Today, Virginia U.S. Senator Tim Kaine sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting that it grant a rehearing request on the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). Kaine’s letter supports formal requests for rehearing made by a number of stakeholder groups and individual Virginians living along the proposed pipeline routes.
“The Commission approved the MVP and ACP on 2-1 votes when two of the five commissioner slots were vacant. The split decisions were most unusual – 98 percent of FERC orders in 2016 were unanimous. Given that the Commission now has a full complement of five members, there is a real concern about whether the divided rulings by a partial Commission fairly reflect the FERC position,” Kaine said.
Kaine also asked for clarification on “tolling orders,” which some have contended is a way for FERC to freeze legal appeals while allowing construction to move forward. Highlighting the unusual circumstances surrounding the approval of the pipelines, Kaine requested that FERC invoke its rehearing option to ensure maximum public confidence that its final decision followed every step of the process to the fullest extent. While the letter does not endorse or oppose the views of these petitioners on the substantive merits of the applications, Kaine believes that FERC needs to make these decisions following a full and fair process that accounts for technical analysis and public input.
FERC approved the MVP and ACP jointly on Oct. 13, 2017, with two of the five commissioner seats vacant. The new commissioners were sworn in on Nov. 29 and Dec. 7, respectively. In 2016, 98 percent of FERC orders were unanimous.