The U.S. Forest Service is issuing a temporary special use permit that will allow surveying in the Jefferson National Forest for the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline. The permit covers proposed pipeline routes through forest lands in Roanoke, Montgomery, Craig, and Giles Counties. As WFIR’s Evan Jones reports, this is not a permit for any pipeline construction.
(Continue reading for the full U.S. Forest Service news release.)
From the U.S. Forest Service: The Forest Service decided to issue a temporary special use permit to survey a 10.5-mile segment of the Jefferson National Forest for the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and two alternative routes in Craig, Giles, Montgomery and Roanoke Counties, VA and Monroe County, WV. Surveys for wetlands, water, soil, and suitable habitat for sensitive species, including federally listed threatened and endangered plants and animals will be conducted within the next year. Surveys will also record cultural resources.
“The information gathered from these surveys is needed for federal agencies to make informed decisions on whether or not to allow construction and operation of the proposed natural gas pipeline, and if allowed, to avoid, or reduce the impacts to sensitive resources,” explains Forest Supervisor Tom Speaks.
Many of the 3,700 comments we received on the survey permit related to concerns about the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline, rather than the surveys. “It is important to remember that allowing these survey activities does not mean we are allowing the construction of a pipeline,” reminds Speaks.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as the lead federal agency, is currently holding public meetings and soliciting comments on the construction of the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline. FERC will conduct an in-depth environmental analysis on private and public lands, with many opportunities for public comments.