Routing for Atlantic Coast Pipeline is Unacceptable to the US Forest Service

by Duane Nichols on January 22, 2016

Baby flying squirrels --sleeping

U.S. Forest Service rejects route for ACP pipeline through WV & VA

From an Article by Steve Szkotak, Charleston Gazette-Mail (Associated Press), January 21, 2016

Richmond, VA (AP) – The U.S. Forest Service has rejected the proposed route of a 550-mile natural gas pipeline through national forests in Virginia and West Virginia because of concerns over the project’s impact on an endangered salamander and other resources.

In a letter this week to federal regulators, the Forest Service said the builders of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline will have to consider alternate routes through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests.

Besides cow knob salamanders in Virginia, foresters also cited concerns about northern flying squirrels in West Virginia and red spruce restoration areas along the proposed 30-mile pipeline route through the national forests. The Forest Service described the two species and forestland as “irreplaceable” and said they must be considered in developing an alternate route.

The red spruce restoration area is in the Cheat Mountain area within the Monongahela. It is considered one of the most diverse bio-systems in West Virginia.

Dominion Virginia Power, Duke Energy and other energy partners have proposed building the $5 billion pipeline, one of at least two interstate pipelines that would carve a path through West Virginia and Virginia. The pipelines are intended to deliver natural gas from the shale fields of northern West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina.

The application for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In a release, Dominion said it would continue to work with the Forest Service to find an alternate route through the national forests. “The ACP believes that its routing specialists, in consultation with USFS officials, will find an acceptable route,” the release said.

Pipeline critics welcomed the decision and said it was clear the national forest route was a bad one. “Dominion stubbornly persisted on a route that was identified as severely destructive from the start,” Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in a statement. “It is time for them to step back and truly reconsider the need for this pipeline at all.”

The habitat of the salamander cited by the Forest Service is along Shenandoah Mountain in western Virginia, between 2,000 and 4,400 feet in elevation. Pipeline builders had proposed going under the mountain to avoid any harm to endangered animals. The Forest Service rejected the idea. “The pipeline must be routed around areas where Cow Knob salamander habitat is found,” regional foresters wrote in a letter to pipeline builders.

The Forest Service said in the letter it is “committed to cooperating with FERC and working with ACP on continued development of the project,” but it must balance “sensitive resources” and the growing demand for natural gas.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has encountered pockets of resistance along its path, primarily among residents in western and central regions of Virginia. They have cited property rights and environmental concerns.

The pipeline has the backing of governors in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. They have embraced the economic benefits of the pipeline, including new industry and jobs.

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Flying Ginny January 22, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Dear Friend, “Ginny” Says ‘Thanks’
Date: January 21, 2016

In the snow-covered Allegheny Highlands, “Ginny,” the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel (and her babies) are staying warm, huddled together in a cozy nest in a snow-covered tree.

Thanks to the voices and financial support of people like you, Friends of Blackwater is working ceaselessly to protect Ginny and her mountain home.

Today we can celebrate an important “win” for Ginny and her babies!

The US Forest Service has just ruled that Dominion Natural Resources’s proposed routes for their ACP pipeline are unacceptable — because they would injure “Ginny,” the Cheat Mountain Salamander, and the Cow Knob Salamander.

Please read this important Forest Service ruling. We made this happen!

Using our “secret sauce” — a powerful blend of cutting-edge science and advocacy — more than ever, Friends of Blackwater needs to keep the pressure on officials to protect “Ginny.”

Only you can make that possible by donating to Friends of Blackwater.

Thanks again for all you do, Judy Rodd for “Ginny”


Biz Journal January 22, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Con Ed takes stake in Mountain Valley Pipeline 

By Patty Tascarella, Pittsburgh Business Times, January 22, 2016

Con Edison Gas Midstream LLC on Friday said it is acquiring a 12.5 percent ownership interest in Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC. MVP, a joint venture between Pittsburgh-based EQT Midstream Partners LP and several other firms, will transport clean-burning natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions to the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast areas.

EQT Midstream, which will be the operator of the proposed $3.5 billion, 300-mile pipeline, has a 45.5 percent ownership interest. MVP is planning to be fully operational by fourth quarter 2018, subject to regulatory approval.

Con Edison Gas Midstream is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison Inc.

The other owners of MVP are affiliates of NextEra Energy Inc.; WGL Holdings, Inc.; Vega Energy Partners Ltd.; and RGC Resources Inc.


HALT PennEast Pipeline January 23, 2016 at 12:02 am

NJ homeowners hire D.C. law firm to fight PennEast pipeline 

By Joe Hernandez, StateImpact PA, January 21, 2016

Homeowners in Hunterdon and Mercer Counties have joined together to hire a D.C. law firm to fight the construction of the controversial PennEast pipeline that would carry Marcellus Shale gas to Northeast markets. The move marks a preemptive strike by residents along a wealthier stretch of the 114-mile long proposed pipe, aiming to fight off potential eminent domain actions.

“This is not just for this group of people,” said Vincent DiBianca, one of the new group’s organizers who lives along the proposed route in Delaware Township. “If this starts to set a precedent, and corporate gain is one of the fundamental principles at play here and people can lose their properties, that’s unconstitutional. It’s certainly not fair and just.”

HALT PennEast — which stands for “homeowners against land taking” — criticized the PennEast Pipeline Company for proposing a route for the pipeline that would abut or intersect the properties of dozens of New Jersey residents. The proposed 36-inch line would begin in Luzerne County, PA, pass through six Pennsylvania counties, cross the river into New Jersey, traveling through Mercer and Hunterdon counties to supply other major interstate pipelines with Marcellus Shale gas near Trenton.

The company has had trouble getting leases from some property owners in New Jersey, many of whom have been blocking surveyors. PennEast filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in D.C. back in September. The pipeline company would still have to jump through a number of regulatory hoops but would need approval from FERC to pursue eminent domain against holdouts along the route.

Proponents say the new line will provide needed reliability and cheaper gas to densely the populated New York and New Jersey market. They say it will also help supply the state with cleaner burning natural gas, which has been replacing coal at power plants.

PennEast has said it would use eminent domain only as a last resort, and has been working to make inroads with communities along the route, including offering grants for community projects. The company says it would rather reach out to homeowners first and offer to pay them for the use of their land.

But for some residents of Hunterdon and Mercer Counties, that dog won’t hunt.

“How would we farm?” asked Jacqueline Evans, who lives in Delaware Township with her three children, about a hundred feet from the proposed route of the pipeline.

“This pipeline would compromise that. I’m also transitioning into organic, and that would also be compromised.”


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