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State Permit Granted for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Earlier this week, a Virginia state board unanimously approved a gas compressor station permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, a $6.5 billion, 600-mile shale gas pipeline spearheaded by Dominion Energy. The permit is the last approval needed from the state.

The State Air Pollution Control Board voted 4-0 in favor of the permit on Tuesday (Jan. 8). Gov. Ralph Northam used his authorial rights and took the place of two board members in the middle of the permit-hearing process. (The two board members’ terms expired in June.)

Atlantic Coast Pipeline History

Sister to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 42-inch pipeline currently owned by a consortium composed of Dominion Energy Inc., Duke Energy Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas, will begin in West Virginia, running through Virginia with a lateral arm connecting to Chesapeake, which will then leg its way down to eastern North Carolina. The proposed route was developed over the course of three years and extensive evaluations. Over 17,000 construction jobs are slated to be created in the pipeline's construction; another 2,200 operation jobs will also be opening.

U.S. Forestry Services, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sister to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 42-inch pipeline currently owned by a consortium composed of Dominion Energy Inc., Duke Energy Corp., Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas, will begin in West Virginia, running through Virginia with a lateral arm connecting to Chesapeake, which will then leg its way down to eastern North Carolina.

In August, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay-of-construction order on plans for work through the Blue Ridge Parkway area, citing a faulty right-of-way permit awarded by the National Park Service. FERC followed suit with a similar order. Roughly a month later, FERC allowed construction to resume, once the pipeline could be rerouted thanks to the National Park Service issuing a new right-of-way for the project. In September, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals put a hold on plans for construction through the George Washington National Forest in Virginia and the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

Toward the end of October, Virginia regulators granted approval for construction to begin on a 300-mile track of the pipeline. The approvals meant that construction of the pipeline will be allowed along the majority of the route, except for 21 miles in Virginia, where the national forests are located.

Gas Compressor Station Permit

There will be three gas compressor stations, one in each state the pipeline is to pass through. Dominion spokesperson Karl Neddenien noted that the permit’s conditions will ensure that the gas compressor station emit 50 to 80 percent less pollution than any other in Virginia.

“The bottom line here is the Buckingham Compressor Station will be the most stringently regulated compressor station in the country and the public’s health will be protected,” said Mike Dowd, director of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Division.

Opponents have said they will contest the compressor station permit in court, while also claiming that the board disregarded the “disproportionate impact” the project will have on the community of Union Hill.

In response to community concerns, Dominion Energy made a $5.1 million commitment to improve emergency medical response in the area, as well as revitalize the community, though these measures are not considered part of the permit.

Construction is otherwise stalled on the pipeline due to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month that the Forest Service did not have authority to allow the pipeline to cross beneath the Appalachian Trail. Dominion Energy plans to appeal the decision in federal court.

 

Editor's Note: Terminology was corrected to say "gas compressor" at 9 a.m. on Jan. 11.

   

Tagged categories: Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Pipelines; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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