Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released

cover 350On December 30, 2016 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. And for Augusta County, the numbers don’t look good. Clearly quantified in the DEIS, our county has the most miles crossed, the most high consequence safety concerns, the most private wells and springs that could be impacted, the most private property being impacted, and the most sinkholes. But somehow, all this impact is deemed acceptable in the DEIS.

Now through April 6th, you can let FERC know what you think. Here are some facts we’ve picked out of the draft statement that can help you build your comments to FERC:

  • Augusta County would have 56.1 miles of pipeline, and 16.2 miles of access roads. The next highest with a proposed 42 inch pipeline is Randolph County, WV with 30.2 miles.
  • Augusta County would have 3 valve sites and two cathodic protection systems totaling 1,890 feet.
  • The public water lines would be crossed 13 times and the public sewer lines 6 times. That means that if the Augusta County Service Authority needed to work on, repair, or upgrade those lines they would have to dig UNDER the 42-inch high pressure ACP.
  • The draft EIS notes that karst “features could present a hazard to the pipeline both pre- and post-construction due to cave or sinkhole collapse, and can also provide direct conduits …for groundwater contamination.” Once again Augusta County would win for the most—33.8 miles of the Augusta proposed route is considered karst. With only 70 percent of that portion even surveyed, Augusta has the most sinkholes, 74 so far, 22 of which are considered high risk.
  • When looking at terrain with the potential for landslides, Augusta County again takes high honors. Forty-nine percent of the proposed route in Virginia would cross terrain that has a high to moderate risk of landslides and almost all of that is in Bath, Highland, Augusta, and Nelson.
  • Not counting the public water sources of Augusta and Staunton that could be impacted by the pipeline, FERC and Dominion have identified 92 private wells and springs that would be in close proximity to the pipeline.
  • Pipes and the accompanying installation techniques are classified for safety purposes as 1, 2, 3, or 4. The quality of the pipe and construction techniques depend on the classification of that route section. There are no 4s on the entire route. Class 1 is used for areas with ten or fewer human used buildings within the blast zone (1,100 feet on each side of the pipeline). Class 2 is used where there are 11-45 human used buildings and Class 3 is used in areas where there are 46 and over human used buildings or in places where the pipe is within 100 yards of a building that has 20 more people like a school, nursing home, or day care center. Again, Augusta is the winner. Of its 56 miles, there are 11.6 miles of Class 2, and 2.4 miles of Class 3. Of those last 2 categories, 8.7 miles are considered high consequence where an incident would result in significant human and property impacts. In the first 300 miles of the proposed pipe – where it is 42 inches, Augusta is the only place that has any Class 3 designation.
  • FERC acknowledges that it was asked by the Augusta Board of Supervisors for the route to be moved away from the Stuarts Draft schools, but notes “We do not anticipate that construction and operation of the pipeline along the currently proposed route would have a noticeable impact on these schools.”

Now that you have some ammunition, you can file your comments with FERC until April 6, 2017. There are two ways to comment.

  1. Online (electronically) through the FERC eComment or eFiliing System. This is a bit clunky, but our friends at Wild Virginia made these great step-by-step instructions to guide you through the process. Once you file in this manner, you will receive updates on the document as others file their comments.
  2. Or by Mail.

    Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    888 First Street NE, Room 1A
    Washington, DC 20426