Haw River Assembly protects the Haw River Watershed.
This includes nine hundred and twenty miles of streams feeding into the Haw along the 110 miles of the river, the 14,000 acres of Jordan Lake, and the plants, animals, and people who depend on the river. We work as advocates to stop pollution through with our Haw Riverkeeper, and are building a watershed community that supports clean water through our outreach, education and water quality monitoring programs
Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate Extension: Why it’s bad and how you can fight it
For more information, visit: www.noMVPsouthgate.org
The Mountain Valley Pipeline is a fracked gas pipeline that, if built, would carry gas from the fracking fields of West Virginia into southwest Virginia. It has severe implications for our health, water, climate and communities. In fact, MVP has committed over 300 violations of commonsense water protections in Virginia alone, and its construction is not even close to complete yet. Now, the polluting corporations behind the project want to extend it into North Carolina in a project they call “Southgate.”
The MVP Southgate Project is not in the public interest. Not only will it create permanent adverse impacts on the local environment, it will also contribute to several more decades of global climate pollution. Studies show that existing gas infrastructure is more than sufficient to meet regional energy needs for residents and industry. Therefore, the primary beneficiaries of the pipeline will be private companies. This is deeply concerning, given that a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity would allow the taking of private property for this project. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) fails to provide adequate information for public comment and fully account for all of the environmental threats posed by the MVP extension. You can help stop this dirty, dangerous project by filing comments directly with FERC. Here’s how:
1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method for submitting brief, text-only comments on the Project; Docket No. CP19-14-000
2) You can file your comments electronically by using the eFiling feature on the Commission’s website (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “eRegister.” If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing” as the filing type; or
3) You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address. Be sure to reference the Project docket number (CP19-14-000) with your submission: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.
Here’s a section-by-section look at all the problems with the DEIS:
With significant lengths of the proposed pipeline route running over potential cave systems and steep slopes, and running through watersheds prone to flash flooding, the DEIS makes it clear that the pipeline is at risk of failure due to sinkholes, landslides, and flooding. Even worse, the DEIS points out that the extensive blasting of bedrock during construction will aggravate landslide risks. Blasting poses a threat to private residents and the pipeline itself. FERC anticipates that Mountain Valley will have to compensate private property owners for damage to their property caused by construction-related blasting.
Construction of the pipeline is expected to cause heavy erosion, leading to the pollution of local waterways. The developer has been held accountable for numerous water quality violations during the construction of the MVP mainline, and so FERC’s assumption in the DEIS that the developer will comply with standard water protection measures and uphold water quality standards is misguided and undermines the DEIS’ environmental analysis.
4.3 Water Resources
The proposed project would cross 224 waterbodies, 3 of which are major water bodies, including designated water supply, high quality, and/or nutrient sensitive water bodies. In addition, MVP is requesting to run the pipeline parallel and within 15 feet of a waterbody in 28 locations, even though FERC standard is greater than 15 feet. Allowing for less than a 50 foot setback is also against the Jordan Lake Rules which are in place to protect streams from nutrient and sediment impairment.
Erosion and sedimentation is an ongoing concern in the Haw River basin, and many of our streams are impaired due to poor benthic life. Sedimentation, erosion, and increases in stormwater velocity, has left many creeks with steep, inaccessible banks, void of healthy aquatic habitat. Cutting forested streamside buffers and wetlands increases the risks of erosion and sedimentation, making the water muddier and impacting aquatic life.
Much of the pipeline is in the flood zone of the Haw River, which has seen record flooding the past two years. This volume and velocity of water will be increased with less buffer protection and compacted soils from heavy machinery. The Haw River watershed has extremely flashy flow tendencies. The high and low flow points have not been factored into this review.
Blasting and heavy equipment can damage infrastructure and make well water unsafe. Landowner well surveys have not been completed and locations of wells and springs are unknown and therefore impacts cannot be assessed.
Communities already face contaminated drinking water sourced from the Haw River, the Dan River and surface water reservoirs. Additional public water supply intakes are located downstream of these stream crossings, further than DEIS assessment limit of three miles downstream. Many of the contaminants that could impact drinking water quality do not break down. Therefore, this three mile limit for downstream impacts is arbitrary and does not provide an accurate assessment of the full scope of impacts.
We have seen the work MVP contractors have done on the mainline and have little faith that the requirements of the erosion and sediment control plan will be met at all. Including clauses like “when practicable” leaves too much subjectivity to MVP Southgate contractors. We have seen over 150 water quality and sediment and erosion control violations on the mainline done by the same teams. However, leaving so much subjectivity in what is or what is not practicable allows MVP Southgate to argue the the bare minimum is all that is necessary. This is a sensitive watershed and this project can not be completed in a way that prevents serious watershed degradation.
Pipeline construction will have a long term impact on nearly 27 acres of wetlands. In addition to the pipeline construction, Mountain Valley is asking for a waiver of FERC’s wetland protection setbacks and plans to locate 23 additional temporary workspaces within 50 foot wetlands. This is not protective of the sensitive Haw River watershed and should not be allowed.
Construction of the pipeline would have long-term, permanent impacts to 615 acres of forested uplands,10 acres of forested wetlands and nearly 12 acres of protected riparian forested lands in the Jordan Lake Watershed. These habitats require decades to recover from the kind of blasting, demolition and construction contemplated for this project.
4.6 Wildlife and Fisheries
Constructing the Project would disturb about 1,439 acres of wildlife habitat, much of which would be permanently destroyed by the project. The project would also cross 21 perennial waterbodies containing fisheries of special concern: 8 in Virginia, and 13 in North Carolina. Recreational fishing is a large economic driver in both Virginia and North Carolina.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service told Mountain Valley to minimize impacts to vulnerable migratory bird species which use the project area such as bald eagles, northern bobwhite, and red-headed woodpecker by avoiding clearing vegetation during the peak migratory bird nesting season (March 15 – August 15 in Virginia and April 1 – August 31 in North Carolina). Mountain Valley has defied the agency’s guidance and has proposed clearing vegetation during peak nesting season, from March 15 – April 30 and from August 16-31. FERC’s DEIS ignored the obvious impacts to migratory birds that would result from this reckless activity.
This project would impact and disrupt key wildlife habitat, including the North Carolina Forest Legacy Areas and Piedmont Land Conservancy Easement, as well as the Virginia Piedmont Forest Block Complex Important Bird Area (IBA).
4.7 Threatened, Endangered & Other Species
Pipeline construction would harm numerous aquatic species, including the Roanoke logperch, James spineymussel, Atlantic pigtoe and smooth coneflower. All are currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act with the exception of the Atlantic pigtoe, which is currently under consideration for protection. Habitat for these aquatic species along the Virginia-North Carolina border would be at great risk from sedimentation caused by pipeline construction.
4.8 Land use, special interest areas, visual impacts
The 72-mile long, 100-foot wide construction zone for this pipeline will leave a needless and damaging scar of visual blight and degraded lands. Local residents and landowners, who would be stuck looking at the pipeline every day, would be hit hardest by visual impacts and the loss of the use of their land. Residents will lose the privacy and visual screens of large trees and hedgerows to construction; the pipeline and its numerous new roads would be built and operated directly next to scores of homes – and will pass right through one home; and construction will render many property owners’ land unusable for farming, habitation or other uses. Even so, the DEIS claims that there will be no impacts on local property values.
The pipeline would also impact the experiences of countless recreational users of public parks, recreation and conservation areas by generating dust and noise pollution, scaring off wildlife, and disrupting public access during construction. Users of National Wild & Scenic River candidates like the Dan and Haw Rivers; future designated recreational water trails like the Banister River; and public trails like the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and a planned public trail in Alamance County would all be affected. The project would also clear trees within view of the Colonial Heritage Byway (Route 150 in Rockingham County), causing permanent impacts.
Construction of the project will cause long term impacts to the environment yet it is unlikely to provide any positive effects to local unemployment rates. FERC found that any potential benefits to local economies would be temporary and minor. Long term operation of the project would create about 6 permanent jobs in each state of Virginia and North Carolina. In addition, construction schedule would overlap with peak tourism season, potentially negatively impacting the tourism economy in the area. Local employment will not be increased, property values will decrease, and any impacts to the surrounding economy will be short lived.
4.10 Cultural Resources
The DEIS is preemptive. FERC states they have “not yet completed the process of complying with the National Historic Preservation Act” and that miles of the proposed Southgate pipeline route are still unsurveyed for cultural resources that could be damaged. In numerous instances for potential archeological sites and historic structures, FERC referenced mitigation as a solution however nowhere in the DEIS does FERC explain what mitigation measures must be or the timeline they must be completed by. FERC should pursue communications with the interested indigenous tribes and should complete the process to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act before taking any additional steps on the approval process for the Southgate project.
4.11 Air Quality and Noise
The Lambert compressor station has the potential to emit 125,000 tons of greenhouse gases, 3.5 tons of formaldehyde each year and over 10 tons of particulate matter each year, putting nearby communities at risk for cardiovascular issues and asthma.
The compressor station will be built in proximity to two Transco compressor stations already in operation. Cumulative impacts and the potential to impact human health with two minor source polluting facilities and one Title V facility (pending FERC approval) have not been adequately evaluated to assume that human and environmental health will not be adversely impacted.
4.12 Reliability and Safety
The DEIS merely states that pipeline developers would comply with minimum construction and operation standards. It gives no reason for people living within the blast radius to feel safe. The National Transportation Safety Board documents interstate pipeline accidents, and its database includes numerous recent natural gas pipeline ruptures, leaks, and explosions. Moreover, studies show a spike in accidents involving new pipelines in recent years. The majority of the pipeline would be in Class 1 population density areas, meaning it would mandate the lowest safety standards and put those living near the pipeline at an even greater risk.
4.13 Cumulative Impacts
FERC states that impacts from construction and operation of the pipeline will be temporary and localized. However, this assessment fails to take into account the long term and cumulative impacts that will occur to forested wetlands and forested habitats. It also fails to take into account the amount of dirt and mud entering streams from construction runoff. The nearly 3 miles of in-stream work paired with the removal of streamside vegetation will have cumulative, and negative impacts in the watershed; a watershed which is designated by the State as nutrient and sediment sensitive and is already experiencing downstream impaired waters and impacted aquatic life.
5.0 Conclusions of the DEIS
FERC is sticking its head in the sand and ignoring the significant impacts of this project. The DEIS describes widespread, permanent impacts like the long-lasting or permanent destruction of hundreds of acres of forests and wetlands, but then turns around and says that impacts won’t be significant because mitigation measures will be used during construction. Mitigation can not prevent the significant impacts that permanent forest and wetland destruction cause.
The DEIS’ reliance on mitigation measures to argue that the project will cause no significant impacts falls short because many of the mitigation measures proposed to prevent significant impacts to local resources are unknown. In many instances, the DEIS instructs Mountain Valley Pipeline to come up with mitigation measures that are currently not defined. FERC can not claim that unknown measures will prevent significant environmental impacts.
FERC concluded that no significant environmental impacts would be inflicted by this project while lacking the necessary information to even assess what those impacts would be. For example, MVP has yet to provide FERC with its feasibility studies for its plan to cross Deep Creek with the pipeline, a site where imperiled aquatic species are suspected to live. FERC acknowledges that MVP will use 5.9 million gallons of water in constructing the project, but has no idea where MVP will get that water from, preventing FERC from assessing the environmental impact of those water withdrawals. Lastly, archaeological surveys have not been completed for the project area, preventing analysis of impacts to cultural resources.
It’s our 30th Year of this great program for schools at the Haw River!
- Bynum – Sept 21-27
- Saxapahaw – Sept 28-Oct 4
- Camp Guilrock – Oct 6-11
This unique three-week riverside educational program gets kids outside into nature and inspires them to be the next generation of conservationists. Our volunteer guides use nature as the classroom – for many children, this is their first experience hiking through a forest and along a river. We provide on-site training and orientation. We also need volunteers to cook meals and to help us set up and move each week.
This exceptional program has earned much acclaim since its beginning in 1990 and is thought of by many students and teachers to be the BEST FIELD TRIP EVER. For more info and to sign up click HERE
Back by Popular Demand! Thursday, September 5th
at the Carrboro Century Center – 6:30-9:30pm *doors open at 6:15, first film at 6:45)
The Haw River Assembly is bringing the nationally recognized Wild & Scenic Film Festival baclk to Carrboro! Join us for a night of environmental and adventure films that depict the beauty of the natural world, the challenges facing our planet, and the work communities are doing to protect the environment. The films inspire activism and call us all to protect the places we love. Visit our event page for tickets and more info: http://hawriver.org/2019-wild-scenic-film-festival/
Department of Environmental Quality has denied the 401 certification permit (stream crossings) for the MVP Southgate project, a fracked gas pipeline proposal that would cross nearly one hundred streams and wetlands in the Haw River basin. With no Draft Environmental Impact Study published, MVP Southgate representatives have been denied this critical permit. They will be allowed to reapply after the Draft Environmental Impact Study has been reviewed. This denial and delay allows NC DEQ to retain their ability to deny or approve permits that have conditions dependent on the 401 certification.
MVP Southgate will reapply for this permit after the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is released in July and reviewed. To be clear, this fight is not over. We are thankful that DEQ is asking for more information and refusing the approve a permit without adequate documentation like other states have done. READ MORE