Dominion has announced that it is exploring several alternative routes for its planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Nelson County.
The 550-mile natural gas pipeline, which the company hopes to have online by the end of 2018, would be routed through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, and has seen significant opposition in Nelson, where many landowners approached by Dominion have refused the company’s requests to survey their land. The company has sued dozens of property owners for access; most of those cases have yet to be resolved.
The proposed alterations include a different route across the Appalachian Trail that would affect fewer bodies of water, a bypass around an area of steep slopes near Lovingston that saw massive destruction during Hurricane Camille in 1969 and a new path around a proposed historic district near Wingina. Also on the table is a possible connector that would join the first two alternative routes, should both be approved.
Altogether, the new routes will require surveying 281 new parcels of land, 186 of which are in Nelson County, according to a news release from Dominion. The owners of those parcels were notified of the company’s intent to survey in letters sent out Monday, Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle said in the release.
“These alternatives are a natural part of the routing process,” Norvelle said. “They are the result of conversations with local, state and federal officials, landowners and other stakeholders. It is consistent with our promise to work with all parties to find the best route with the least impacts to people, the environment, and historic and cultural resources. It also is consistent with what we have done elsewhere along the proposed route.”
Opponents who have fought back against the company’s efforts to survey—and who have decried the potential use of eminent domain to seize land for the pipeline—aren’t satisfied.
“The fact that Dominion has now gone on record with a handful of routes doesn’t solve any of their problems,” said Joanna Salidis, president of anti-pipeline group Friends of Nelson, in a press release Monday. “These will impact an entirely new list of landowners, resulting in increased property owner resistance and lawsuits. Dominion continues to ignore all requests to drop the proposal or to use existing pipeline easement infrastructure instead of depending solely on eminent domain to achieve its business goals.”