Industries Environmental Documents
FERC Staff Issues the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC, Dominion Transmission, Inc. and Atlantic and Piedmont Natural Gas. Co., Inc. (CP15-554-000, -001; CP15-555-000; and CP15-556-000)
Issued: December 30, 2016
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) has prepared a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the projects proposed by Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (Atlantic) in Docket Nos. CP15-554-000 and CP15-554-001; Dominion Transmission, Inc. (DTI) in Docket No. CP15-555-000; and Atlantic and Piedmont Natural Gas. Co., Inc. (Piedmont) in Docket No. CP15-556-000. Atlantic seeks a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (Certificate) from the Commission under Sections 7(b) and 7(c) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) and Parts 157 and 284 of the Commissionís regulations to construct, operate, and maintain 333.1 miles of 42-inch-diameter mainline pipeline; 186.0 miles of 36-inch-diameter mainline pipeline; 83.3 miles of 20-inch-diameter lateral pipeline; 1.4 miles of 16-inch-diameter lateral pipeline; 3 new compressor stations totaling about 130,348 horsepower (hp); 9 meter and regulating (M&R) stations; 11 pig launcher and receiver facilities; and 38 valves in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina as part of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP).
The purpose of the ACP is to deliver up to 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to customers in Virginia and North Carolina. DTI seeks a Certificate from the Commission under Sections 7(b) and 7(c) of the NGA and Parts 157 and 284 of the Commissionís regulations to construct, operate, and maintain 37.5 miles of 30-inch-diameter pipeline; one M&R station; six valves; and four pig launcher or receiver facilities; and to modify four existing compressor stations to provide an additional 69,200 hp in Pennsylvania and West Virginia as part of its proposed Supply Header Project (SHP). DTI is also requesting authorization to abandon in place two existing gathering compressor units at its existing Hastings Compressor Station in Wetzel County, West Virginia.
The purpose of the SHP is to provide customers access to the Dominion South Point hub in Pennsylvania along with other interconnecting natural gas suppliers, which would allow access to multiple gas suppliers and markets to facilitate access to low cost natural gas. Atlantic and Piedmont seek a Certificate from the Commission under Section 7(c) of the NGA and Part 157 of the Commissionís regulations to lease capacity on Piedmontís existing pipeline distribution system as part of their Capacity Lease Proposal. The purpose of the Capacity Lease Proposal is to provide service to North Carolina markets using additional transportation capacity on the Piedmont system. Because the ACP, SHP, and Capacity Lease Proposal are interrelated and connected actions, the FERC staff is analyzing them together in this single comprehensive EIS.
The EIS has been prepared in compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), under the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500Ė1508), and the FERCís regulations at 18 CFR 380. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Ė Forest Service (FS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Ė Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources participated as cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EIS. Cooperating agencies have jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to resources potentially affected by the proposals and participate in the NEPA analysis. Further, the FS may use the EIS when it considers amendments to Land and Resource Management Plans for the proposed crossings of the Monongahela National Forest and George Washington National Forest. Although the cooperating agencies provide input to the conclusions and recommendations presented in the draft EIS, the agencies will each present their own conclusions and recommendations in their respective records of decision or determinations for the projects.
The FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of ACP and SHP would result in temporary and permanent impacts on the environment, and would also result in some adverse effects. With Atlanticís and DTIís implementation of their respective impact avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures as well as their adherence to our recommendations to further avoid, minimize, and mitigate these impacts, the majority of project effects, with the exception of impacts on forest vegetation, would be reduced to less-than-significant levels. Although many factors were considered during our environmental review, the principal reasons for these conclusions are:
- Atlantic and DTI would minimize impacts on the natural and human environments during construction and operation of its facilities by implementing the numerous measures described in their respective construction and restoration plans;
- all of the proposed facilities would be constructed and operated in compliance with federal standards, requirements, and thresholds including U.S. Department of Transportation materials requirements and USEPA air emissions standards;
- Atlantic would implement a Construction, Operation, and Maintenance Plan that includes additional measures to minimize impacts on environmental resources on National Forest Service lands, and the FSí Special Use Permit process for Atlanticís easement over federal lands would provide terms and conditions for construction and operation;
- a high level of public participation was achieved during the pre-filing and post application review processes and helped inform our analysis;
- environmental justice populations would not be disproportionately affected by the projects;
- the horizontal directional drill crossing method would be utilized for most major waterbodies, the majority of other waterbodies would be crossed using dry crossing methods, and Atlantic and DTI would be required to obtain applicable permits and provide mitigation for unavoidable impacts on waterbodies and wetlands through coordination with the USACE and state regulatory agencies;
- The FERC staff would complete the process of complying with the Endangered Species Act prior to any construction, and the USFWS would issue biological opinions that include additional conservation measures, as needed, to assure that ACP and SHP would not jeopardize the continued existence of any species under their jurisdiction and would not adversely modify or destroy designated critical habitat;
- The FERC staff would complete the process of complying with section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and implementing the regulations at 36 CFR 800 prior to allowing any construction to begin; and
- environmental inspection and monitoring programs would ensure compliance with all construction and mitigation measures that become conditions of the FERC authorizations and other approvals.
In addition, the FERC staff and cooperating agencies developed site-specific mitigation measures that Atlantic and DTI should implement to further reduce the environmental impacts that would otherwise result from construction and operation of their projects. The FERC staff determined that these measures are necessary to reduce the adverse impacts associated with the projects, and in part, are basing conclusions on implementation of these measures. These additional measures are listed as recommendations to the Commission in section 5.2 of the EIS.
Comments on the draft EIS must be received in Washington, DC on or before April 6, 2017. Once the final EIS is issued, the FERC Commissioners will take into consideration staffís recommendations when they make a decision on the projects.