In an effort to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Friends of Nelson filed a request for rehearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday on the commission’s recent decision to issue a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for the natural gas project.

“We request that the Certificate Order and deficient final environmental impact statement (FEIS) be withdrawn and the environmental analysis and public convenience and necessity analysis be redone in a manner that complies with FERC’s obligations pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act,” the 74-page filing says.

The ACP, a $5 billion, 600-mile natural gas project slated to run from West Virginia to North Carolina through Virginia, includes about a 27-mile stretch in Nelson County. FERC approved the project Oct. 13.

Friends of Nelson, an anti-pipeline group, said it filed the request on behalf of 63 property owners and county residents along with four community organizations.

“One thing is clear and that is that Nelson County’s interests are well represented by those who have committed themselves to opposing the ACP,” Friends of Nelson President Ernie Reed, who last week was elected as Nelson’s new Central District supervisor, said in a news release.

Friends of Nelson said in the release that Dominion Energy, the lead partner for the project, and FERC have “failed to provide sufficient analysis and information on the environmental, cultural, historical, economic and socio-economic impacts of the project in Nelson County.”

Aaron Ruby, a spokesman for Dominion Energy, said FERC and more than a dozen other state and federal agencies “have thoroughly scrutinized every aspect of this project to ensure the highest level of protection for the public safety and the environment.”

Ruby said Dominion evaluated more than 6,000 miles of potential routes to “find the best path with the least possible impact on landowners and the environment.”

“Even after choosing the proposed route, we’ve made more than 300 adjustments to avoid environmentally sensitive areas and address individual landowner concerns. In many areas of the project, we’ve adopted some of the most protective measures ever used by the industry to protect the environment,” Ruby said in an email Tuesday. “Throughout this process, the agencies have addressed all the issues that have been raised, and they’ve left no stone unturned.”

Friends of Nelson claims in the release FERC and Dominion have “failed to demonstrate a need for the project, so should not be granted eminent domain powers.”

“The FERC concluded that the project will serve a vital public need. They also concluded that it would be built safely and with minimal impacts to the environment,” Ruby said Tuesday. “We understand there are some who do not agree with FERC’s decision, but no one can credibly say that the process has been insufficient or that it’s failed to address all of the issues that have been raised.”

FERC spokesperson Tamara Young-Allen said when reached Tuesday, “The commission will address the concerns raised by all the petitioners.”

The commission has to act on the request by Dec. 13. Young-Allen said if the commission doesn’t act within 30 days of the filing, “the commission will allow the petition to be denied by operation of law because the commission didn’t act within 30 days.” FERC can issue a procedural order that would allow the commission as much time as it needs to address the raised issues, Young-Allen said.

The commission can grant the rehearing, which means it can change some aspects of the original Oct. 13 order; reject the petition reaffirming its order; or it can deny and grant some aspects of the filing, Young-Allen said.

Once FERC issues an order in response, Friends of Nelson has 60 days to file a Petition for Review in a U.S. Court of Appeals.

Friends of Nelson also is a part of a separate Request for Rehearing that was filed Monday from Appalachian Mountain Advocates and Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of 22 groups.

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Liz Ramos covers K-12 education for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5532.

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