Groups Call on Forest Service to Protect VA Waters, Forests, and Communities from Pipelines
Wild Virginia’s fight against the Mountain Valley Pipeline continues, and we all have an immediate opportunity to use our voices to protect our waters, forests, and communities by calling on the Us Forest Service. Currently, the United States Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are accepting public comments on their Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Mountain Valley Pipeline project. Comments are due by 11:59pm on Monday, February 6, 2023. Read on to learn more about how you can submit a public comment to oppose this harmful project.
Need help on developing a public comment or not sure where to start? Join our free workshop on January 25th and register here.
This Public Comment: How Did We Get Here?
NEPA requires government agencies to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for any major federal action significantly affecting the environment. The purpose of the EIS is to ensure that agencies “look before they leap” when authorizing such projects. NEPA also requires agencies to solicit public comments on the EISs they prepare prior to finalizing an EIS and subsequently greenlighting a potentially environmentally destructive construction project.
Regarding the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline, the USFS and BLM released a draft Supplemental EIS on December 23, 2022. The Supplemental EIS concerns MVP’s application to cross portions of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and West Virginia. Yet, for the agencies to allow the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest, the USFS must first amend its Forest Plan that governs all activities on these public lands, and then BLM must grant a right of way. The public comment opportunity covers these potential agency actions.
The agencies’ notice allows 45 days for public comment. The comment deadline is 11:59pm on Monday, February 6, 2023.
Importantly, this public comment opportunity is a direct result of Wild Virginia and allies’ legal challenges of two previous flawed attempts by the agencies to greenlight the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Last year, the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected permits issued by USFS and BLM that would have allowed the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest because the agencies had failed to adequately review the project’s environmental impacts. The court found that the agencies had violated NEPA, meaning their actions were illegal. The court ordered the agencies to re-do parts of their EIS analysis. The draft Supplemental EIS is the result. However, it is more of the same old story. Even in this third round of environmental impacts review, the UFS and BLM have once again failed to not only take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, but also protect us and our resources.
I Want to Comment! What Should I Say?
Wild Virginia has compiled talking points below to help you craft your comment. Use these points as a guide, but write your comment in your own words. Your comment is most powerful and persuasive when it conveys your knowledge, interests, experiences, and concerns.
Tell the Forest Service and BLM to:
- Extend the Comment Period by 30 Days
Because 45 days is unfair and insufficient, especially when it spans the holiday season. Also, MVP has had two years to prepare its case and the agencies have had application materials since at least last summer.
- Reject the Forest Plan Amendment (Choose the No-Action Alternative)
Because the Mountain Valley pipeline project as proposed is inconsistent with the Forest Plan. It cannot meet the Plan’s standards for environmental protection, and the agencies should not weaken them. Moreover, the Jefferson National Forest itself was established to restore and protect water quality and water resources. The pipeline is in opposition to this purpose.
- Tell the agencies about any environmental harms that you have witnessed or experienced as a result of the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s construction.
Quick Writing Tips
Take Action: Submit Your Public Comment!
The public comment period for USFS and BLM’s draft Supplemental EIS is now open. The public comment period will close on Monday, February 6, 2023.
Public comments are one way to influence environmental decision-making. Wild Virginia is preparing our comments in critique of the agencies’ draft Supplemental EIS. We invite YOU to join us in protecting our waters, forests, and communities by submitting your own public comment. To do so, complete this form explaining why you oppose allowing the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cross Jefferson National Forest and support upholding current environmental protections applicable to these public lands.