ACP owners remain confident despite permit denial

By: By T.C. Hunter - [email protected]

LUMBERTON — “It’s not unusual.”

That was how a letter of disapproval issued by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was characterized Wednesday by DEQ spokesperson Bridget Munger. The letter concerns an erosion and sedimentation control plan that needs state approval before construction of the 600-mile-long natural gas pipeline can begin.

“The size and scope of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is so large that a lot of information is needed,” Munger said.

With projects as large as the ACP it is routine for the DEQ to request additional information to conduct a proper review and then make a decision, Munger said.

The letter dated Sept. 26 was sent to Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC, the partners in which are Dominion Resources, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, Southern Company Gas.

“This office has 15 days from the date of receipt to approve or disapprove your revised plan,” the letter reads in part.

There is no deadline for submitting the requested information, said Jamie Kritzer, another DEQ spokesperson.

“Disapproving a submitted plan and requesting new information is not unusual,” Kritzer said.

Duke Energy said in a statement that it will submit the requested information.

Dominion Energy already has supplied part of the requested information and plans to submit the rest by “the end of the week,” Aaron Ruby, a Dominion spokesman said Tuesday. The disapproval and information request is a routine part of the approval process, which for the ACP has been underway for three years.

“This is the most thorough and exhaustive process ever for a pipeline like this,” Ruby said.

Ruby remains 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.

However there is another hurdle before the pipeline that would start in West Virginia, go through Virginia and end in North Carolina.

A petition was filed Friday in Superior Court in Robeson County asking the court to review the county Board of Commissioners’ decision in August to approve a conditional-use permit for the ACP builders. The petitioners are Dwayne Goins and Robie Joe Goins, owners of property where the proposed pipeline is to end in Pembroke. Listed on the petition as respondents are Robeson County and Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC.

The legal action seeks to have the conditional-use permit application remanded and the permit revoked.

“In the alternative, petitioner requests that the court order the permit application remanded to the county for full and proper proceedings, and consideration of the material evidence during a full evidentiary hearing as required by law,” the petition reads in part.

The commissioners approved on Aug. 7 a conditional-use permit that cleared the way for the construction of a metering and regulating station, and a tower on N.C. 710 near Pembroke.

The board’s decision also is described in the petition as “arbitrary and capricious.” The station and tower are described as possible threats to public health and safety and will “cause injury to the value of adjoining property.”

Pipeline opponents have repeatedly questioned whether or not the pipeline is needed to supply natural gas to businesses and industries that could potentially boost local economies along its planned route, or whether the long-term plan of the developer revolves around getting gas to areas where it can be easily transported to overseas markets.

Proponents of the pipeline, which include the Robeson County Board of Commissioners and the Economic Development Office, say it will bring natural gas that will make it easier to attract industry, which wants the fuel because it burns clean and is cheaper than most energy sources. The pipeline’s owners also would pay property taxes on the infrastructure.

By T.C. Hunter

[email protected]

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.

Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.