FERC Won’t Extend Atlantic Coast Pipeline Tree Cutting Deadline

Two weeks ago Dominion Energy asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to extend tree cutting/felling season by an extra 45 days, from March 31 to May 15, in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC for More Time to Cut Trees). Due to restrictions for species like the threatened Indiana bat, tree cutting season is limited–from November 16 to March 31. ACP said it couldn’t meet the March 31 deadline due to a late start following state bureaucratic delays. In a presentation Dominion gave to North Carolina environmental officials a few months back, the company said if “we cannot start [pipeline construction] in time to ensure a full and efficient construction season and have to delay service by one year, the impact would be $1 billion.” Dominion maintains that worst case scenario has not yet happened. Following the FERC decision to deny extending the date for tree cutting, Dominion said they’ll shift things around and can still meet their contractual deadline of getting ACP up and running by the end of next year…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC for More Time to Cut Trees

Dominion Energy’s $6.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (running from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina) is supposed to get built this year. ACP began to cut trees along the pipeline’s path in late January (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline Begins Cutting Trees in WV & VA (Not NC)). ACP chainsaws have been busy since that time. Due to restrictions for species like the threatened Indiana bat, tree cutting season is limited–from November 16 to March 31. ACP says it won’t be done by March 31 and is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to continue clearing trees in WV, VA and NC until May 15th. Antis are making loud noises that FERC should deny the request. What will FERC do? If they don’t grant permission, ACP will be delayed–perhaps by a year…
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NC Republicans Slam Democrat Gov. for Approving Atlantic Coast Pipe

We’re not quite sure what to make of this story. North Carolina has been, as we’ve long pointed out, nitpicking in an attempt to slow down (or stop) the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) from traversing the state (see NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). Dominion Energy and Duke Energy are building the $5-$6.5 billion, 594-mile ACP–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina–reaching almost to the border with South Carolina. NC has a Democrat governor, Roy Cooper, whose administration has been hassling ACP for months. But then, all of a sudden, the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality issued permits approving the pipeline–which happened at the same time Dominion and Duke set up a $58 million fund “to protect the environment” in those counties where the pipeline will run. Sure sounds like a $58 million bribe to us, but hey, what do we know? If it gets the job done, it’s a cost of doing business, right? So now NC Republicans, who would normally be in favor of a project like ACP, are crying foul and launching an investigation into NC Gov. Roy Cooper’s $58 million “slush fund,” threatening to hold up work on ACP…
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After Months of Delay, Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets NC Water Permit

Atlantic Coast Pipeline path through North Carolina – click for larger version

On Friday, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a federal stream/water crossing permit for Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and slice through the midsection of North Carolina, almost to the border with South Carolina. The permit comes more than a year and a half after Dominion and their partners filed an application for it. It is the final “biggie” permit required to construct the project in NC. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved ACP last October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). West Virginia previously issued a water crossing permit for the project, and Virginia recently granted a conditional approval for its water crossing permit. NC was the last domino to fall, and now it has. However, the project is still not out of the woods in NC just yet. First, the DEQ attached all sorts of extra requirements to the water permit they issued. Second, even though a water/stream crossing permit is the biggest and most important permit, NC continues to delay the project by withholding other permits (see NC Continues to Delay Atlantic Coast Pipe, Rejects Part of Erosion Plan). Friday’s water permit issuance was, however, a very positive development–a signal that the rest of the permits although delayed, will be forthcoming. Dominion said it will begin construction in NC (and VA and WV) this year, and finish the project sometime in 2019…
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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Begins Cutting Trees in WV & VA (Not NC)

In December MDN told you that Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project had asked permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to begin clearing trees along the path of the pipeline in all three states where the pipeline will run: West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina (see Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC to Begin Tree Cutting in WV, VA, NC). FERC approved the project last October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, two of the three states–Virginia and North Carolina–have not yet given final water crossing permits for the project (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline Delayed in Virginia by Water Board Vote and NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). Lack of water crossing permits isn’t stopping ACP, nor FERC. Last Friday FERC granted ACP permission to begin felling trees, and the chainsaws have been busy over the weekend–at least in WV and VA (not yet in NC). The clock is ticking. Because of cockamamie Obama regulations, clearcutting of trees along the path for a pipeline (or roadway, or whatever) is banned from April 1st through October 31st, in an effort to protect the “endangered” northern long-eared bat (see Marcellus/Utica Drillers Ask for Special Permit to Kill Some Bats). ACP will be busy between now and March 31st cutting down trees to prepare for laying pipe…
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NC Continues to Delay Atlantic Coast Pipe, Rejects Part of Erosion Plan

North Carolina has a Democrat governor. The state Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is an executive branch agency. So it’s no surprise to learn that the DEQ is antagonistic toward Dominion Energy’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. In October the DEQ rejected a plan submitted by Dominion for the pipeline project, claiming the erosion and sediment control part of the plan is not up to snuff (see NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?). What’s happened since that time? Dominion resubmitted the plan, and in early January DEQ approved part of the erosion/sediment control plan (for the southern part of the project) but rejected the other part (for the northern part of the project). As we previously pointed out, DEQ is currently playing death by 1,000 questions with Dominion, trying to tie the project up in knots (see NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). DEQ’s poor behavior continues. Here’s an update on where things stand, and what Dominion will need to do to get ACP approved in the Tar Heel State…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Asks FERC to Begin Tree Cutting in WV, VA, NC

Dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project recently asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for permission to begin clearing trees along the path of the pipeline in all three states where the pipeline will run: West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. FERC approved the project in October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). However, two of the three states–Virginia and North Carolina–have not yet given final water crossing permits for the project (see Atlantic Coast Pipeline Delayed in Virginia by Water Board Vote and NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe). ACP isn’t letting state agencies put a damper on the project. Just a few weeks ago ACP announced it had signed contracts with four labor unions to do the construction work, and had filed eminent domain lawsuits against holdout landowners who have refused to negotiate leases (see Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets Ready to Build: Union Help, Eminent Domain). And now ACP is asking FERC for permission to begin clearing trees, giving antis apoplexy…
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Atlantic Coast Pipe Gets Ready to Build: Union Help, Eminent Domain

We have a couple of important signs that Dominion and Duke Energy, the main sponsors of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, are getting ready to begin building the pipeline. Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Years after the project filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), it was finally approved by FERC in October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). In November, the U.S. Forest Service granted its blessing for the pipeline to traverse small portions of two national forests (see USFS Approves Atlantic Coast Pipeline Thru 2 National Forests). Although some of the state water crossing permits are still an issue, it’s a pretty much foregone conclusion WV, VA and NC will not hold up construction of this important project. An announcement from Dominion on Friday to say the company has cut deals with four labor unions for workers, and a story in NC about the pipeline being forced to use eminent domain proceedings with some holdout landowners, combine to paint the picture that this project will soon begin construction…
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NC Plays “Death by a Thousand Questions” with Atlantic Coast Pipe

North Carolina has a Democrat governor. The state Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is an executive branch agency. So it’s no surprise to learn that the DEQ has turned antagonistic toward Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. In October the DEQ rejected the plan submitted by Dominion for the pipeline project, claiming the erosion and sediment control plan is not up to snuff (see NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?). Since that time Dominion has been back and forth with the DEQ. On Wednesday the DEQ sent Dominion a fourth round of questions. Dominion has 30 days to respond, and the DEQ another 60 days after that to respond to the response. Bingo, another 90 days gone, just like that. What this appears to be is “death by a thousand cuts,” or in this case, “death by a thousand questions”…
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NAACP Claims Atlantic Coast Pipeline is Racist, Harms Blacks Most

We find it particularly offensive when a liberal/leftist group, like the National Association for the Advancement of [Liberal] Colored People, or NAACP, declares a pipeline project to be racist. The far-left organization made the outrageous claim, in a report they issued yesterday called “Fumes Across the Fence-Line: The Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Facilities on African American Communities” (full copy below), that Dominion’s $5 billion 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) will force black people in low income communities in eastern North Carolina to bear “more than their fair share” of the so-called “risks” posed by the pipeline. ACP is a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final approval for ACP in October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). Since that time socialist/Democrat groups have marshaled their forces to oppose it. The Sierra Club is opposing it in court. Just yesterday we told you about a cadre of regional radical groups (backed by larger groups like Sierra Club) that have filed a petition with FERC opposing ACP (see Little Green Takes 1st Step in Suing to Block Atlantic Coast Pipe). The NAACP “report” is the latest in what appears to be a coordinated attack on the project by the usual suspects…
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Little Green Takes 1st Step in Suing to Block Atlantic Coast Pipe

No doubt being advised and funded by national Big Green groups, a group of backbencher local green groups (Little Green) have taken the first step in what will no doubt turn into a lawsuit to try and stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project from getting built. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Atlantic Coast, a $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, in October (see FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects). A group of 21 backbencher local green groups located in VA and NC filed a petition with FERC on Monday, asking the agency to “rehear” (reconsider) it’s approval of the project. Among the claims made by the backbenchers: “Federal regulators cut corners, ignored environmental injustice and climate destruction, and usurped state authority in approving construction,” according to NC Warn, one of the backbenchers. Of course all of this is political theater. Grandstanding. Showboating. They don’t really believe FERC will change it’s mind. What happens next is FERC will tell the backbenchers they’re full of beans and to go away, and then the backbenchers can legally file a lawsuit with the Federal Court of Appeals (preferably with the liberal DC Circuit). Filing a petition for a rehearing with FERC is Step #1. Federal lawsuit is Step #2. Below is news about the petition, a copy of the 40-page petition, and a press release from one of the backbencher groups…
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FERC Approves Atlantic Coast, Mountain Valley Pipeline Projects

Great news delivered late Friday afternoon: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued final, full approvals for both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline projects. Atlantic Coast is a $5 billion, 594-mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Mountain Valley is a $3.5 billion, 303-mile natural gas pipeline that will run from Wetzel County, WV to the Transco Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, VA. Both projects still face an uphill battle before they get built. The North Carolina Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a rejection letter for Atlantic Coast last week (see NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?). The rejection, while a setback, does not mean the project is barred from the Tar Heel State. It simply means Dominion must provide more information to NC DEQ. Similarly, Mountain Valley first received a water permit from the West Virginia Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) in March, later to be withdrawn in September (see Trouble for Mountain Valley Pipe: WV DEP Withdraws Water Permit). Again, not a catastrophic development–it just slows down the process. Although FERC approved both projects, one of the three FERC commissioners, Cheryl LaFleur (Obama appointee holdover) voted against approving both projects. Her stated reason is that she does not think either project is in the public interest. Antis are (predictably) frothing at the mouth over FERC’s approvals, promising to sue, protest, and do whatever it takes to stop both projects. However, with FERC’s blessing, these projects are now assured of getting built. Below we have copies of the FERC approvals, along with select reaction to the news…
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NC DEQ Rejects Plan for Atlantic Coast Pipeline – What’s Next?

North Carolina has become the first state to complete an environmental evaluation for Dominion’s proposed $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. ACP is slated to run through eight NC counties. After completing it’s evaluation, the NC Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a rejection letter (copy below) for the project. The reason? The DEQ says the erosion and sediment control plan for the project is not up to scratch. Dominion can now do two things: Revise the erosion and sediment control plan and resubmit it, or contest the DEQ’s rejection of the existing plan. Although antis are rejoicing at the news, there really isn’t much here in the way of news. This is not uncommon in pipeline reviews. A government agency (federal or state) will push back on some aspect of the plan, the project builder will modify the plan, and the modified plan will pass muster and life goes on. That’s the way it works. The DEQ is (presumably) doing it’s job and not simply looking for an excuse to reject the project. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt–this time. Although we’ve not read that Dominion has responded to the rejection, another partner in the project, Duke Energy, has responded–saying they will provide the necessary information the DEQ says is missing in the original plan…
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North Carolina Fracking Commission Postpones First Meeting

In 2012 the North Carolina legislature cleared the way for the state to allow horizontal fracking of shale (see NC Law to Legalize (and Encourage) Fracking Advances). The law gave state officials two years to come up with rules and regulations to govern fracking in NC. Along the way a lawsuits were launched, slowing things down (see Judge Puts NC Fracking on Hold Pending Outcome of Lawsuit). The case got resolved in January 2016. However, even if a company wants to begin drilling, members of North Carolina’s Oil & Gas Commission, who would approve applications, have not been sworn in (see NC Fracking Remains in Limbo, 5 Yrs After Legislature Approved It). Nine commissioners were appointed by outgoing Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican legislature–but new Gov. Roy Cooper (Democrat) refuses to swear in the commissioners and allow fracking to begin. One more Democrat who acts like a dictator. Where have we seen that before? No matter. The new Oil & Gas Commission isn’t waiting for Cooper. The Commission scheduled its first official meeting yesterday, in Sanford. Antis accused the agency of “going rogue” (they should talk!). However, at the last minute, on Tuesday, the Commission’s new chairman, Jim Womack, said the first meeting will be postponed until October or November, to give more time for state ethics officials to review economic disclosure statements of commission appointees for potential conflicts of interest. Looks like it will be six years before any fracking takes place in the Tar Heal State…
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MDN’s Prayer for North Carolina Clergy Who Pray Against Pipeline

We spotted an article that says clergy and lay people from the United Church of Christ in Robeson County, North Carolina will hold a prayer vigil today. A liberal pastor has decided to show up at the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to pray against approval for Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP)–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. The DEQ is scheduled to announce a decision about granting the project a necessary permit, at a meeting on Sept. 19th. Which got us to thinking. Perhaps we should pray for the pastor and lay people who will show up to pray today. Here’s our prayer…
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