West Virginia waives key permit for gas pipeline

Staff report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline got an important approval Wednesday from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, paving the way for the 600-mile natural gas pipeline that, if completed, will stretch from West Virginia to Robeson County..

West Virginia will waive its option to set state requirements on the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The state will rely on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit that is reissued every five years as well as a state stormwater permit.

Environmental groups immediately condemned the decision, saying that waiving state authority is an abdication of the state’s oversight role, according to the MetroNews of West Virginia. Opponents contend the pipeline is not needed and environmentally unsound.

Pipeline owners, including Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, hailed the decision as a key step in winning approval for the $5 billion project.

“Today’s decision by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is another significant milestone for the project and a key step toward beginning construction later this year,” said ACP spokesperson Aaron Ruby. “This brings West Virginia one step closer to the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity the project will bring to communities across the state.

“The agency believes this approach is the best way to protect West Virginia’s natural resources, and we support the decision. The agency’s decision was reached after a thorough and exhaustive review of the project and after considering extensive public input.”

In North Carolina, the energy consortium has taken 200 landowners in eight counties to court this week, seeking to force them to allow the pipeline to pass through their property via the legal procedure called eminent domain.

Speaking for the ACP group, Ruby said the seizures are a “last resort” and perfectly legal.

The payments to landowners are based on appraisals and allow utility crews to enter their properties during construction and maintenance going forward. Property owners agree not to plant trees or place buildings on a 50-foot strip above the buried pipeline.

Also in North Carolina, the Division of Environmental Quality on Tuesday issued a letter of approval with modifications for the erosion and sediment control plan submitted for the section of the pipeline that would traverse Cumberland, Robeson and Sampson counties.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline has not yet responded to the Oct. 23 letter of disapproval that requested more information for the second erosion and sediment control plan, which is required for the section of project that would impact Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson and Johnston counties.

Staff report