Pipeline Would Cut Across the Appalachian Trail, Harm Tourism, Impact Clean Water Supply
ROANOKE, Va. (July 17, 2017) – A coalition of seven local Republican elected officials in Virginia recently announced their opposition to the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a proposed 300-mile energy project that will cut across a huge swath of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.). The officials, rural residents and others are concerned about permanent damage to the National Park-managed A.T., contamination to local drinking water and damage to the local economy.
In a letter addressed to the Secretaries of Energy, Agriculture and Interior, these Virginia commissioners and members of boards of supervisors cited specific concerns about the MVP.
“Due to the potential harm to the Appalachian Trail, local tourism and jobs, and clean drinking water, we are opposed to the current proposed route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline,” the letter states. "We urge FERC [the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] and USFS [the U.S. Forest Service] to develop alternative locations for the proposed project that would find a better and less impactful location for the project.”
The letter, which can be read here, was signed by: Bill Lightner, Jack David Woodrum and Tony Williams of the Summers County Commission; Jesse Spence, Martha Murphy and Casey McKenzie of the Craig County Board of Supervisors; and Martha B. Hooker of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.
Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate requiring a more detailed analysis by federal agencies to ensure that this and other pipeline projects do not cause damage to National Scenic Trails like the A.T. and National Forest lands in surrounding areas. The House bill was introduced by Virginia Republican Congressmen Morgan Griffith (Virginia 9th District) and Bob Goodlatte (Virginia 6th District) and in the U.S. Senate by Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. Opposition has hardened further after FERC released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on June 23 for the MVP project.
“There are better ways to build a pipeline without harming one of the most visited National Park properties in the country,” said Ron Tipton, President and CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). “We hope that the federal government will listen to elected officials and their constituents.”
The ATC opposes the MVP for its irreversible damage to the A.T., established as a National Scenic Trail by Congress nearly 50 years ago. If approved, the pipeline would carve deep gashes in Virginia’s scenic landscape, cutting through acres of forest to create an unsightly corridor equivalent to the width of a 12-lane highway that could be seen for up to 100 miles away.
Federal law requires FERC — in cooperation with USFS — to prepare a FEIS with information provided by MVP officials. FERC’s process currently has several deficiencies:
- The USFS repeatedly discarded MVP’s analysis on the pipeline’s negative impact to the A.T., calling it “incomplete.” Moreover, USFS personnel have not visited the impacted sites to develop their own analysis.
- The USFS has made a number of technical but significant changes in the Jefferson National Forest Plan without public input, which violates Federal law.
- The USFS cut the identified time period for public objection in half.
- After the public comment period was over, MVP submitted nearly 20,000 pages of changes in an impossible-to-follow manner, which some believe was an intentional strategy to obfuscate the true environmental impact of the pipeline — including the adverse impact on drinking water for Virginians.
- MVP failed to comply with FERC’s directive that they solicit the input of local Virginia residents.
For more information regarding the MVP and its affect on the Appalachian region, visit appalachintrail.org/MVP.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit appalachiantrail.org.
Media Contact: Jordan Bowman
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Email: [email protected]