Sierra Club condemns FERC’s final review of proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline

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Sierra Club condemns FERC’s final review of proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline

WASHINGTON - Today, federal regulators released the environmental review for the proposed fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline. The controversial $3.2 billion pipeline, proposed by EQT and NextEra, would traverse 301 miles through West Virginia and Virginia crossing public lands and more than 1,000 waterways and wetlands and require the construction of three large compressor stations.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given approval of the MVP and Equitrans Expansion Project even though the MVP would have some adverse environmental impacts. In preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement, FERC relied heavily on consultants employed by the pipeline developer to assess the public need for the project.

Information submitted by the consultants contained uncatalogued collections of partial surveys and studies which are rife with omissions and inadequate, incorrect data. The pipeline developer submitted 16,000 pages of data after the close of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement comment period, allowing no opportunity for the public to comment or review on the additional submittals.

“The Mountain Valley Pipeline environmental review failed to adequately address the threats the project poses to our communities and our environment,” Kate Addleson, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Director, said. “This pipeline endangers the water and land it will cross, threatening every community along the way. The stakes are too high and the risks too great for this project to proceed. FERC must reconsider and reject the pipeline certificate.”

“Recent studies show that our region has the necessary energy to meet demand through 2030 without adding pipelines,” Kirk Bowers, Pipelines Program Coordinator with the Virginia Chapter of Sierra Club, said. “Clean renewable energy is available and affordable now, and is the only choice to preserve our communities, our public lands and waterways and the climate. New fossil fuel projects like the Mountain Valley project are not needed to keep the lights on, homes and businesses heated and industrial facilities in production.”

Major gaps in FERC’s analysis include:

  • Mountain Valley has not yet filed contingency plans for nearby public surface water supplies.
  • The MVP pipeline route would traverse about 216 miles of shallow bedrock, the majority of which would require blasting.
  • The MVP would result in 1,108 waterbody crossings. Of these crossings, 407 would be perennial waterbodies that support fisheries.
  • Construction of the MVP would disturb about 5,053 acres of soils that are classified as having the potential for severe water erosion.
  • About 67 percent of the MVP route and all of the Equitrans Expansion Project pipeline would cross areas susceptible to landslides.
  • FERC denied any impacts on property values, citing a recent study contracted by a Natural Gas lobbying group. FERC ignored studies commissioned by pipeline groups.
  • Historic area evaluations, which include registered historic sites and cemeteries, are not complete. Such evaluations are required for projects of this size. Surveys of property and historic sites, as well as evaluative research is required in order to achieve a complete analysis.

Instead of justifying the MVP based on Needs and demands analysis for natural gas supply, FERC accepted customer contracts as proof of Need. The alternatives analysis did not consider not building the pipeline as an alternative because it did not meet the stated objectives of the applicant's proposal.

For more information, contact Kirk Bowers at kirk.bowers@sierraclub.org or (434) 296-8673.

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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