Last Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sent a letter to Dominion Energy to stop work on the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This came after a panel of judges suspended two permits for the project. One permit, issued by the National Park Service(NPS) to allow tunneling the pipeline under the Blue Ridge Parkway, was vacated due to a lack of how the pipeline fit within the federal mandate to conserve public land. The other permit denied was issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), stating a lack of proper limits for harm to five species. Terry Turpin, Director of FERC’s Office of Energy Projects told developers that substantial portions of the pipeline may be required, possibly needing additional authorizations and review. A Dominion pipeline spokesman stated the company is working with NPS and FWS to resolve the permitting problems. The pipeline project will bring natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia.
The Mountain Valley pipeline was halted last month by a federal court regarding forest impacts review on a 3.5-mile crossing in the Jefferson National Forest. FERC then stepped in to halt all work on the pipeline, which is being built by a consortium of companies led by EQT Midstream partners, moving gas along the 300-mile project from West Virginia through Virginia.
A FERC majority dismissed environmentalists’ requests to revisit a court-ordered supplemental review of the climate impacts of Sabal Trail pipeline, which delivers natural gas to Florida. Last year, the US Court of Appeals ordered a review, stating FERC didn’t adequately consider the project’s downstream climate impacts. FERC completed the review earlier this year, and dismissed additional concerns from the Sierra Club that they fell short of what the court ordered. The Sierra Club may challenge this.
A FERC majority also denied a rehearing of the PennEast pipeline. Precedent agreements on how project needs are determined and sufficiency of the environmental reviews were deemed enough when responding to complaints about the project’s need and inadequate environmental review.
Additional information can be found for specific projects on their websites: FERC, the Atlantic Coast pipeline, the Mountain Valley pipeline, Sabal Trail pipeline, or PennEast Pipeline