The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has a history of working out solutions regarding America’s need to build new energy projects. But in the case of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the ATC, our federal partners, nearby cities and towns, and hundreds of private land owners were cut out of a process that should have shut down a bad, bad project.
Quite frankly, Mountain Valley Pipeline has become a good example of bad energy development. Currently the steep mountainsides near Roanoke are being carved, gashed and ripped up. Unusually heavy rainfall this year has, from when the earthmovers first fired up, exposed the recklessness of this pipeline developer. The degradation of the landscape has meant severe erosion – already. And we can tell you, firsthand, that A.T. hikers in this area are shocked and dismayed.
In April 2017, ATC called out the pipeline company for adding more than 20,000 pages to their plans – outside of public view. See our published opinions here and here. We have also written multiple editorials on the problems with the project, which can be found here, here and here.
Notably, we have worked with Virginia Senators Kaine and Warner and Congressman Morgan Griffith on bicameral legislation in Senate and House to shore up some of the decision-making processes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) needs to consider before greenlighting natural gas pipelines. Our country needs to be vigilant in protecting congressionally created national scenic trails, national parks and national forests.
Legislation to improve FERC’s decision-making processes, along with pressure from organizations like ATC and ensuing lawsuits filed by our allies, caused FERC to open a public comment period. ATC and 30 trail maintaining clubs filed strong comments asking FERC, among many things, to evaluate proposed existing pipelines for their cumulative impacts and to consider opportunities to share corridors to lessen environmental disruption.