Virginia deals setback to Atlantic Coast Pipeline with conditional water permit approval
Posted by admin on Dec 13, 2017
The proposed 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline is at the center of the nation’s swirling pipeline battles. Utility owners, including Dominion, Duke and Southern Co., say the pipeline is necessary to bring natural gas from West Virginia to demand centers in North Carolina and beyond.
Opponents, however, contend that the pipeline is not necessary and that its construction could harm fragile wetland environments and put water sources at risk from potential spills.
Virginia regulators gave neither side a full victory on Tuesday. Weighing whether to delay the decision further, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the water board only approved the pipeline’s permit through a compromise amendment that would prevent it from going into effect until more ecological studies are completed.
The 401 permit will now be on hold until the state Department of Environmental Quality can review additional assessments of erosion and sediment control, stormwater management and testing of sensitive karst topography, officials said Tuesday.
The decision came the week after Virginia regulators approved another controversial project — the Mountain Valley Pipeline. Both projects were approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this autumn but required additional state permits to build.
Dominion had hoped to begin construction of the pipeline by year’s end, but company officials put a positive spin on the delay on Tuesday. A spokesperson told the Washington Post that ACP had “the most thorough environmental review of any infrastructure project in Virginia history” and that the owners will work with the state “to complete all remaining approvals in a timely manner and ensure we meet all conditions of the certification.”
Activists, however, told the paper they would not stop if regulators eventually clear the project for construction.
“The next step is direct action,” a local activist told the paper. “At this point, if they exhaust us of legitimate means, then we take it into our own hands.”