Court ruling reignites battle over Atlantic Coast Pipeline

10 On Your Side

(WAVY) — A ruling this week by a federal appeals court against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project is being described by the partnership supporting it as merely “procedural,” but opponents see it as a threat to the project itself.

The ACP would transport natural gas from West Virginia into Virginia and Hampton Roads, as well as North Carolina, along 600 miles of pipeline.

Dominion Energy is one of four utilities involved in the project.

The ruling this week by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affects a compressor station along the pipeline to be built in Union Hill, a historic minority community near Charlottesville. Dominion says it’s been working with Union Hill in Buckingham County all along.

“We’ve met with hundreds of Union Hill citizens and leaders, in living rooms, churches, businesses, fields and more to listen and address their concerns, and reach win-win solutions. That includes a new community center, a better rescue squad,” said Dominion spokesperson Bonita Billingsley Harris. “These are benefits that the community is getting because of this project and our partnership.”

Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Gillian Giannetti says the ruling is significant.

“This is a huge victory for communities that think there is no hope to be able to stop projects that are unnecessary. I think it’s increasingly unlikely that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will ever be built.”

In contrast, project officials say they’re moving forward.

“We’re confident that we can work with the state to resolve all of the issues and get back on track building ACP,” Harris said.

Work has been halted since December 2018 as issues and permits go through the courts and regulatory agencies. NRDC says this latest ruling is the eighth time a federal court or agency has ruled against ACP.

NRDC says the pipeline will have significant environmental and cultural impact as it traverses the Appalachian Trail, George Washington National Forest, wineries and cideries in the Charlottesville region.

Dominion says none of the pipeline will be above ground when it’s complete — including the area where it crosses the Appalachian Trail.

“Our plan is to build it 700 feet below the Appalachian Trail and more than half a mile from it on either side. So hikers won’t see it, they won’t hear it they won’t even know that it’s there,” Harris said.

Dominion says the pipeline will be crucial for Hampton Roads industry and military facilities, but NRDC disagrees.

“We actually don’t need the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in order to meet our energy needs in Virginia or in the Hampton Roads area. We have a glut of supply,” Giannetti said.

So far, no pipe has been installed in Virginia. A spokesman for the project says the timeline for completion is now late next year, and it would be ready to begin delivering natural gas by early 2022.

Click here to view the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s response to concerns about the project’s impact.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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