Latest: Pipeline spokeswoman: Work can go on despite ruling
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on challenges to the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (all times local):
A spokeswoman for the lead developer of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline says a federal court order vacating a key permit does not mean work on the multistate project has to stop.
Jen Kostyniuk is director of communications for Dominion Energy. She said in an email Tuesday night that “we will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled.”
That position is at odds with attorneys for the environmental groups that sued over the permit, who say the order means all construction must cease.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order earlier Tuesday that said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not provided specific limits for the allowable impact on threatened and endangered species in what’s called an “incidental take statement.” The order did not directly address construction or other work.
Kostyniuk says that the company is committed to working with the agency to address the concerns raised by the court’s order.
A federal court has vacated a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hasn’t provided specific limits for the allowable impact on threatened and endangered species.
The Southern Environmental Law Center says Tuesday’s order from the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requires an immediate halt to “all construction and any activity” associated with the pipeline, which would carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia through North Carolina.
A spokeswoman for the pipeline couldn’t immediately be reached.
A coalition says North Carolina failed to protect the civil rights of residents of color when it approved permits for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The groups want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s civil rights division to require the state Department of Environmental Quality to rescind the permits and perform a more thorough analysis.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported first on their complaint, which accuses the state and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of failing to consider the health and environmental impact. It also says the state obscured the route’s disproportionate impact on blacks and Native Americans by comparing demographics within a mile of the pipeline to the rest of each county, rather than the rest of the state.
The letter also noted FERC and the state failed to compare the preferred route with alternatives, noting that a route under early consideration would have passed through “wealthier and predominantly white communities near Raleigh” as the $5 billion project carries fracked natural gas from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina.