In 2015, Rover purchased the 1843 Stoneman House, which sits near a compressor station along the planned route, and was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Rover eventually demolished the house, which FERC said it discovered during certificate proceedings for the project.
The Commission denied a blanket authorization for routine construction activities when the certificate was issued earlier this year over what it viewed as Rover’s “intentional demolition” in violation of the Natural Gas Act, federal historic preservation laws and other regulations. A blanket certificate allows developers to conduct some construction activities without regulatory approval, but FERC said at the time that the company couldn’t be trusted to comply with its requirements.
Rover has maintained that it bought the property to use as office space and only demolished it after learning that the home wasn’t suitable. In its Thursday order, FERC revealed that emails with contractors demonstrated that Rover “contemplated demolishing the Stoneman House before purchasing the property.” Rover asked its contractors immediately before buying the property if tearing down the historic house was permitted, according to FERC’s interpretation of the emails.
The contractor acknowledged that no one could stop Rover from demolishing the house, but said doing so would be a “politically risky strategy,” FERC said in quoting from the correspondence. The contractor instead advised that Rover consider alternate locations for the house, which could be costly and difficult. Absent any action, the contractor advised Rover that it would likely have had to work through additional regulations with the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office to resolve adverse impacts the project would have had on the property.
“Rather than pursuing either suggestion, Rover demolished the house,” FERC said in its order. “Based on this evidence, the Commission concluded that Rover both understood the requirements of section 106 [of the National Historic Preservation Act] and demolished the house with the intent to avoid the section 106 process.”Click here to continue reading.
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