Federal regulators released a draft of a final assessment of the environmental impacts of a proposed natural gas pipeline that would travel from West Virginia into and through Virginia.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) assessors say if built, the Mountain Valley pipeline would have “significant” impacts on forests in West Virginia and Virginia. The assessment says the $3.4 billion proposed project would have "limited" adverse effects in the proposed pipeline's path elsewhere.
Environmental groups are condemning the draft saying the federal agency has failed to prove the pipeline is needed in the first place. Groups like Chesapeake Climate Action Network, West Virginia Sierra Club, and Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights among others say FERC’s assessment has gaps:
- An accurate assessment of whether the project is needed and in the public interest;
- Alternative analysis including development of energy efficiency, solar, and wind as alternatives to construction of pipelines;
- A complete analysis of the cumulative, life-cycle climate pollution that would result from the pipeline;
- A thorough and accurate analysis of visual impacts from the pipeline, including impacts to the iconic Appalachian Trail and potential damage to its tourism economy;
- Cumulative impacts analysis of all environmental and human health damage from increased gas fracking in West Virginia that would supply the pipeline;
- An analysis of the compound effects of multiple regional geo-hazards, including a meaningful analysis of the karst topography; and
- A thorough review of damage to water quality and natural resources along and downstream from the pipeline route.
The document is among final steps in the regulatory process for the commission, which regulates interstate natural gas pipelines.
The 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline and the similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline have drawn strong opposition, particularly along the routes. But they've got the support of many political and business leaders.