By Drew C. Wilson
An alliance of 21 local and state interest groups has begun an appeal process asking federal authorities to suspend approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
N.C. WARN, an opponent of the proposed $5 billion project to bring natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia to North Carolina, said in a release Monday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “cut corners, ignored environmental justice and climate destruction and usurped state authority in approving construction.”
The FERC issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity on Oct. 13 that paved the way for Dominion Energy and Duke Energy to proceed with construction of a 36-inch, high-pressure natural gas pipeline that would be built 604 miles from Harrison County, West Virginia to Robeson County, North Carolina.
Some 12 miles of the pipeline could be placed through Wilson County. The Wilson County Board of Commissioners expressed concerns over the pipeline in an Oct. 17 resolution.
“Basically you have to go back to FERC and call for a rehearing and basically call on them to reconsider their decision,” N.C. WARN executive director Jim Warren said Wednesday. “That is just the bizarre way that the federal rules are written, so you have to go through that step before you can go through the courts. They will maybe reconsider or they may continue forward with this corner-cutting approach that they have taken so far and then the steps are, one or more parties go to the courts.”
“We are pretty optimistic based on both the abject failure of FERC to do its job properly and the fact that there have been recent court decisions that have overturned FERC’s rulings in pipeline cases,” Warren said. “This thing is just so full of holes, what they passed. They let Duke Energy and Dominion cut lots of corners and we have state agencies that are so far holding the line against this corner-cutting approach that Duke and Dominion and FERC have embarked on so if there is justice in the system, this project is not going to go forward at least under the current path that they have created.”
The challenge to the federal approval will be led by John Runkle, attorney for N.C. WARN.
According to the challenge, Duke and Dominion were permitted to supplement their permit application 18 times in thousands of technical documents on vital issues that were filed after the end of the public comment period.
“This is a straight-up flaunting of federal law, which requires that interested parties be able to provide meaningful input on the environmental risks and costs reflected in a completed application that has been fully reviewed by FERC staff — not the spotty application Duke and Dominion kept changing,” an N.C. WARN release claims.