Atlantic Coast Pipeline developers ask for and receive river crossing permit suspension

0

CLARKSBURG — In an attempt to allay concerns raised by an environmental group, developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have asked for, and been granted, a temporary suspension of a key river crossing permit.

The Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District, has granted the suspension, giving developers more time to provide plans and additional information with regard to some of the river crossings covered under the permit.

The pipeline, expected to span about 600 miles from North Central West Virginia to North Carolina, has been the target of criticism from environmentalists since its inception. But developers have worked to address concerns.

The most recent issue, raised in a lawsuit by the Sierra Club filed in the Fourth Federal Court Circuit based in Richmond, Virginia, is that an Army Corps of Engineers Permit 12, which allows the pipeline to cross rivers and streams, is flawed.

Attorneys for the Sierra Club argue that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline can’t meet the requirements of Permit 12, which call for river crossings to be accomplished in a 72-hour period.

They cite specifically in the motion for a stay the Greenbrier River in Pocahontas County, but there is also concern with two rivers in North Central West Virginia: The West Fork River, in an area located in Lewis County, and the Buckhannon River in Upshur County.

The motion says the Greenbrier crossing would be 177 feet and could not be accomplished in 72 hours.

The motion for a stay asked for the Fourth Circuit to grant the request to keep any permanent damage from occurring while the Army Corps reassesses the situation.

But briefs filed by Atlantic Coast Pipeline attorneys on Friday say the stay isn’t necessary.

While disagreeing with the fundamental basis of the Sierra Club’s argument, the developers say the stay isn’t necessary now that the permit has been suspended.

The developers still believe they can accomplish each of the 153 river crossings covered under the permit within a 72-hour time frame.

But they are willing to suspend river crossing operations until the Corps of Engineers can study the matter further.

The developers also say they will alert the Sierra Club in writing once Corps of Engineers officials review the Permit 12 again and prior to beginning any work, so that the environmental group can assess the plan further.

“The key issue in this case is the Army Corps’ 72-hour time limit for stream and river crossings in West Virginia,” said Aaron Ruby, media relations manager for Dominion Energy.

“We have committed to meeting this requirement, and we remain committed to doing so. Out of an abundance of caution, we have requested a temporary suspension of our permit so the Army Corps can thoroughly review our crossings and ensure that we are in compliance with the 72-hour requirement.

“Allowing this additional time for review is in the best interest of the environment and West Virginia’s natural resources,” Ruby said.

While the suspension halts river crossing work in West Virginia, it does not impede the project’s progress, Ruby said.

“This temporary suspension only impacts waterbody crossings in West Virginia and has no impact on all other construction activity in West Virginia and North Carolina,” Ruby said.

“We are working to resolve this issue promptly so we can resume work on the West Virginia waterbody crossings as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will continue making progress with all other construction in West Virginia and North Carolina.

“We do not believe this will cause any significant delays to the project, and we remain on track to complete construction by the end of 2019,” Ruby said.

Culled from here

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.