Atlantic Coast Pipeline secures key permit from U.S. Forest Service

Published: Nov. 17, 2017 at 2:30 PM EST
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The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline has cleared another key regulatory hurdle.

The U.S. Forest Service granted approval Friday for the natural gas pipeline to run through the George Washington National Forest and Monongahela National Forest.

About 21 miles (33 kilometers) of the 600-mile-long (965 kilometers) project are located on National Forest Service lands, including where it will cross the Appalachian Trail.

On Thursday, the decision was jointly issued by the Forest Service’s Eastern and Southern Regional Foresters, allowing a Special Use Permit for Dominion Energy to begin tree removal as early as this month and start pipeline construction in the forestland by April 2018, falling in line with the timeline to have the pipeline transporting natural gas by the end of 2019.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

on the approximately $5 billion project that would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The key permits now pending are water certifications in North Carolina and Virginia.


issued by FERC details the potential impacts of the entire 604-mile-long route, including the portion that cross 5.1 miles of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, and 15.9 miles of the George Washington National Forest in Virginia.

The Forest Service says construction of the pipeline will impact approximately 430 acres of National Forest System lands during construction, but restoration after construction should bring the impact acreage to 214 for long-term operation.

Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby says the Forest Service decision is a major step toward final approval later this year. Here is his statement:

Today the Atlantic Coast Pipeline received another key regulatory approval from the U.S. Forest Service, which moves the project another major step toward final approval later this year. After more than three years of exhaustive study, the Forest Service has issued a favorable Record of Decision authorizing construction, operation and maintenance of the ACP on Forest Service lands, as well as amendments to the Forest Service’s Land Resource Management Plans. The agency concluded that the project will be built with minimal impacts to the national forests, wildlife, water quality and other environmental resources under the agency’s care. The agency’s favorable decision was reached after more than three years of careful study, meaningful engagement with the public and other agencies, and extensive field surveys by expert wildlife biologists. Through close consultation with the agency, the project has made numerous adjustments to avoid environmentally sensitive areas in the national forests, including sensitive wildlife habitats. Total mileage in the national forests was also reduced by more than one-third. We’ve always strived to balance the energy needs of consumers and the economy with responsible environmental stewardship. The Forest Service’s approval shows that through collaboration with agencies and the scientific community, we can responsibly develop infrastructure in a way that preserves the environment and protects our natural resources. We commend the agency’s staff for the years of hard work and careful study they’ve dedicated to reviewing the project. We also appreciate the thoughtful and constructive input provided by other agencies and members of the public. This has been a truly collaborative process, and it’s resulted in important protections for the environment. The Forest Service will implement its approval by issuing separate Special Use Permits for construction and operation of the pipeline. The Record of Decision is available on the U.S. Forest Service website.

Environmental groups criticized the approval and some said they would challenge it.