Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Jefferson National Forest

 

USDA Forest Service Issues Draft Decision to Amend Jefferson Forest Plan for Mountain Valley Pipeline Project

USDA Forest Service has issued a draft decision to amend the Jefferson National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) to modify certain standards for the construction of Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), if approved.  

This proposed decision would support federal policies emphasizing energy infrastructure and our agency’s efforts to provide for multiple use.  If the MVP is approved, our decision would accommodate the pipeline through project-specific plan amendments. These plan amendments would provide for social, economic, and ecological sustainability; maintain the diversity of plant and animal communities; and support integrated resource management for multiple use.  By applying the required terms, conditions, and mitigation measures outlined in the final EIS, the MVP project could be implemented without impairing the long-term productivity of National Forest System lands.

The draft Decision proposes to:

  • Designate a 50-foot wide right of way.  No utility corridor would be designated; therefore a Plan level amendment to allocate lands into a 5-C Designated Utility Corridor would not be needed.
  • Amend the standards in the Plan to allow the construction and operation of the MVP to vary from certain restrictions on soil and riparian corridor conditions.  We would require Mountain Valley to implement mitigation measures to protect soil and riparian areas.
  • Allow removal of old growth trees within the corridor of the Mountain Valley Pipeline in an area managed for old growth.
  • Allow MVP to cross the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (ANST) on Peters Mountain in Monroe County, West Virginia using an underground bore.  Since release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), we have worked with Mountain Valley to retain the High Scenic Integrity Objectives when crossing the ANST.
  • Allow Mountain Valley a five-year period to perform mitigation to meet Forest Plan scenic integrity objectives.

How to Object to this Draft Decision:

Those who have submitted comments to FERC during the public comment periods have the right to object to this draft decision.  Objections are being accepted until August 7, 2017. For more information on the Forest Service’s objection process, please visit the How Do I Object to the Forest Service Decision to Amend the Jefferson Plan page.  After objections are resolved, the Forest Service will issue a final decision whether to amend the Jefferson Forest Plan.

If FERC issues a certificate of public convenience and necessity, the BLM will decide whether to issue a right-of-way grant across federal lands, after consulting with the federal agencies involved.  The Forest Service will use the final EIS to determine whether to concur with the BLM’s decision

Important Documents

Review important documents related to this project including maps, shapefiles, Forest Service comments and other documents associated with Steps 1-11.

Review permits to survey National Forest System lands on the Jefferson National Forest.

 

Forest Service Role in the FERC EIS Pre-Filing Environmental Review Process

 

Step
Applicant Process
FERC Process
Forest Service Role
1 Assess market need and considers project feasibility    
2 Requests use of FERC’s Pre-Filing Process

Receives Applicant’s request to conduct its review of the project with FERC’s NEPA Pre-Filing Process

Formally approves Pre-Filing Process and issues PF Docket No. to Applicant

 
3 Studies potential site locations   Meets with applicant to provide Forest Plan direction, maps
4 Identifies Stakeholders    
*5 Holds open house to discuss project Participates in Applicant’s open house  
*6   Issues Notice of Intent for Preparation of an EIS opening the scoping period to seek public comments Provides comments pertaining to National Forest System lands
*7  

Holds public scoping meeting(s) and site visits in the project area

Consults with interested stakeholders

 
*8 Conducts route studies and field surveys. Develops application.  

Analyzes survey requests; makes decision on authorizing request(s)

Comments on Draft Resource Reports

*9 Files formal application with the FERC Issues Notice of Application Reviews and comments on the Final Resource Reports filed as part of the application to ensure our previous comments and data requests are addressed.
10   Analyzes data and prepares Draft EIS

Reviews portions of EIS pertaining to National Forest System lands

*11   Issues Draft EIS and opens comment period Provides comments on Draft EIS pertaining to National Forest System lands
13   Responds to comments and revises the Draft EIS Reviews Final EIS to ensure public and agencies concerns are addressed adequately for Forest Service to make a decision on amending the Forest Plan (if necessary) and issuing a special use permit to construct and operate a natural gas pipeline on National Forest System lands
14   Issues Final EIS

Mountain Valley Pipeline and Jefferson National Forest Important Documents

 

15   Commission Issues Order

The Forest Service decides whether to amend the Forest Plan for the Jefferson National Forest to provide for the construction and operation of the pipeline and whether to send a concurrence letter to the BLM for the construction and operation of the pipeline on the Jefferson National Forest. The BLM decides whether to issue a Right-of-Way Grant and Temporary Use Permit under Section 28 of the Mineral Leasing Act, with the concurrence of the Forest Service.

*16   Parties can request FERC to rehear decision Forest Service could issue a draft ROD for the Forest Plan amendments if needed. Public can object to the draft ROD. The BLM issues a final ROD for the Right-of-Way Grant. Public can appeal the BLM decision.
17

Submits outstanding information to satisfy conditions of Commission Order

Issues Notice to Proceed with construction  
* public input opportunities