The Permitting Process
In order for Williams to build the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, their application must be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and they must also aquire some permits from the State of Pennsylvania. Approval of the application would, in theory, grant them the power to use eminent domain to aquire property they want to use for the project.
Williams filed their application in March 2015. FERC is currently reviewing the environmental impact of the project. Williams is expecting a decision January 17, 2017 and, if approved, plans to begin construction shortly thereafter.
What is FERC?
Taken from the FERC wikipedia article:
FERC is an independent regulatory agency within the United States Department of Energy. The President and Congress do not generally review FERC decisions, but the decisions are reviewable by the federal courts. FERC is self-funding, in that it pays for its own operations by imposing annual charges and fees on the industries it regulates.
FERC has been under increasing criticism as being a “Rubber Stamp” for industry, and a “Rogue Agency” which permits projects “illegally”. The FERC have been found guilty in the Federal Courts violating the National Environmental Policy Act by allowing project segmentation as a way of avoiding cumulative impacts analysis, and accused of using illegal stalling tactics to keep lawsuits out of the courts while projects get built. There have been numerous disruptions of the regular open meetings of the Commission by people from impacted communities, and two week-long blockades of their headquarters in Washington DC. “Pipelines are facing unprecedented opposition,” Commissioner LaFleur remarked to the National Press Club recently. “We have a situation here.”
To Find Information About the Atlantic Sunrise
This link will take you to FERC’s eLibrary. Enter “PF14-8” to look up documents that Williams submitted before filing their application. Enter “CP15-138” to view documents and comments submitted after Williams filed their application in March 2015.
How to Comment to FERC
FERC pays the closest attention to comments that cite specific concerns–especially environmental concerns such as a wetland on the route of the pipeline. FERC is not legally obliged to take comments into consideration when granting a permit.
To file electronically:
- First compose your comment and save it on your computer. Comments must be 6000 characters or less.
- Follow this link: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp
- Click on eCOMMENT.
- Enter your name/address, email etc. then click “Authorize.”
- FERC will send you an email with a link to the comment system.
When you receive the email, click the link – it may take a few minutes.
- Scroll down and enter the docket# and click “SEARCH.”
- The project will appear, click the PLUS sign under “SELECT.”
- Scroll down a little and enter your comment, then click “send comment.”
To file a comment by mail:
If you do not wish to register or submit you comment electronically, you may send your comments via US Postal Mail.
-Your name / Address
-Project Name / Docket Number
Denying and Rescinding Permission to Survey
The when landowners refuse to allow a survey on their property, it looks bad for Williams and slows down their process. Even if you have granted permission to survey or even if the survey has already been completed, you can still send a message to Williams and FERC by rescinding (taking back) your permission to survey.
Filing a Motion to Intervene
Filing a motion to intervene gives you the ability to challenge FERC’s decision in federal court. Many people who are opposed to the project have already filed, which sends a message to FERC that people care about their communities. Filing a motion to intervene does not obligate you to any further legal action.
Although the official period for filing a motion to intervene has ended, it is still possible to do so. Please contact us for more information.