Feds allow Atlantic Coast pipeline construction to resume
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Federal officials will allow construction to resume on the Atlantic Coast pipeline, weeks after work was halted when a federal appeals court threw out two key permits for the 600-mile (965-kilometer) natural gas pipeline.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced the change in a letter Monday to Dominion Energy, the project’s lead developer.
Last month, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit was “arbitrary and capricious” regarding its effect on five threatened or endangered species. Last week, the service issued a revised opinion and the National Park Service issued a new permit for crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The pipeline is planned to start in West Virginia and run through parts of Virginia and North Carolina.
A coalition of environmental groups had asked the federal appeals court to review FERC’s approval of the pipeline.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Mountain Advocates petitioned the appeals court on behalf of 13 conservation and environmental groups.
SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert said in a statement at the time that the groups believe that FERC “rushed through its decision to permit a pipeline that we don’t need.”
Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby said in a statement Monday that crews would mobilize immediately to resume construction as authorized.
“The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been the most thoroughly reviewed infrastructure project in the history of our region,” he said. “The additional scrutiny we’ve recently received from the courts and the agencies are further evidence of the high standard that is being applied to the project.”