NC asks again for more pipeline information

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

RALEIGH — State environmental regulators are seeking even more information from the builders of a 600-mile-long natural gas pipeline that would start in West Virginia and end in Pembroke

The N.C. Division of Water Resources on Thursday issued a third letter to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC requesting additional information as part of the company’s application for a state 401 water quality certification, according to Bridget Munger, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Public Information officer. The state is requesting information about the pipeline builders’ methods for crossing small bodies of water.

“This is typical for a project of this size and scope,” said Aaron Ruby, Media Relations manager for Dominion Energy.

This request relates to 16 of about 360 streams the pipeline would cross in North Carolina, Ruby said. All but two or three of these streams are less than 30 feet wide.

“The DEQ’s review of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline may be the most thorough review of any infrastructure project in the state’s history,” according to a statement from Ruby. “We will make the modifications requested by the agency in short order so it can complete the approval process in a timely manner. We have every reason to believe the project remains on track, and we’re confident we’ll receive final approval in time to begin construction by the end of the year.”

The latest request is typical of the permitting process, Munger said Friday.

“This project, like any other process, we need all the information we can get in order to be able to make a decision to approve or disapprove,” Munger said.

Information is critical to the ACP permitting process because the pipeline affects many people and large tracts of the state’s environment, she said.

“We need to be thorough,” Munger said.

Thursday’s letter included a request for information related to crossing the Neuse River. The ACP’s builders were asked for a horizontal directional drilling design for the crossing and an “updated impact table to reflect elimination of the impacts to river and additional impacts to surface waters and/or wetlands that will be necessary to accomplish the crossing with the HDD method.”

Among the other requests in the letter was for information to address discrepancies in previously submitted information and a complete analysis of the projects construction impact on Robeson, Cumberland and Johnston counties. This analysis is to include the effect of “anticipated development resulting from construction of the pipeline.”

Other permit requests are under state review.

New erosion and sediment control plans submitted Monday by Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC are being studied. The previous plans for the proposed route for the North Carolina segment of the $5 billion pipeline 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.

Stormwater permits are needed for two sections of the pipeline.

One of those sections is at the border between Nash and Wilson counties, Munger said. The other is in northeastern Cumberland County. Those permits pertain to the handling of stormwater runoff for the life of the pipeline. No applications had been submitted for these permits as of Friday.

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 pipeline has met some local resistance in recent months by people who say it’s not necessary, that it infringes on property rights, and that it will harm the environment.

Proponents, including the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, say the pipeline will help recruit industry to the area that want access to natural gas, and that will mean jobs. The owners of the pipeline would also pay properties 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.