resident, Upshur County, WV

Elkins, WV –On the evening of March 25, at the Elkins High School, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held a public hearing over the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). About 200 members of the public attended and around 34 people spoke. There were approximately 20 speakers against the project and 11 in favor.

FERC is an “independent” federal agency whose members are appointed by the President. They are perhaps the only thing standing between the public and this project. It is their duty to decide whether this project should be approved, and, more specifically, whether such a pipeline is in the interest of the public need. Some, including attorneys from Appalachian Mountain Advocates, have said that it is not clear whether this project qualifies for a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” because it is not clear that this project fills a public need, as it is not supplying gas directly to consumers.

From the FERC website: “Scoping meetings, which are sponsored by FERC, are utilized by staff to identify relevant issues of major Certificate projects, pursuant to NEPA. Scoping is the process of defining and refining the scope of a environmental impact statement (EIS) or environmental assessment (EA) and the alternatives to be investigated. The scoping process is one of the opportunities for public involvement. Affected property owners and other stakeholders can provide detailed comments about issues pertaining to their properties. For example, stakeholders can provide information on sensitive environmental features in the project area; suggest alternatives to be evaluated; or help identify construction constraints.”

The FERC has a duty to evaluate every comment, and Wednesday evening’s docket certainly provided them with a large list of concerns to consider. It took over two hours for everyone to speak. The speakers ranged from suited business leaders to “little old ladies” and everything in between. The list of topics was as varied as the people in attendance, and included environmental concerns, safety issues, economic matters, property values and landowner rights, and corridor sharing. Most of those in favor were, predictably, higher-ups in the industry, but those who spoke against the pipeline came from all walks of life. It was interesting and inspiring to hear their comments.

Several people came with speeches prepared, a few spoke off-the-cuff or from notes. Some were informed by science, others by experience, and a few by faith. Some addressed their comments to the room, but most people spoke directly to the commission, whose representative on stage took notes during the comments. The audience was quietly respectful, but would occasionally break out in applause for a comment that was particularly relevant to the heavy burden this pipeline would place on our culture, our way of life, our health, and our safety.

Of course, all the industry people spoke of employment, clean air, and supposed tax revenues, all blown up figures, in my opinion, except for the money they stand to make. They were unabashed about that.

Listings of topics covered and some not covered are provided in the attached Comment.

Though it was gratifying to hear so many comments outlining the dangers, it was a bit disappointing that more people did not speak of the effects on such things as geologic formations, historical and archaeological sites, and other data-driven material.

The scoping comment period is open until April 28. To comment online, go to: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp and use docket # 15-6-000 for ACP,  15-5-000 for the supply header (they are attached, so both should be included) and 15-3-000 for Mountain Valley Pipeline.

I was pleased with the turnout, and though it could have been larger, it was probably better than that in Bridgeport, where gas and oil seem to be king. I can tell you that if we don’t pay attention to the ramifications of these projects, we will soon be out of water and asking ourselves, Why, oh why, didn’t we stop it when we had the chance?

Note:  April Keating is an active member of the local group named Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance.

See also:  www.FrackCheckWV.net and www.MAREproject.org

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

April Keating March 29, 2015 at 11:56 am

As described in the above Article, many topics were discussed in the FERC scoping meeting on APC, held in Elkins on March 25th ………

Other topics covered included:
• many people said they should use existing routes and rights of way instead of 3 separate ones
• a few spoke of the 8 rivers that have their headwaters here, the streams that feed them, the watersheds
• possibility of leaks and explosions, especially over this difficult terrain
• potential for water quality degradation
• DEP’s lousy record of inspection and regulation
• some suggested charging the companies escrow to cover damages to communities
• the FERC was asked to force Dominion to show sound engineering design
• the largest undisturbed and sensitive forest would be interrupted/fragmented
• the possibility of fly ash was mentioned for filling the trenches
• WV’s geology and soils, unique features
• tourism, agritourism, outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing
• asked the FERC to assess the # of acres and miles of forest that would be affected
• assess cumulative effects
• cultural considerations: native American and Civil War artifacts
• vegetation and wildlife populations: breeding, nesting, migration, predation
• air quality and noise, proximity to compressor stations
• threatened and endangered species
• reduced property values
• blast radius, burn radius, evacuation radius
• our state has lowest ratings for health and happiness already; turning it into an industrial zone will exacerbate it
• no direct revenues or services (to Pocahontas county) from this project (an industry person contradicted this but, again, the origin of these figures is unclear)
• wants FERC to do or commission an independent, county-by-county economic study to discover externalities, social costs
• said FERC would be irresponsible to grant this; it would victimize WV’s population
• noted the gas going to outside markets
• WV will be/ is sacrifice zone
• FERC should assess the benefits based on supply-to-market, not company profits
• 2 national forests affected, owned by American people
• 140 perennial water bodies
• profound and irreversible impact
• would compromise spruce ecosystem
• need for gas will soon be reduced and existing infrastructure is sufficient to supply our residents
• application of ED to private citizens for private gain is wrong
• project is wasteful
• herbicide spraying will contaminate water
• jobs few, low-paying, temporary (not mentioned: most will not go to WVians)
• WV should not be industrialized
• other types of economic opportunity should be considered (diversify economy away from fossil fuels)
• it is a rigged system – President + gas $
• everyone is affected, not just landowners
• approval will bring more drilling; 300 new well pads in Lewis, 300 new permits in Upshur
• gas not greener than coal
• Physicians, Scientists, Engineers Toward Healthy Energy peer-reviewed, scientific report given to FERC
• time to transition to cleaner energy sources
• why invest in this project when gas will be soon outdated, companies should think ahead
• WV has been under the foot of extractive industries for 152 years, more of the same
• truck traffic, water quality degradation, small streams destroyed, stream life and food chain compromised
• pipeline incidents and accidents
• this is first 42″ pipeline this company has done over this kind of terrain, elevations & terrain a challenge to get right
• Dominion looking at building 14 LNG terminals
• 75% of DC water comes from Potomac
• flooding, access problems, caves, karst
• pitting one community against another
• Sharp’s Cave is the underground fork of Upper Elk River and is the last remaining place where there are naturally spawning trout (3 types)
• President’s Council NEPA
• “connected” impacts to watersheds, habitat
• radon gas/radioactive elements, exposure at all stages/levels of production/use, cancer
• exceeding 10% impervious cover increases stormwater runoff
• decreased groundwater recharge, excess runoff, sedimentation, destroyed habitat
• disposal of waste from fracking and resulting earthquakes, water contamination
• pipeline has explosive potential of atomic bomb and is a 550-mile long terrorist target
• close proximity (less than a mile) from Upshur County high school and dangers during an explosion event
• difficulty of first responder access in explosion event and during construction phase
• crossing of transportation corridors and river where we access our drinking water (Upshur)
• backfill = 1100 truck trips per mile during construction
• company should provide a bypass during construction
• erosion of slopes and exposure of pipeline could compromise security
• pipelines not forever, how will we clean up spills (oil), leak prevention
• increase in fracking will result in more spills, leaks, accidents, violations, health and water issues
• why do we need 4 separate pipelines and all the new gathering lines these necessitate
• industry wants to raise prices (comments made by industry that prices are down and gas export would increase prices so they could make more money)
• would preclude organic and sustainable farming
• dangers to water, commerce, tourism/agritourism, and a way of life
• figures on jobs and taxes overblown; need independent reports (non industry)
• need to think toward the future, develop green/sustainable energy sources
• we need clean, safe, healthy jobs
• gas is not clean; it may burn cleaner, but extraction and waste are toxic
• WV and FERC need to insist on more inspectors before, during, and after construction
• rules and regulations are only as good as enforcement
• subsidies give fossil fuels unfair advantage
• leachate from landfills (including radioactive elements) makes its way into water supplies

Topics not covered include:
• true costs are externalized; companies need to internalize true costs, take responsibility, and even the playing field
• most of these jobs not going to WVians; companies bring their own technicians (EQT); welders must be trained and certified; numbers of jobs range from 17,000 (3-state area during construction phase) to 74 (permanent jobs in WV alone after construction is complete and pipeline is put into service);
• contamination of Wolfe Creek at Lochgelly, WV due to injection and overflow of impoundments; leukemia rate there is highest in the state
• safety violations continue after citations: DEP has cited Antero for 17 violations of state code in the past three years. Those have been primarily environmental violations—for things like failing to prevent waste runoff, failure to report discharges and contaminating waterways.
• One violation, from Jan. 4, warned, “Imminent danger water supplys [sic] threatened by allowing pollutants to escape and flow into the waters of the state.” (source Charleston Gazette, 7/22/13)
• ground current from wind farms presents a barrier to building them in proximity to pipelines due to possibility of corrosion and catastrophic failure; depending on the size of both pipeline and windmill, and ground conditions (moisture, topography, etc.) the spacing necessary could be as large as two miles; this means pipelines will limit the available land for safe and viable wind farms
• proximity of holding ponds and injection wells to schools, homes, farms, streams presents danger to human life
• contaminated water can make its way into the food supply
• radioactivity was mentioned, but the term TENORM was not
• hydrostatic testing of these lines would use some 300 million gallons of water


Virginia Arnold March 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm

RE: Dominion Resources’ Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) in WV, VA, & NC

….. and, the list of issues goes on and on… in addition to the fact that the people of Virginia thought they were electing a Green candidate when Terry McAuliffe was elected and are now facing this nightmare instead of renewable energy development.

Dominion and now ‘Gov McA’ are “gung ho” fossil fuel and still rated ‘F’ for renewable development.


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