Dominion Energy vows to continue construction on pipeline following court ruling
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is inadequate, but Dominion Energy says they will still continue with the project.
The three-judge panel sided with opponents of the pipeline, saying the Fish and Wildlife Service set limits "so indeterminate that they undermine the incidental take statement's enforcement and monitoring function under the Endangered Species Act."
"Like other agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service rushed this pipeline approval through under intense political pressure to meet developers' timelines," said D.J. Gerken, Southern Environmental Law Center Managing Attorney Asheville Office. "We are grateful this decision upholds the protection of endangered species as the law requires. It's foolish and shortsighted to risk losing rare species for an unnecessary and costly pipeline boondoggle."
However, Dominion Energy says the ruling "only impacts activities directly covered by the Incidental Take Statement in certain defined areas along the route."
In a statement from Jen Kostyniuk, Director, Dominion Energy Communications:
We spent more than three years developing the safest and most environmentally responsible route for the pipeline. We carefully studied more than 6,000 miles of potential routes before choosing the best 600-mile route with the least impact. After consulting with landowners and performing extensive field surveys, we made more than 300 route adjustments to avoid environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, wildlife habitats, drinking water sources and sensitive geologic features.
We are continuing to analyze the order and the effects it will have on the project. We can say that the impact of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is on a small portion of the 600 mile route and there will be no impact in North Carolina. Through our project planning, we purposefully avoided areas of endangered species which is why the impact of this ruling is relatively limited.
We are consulting with federal and state agencies, as we have throughout this project. Our next steps will be to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who we expect will revise the Incidental Take Statement to provide limits that are more specific. While we do not have a specific date of when the revised Incidental Take Statement will be prepared, ACP has conducted extensive survey work for all six species over the past four years and there is a robust record on which to resolve this matter in an expedited manner. We will fully comply as required while we continue to construct the project.
We will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled.
Environmentalists in Virginia have been protesting the pipeline, which would run from West Virginia to eastern North Carolina through Virginia.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a joint project between several energy groups - including Dominion Energy, the lead stock holder.
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