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FERC denies consulting status for Va. landowners in Mountain Valley pipeline review

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FERC denies consulting status for Va. landowners in Mountain Valley pipeline review

FERC staff has denied landowners' requests to become "consultingparties" for a cultural-resources review of EQT Midstream Partners LP's Mountain Valley natural gas pipelineproject.

Six parties submitted requests to FERC under the National HistoricPreservation Act in March regarding MountainValley Pipeline LLC's proposed pipeline project.

Most of the landowners claimed their properties were contributingresources to the Greater Newport Rural Historic District in Giles County, Va., andthe proposed pipeline would run through some portion of the properties. However,FERC determined that the properties were not within "the direct or indirectarea of potential effects" related to historical architecture, denying theparties a potential tool to alter the project.

"We believe that our existing procedures provide the [parties]with sufficient opportunities to comment on cultural resources information, withouthaving consulting party status," FERC staff wrote in an April 8 letter to theparties' attorney.

Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act,federal agencies must consider a project's effects on historical areas.

While most of the parties requesting consulting status with FERCfor the Mountain Valley project are landowners with property along the proposedroute for the project, one of the parties is the Newport-Mt. Olivet Methodist Church.The church was cited as a well-preserved, crucial contribution to the structuresof the historic district.

Ultimately, FERC staff determined that the church will not beaffected by the project because the proposed route does not cross any property ownedby the church. At its nearest point, the proposed pipeline route would be approximately0.5 mile from the church's property, which FERC concluded would be outside the project'sdirect and indirect areas of potential effect.

Other parties, including the Board of Supervisors in MontgomeryCounty, Va., also submitted requests to become consulting parties, but as of April11 no decision had been made.

Concerns about the impact on cultural resources, such as historical sites and the AppalachianTrail, have been prevalent in discussing the Mountain Valley pipeline project.

FERC is accepting information for the project's environmentalreview. Analysis of the collected information will be published in a draft environmentalimpact statement for the project. As part of this phase, brochures were publishedApril 11.

Theapproximately 300-mile Mountain Valley pipeline is designed to extend from the Equitranstransmission system in Wetzel County, W.Va., to Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC's Zone 5 compressorstation 165 in Pittsylvania County, Va. It would be capable of transporting at least2 million Dth/d and is expected to begin service during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Theproject is a joint venture of EQT Midstream, majority owner and planned operator,and affiliates of NextEra Energy Inc.,WGL Holdings Inc., and (CP16-10)