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Critics say FERC needs more data on Mountain Valley project

Agencies, local governments, environmental groups and individuals voiced concerns to FERC about missing information in the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline project.

Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC, a joint venture of EQT Midstream Partners LP, NextEra US Gas Assets LLC, Con Edison Gas Pipeline and Storage LLC, WGL Midstream Inc and RGC Midstream LLC, said it was still refining the $3.7 billion project. EQT Midstream spokeswoman Natalie Cox said in a Dec. 28 email that requests for more information would be addressed in the final environmental impact statement.

After FERC issued the draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS, on Sept. 16, comments flowed in from stakeholders that included the U.S. Department of the Interior; Giles, Montgomery and Roanoke counties in Virginia; Appalachian Voices; West Virginia Rivers Coalition; Wilderness Society; Preserve Montgomery County VA; Indian Creek Watershed Association; Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline; the Virginia chapter of the American Fisheries Society; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Preserve Bent Mountain; and Appalachian Mountain Advocates. The environmental groups described a lack of information about project impacts.

"Correcting these deficiencies will require significant new analysis and the incorporation of high quality and accurate information regarding [Mountain Valley Pipeline] impacts," Cat McCrue, spokeswoman for Appalachian Voices, said in a Dec. 22 press release.

The U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also received comments related to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires federal agencies to consider a project's effect on historic properties, and the council passed these on to FERC. In a Dec. 21 letter to the commission's Office of Energy Projects, the Advisory Council said a recurring complaint charged FERC had failed to identify and include "appropriate consulting parties in the Section 106 review." The council recommended that FERC reconsider stakeholders' requests to be consulting parties.

"It appears that FERC has failed to engage in an active and positive manner with stakeholders in general, and with representatives of the communities affected," the council said. "We are concerned that in light of the views expressed by the stakeholders, the summary of FERC's compliance with Section 106 as characterized in the DEIS is inaccurate."

The American Petroleum Institute's Virginia Petroleum Council lent its support to the project in a Dec. 22 letter to FERC. It asked the commission to approve the project.

"Virginia's natural gas use is increasing, having grown more than 50% from 2004 to 2014," Virginia Petroleum Council Executive Director Miles Morin said. "We need to build infrastructure to get cleaner, cheaper fuel to market in order to help spur the economy and help consumers save money on fuel costs."

The project would follow an approximately 300-mile route between West Virginia and southern Virginia. In order to deliver approximately 2 Bcf/d of natural gas from Appalachian Basin producers to East Coast markets, the developer would construct three compressor stations, a 42-inch diameter pipeline, and other facilities. (FERC docket CP16-10)