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Forest Service questions FERC conclusion on merging two pipelines

Forest Service questions FERC conclusion on merging two pipelines

Dominion survey4

In this file photo, a surveyor performs work for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

WAYNESBORO — The U.S. Forest Service disputes a conclusion in the draft environmental impact statement on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline about merging the project with the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline route has previously been amended after Forest Service concerns about potential harm to animal species in both the George Washington and Monongahela national forests.

In comments submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week on the environmental impact statement, the Forest Service said that if merger of the two pipelines presents an environmental advantage “that it is possible that the merged system is preferable to the proposed actions.”

FERC states in the draft environmental impact statement while merging the two projects may hold an environmental advantage, “pursuing this alternative would require significant time for the planning and design, result in a significant delay to the delivery of the 3.44 Bcf/d of natural gas to the proposed customers of both ACP and MVP, and would limit the ability to provide additional gas to the projects’ customers.”

The Forest Service further says that a “detailed comparison of feasibility and environmental impacts is needed before the MVP Merged Systems Alternative can be eliminated from consideration.”

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would run 600 miles from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina, including more than 55 miles of Augusta County and 27 miles in Nelson County. The Mountain Valley Pipeline would span 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia.

The Forest Service also questioned the environmental impact statement regarding collocation of the two pipelines.

FERC says that there would be insufficient space for collocation of the two pipelines that are “parallel 42-inch diameter pipelines. Therefore, the advantages of the collocating the two projects are reduced.”

The Forest Service said the statement should be supported by “specific information” that allows an estimate of how collocation benefits would be reduced.

FERC also says implementing a collocation of the two pipelines would requre “significant planning and design,” and that would delay the delivery of gas to Atlantic’s customers.

In response, the Forest Service said there is no information to compare environmental impacts or the technical feasiblity of collocation.

Aaron Ruby, a spokesman for Dominion Resources, the lead utility on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, said the issue of merging the two pipelines or collocation of them has been “evaluated thoroughly by our company, Mountain Valley Pipeline and FERC over the last couple of years. And FERC determined in the draft environmental impact statement that it was not feasible. They are two separate projects and are serving two different markets. It is not feasible to share the right-of-way or to have a single pipe.”

Ruby further said that five major utilities in Virginia and North Carolina need the Atlantic Coast Pipeline “to meet the real and urgent needs of their customers.” As of now, Ruby said approximately 92 percent of the capacity of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been sold. The pipeline is expected to generate 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

The draft environmental impact statement on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was released in late December. A final environmental impact statement could be released by FERC this summer.

Environmental organizations continue to oppose the pipeline, expressing concerns about the potential harm to water, land and cultural resources.

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