Upstate Forever Ends Challenge of Dominion Pipeline Over Concerns About Abandonment of VC Summer Nuclear Reactors; Focus Will Shift To Regulatory Reform
Upstate Forever and the SC Environmental Law Project appeal the FERC Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
Read the appeal here
Read our op ed about property rights and eminent domain here
Dominion’s proposed 55-mile Transco to Charleston pipeline will rip through sensitive habitat in the Upstate from Moore to Chappells (scroll to bottom for detailed maps). The project will permanently impact 255 acres of land, including agricultural, forest and residential land, and will cross bodies of water 73 times, including the South Tyger, Enoree and Saluda Rivers and many of their tributaries. Also potentially impacted are three drinking water providers – the Woodruff Roebuck Water District, the City of Clinton, and the City of Newberry. The project also calls for a permanent 50-foot right of way easement along the length of the pipeline, causing habitat fragmentation and reducing shade to streams at crossings.
Upstate Forever challenges the need for this project in the first place (see below).
On March 9, 2016, Dominion filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity authorizing construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline facilities described above.
Noticing this likely major disruption to our natural resources, Upstate Forever partnered with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) to file a Motion to Intervene in the FERC proceedings. Upstate Forever and SCELP filed comments early in the process expressing our specific concerns. Read the comments here.
On October 19, FERC issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the project and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Upstate Forever has challenged Dominion’s claim that the environmental impact will be minimal, and we have called for FERC to require a full Environmental Impact Statement rather than the less rigorous Environmental Assessment (read our response here). We have challenged FERC’s FONSI, and we have questioned the NEED for constructing this pipeline segment in the first place. Dominion claims that this additional capacity is needed to serve the South Carolina Lowcountry. The company will provide most of the gas in this pipeline to SCE&G. However, Upstate Forever has analyzed SCE&G’s Integrated Resource Plans for 2015 and 2016, and we do not see evidence of a need for additional natural gas capacity, especially if it comes at the expense of Upstate habitat, water, and property owners. There also appears to be an existing route in Dominion’s system that reaches the same point in Greenwood County, so we believe this destructive project to be unnecessarily redundant. We believe that, as 2 gigawatts of nuclear capacity comes online in SCE&G’s territory in the next three years, utility-scale natural gas capacity supply will be freed up from generation and available for other types of growth.
This proposed pipeline does not serve the Upstate, enables a glut of capacity in the Lowcountry, and incentivizes the export of natural gas in liquefied form (LNG) through a terminal under development near the Port of Savannah. Upstate natural resources and landowners should not pay the price for a product that will be exported and serves no domestic purpose. But current law gives Dominion the right to use eminent domain to force landowners to turn over their property for this endeavor, and we do not believe that right or the impact on our resource is justified in this situation.
In addition to FERC approval, the project must also receive a permit from the SC Department of Environmental Control (DHEC) to construct in navigable waters. There are many areas of concern in this application as well, including impacts to 520 linear feet of streams and temporary work stations located too close to water bodies and wetlands. Read Upstate Forever’s full comments to DHEC here.
FERC’s 90-day federal authorization decision deadline was January 17, 2017. We thank all of you who submitted comments on the negative impact of this project. The Docket Number for this project is CP16-98-000.
On January 24, Laurens County Council passed a resolution opposing the use of eminent domain for construction of the pipeline in Laurens County. On February 2, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Dominion a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, authorizing the company to utilize eminent domain to acquire pipeline right-of-way. This certificate was issued the day before FERC lost a quorum of commissioners and without the necessary DHEC Section 401 water quality certification. Upstate Forever will continue to scrutinize this project as it proceeds through the 401 certification process, and we will appeal the FERC Certificate.
Check back on this page for updates!