Pipeline Battle Is Heating Up
January 2nd, 2017
By Vic MacDonald
Laurens County will receive tax revenue from it, but environmentalists are pressing their concerns about a pipeline that could be built west of Clinton. The federal energy agency has conducted a couple public meetings about the Dominion pipeline - at the Laurens YMCA - but none in Clinton. The SC Environmental Law Project also has expressed concerns. A Greenville News on-line article has the pipeline possibly taking eminent domain control through a 900-acre tract in Cross Hill, drawing concern from the Hipp tract owners who live in Greenville.
This Upstate Forever's take on the project: Dominion’s proposed 53-mile Transco to Charleston pipeline will rip through sensitive habitat in the Upstate from Moore to Chappells. The project will permanently impact 255 acres of land, including agricultural, forest and residential land, and will cross bodies of water 73 times, including the Enoree and Saluda Rivers and many of their tributaries. Also potentially impacted are three drinking water providers – the Woodruff Roebuck Water District, the City of Clinton, and the City of Newberry. The project also calls for a permanent 50-foot right of way easement along the length of the pipeline, causing habitat fragmentation and reducing shade to streams at crossings. On March 9, 2016, Dominion filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity authorizing construction and operation of the natural gas pipeline facilities described above. Noticing this likely major disruption to our natural resources, Upstate Forever partnered with the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) to file a Motion to Intervene in the FERC proceedings. Upstate Forever and SCELP filed comments early in the process expressing our specific concerns. Read the comments here. On October 19, FERC issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the project and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Upstate Forever has challenged Dominion’s claim that the environmental impact will be minimal, and we have called for FERC to require a full Environmental Impact Statement rather than the less rigorous Environmental Assessment (read our response here). We have challenged FERC’s FONSI, and we have questioned the NEED for constructing this pipeline segment in the first place. Dominion claims that this additional capacity is needed to serve the South Carolina Lowcountry. The company will provide most of the gas in this pipeline to SCE&G. However, Upstate Forever has analyzed SCE&G’s Integrated Resource Plans for 2015 and 2016, and we do not see evidence of a need for additional natural gas capacity, especially if it comes at the expense of Upstate habitat, water, and property owners. There also appears to be an existing route in Dominion’s system that reaches the same point in Greenwood County, so we believe this destructive project to be unnecessarily redundant. In addition to FERC approval, the project must also receive a permit from the SC Department of Environmental Control (DHEC) to construct in navigable waters. There are many areas of concern in this application as well, including impacts to 520 linear feet of streams and temporary work stations located too close to water bodies and wetlands. Read Upstate Forever’s full comments to DHEC here. FERC’s 90-day federal authorization decision deadline is January 17, 2017. Please submit comments on the negative impact of this project by registering at https://ferconline.ferc.gov/QuickComment.aspx. The Docket Number for this project is CP16-98-000 Or, mail your comments to: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 888 First Street NE, Room 1A Washington, DC 20426 In the subject line of your letter, please include this information: Transco to Charleston (Dominion) Project Comments on Environmental Assessment Docket No. CP16-98-000