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 three 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. ATTEND one of the FERC hosted Public Comment Sessions. There are 10 sessions along the entire proposed route. In these sessions, you will arrive and be given a number. Numbers will only be given out until 1 hour before the meeting-end time (ex. 8pm in Staunton), so be sure to arrive before then. Numbers will be called in order and you will be invited to a private room with a FERC representative and a Court Recorder to make your comment. If there is large attendance, comments may be limited to 3 minutes, so be sure to bring a long and short version.

    Likely the closet comment session for folks in Augusta County will be the one in Staunton on Thursday February 23, 5-9pm at the Holiday Inn and Conference Center. (directions)

    Augusta County Alliance, the Sierra Club, and Appalachian Mountain Voices have teamed up to rent a room at Holiday Inn that day as well from 3-9 p.m. Come and visit while waiting for your number to be called with FERC, gather more information for your comments, or talk with other community members to see how to continue the struggle to stop this project. (there will be cookies!)

    Listening Session Schedule

    • Fayetteville, NC
      Monday, February 13, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Doubletree Hotel
      1965 Cedar Creek Road
      Fayetteville, NC 28312
    • Wilson, NC
      Tuesday, February 14, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Forest Hills Middle School
      1210 Forest Hills Road
      Wilson, NC 27893
    • Roanoke Rapids, NC
      Wednesday, February 15, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Hilton Garden Inn Roanoke Rapids
      111 Carolina Crossroads Parkway
      Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
    • Suffolk, VA
      Thursday, February 16, 2017
      5:30 – 9:30 p.m.
      Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center
      100 East Constance Road
      Suffolk, VA 23434
    • Farmville, VA
      Tuesday, February 21, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Moton Museum
      900 Griffin Boulevard
      Farmville, VA 23901


    • Lovingston, VA
      Wednesday, February 22, 2017
      6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Nelson County High School
      6919 Thomas Nelson Highway, Route 29
      Lovingston, VA 22949
    • Staunton, VA
      Thursday, February 23, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference
      152 Fairway Lane
      Staunton, VA 24401
    • Monterey, VA
      Tuesday, February 28, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Highland Center
      61 Highland Center Drive
      Monterey, VA 24465
    • Elkins, WV
      Wednesday, March 1, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Gandy Dance Theater
      359 Beverly Pike
      Elkins, WV 26241
    • Marlinton, WV
      Thursday, March 2, 2017
      5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
      Marlinton Community Wellness Center
      320 9th Street
      Marlinton, WV 24954


  3. Or by Mail.

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