RALEIGH — The permitting and public comment process means it will be late November or even December before the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s builders will know if they have state approval to move forward with their plans to build a 600-mile-long natural gas pipeline that begins in West Virginia and ends in Pembroke.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC submitted new erosion and sediment control plans for the proposed route for the North Carolina segment of the $5 billion pipeline on Monday, according to Bridget Munger, Public Information officer for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. When a project submits erosion and sediment control plans for a second time, the state Sedimentation Control Act requires DEQ to review and make a decision to either deny or approve the new plans within 15 days of receipt.
The previous plans were disapproved on Sept. 26 by officials with the DEQ’s Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources. A letter of disapproval was issued with requests for additional information.
Earlier this month, Munger described the letter and information request sent to pipeline partners Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas as “not unusual.”
“The size and scope of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is so large that a lot of information is needed,” Munger said.
More permits also are needed.
Stormwater permits are needed for two sections of the pipeline, according to the DEQ. No applications had been submitted for these permits as of Oct. 10.
The state Division of Water Resources issued a letter on Sept. 14 directing the pipeline’s builders to submit additional information as part of their 401 water quality certification application. The company submitted its response to the request in two parts. The first part was submitted Sept. 22, and the second part was submitted Sept. 29. The division has until Nov. 28 to issue a decision on the application.
The state Division of Air Quality is taking public comments until Nov. 20 on the draft air permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC’s proposed air compressor station in Northampton County at the Virginia border. The DEQ will hold a public hearing on the draft permit at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at Town Hall in Garysburg.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline received some good news on Oct. 13 when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the pipeline project. The approval was expected by pipeline supporters and opponents.
The ACP pipeline has been widely supported by business and political leaders who say the project will lower energy costs and boost economic development. Opponents, including environmental groups and landowners, say the pipeline will infringe on property rights, damage pristine areas and commit the region to fossil fuels just when global warming makes it essential to invest in renewable energy instead.
Commission approval means the pipeline developers will have the authority to use eminent domain to acquire land if they can’t reach an agreement with a landowner.
Supporters of the pipeline, which include the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, say it is needed for clean energy and also to attract industry that wants access to natural gas. The pipeline’s owners would pay property taxes on its infrastructure.
Aaron Ruby, a Dominion spokesman, is confident the pipeline will receive all necessary state and federal approvals by the end of the year.
“We’re approaching the finish line,” Ruby said earlier in the month.
Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.