In a letter sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee October 26, 30 organizations in Virginia and West Virginia called on FERC to do a single, comprehensive review of all four of the major natural gas pipeline projects currently proposed in the Blue Ridge and central Appalachian regions, rather than doing them separately.
This review, called a programmatic environmental impact statement, would evaluate the need for each of the projects in relation to the others. While the $5 billion proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would carry natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina, submitted its application to FERC in September, Mountain Valley Pipeline filed its permit application to build a $3 billion natural gas pipeline—also from West Virginia into Virginia—October 23.
Along with those projects, the Appalachian Connector and an upgrade of the Columbia WB Xpress, which cover similar territory, have been proposed.
FERC may not grant a company permission to build a pipeline before determining whether it is necessary, so organizations are hopeful that considering all projects at once will prove they aren’t all needed and that existing infrastructure can supply the demands of the region.
More than 3,000 miles of natural gas pipeline already exist in Virginia.
“Those pipelines are already there and we need to make sure the capacity of those pipelines is already used,” says Joe Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocates. Joanna Salidas, president of Friends of Nelson, adds, “If a drug dealer can sell his full amount of cocaine, does that mean that amount is needed?”