A new route proposed for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline February 12 will dodge sensitive areas in the George Washington and Monongahela national forests, but will impact about 249 additional landowners in Virginia and West Virginia.
The new route—which will go through Highland, Bath and Augusta counties in Virginia and Randolph and Pocahontas counties in West Virginia—will add about 30 miles to the $5 billion natural gas pipeline, which was originally slated to be 550 miles long, and reduce total mileage in national forests from 28.8 miles to 18.5 miles, Dominion spokesperson Aaron Ruby said in a press release.
“This new route would still cause dramatic forest fragmentation through some of the most high-quality forest habitat in our region,” says Ben Luckett, staff attorney with Appalachian Mountain Advocates. His organization notes that the new proposed route would cut through Fort Lewis, a historic site in Bath County, and still “slice a large and permanent clear-cut” through the George Washington and Monongahela forests.
“While we’re pleased Dominion has chosen not to ram this pipeline through sensitive habitat areas, it remains a wrecking ball for our climate,” Drew Gallagher, a field organizer with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a press release on the day of the announcement. “There’s only one sure way that Dominion can help protect a livable future for vulnerable species and all Virginians: by investing in truly clean energy solutions, not a dirty and dangerous pipeline.”