Ridge Graham, North Carolina Field Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-262-1500
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, for its Southgate pipeline project. The pipeline would take gas from the terminus of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Pittsylvania County, Va., through Rockingham and Alamance counties in N.C. to feed into Dominion Energy’s gas distribution network in the Triangle region of Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham.
The main Mountain Valley Pipeline is unfinished, plagued by multiple regulatory and legal hurdles, and is currently under a stop work order.
“The Mountain Valley main pipeline has violated water quality standards more than 300 times in Virginia and West Virginia. Yet, this same company plans to extend into North Carolina and bring its reckless construction practices to bear on the communities of these three counties for an entirely unneeded project,” said Ridge Graham, North Carolina Field Coordinator for Appalachian Voices.
The FERC certificate allows the developer, Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, to begin using eminent domain to seize private property for construction along the proposed route, even as the pipeline’s viability remains in question.
The Southgate project is currently missing its required water quality certification from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, which would allow the proposed pipeline to cross hundreds of waters and streams through both the Dan and Haw River watersheds in Rockingham and Alamance counties and impact Jordan Lake, the main drinking water source for the Triangle.
“The Haw River watershed is a valuable resource for recreational use, wildlife habitat, flood mitigation, water supply and countless other benefits. This project poses a serious threat to water quality. We urge Governor Cooper and the Department of Environmental Quality to prioritize the health and safety of our communities and natural resources and deny this project at the state level,” says Emily Sutton, the Haw Riverkeeper.
NC DEQ submitted two letters to FERC in 2018 and 2019 detailing how the Southgate pipeline was shown to be unnecessary. The 2019 letter states that “the Department remains unconvinced that the Project satisfies the criteria for the Commission to deem it in the public interest, and whether it is essential to ensure future growth and prosperity for North Carolinians.”
“FERC has walked away from its responsibility to protect the public from this needless, destructive fossil fuel project in the midst of the dual climate and extinction crises,” said Perrin de Jong, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “However, this fight is far from over, and we are encouraged by North Carolina’s continued vigilance in pushing back against Mountain Valley’s pathetic rationale for its requested state water quality permit.”
A 2019 report by Applied Economics found that, “MVP, LLC presents no evidence of increased use per customer and historical data show that total direct use actually decreased between 2010 and 2017.” It also showed that other gas demand forecasts, including from Transco, another major gas retailer in North Carolina, “project slower annual growth for the region and do not support” Dominion Energy’s projection of 2.2 percent annual growth.
“Cheaper, existing infrastructure is already available in that region. This project will only benefit Dominion Energy who will pass the costs of the Southgate pipeline onto their gas customers,” said Graham. “FERC had no rational basis for granting this certificate. The project is not needed, the impacts are not justified and now it is up to the DEQ to deny the water quality certification.”