Approvals Granted for Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Virginia regulators recently granted approval for construction to begin on a 300-mile track of the $6.5 billion, 600-mile shale gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the sister to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The approval includes three imperative environmental protection plans; the 300-mile track will run across the state.
Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality indicated late last week that it had approved plans geared toward controlling erosion and sediment, as well as managing storm runoff. There is also an endeavor to limit damage to certain fragile areas in the mountains as construction begins.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline History
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.
Key Virginia Permit Takes Effect for Atlantic Coast Pipeline https://t.co/KP13BfxoEo pic.twitter.com/AAVnacNx9B— Charlottesville News (@cvillenews) October 19, 2018
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 he 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.
"Protecting Virginia's environmental resources is one of our greatest priorities," said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler.
"The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's comprehensive review allows us to remain confident that these final construction plans will protect natural resources. After more than a year of detailed analysis, all aspects of these plans have been carefully reviewed, modified and intensified before being approved by DEQ.”
The approvals mean 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.
David Sligh, a former DEQ scientist now working with the Wild Virginia advocacy program, told The Washington Post that he took issue with the DEQ’s claim that construction can now begin on the project. Sligh alleged that the department is attempting to take over authority that belongs to the citizen members of the State Water Control Board, an oversight panel put in place by the governor.
Environmental groups have criticized the pipeline, with one point of contention being that building the pipeline through such steep terrain without dislodging sediment that could clog streams and cause damage would be all but impossible.
Moving forward, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline must still gain approval from FERC for the state of Virginia. Work has begun in North Carolina and West Virginia.