ActivePaper Archive Draft report minimizes pipeline impact - Burlington Times News, 8/2/2019

Draft report minimizes pipeline impact

Building the MVP Southgate natural gas pipeline would do some environmental damage, but not serious or lasting damage, according to a draft report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The conclusion has not ended opposition.

“We conclude that approval of the Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts, but these impacts would be reduced to less thansignificant levels through implementation of our recommendations and Mountain Valley’s proposed avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures,” reads the 421-page draft environmental impact statement released a week ago.

The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate would be a 72-mile, 24-inchdiameter line connecting to the existing MVP in Pittsylvania County, Va., to carry Marcellus Shale gas to the Dominion Energy — formerly PSNC — distribution system south of Graham near Cherry Lane.

The earlier stage of the pipeline is still under construction in Virginia and faced strident opposed over potential and actual damage to streams, selling gas from fracking operations, and property rights, and has been mired in litigation over numerous citations for violating state and federal

WEIGH IN

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will take comments on the proposed MVP Southgate pipeline until Sept. 16.

To comment electronically, use eComment for short text-only

comments, or eFiling at

www.ferc.gov under the link

to Documents and Filings. Use Docket No. CP19-14-000.

Send paper comments with

project docket number CP19-14-000 to Kimberly D. Bose,

Secretary, Federal Energy

Regulatory Commission, 888

environmental regulations.

MVP Southgate also faces opposition not only from groups like the Haw River Assembly and Sierra Club, which call it a health and environmental hazard and potentially an abuse of property rights through eminent domain, but also the county commissioners, who adopted a resolution in September opposing the pipeline. While the commissioners have no authority to permit or stop the pipeline, the resolution will go to the FERC.

Locally, MVP Southgate has had to take several property owners to court to get access to their land for surveying, as state law allows.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality denied MVP Southgate a permit to cross streams earlier this summer pending the release

First St. NE, Room 1A, Washington, D.C.

Or attend one of three publiccomment sessions this month. The Alamance County session is 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22 in the

Vailtree Event Center, 1567

Bakatsias Lane, Haw River.

Contact FERC staff for assistance at 866-208-3676 or

FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov.

To read the full draft

environmental impact

statement, visit www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/eis.asp.

of the DEIS, but the pipeline’s builders can re-apply.

The comprehensive report looks at dozens of issues, from the impact on surface water — some damage, but no loss in wetlands — to the pipeline’s contribution to climate change — incremental contributions to longterm increases in flooding, droughts and damaging storms, but no way to say how much could be blamed on this pipeline. Overall, the DEIS says following state and federal regulations would minimize the damage from building the pipeline, and operating it would be fairly innocuous.

“We are, therefore, recommending that these mitigation measures be attached as conditions to any authorization issued by the Commission,” the report reads.

The project would:

• Cross 224 bodies of water,

including three major

ones and 13 in North

Carolina with “fisheries

of special concern”;

• Affect 27 acres of

wetlands during

construction and six acres

in operation;

• Come within 200 feet of

about 65 archaeological

sites and 160 historic

architectural sites, some

of which would qualify for

historic registry; and

• Disturb more than

1,300 acres during

construction, and use

452 acres to operate the

pipeline.

Critics of the project, like environmental economist Elizabeth Stanton and researcher Eliandro Tavares with the Massachusetts-based Applied Economics Clinic, say MVP has exaggerated the demand for natural gas in the region. They wrote in an analysis of MVP Southgate that MVP cites a 7.6 percent annual increase in demand for natural gas in North Carolina, but that figure includes demand for gas to produce electricity. MVP Southgate would largely serve residential and industrial customers, whose demand has actually declined slightly.

Reporter Isaac Groves can

be reached at igroves@

thetimesnews.com or 336-506-3045. Follow him on

Twitter at @tnigroves.