Federal Environmental Review of TransCanada Pipeline Under the Potomac Critically Flawed

Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Potomac Riverkeeper Network and other partners submitted comments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Environmental Assessment (EA) of TransCanada’s proposed fracked gas pipeline under the Potomac River. Our comments call out the agency for a variety of failures of analysis, including outdated methodologies, reliance on inaccurate or unsupported facts, and unwarranted conclusions.

For over a year, we have joined our No Potomac Pipeline coalition partners in voicing our concerns to State and Federal authorities over the serious threats this pipeline has on the Potomac River, the drinking water for 6 million people. There has been a pattern of reluctance from those authorities to hear our concerns and to fully assess this pipeline project in its entirety.

Comments filed are extensive and detailed, but some of the highlights are:

  • FERC failed to properly evaluate the serious risk and potential impacts on public health and safety posed by horizontal directional drilling under the Potomac River and C & O Canal
  • The EA, by using methodologies which are outdated or based on inaccurate facts, fail to adequately consider impacts on climate change
  • The EA does not adequately discuss all reasonable alternatives, including an option that would attach the pipeline to a bridge over the Potomac instead of drilling underneath the river.

It is unfortunate that FERC continues to disregard the threats to our environment from pipeline companies like TransCanada, rather than assess the true costs and recognize the impacts to our citizens and neighbors. Our comments show that FERC has failed its duty to prepare its environmental assessment in accordance with law, and with common sense. Instead, they continue to rubberstamp natural gas projects like this one.

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