The following was published in the December 16, 2016  ABRA Update (No. 109). The National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have raised objections to FERC’s permitting timetable for the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. In letters to FERC, the agencies state that they must follow their own review process as established by Federal law, and that any timetable is contingent upon receipt of adequate data and analysis. Both agencies raise concerns about delayed or incomplete responses to requests for key information.

Forest Service, BLM Object to FERC Schedule for Pipelines

The National Forest Service (NFS) has told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that it “does not concur with the permitting timetable” for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) that FERC had previously published. The request and associated comments were contained in a November 18 letter to FERC from Clyde Thompson, Forest Supervisor for the Monongahela National Forest, which was not filed in the FERC docket until December 13. The comments point out that NFS has “its own administrative review process which must occur before the Forest Service makes a decision on the special use permit” that has been requested for the ACP, and that the procedures and associated schedule that NFS must follow are clearly established by Federal law. The comments also point out that the NFS cannot complete its review process until outstanding data and analyses from the ACP have been satisfied.

A similar position has been expressed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding the permitting schedule for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). In a November 16 letter to FERC (published in the docket December 5), the BLM said it does “not concur with the permitting timetable” for the MVP. The letter specifically uses language identical to the Forest Service letter in saying: “The draft permitting timetable is incorrect because a schedule is otherwise established by federal law.” Both letters were written by the agencies in response to a November 4 email request from FERC.