Some 182 Organizations from 35 States Call for Congressional Review of FERC

by Duane Nichols on September 24, 2016

Pipeline Construction Causes Impacts

Hundreds of Nonprofit Organizations Join to Demand Reform of Rogue Agency

PRESS RELEASE From Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, September 22, 2015

Washington, DC – More than 180 organizations representing communities across America, including West Virginia, called on leaders in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold congressional hearings into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) extensive history of bias and abuse. The groups are also requesting reform of the Natural Gas Act, which the groups say, gives too much power to FERC and too little to state and local officials.
“The time has now come for Congress to investigate how FERC is using its authority and to recognize that major changes are in fact necessary in order to protect people, including future generations, from the ramifications of FERC’s misuse of its power and implementation of the Natural Gas Act,” says Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a primary organizer of the effort.

“The Greenbrier River Watershed has two pipelines proposed: Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley, yet FERC refused to do a Programmatic EIS to look at the need for two pipelines,” says Leslee McCarty, coordinator of the Greenbrier River Watershed Association.  “We hope Congress, instead of speeding up approvals for these projects, will force FERC to look closely at need, especially in light of global climate change.”
“The FERC represents the epitome of what the world has come to recognize as a rogue regime: unbridled power over citizens and unquestionable allegiance to and cooperation with unethical, socially unjust and environmentally dismissive corporations,” says Monroe County, WV resident Laurie Ardison,  co-chair of POWHR (Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights).” For the citizens of this country to be victims of the FERC is unconscionable. Congress must reign in this agency which left unchecked, will continue to foster incalculable harms as the fossil fuel industry develops beyond need.”
McCarty adds, “Fracked gas may prove to be even more of a dirty fuel than coal. Yet in the US, and especially in West Virginia, we are asked to embrace this dirty business as our savior. It is a testimony to slick public relations and strategic campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies, and keeps us on a dangerous path to certain disastrous climate change and boom and bust economic development. This is the time for West Virginia to look to revitalize our energy portfolio and keep sustainable jobs, not continue to be led down the painful road we have traveled in the past.”
The letter to Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairwoman Lisa Murkoski (R-AK), Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), signed by 182 community organizations representing communities in 35 states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia as well as the District of Columbia, argues that FERC’s review and approval process for jurisdictional pipeline projects is infected by bias; and that it is resulting in uncontrolled and irresponsible proliferation of unneeded natural gas pipelines.

Finally, the letter charges the agency with misusing provisions in the law to strip people and states of their legal rights, to prevent fair public participation in the pipeline review process, and to improperly use the power of eminent domain to take private property and public lands in a way that inflicts unforgivable harm to rights, jobs, and communities. 

The letter details how FERC has implemented the Natural Gas Act in ways that deliberately undermine public input. FERC has prevented communities from challenging projects before the exercise of eminent domain and pipeline construction, made decisions to benefit its Commissioners, and used conflicted consultants to handle much of the review process. 
In addition to calling for hearings into FERC and the Natural Gas Act, the letter opposes any further advancement of language in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 meant to shorten critical pipeline review periods. Signers of the letter argue that the proposed law should be held in abeyance until after the hearings, where Congress will learn “how people’s rights, state’s rights, and the environment are already being abused under the implementation of the Natural Gas Act and so will be further harmed by passage of provisions proposed in the new law.”

Upon Congressional review, DRN and fellow parties demand the reforms necessary to address FERC’s extensive abuse of power, which requires revising the Natural Gas Act to prevent the misuse and exploitation that has been rampant. Additionally, the organizations seek affirmative action to remedy FERC’s problematic funding structure.
“FERC is corrupt and needs to be reformed,” says Paul L Gierosky, cofounder, Coalition to Reroute Nexus. “The evidence is overwhelming and clear as is set forth in the request for Congressional Hearings. It is time for Congress to hold FERC accountable.”
“The number of frack gas pipelines is exploding and the feds are not only not applying appropriate oversight, but are in fact also enabling the trampling of people’s property rights, public health standards, and environmental prote,” says David Pringle, NJ Campaign Director, Clean Water Action. “This letter is a clarion call to action for Congress to rein in this modern day Wild West that if left unchecked will lead to even worse abuses and explosions.”
A pdf of the letter is available here:

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Compressor Concern September 24, 2016 at 9:10 am

“New opposition group forms”, Farmville Herald, September 21, 2016


A new opposition group has formed in response to a proposed 53,515 horsepower (hp) natural gas fired compressor station and is asking county leaders to deny a permit request to construct the facility.

Concern for the New Generation (CNG) is comprised of concerned citizens from the Union Hill and Union Grove areas of Buckingham, near the proposed location of the compressor station.

The Buckingham County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on a requested special use permit on Monday at 7 p.m. concerning the facility (see “Hearing on permit is Monday” on A1).

Dominion is leading the joint venture — Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) LLC — seeking approval of the 600-mile pipeline, which, if approved by federal regulators, would begin in West Virginia, span Virginia and end in North Carolina. A large portion of the pipeline would cross Buckingham County and smaller portions of Prince Edward and Cumberland counties.

CNG held a press conference announcing its formation just hours after ACP announced it had signed a construction contract with Spring Ridge Constructors LLC (SRC), a joint venture of leading natural gas pipeline construction companies.

During its press conference on the Buckingham Courthouse steps, CNG called for a “community veto” of the compressor station, citing the Code of Virginia and the state’s constitution.

CNG member Paul Wilson, pastor of Union Hill and Union Grove Baptist churches, said both churches would be within one-half mile of the compressor station. He said out of the 250 members of the two churches, 200 live in direct proximity to the station. Wilson said 60 percent of the adjacent landowners to the station were members of his churches.

“We are at ground zero,” he said, claiming the gas industry didn’t have a good safety record. “We’re not the idiots big businesses think that we are.”

Wilson questioned and expressed concern over the noise levels, emissions and location of the station.

“They’re just destroying our area,” Wilson said. “It’s going to destroy our church. It’s going to destroy our community and destroy our way of life. I guess I might have to start looking for another church, so to speak, (if) this pipeline comes.”

He said 50 percent of those who attend his church have health issues.

Ruby Laury, who lives near Union Hill, said Buckingham was a beautiful place to live.

“I have many concerns, as I am sure others have that live in my community,” Laury said.

He expressed concern for the water quality in her neighborhood. “What’s going to happen when the underground pipes leak? If this compressor station goes through, we won’t be able to drink the water.”

Union Hill resident Kathie Mosley said the younger generation, who will become parents, “have to rely on this water to be able to feed their children.”

“Most everybody on my road, we all have health issues,” Mosley said.

CNG said it would work in conjunction with Friends of Buckingham, a group opposed to the entire ACP project.

According to a release from ACP, it selected SRC as the most-qualified contractor for the project after an extensive, competitive bidding process.

“We are excited to work with SRC, which has assembled four of the nation’s leading and most-qualified pipeline builders for this project,” Dominion Energy President Diane Leopold said in the release. “These companies have extensive experience in building large-scale, complex projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and their commitment to safe construction practices and best-in-class standards align with our expectations for the project.”


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