Environmentalist applauds request for change to pipeline plan

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Both sides of the debate over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline remain positive after a decision by North Carolina to reject the project until more information is received.

A spokesperson for the state's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which asked developers to address issues with the erosion and sedimentation control plan, said disapproving such a plan "is not unusual."

Dominion furthered this sentiment, sending a statement:

This is a normal, routine part of the process. The North Carolina DEQ has simply asked us for additional information so it can complete the permit approval process. Agencies frequently ask for this kind of additional information before making a final decision. We’ve provided most of the requested information already, and we expect to provide the rest later this week. At that point the agency will have all the information it needs to complete the approval process. The project remains on track, and we still expect final approval from all the agencies later this year.

Despite this, anti-pipeline activist Jennifer Lewis said the initial rejection by environmental regulators is welcome news.

"They're not saying that this project is not going to happen. They're saying, Dominion, we need more information," said Lewis. "For folks like myself who've been in this fight the last three, three-and-a-half, years, we have been saying this."

Lewis, a staunch opponent to the 600-mile pipeline, said she believes the work of environmentalists against the project is the reason the project is still awaiting approval. Companies behind the ACP sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting approval by the end of September.

"I think Dominion thought, 'Oh, this is going to be easy. we've got elected representatives on our side. We've got this,'" said Lewis. "It is solely because of citizens standing up, united with their neighbors, with each others, saying ,'this isn't right.'"

Dominion Energy is still awaiting final approval from FERC and the Virignia Department of Environmental Quality before it can proceed with construction.