Opponents of two natural gas pipelines in Virginia are vowing to continue fighting the projects, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted its approval Friday evening.
FERC’s approval allows the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipeline companies to invoke eminent domain to acquire access to private properties to construct the pipelines.
Carolyn Reilly has become a leader in the fight against that. “I think it’s been an amazing thing to see people coming together despite many differences and political affiliations. This is not a partisan issue, this fight. There’s environmentalists and there’s conservative property rights activists that are united in this fight to protect our homes, our lands, the whole Appalachia, and especially water,” Reilly said over the weekend.
The pipeline projects still require several local, state and federal approvals before construction could begin. A key decision rests with Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality. It is in the process of reviewing thousands of public comments on its draft, water quality certificate.
Virginia’s Chamber of Commerce is applauding FERC’s green light of the two pipelines. It says it will bring economic growth, jobs and energy security to the region.
Dominion Energy, one of the companies that developing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, praised the decision. "The end use of this gas is well established on the public record and is a matter of urgent public necessity," a Dominion spokesman wrote in a statement. "Our public utility customers are depending on this infrastructure to generate cleaner electricity, heat homes and power local businesses."
Opponents of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline gas pipeline, were disappointed but not surprised that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave it the ‘go ahead’ last week.
And many, like Diana Christopolus, found the timing curious.
“It’s pretty telling that they waited until 7pm on Friday the 13th to have a private meeting to make this decision. I think they’re terrified of the public. And, the reason they’re terrified is, they realized there are very serious problems in terms of the public need for these projects and the huge environmental damage they would do.”
Rick Shingles, an anti-pipeline activist says he’s still confident a close examination of the law and the science will lead the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to refuse to grant the necessary state certification for project, due to the dangers it poses to the region’s water.
Pipeline company spokeswoman, Natalie Cox, did immediately comment to Radio-IQ. But she told the Roanoke Times, that The Mountain Valley “project team looks forward to continued cooperation with federal, state and local agencies as we work toward satisfying all permitting requirements.”
Several other agencies are due to announce their rulings on the pipeline before it can move forward. Expected soon, is a decision from the U.S. forest service. It would have to grant its approval before the Mountain Valley Pipeline could cross the Appalachian Trail.
The FERC’s vote on Friday was: Two in favor and one dissent. There are two vacancies on the commission. The dissenter, Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, told E & E News, she doesn't believe the proposals are in the public interest.