Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). FERC’s final issuance is scheduled for October 19.

The EIS is a thumb in the eye of thousands of citizens in West Virginia and Virginia who made the effort to research their local communities, participate in meetings, contact policymakers, and submit oral and written comments in opposition to the pipeline. The outside-financed gas and utility industry has more clout with government than the citizens whose lands and communities the pipeline would transgress.

For those in Pocahontas County who think the ACP would bring jobs, the EIS specifically states the 22 permanent jobs in West Virginia would be headquartered in Weston (13), Elkins (3), and Clarksburg (4). [TABLE 4.9.4] There would be some local temporary work for a few months putting in sediment control fencing, etc., but not enough money or job-length to acquire a home mortgage or rear a family. Indeed, the ACP would be a net job loss due to negative impacts on tourism and diminished home construction along the route.

According to the EIS, construction would occur between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. six days a week. FERC dismisses the traffic congestion, road damage, and noise as a temporary local inconvenience.

As for our scenic, pristine environment, citing the EIS, “The FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of ACP…would result in some adverse effects, such as impacts on steep slopes and adjacent waterbodies and associated aquatic resources; [and a list follows].” And then, “Most, but not all of these impacts, would be reduced to less-than-significant levels.”

Oh, really? What about the “not all”? That’s our steep slopes and karst-riddled topography that would have the “significant” impacts. Yet FERC says that’s acceptable, taking ACP’s say-so over against the numerous concerns expressed by people who actually live here. As FERC says, “These determinations are based on a review of the information provided by Atlantic…to the FERC.” If this pipeline is built, expect muddying of our streams and landslides on our mountains to be our local sacrificial contribution to an industry’s profit.

The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) is comprised of over 50 organizations in West Virginia and Virginia. In its Friday press release, ABRA charges that FERC “utterly fails to independently assess whether the [ACP] is even needed… numerous studies in recent years shows that the gas and utility sector is overbuilding natural gas infrastructure…these analyses are ignored in the impact statement.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, existing pipelines that serve the region proposed by the ACP are significantly underutilized now and will be for the future.

FERC solely relies on the claim of need by the project developers whose contracts are within their own financial control. FERC has never denied any significant application. New pipelines have a federal guarantee of up to 14 percent profit with ratepayers liable for project failures. It seems that Lincoln’s famous line in his Gettysburg Address has now become twisted into “government of the big corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.” More than ever, active citizens need to keep pressing against injustice. The ACP will be challenged on inadequacies such as failure to demonstrate need.

This August 1 the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will hold a public hearing on ACP’s application for a 401 Certification Permit under the Clean Water Act. Meeting will be held in the auditorium at Pocahontas County High School beginning at 6 p.m.

Allen Johnson

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