The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Southgate Project (Southgate Project or Project) proposed by Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (Mountain Valley). Pursuant to Section 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act, Mountain Valley is seeking a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct and operate certain interstate natural gas transmission facilities.
The Project would involve the construction and operation of 73.7 miles of 16-inch and 24-inch-diameter interstate natural gas transmission pipeline in Virginia and North Carolina. Mountain Valley also proposes to construct and operate a new compressor station (Lambert Compressor Station) in Virginia; four new meter stations; interconnects and taps; four pig launchers and receivers at three locations; eight mainline valves; and other associated facilities. Associated with construction of the proposed facilities would be contractor yards, staging areas, temporary extra workspaces, and access roads. The Project is designed to transport 375 million cubic feet of gas per day.
The draft EIS has been prepared in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA in Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1500–1508 (40 CFR 1500-1508), and FERC regulations implementing NEPA (18 CFR 380). The FERC is the federal agency responsible for regulating the siting and construction of interstate natural gas transmission pipelines. FERC is the lead federal agency responsible for the preparation of this draft EIS. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service are cooperating agencies for the development of this draft EIS consistent with 40 CFR 1501.6(b). A cooperating agency has jurisdiction by law or has special expertise with respect to the environment potentially affected by the Project. The cooperating agencies provided input to the conclusions and recommendations presented in the draft EIS. Following issuance of the final EIS, the cooperating agencies will issue subsequent decisions, determinations, permits or authorizations for the Project in accordance with each individual agency’s regulatory requirements.
We conclude that approval of the Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but these impacts would be reduced to less-than-significant levels through implementation of our recommendations and Mountain Valley’s proposed avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures. The following factors were also considered in our conclusions:
- about 39 miles, or about 52.5 percent, of the 73.7-mile-long pipeline route would be constructed adjacent to existing rights-of-way;
- Mountain Valley would minimize impacts on natural and cultural resources during construction and operation of the Project by implementing FERC’s Upland Erosion Control, Revegetation and Maintenance Plan and Mountain Valley’s Wetland and Waterbody Construction and Mitigation Procedures, its Erosion and Sediment Control Plan, and other Project-specific plans (e.g., Unanticipated Discovery of Historic Properties and Human Remains Plan, Horizontal Directional Drill Contingency Plan, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan, Exotic and Invasive Species Control Plan, Traffic Management Plan, and Landslide Mitigation Plan);
- the FERC staff would complete the process of complying with section 7 of the Endangered Species Act prior to construction;
- the FERC staff would complete consultation under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implement regulations at 36 CFR 800 prior to construction;
- Mountain Valley would comply with all applicable federal requirements and associated air and noise regulatory requirements during construction and operation of the Project; and
- an environmental inspection program and a third-party monitoring oversight program would be implemented to ensure compliance with the mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorization
In addition, we recommend that the Project-specific impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures that we have developed (included in this draft EIS as recommendations) be attached as conditions to any Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity issued by the Commission for the Project
The draft EIS comment period closes on September 16, 2019. The FERC Commissioners will take into consideration staff’s recommendations when they make a decision on the Projects.