DALLAS TOWNSHIP, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A spokesperson for an intervenor in the planned construction of the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline encouraged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and United States Environmental Protection Agency to maintain their position that Alternative 12W is the best environmental option for the controversial Atlantic Sunrise Expansion pipeline project.
Attorney Carolyn Elefant, spokesperson for intervenor Geraldine Nesbitt, said Ms. Nesbitt fully agrees with the EPA and Corps’ February 15, 2017 letter to the pipeline owners stating that all the information available and the agencies' own site visits indicate that the Alternative 12W pipeline route is the least environmental damaging practicable alternative when compared to the Nesbitt 12E Alternative pushed by the pipeline owners, The Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB) and Williams Partners (NYSE: WPZ).
“All along, Ms. Nesbitt has insisted there is a less destructive route for the pipeline than the one Williams has insisted upon,” Ms. Elefant said. “And all along, the public has agreed with her. Now, it is gratifying that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency are supportive of her position.”
Ms. Elefant’s comments were based on a letter dated February 15, 2017, written by Wade B. Chandler, Chief, Pennsylvania Section, Regulatory Branch, Department of the Army, Baltimore District, Corps of Engineers, regarding its view of the Atlantic Sunrise project. The full letter can be seen here.
In the letter, Mr. Chandler said the Corps of Engineers had concluded that “…comments and information received by this office, and observations by representatives of this office and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) indicate that the 12W alternative route would have less adverse impact on the aquatic ecosystem, and does not have other significant adverse environmental consequences,” in contrast to the Nesbitt 12E Alternative promoted by Williams.
“Specifically, Alternative 12W appears to result in less impacts to wetlands; result in less permanent conversion of forested and scrub shrub wetlands to emergent wetlands; impacts wetlands and waters of lesser value (alternative 12W impacts wetlands and waters that are degraded by ongoing human activity such as roadways, agricultural activities and commercial and residential impacts); has no impacts to Natural Heritage Areas; and impacts less forested and undisturbed vegetated buffers along streams and wetlands,” the letter states.
Mr. Chandler’s letter further notes that the EPA previously provided comments “supporting the 12W alternative alignment as the least environmental damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA) as it relates to the Nesbitt alternative route, and other subsequent alternative routes. The EPA stated that alternative 12W impacts wetlands that have been recently disturbed while the Nesbitt Alternative impacts higher valued forested wetland systems.”
Ms. Elefant emphasized that Ms. Nesbitt does not oppose energy projects; however, she simply is appropriately advocating for a more suitable location for the pipeline that would minimize damage to the significant, irreplaceable environment and cultural resources located on her 3000+ acres of land, which have been compared to state parks.
Ms. Elefant noted that in complying with the Clean Water Act Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines, Part 230.1 O(a), the Corps of Engineers is prohibited from issuing a Department of the Army authorization if there is a practicable alternative which would have less adverse impact on the aquatic ecosystem.
Under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) procedures, the Corps is required to issue a Section 404 permit and must do so in accordance with applicable regulations, before any construction can begin.
Ms. Elefant said that while it is encouraging that the Corps and EPA have acknowledged that Alternative 12W is a superior option, Ms. Nesbitt is concerned that the pipeline owners will stop at nothing to pressure the Corps and EPA to flip-flop on permitting the least environmentally damaging alternative simply to accommodate the pipeline owners. Again, Ms. Nesbitt is not opposing the pipeline; instead, she simply wants to ensure the appropriate siting of the pipeline so as to avoid and minimize unnecessary impacts to environmental and cultural resources.
About Geraldine Nesbitt
Geraldine Nesbitt is the owner of The Nesbitt Parcel in Dallas Township, PA. Ms. Nesbitt seeks to protect and preserve extraordinarily unique cultural resources on her property that are highly significant to several Federally Recognized Indian Tribes, which experts believe also qualify as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ms. Nesbitt is also seeking to protect significant environmental habitats on her property that experts state are comparable to, or exceed, with regard to biodiversity, any state park in Pennsylvania.
About The Nesbitt Parcel
The Nesbitt Parcel has been owned and conserved by the Nesbitt family for more than 120 years. Abram Nesbitt, a prominent businessman and philanthropist who funded the area's first hospital in 1912, bought the first section of the current ownership in the 1890s. Eventually, 40 other parcels were purchased and added together to form the current Nesbitt Parcel. The Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB) and Williams Partners (NYSE: WPZ) are enlarging and expanding the capacity of interstate pipelines through what is called the Atlantic Sunrise project. Williams Partners seeks eminent domain powers to impact the land owned by Ms. Nesbitt.
Note: The Nesbitt Parcel is private property and trespassers are subject
©Copyright 2017 by Geraldine Nesbitt. All rights reserved.