Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is required to obtain input from the public in order to "scope" an environmental impact analysis of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. FERC has received thousands of "scoping comments" through its website, the mail, and at in-person scoping meetings held in March and April.
These comments include excellent information about the economic and other effects that citizens, scientific experts, and various stakeholders expect to see or are already seeing as a result of the proposed ACP. For two reasons, Key-Log Economics recruited "citizen scientists" to help with a crowd-sourced effort to review and summarize as many of those comment letters as possible.
The first reason is to provide solid, objective data about those issues of concern to the people and communities through which the pipeline would pass. Combined with our review of existing economic studies and with our analysis of primary and secondary data on property values, ecosystem service flows, and economic development trends, data from the comment letters will help us provide complete, grounded information about economic impacts to FERC.
The second reason is that later on in the NEPA process, FERC must analyze and report on in a draft "Environmental Impact Statement" relevant issues raised at the scoping phase. Having an independent review of what other citizens have said during the scoping phase will help ensure that FERC’s legal obligations to consider the full range of environmental effects of the proposed pipeline are fully met.
Like other citizen-science efforts, such as the Christmas Bird Count, volunteers didn't have to be experts to volunteer for this effort. All it took was a little time and an internet connection, since they received comment letters to review via email, and completed an online form to capture key information from the comment letter.
Huge thanks to all of the volunteers who joined this pioneering crowd-sourcing effort! The volunteers worked hard to analyze more than 2,800 comments!
The full analysis of this citizen input can be found here. A summary slides version can be found here.
Read more about the ACP proposal and our analysis of its economic effects here.