Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is the agency that regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity.
Before a pipeline company obtains authorization to construct or expand an existing interstate transmission pipeline, the company must first file a detailed project plan with the FERC. This plan is formally called an application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (Certificate Application). The Certificate Application is a comprehensive document that describes the proposed project, its need and potential environmental impacts.
When a pipeline company like Williams is ready to begin preparing its Certificate Application, it typically initiates what is known as the FERC pre-filing process. Williams began the pre-filing process for the Atlantic Sunrise Project in the spring of 2014. The pre-filing process is designed to encourage involvement by citizens, government entities and other interested parties during the design stage of a proposed project. The FERC assigned the project pre-filing (PF) docket number PF14-8. All documents and correspondence submitted to or issued by FERC regarding the project can be accessed by referencing the docket number on FERC’s website.
As part of this process, the project sponsor hosts a series of public workshops in the areas potentially affected by the proposal. Representatives from FERC normally participate in these meetings as well. FERC may also hold its own public scoping meetings in the project area.
Williams filed its Certificate Application for the Atlantic Sunrise Project on March 31, 2015 (Docket Number CP15-138). Among other things, the Certificate Application contains a description of the new facilities, need for the project, detailed maps, schedules, and various environmental reports. This information details the various studies and analyses that have been conducted to determine what effect construction and operation could potentially have on the environment and community.
A copy of the application is available for viewing at local public libraries, as well as via FERC’s website by referencing Docket Number CP15-138.
Included in the Certificate Application are many exhibits that support the proposal. These exhibits include various environmental Resource Reports which include an analysis of route alternatives, as well as an analysis of potential impacts to water resources, vegetation and wildlife, cultural resources, socioeconomics, soils, geology, land use and, noise and air quality, and safety.
FERC prepared a comprehensive environmental evaluation known as an Environmental Impact Statement, using information included in the Certificate Application, information assembled by FERC staff, as well as information provided by state and federal agencies and the public. The Final Environmental Impact Statement was issued by FERC on Dec. 30, 2016, concluding that environmental impacts would be reduced to “less than significant levels” with the implementation of mitigation measures proposed by the company and FERC.
On Feb. 3, 2017, FERC issued an Order granting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the Atlantic Sunrise project, concluding that the project is environmentally acceptable and is in the public interest.