FERC Rubber Stamps Fracked Gas Pipelines Despite Widespread Concerns and Opposition

Certificates for ACP, MVP Continue Dangerous Trend

Doug Jackson, (202) 495.3045 or doug.jackson@sierraclub.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), after recently regaining a quorum, granted federal approval for the fracked gas Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley (MVP) pipelines. Fracked gas is primarily composed of methane, a dangerous pollutant 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years in the atmosphere. Commissioner LaFleur notably dissented, saying the pipelines were not in the public interest.

Both the ACP and MVP would take fracked gas from West Virginia to southern Virginia, slicing through some of the most beautiful parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains and our national forests, with the ACP continuing into eastern North Carolina, crossing more than 1,000 waterways. If the pipeline receives the necessary state approvals, construction will pollute pristine streams and rivers, further threaten endangered species that are already on the brink, devastate forested wetlands and other valuable ecosystems, and threaten communities with the dangers of an explosion. The Sierra Club and a broad coalition of environmental and community groups plan to urge FERC to reconsider its decision.  

Additional federal and state permits are required before construction can begin. North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia are each considering the potential water quality impacts of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and must grant Water Quality Certification (WQC) under section 401 of the Clean Water Act before construction may proceed. North Carolina has delayed its WCQ decision on the ACP and asked the pipeline developer for more specific information on how it will affect certain water crossings. Virginia has yet to issue WQC for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and Sierra Club’s lawsuit against West Virginia recently resulted in the state asking the Court to allow it to reconsider its certificate for the MVP. Several other federal reviews are still required, including a separate Endangered Species Act analysis, air permits, and local land use approvals for the fracked gas compressor stations and other facilities along the route.

In response, Sierra Club Dirty Fuels campaign Director Kelly Martin released the following statement:

"Despite new commissioners, FERC continues to show itself to be nothing more than a rubber stamp for dirty and dangerous fossil fuel projects. Greenlighting the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines doesn’t advance West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina communities -- it threatens them by pumping fracked gas through them, releasing methane every step of the way.

“Despite the talking points of the fossil fuel industry and FERC, fracked gas is not a clean fuel or the future. It’s yet another dirty fuel polluting our air and water, threatening our public health and the climate. Clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind are readily available and affordable today. Building these antiquated, expensive, and dangerous projects only locks us into to the dirty and dangerous fuels of the last century when we should be investing in clean energy.

“We applaud Commissioner LaFleur for recognizing what West Virginians, Virginians and North Carolinians already know - these fracked gas pipelines are not in the public interest."

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.