Atlantic Coast Pipeline Not Expecting a Ruling Until August

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Not Expecting a Ruling Until August

  • A representative of Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline says the company does not expect a federal court ruling that could greatly impact the project’s future until at least August.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit held a hearing last week regarding its December ruling that stayed authorization of a key permit previously issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said ACP spokesman Karl Neddenien.
  • The court will now take several months to consider the facts of the case before issuing a decision.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a project of Dominion Energy and a consortium of partners, is projected to cross more than 600 miles between Harrison County in West Virginia and Greensville County in Virginia, but its future is less than certain.

Dominion officials are hopeful the court will rule in its favor and say the issues raised by the court in its August 2018 opinion were thoroughly resolved by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service when it reauthorized the project’s Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement in September 2018. A spokesperson says the new issues raised by the petitioners have all been properly addressed and documented in the 80,000-page record for the new Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement.

The company is also fighting a separate legal battle for the ACP, an attempt to appeal a decision by U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit not to reconsider a ruling that denied a permit allowing the pipeline’s route to go through two national forests and across the Appalachian Trail.

A panel of three judges in December ruled that the U.S. Forest Service lacked the authority to issue the permit, and Dominion officials have said they plan to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. The challenges to the pipeline’s continued construction have come from several environmental advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club and the Shenandoah Valley Network.

Dominion voluntarily halted construction activities on the pipeline shortly after the 4th Circuit issued its decision overturning the U.S. Forest Service’s permit on Dec.13, which resulted in layoffs for much of the project’s workforce. In Dominion’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings report, the company announced the ACP would not be in service until early 2021, rather than the prior estimate of mid-2020.

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