PREPARING TO COMMENT
We recently scored quite a success when FERC decided to consider the entire length of the pipeline as one project. Your efforts were critical in that success—a hearty thanks!!!
But the effort to resist the Trans Pecos pipeline has reached a critical stage. FERC is now conducting an environmental assessment (EA) on the pipeline project, to determine if there are significant environmental or cultural resources that could be negatively impacted along the length of the proposed route. If there is enough evidence that there will be negative impact, the required federal review will elevate to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
This is our holy grail—it could delay the pipeline for years due to the in-depth nature of the studies required.
But in order to get FERC to consider an EIS, there needs to be a burden of evidence that the bigger study is necessary. So as citizens we need to comment during the EA period, alerting FERC to potential issues. The deadline for comments is 24 August at 4pm central time. This is essentially our last chance as citizens to have any kind of effective voice in delaying and even stopping the pipeline project.
Our comments need to highlight all possible ways in which environmental, cultural, and socio-economic targets could be affected by the pipeline. However, to be most effective (according to those familiar with FERC and the EA process) each comment essentially needs to be unique, addressing separate specifics about different topics, species, or facets of the many negatives of the pipeline.
To this end we are currently gathering information from subject experts that will help us strategize how to get as many unique, hard-hitting comments submitted as possible.
In addition to “expert” information, we need a small army of people willing to submit comments. There are many ways this can happen such as:
○ comment independently on a subject you are interested in
○ be a proxy for an expert that cannot comment themselves due to a conflict of interest
○ construct your comment using topics and/or information from our panel of experts
Strategy is important here: in order to maximize the power of our comments we want-- as much as possible-- to match commenters with expert-vetted information. This way we can have the maximum impact and make sure that comments are submitted on the topics the experts tell us need to be covered.
Joselyn Fenstermacher, a local botanist, has volunteered to be the overall point person for this EA comment phase. She will gather all of the interest, input, ideas, etc. from all of you, and match that with the information to come from our panel of experts.
What you can do right now:
○ Think about what you want to comment about: what is the thing that will be impacted and why it is important. This is not about emotion, this is about hard facts—the ONLY thing the FERC feds care about in this case. Ideally you need documents and data to support your statements.
○ Identify friends you can recruit to make a comment. There were 300 comments last time… if each of those 300 folks got just one new person to comment, that would be a huge statement!
○ Keep in mind that one person can submit more than one comment, as long as the subject matter is distinctly different.
○ Let Joselyn know if there is a particular negative impact you think might be overlooked, she will forward that to the appropriate subject-expert group.
○ Consider having a conversation with friends who are landowners but perhaps not taking much action as yet—this is their best and last chance aside from legal battles to protect their land and keep the pipeline off their property. A landowner does not need to put their name on a comment, or be linked in anyway to DBB or BBCA. We can assist with the process, but if they can help identify significant resources on their land that stand to be impacted by the pipeline, their input could be a critical addition to the weight of evidence in favor of a full blown Environmental Impact Statement study. Remind them and others—the pipeline is not a done deal, they have the power in their hands (our hands!) right now to make our voices heard!
Stay tuned, for upcoming workshops on how to file comments as well as how to get ‘expert’ information to use for your comment. If you would prefer to comment independently of the larger organizational structure, that would be fantastic too. If you could just let Joselyn know the basic focus/content of your comment we will try to ensure other comments do not duplicate your efforts, making all submitted comments as effective as possible.
Thanks for all your hard work, and stay tuned for next steps… time is short!
Reply to Joselyn at
Alpine Public Library, Monday, August 3rd, at 6:00pm
Marfa Public Library, Wed. August 5th at 6:00pm
Alpine Public Library, Saturday, August 8th at 1:00pm
Marfa Public Library, Monday August 10th at 6pm
Library computers will be available for use, and WiFi access will be available for those who can bring a computer (please bring your laptop if you have one).
In these workshops, we will:
- examine an example Quick Comment in depth, talk about how to author one, and where to find the resources
- take a brief look at an E-Filing long-form comment
- demonstrate how to submit a Quick Comment, and help file ready-made comments
- demonstrate how to register with FERC to submit an E-File long-form comment
- demonstrate filing of a long-form E-Filing comment
- answer questions about the process
- sign-up for comment topics
In preparation for the upcoming series of FERC Environmental Assessment (EA) Scoping Comment Workshops, we are making available a growing collection of resources, including examples, commenting guides, information sources, and maps: