Federal regulators newly minted by President Trump approved two new natural gas pipelines that would transport fracked gas through the state of Virginia.
Trump’s two appointees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) were the difference in a 2 to 1 vote on Friday to approve both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, the lone Democrat on the commission who was appointed by President Obama, issued a written dissent explaining many of the problems with the proposed projects.
“The decision before the Commission is simply whether to approve or reject these projects, which will be in place for decades. Given the environmental impacts and possible superior alternatives, approving these two pipeline projects on this record is not a decision I can support. I cannot conclude that either of these projects as proposed is in the public interest.
The record demonstrates that these two large projects will have similar, and significant, environmental impacts on the region. Both the ACP and MVP cross hundreds of miles of karst terrain, thousands of waterbodies, and many agricultural, residential, and commercial areas. … and thus I respectfully dissent.”
Both pipelines would originate in West Virginia and carry fracked gas to Virginia and North Carolina. LaFleur’s written dissent spelled out her concern about building two pipelines that follow a similar path and create twice as many chances for an environmental disaster.
Trump’s appointees, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson voted to approve both pipelines, stating that they will lower energy costs and boost economic development.
“We find the benefits that the Mountain Valley Pipeline project will provide to the market outweigh any adverse effects on existing shippers, other pipelines and their captive customers, and landowners or surrounding communities.”
Even with the obvious concerns laid out by LaFleur, FERC’s latest approvals come as no surprise as they have only rejected two proposed pipelines in 30 years.