Court Order Halts Work on 600-Mile Atlantic Gas Pipeline
Dominion Energy has stopped work on 100 miles of the 600-mile Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline following a court decision vacating a permit related to threatened and endangered species, while an effort continues to force a work stoppage on the entire project.
Dominion will stop work on the affected area until the permit is revised, Jen Kostyniuk, a spokeswoman for the Richmond, Va.-based company, said May 22. Kostyniuk says there is extensive information available to resolve the questions over the permit quickly. The pipeline remains on schedule to be finished late next year, according to Dominion.
At issue is a May 15 decision by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate an “incidental take statement” for the Atlantic Coast pipeline that allows the pipeline’s developers to accidentally harm or kill threatened and endangered species during construction. Limits set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) were so vague they undermined enforcement of the incidental take permit and monitoring function under the Endangered Species Act, according to the court.
Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas and Southern Company Gas are developing the pipeline, which is set to run from Harrison County, W.Va., to Pembroke, N.C., shipping up to 1.5 billion cu ft a day of natural gas. Price Gregory International, U.S. Pipeline, SMPC and Rockford Corp. are the line contractors.
The court decision was the result of a lawsuit by the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and the Virginia Wilderness Committee. The Southern Environmental Law Center, which filed the suit on behalf of the environmental groups, asked that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order all work on the line halted until the FWS revises the incidental take statement.
The court decision effectively puts on hold other FWS and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer permits and orders that support the pipeline project. FERC, which has oversight of the pipeline, hasn’t responded to the court decision.