VERONA – Augusta County supervisors agreed Wednesday to spend $5,000, in order to hopefully see changes made to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline route.
By a 5-2 vote, they signed a contract with an organization to assist in the county's dealings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Forest Service over the pipeline.
Coordination America is supposed to work with the county to assure that FERC -- the licensing agency for the pipeline -- will consider the county’s interests in approving the project. A formal application for the pipeline to FERC from Dominion Resources is expected this fall.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a 554-mile planned project, operated by Dominion Resources and several other partners, which if approved would stretch from West Virginia to North Carolina, with a 42-inch diameter. The pipeline’s proposed route would cover more than 40 miles of Augusta County, traveling near schools and some water sources, which has supervisors concerned.
Coordination America is described on its website as an organization that empowers localities. The organization says it has been used 165 times since 1993 to help localities mitigate federal regulations.
Joe Guarino, the president of Coordination America, says in a memo to Pastures District Supervisor Tracy Pyles that his organization is not an expert on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
But Guarino said Coordination America would “require FERC to bring their plans into consistency with Augusta County’s plans.” Guarino speaks of how Coordination America would work with the county on requests with FERC and the Forest Service for coordination. The cost is capped at $5,000.
Pyles said Coordination America’s experience in dealing with regulatory agencies would assure the county can “reassert our authority.” He said the assistance would allow supervisors to serve the best interests of the county.
South River District Supervisor Carolyn Bragg said it is important to do whatever is necessary to give the county the best options on the pipeline.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Shull, who voted against the contract with Middle River District Supervisor Larry Wills, said he did not think Coordination America’s help is needed at this time.
Shull said FERC lacks information on the pipeline, including environmental information. And Shull said FERC had been advised by Virginia U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine to slow down the process on the pipeline.
An Aug. 24 letter to FERC commissioners from Kaine requests that FERC make certain that all whose livelihood could be affected by the pipeline be given the opportunity to ask questions and have those questions answered.
Kaine also requested that the route of the pipeline be co-located along existing right of way “to the greatest extent.”