The Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s proposed route through the George Washington and Monongahela national forests has been scrapped—a very big deal for the future of the pipeline, according to opponents—and Dominion must now begin looking for an alternate.
The U.S. Forest Service rejected the ACP’s application for a special use permit January 21, requiring a new path or system alternatives to the 550-mile natural gas pipeline, which would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Almost 50 miles of the previously proposed route cut through two national forests.
Citing “highly sensitive resources” such as West Virginia northern flying squirrels, red spruce ecosystem restoration areas and Cheat Mountain and cow knob salamanders, the U.S. Forest Service wrote in its denial that the new path must avoid assets with “such irreplaceable character.”
Dominion has already proposed several pipeline routes, all of which have been denied. Opponents say the latest denial is likely to set the project back even further.
“We’re thrilled the forest service followed through on its duty to protect the forests,” says Ben Luckett, attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates in a release. “Dominion’s arrogance in trying to force its project into an entirely inappropriate area is shocking.”
Dominion spokesperson Jim Norvelle says the ACP will continue to work with the forest service.
“Today’s letter is part of the permitting process as we work cooperatively to find the best route with the least impact,” he says. “We appreciate the USFS’s examination of this option and remain confident we will find an acceptable route.”