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A Wonderful Lesson in How FERC Really Works

delaware riverkeeper - Jim Willis reports

Jim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)


A recent FERC review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline application provides a perfect illustration of how the agency works and it’s anything but rubber stamp.

One of the oft-repeated lies we hear from anti-fossil fuelers against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is that the agency “never” rejects a pipeline proposal, and “hasn’t in 20 years.” The conclusion, according to liemeisters like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, is that FERC is simply a “rubber stamp” for “big oil and gas” — not to be trusted and (preferably) shut down.

“Rubber stamp” is the kindergartenish meme fractivists pedal to unthinking, enviro lapdogs (their followers), who believe them. But, you and I know the truth. This is that truth: FERC picks over pipeline projects with a fine-tooth comb. When FERC finds something they don’t like, they respond back to the project builder with “suggestions” about route changes, construction guidelines, request for more information, etc. If the project builder decides to disregard FERC’s “suggestions,” the builder runs the risk of having the project rejected. So they change it. It is an ongoing negotiation.


Where’s the pipeline?

What if FERC demands something really wacky? The project builder will push back, but in the end, what FERC wants, FERC gets. Period. And so it is with Dominion’s $5 billion, 594-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline–a natural gas pipeline that will stretch from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina. Atlantic Coast is winding its way through the FERC regulatory process.

Last week was the deadline for filing comments on FERC’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project. On Tuesday, FERC sent Dominion a 36-page letter regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, identifying 100 areas of concern with the “suggestion” that minor route changes and workspace reductions would button up most issues. You can bet your bottom dollar Atlantic Coast Pipeline will bend over backwards to make those adjustments.

This is how adults handle things:

FERC has asked Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC (ACP) to provide additional information on its proposed natural gas pipeline within 20 days, after taking note of more than 100 items or inconsistencies that raised concerns with federal regulators.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is preparing a final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project [CP15-554], which would transport 1.5 Bcf/d of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales to satisfy heating and electric generation demand in the Southeast.

In a 36-page letter to the pipeline’s backers — Dominion, Duke Energy and Southern Company Gas — FERC said it had identified seven geological areas of concern. Among them, it found numerous locations along the pipeline’s route that contain known and suspect closed depressions within the project’s current workspace. The locations were listed in an updated karst survey report filed last February.

“It appears that many of these features could be avoided by small route variations and/or potential workspace reductions,” FERC said, adding that ACP and Dominion should clarify whether they “propose to incorporate route and/or workspace design revisions to avoid or minimize impacts to these features.”

Editor’s Note: Jim gets to the root of fractivist lying here. The Delaware Povertykeeper a/k/a Riverkeeper and its ilk want the world to believe any result they don’t support must be a “rubber stamp,” when the truth is just the opposite. This is what they’re paid to do to harass FERC and, especially, applicants. It’s what trust-funder elitists with their guilt assuaging agendas, along with wealthy investors sucking off the government solar and wind subsidy teat, do to advance their very special interests.

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4 thoughts on “A Wonderful Lesson in How FERC Really Works

  1. On 9/29/2014 I filed a legal challenge on the FERC website. I filed my challenge as an eComment, addressing the issues of fair compensation to landowners for underground natural gas storage. The FERC, so far, has refused to address my eComment. After several months of waiting and no response, i called the FERC and was told that the FERC will not respond to my eComment filed on 9/29/2014. Since the FERC has this eComment feature on their website, they should be required to repond to all eComments submitted.

    My eComment is still setting dormant on the FERC website and after three years, I am still waiting for the FERC to respond to my filing.

    The FERC is illegally using the 1938 Gas Act to take over private property by eminent domain or illegal perpetual lease for underground natural gas storage. Gas and pipeline companies are making $Millions annually with zero or minimal compensation to private landowners and Native Americans. This is a national issue that needs to be addressed by Congress. So this is an ugly example of how the FERC does NOT work.

    • I am against non lawyers challanging FERC on issues of emminent domain, I am against non geoloigist challaging FERC as well as non hydroligest or anyone tha opposes fossil fuels. I am against public comment meetings where movie actors draw crowds and the religion of misinformation is bellowed from the pulpit of misinformation. I am against political corruption were decisions that effect millions are made by gathering snowflakes that make the road to right, paved with lies and fear mongering

  2. Whether it is that FERC is a rubber-stamp or a rogue agency (and fractivists say both and both can be read in the news), or that every EIS is shoddy or sloppy or deficient or of course completely missing all of the impact, there is always the same thing going on with the anti-pipeline campaigns. Nonsense. Having participated in a ferc docket from prefile to completed construction I can say there was an enormous amount of paperwork, much back and forth between not just ferc and the company wanting to build the product but also the input of multiple agencies, whether federal or state. To say that ferc rubber stamps projects is absurd but then again the antifracking pipeline movement is absurd in too many ways to count.

  3. https://mobile.twitter.com/NewYorkRAD/status/853242309324001280

    Speaking of the ferc rubber-stamp meme and the same old people this looks like a tweet from NYRAD with a letter to an editor or opinion by Dennis Higgins. It’s a small world.

    As far as the loony commenter talking about ferc not responding to comments, ferc doesn’t sit down and write a little letter to every commenter. Comments are however addressed in dockets in the environmental review.

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