River-cross­ing per­mit now lat­est hur­dle to pipe­line

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY CRAIG JARVIS [email protected]­sob­server.com Craig Jarvis: 919- 829- 4576, @CraigJ_NandO

Clear­ing the way for the At­lantic Coast Pipe­line in North Carolina has been tem­po­rar­ily halted un­til an­other le­gal knot is un­tied.

The Army Corps of En­gi­neers or­dered the stay on Tues­day at the re­quest of Do­min­ion En­ergy, which has been build­ing the 600-mile nat­u­ral gas pipe­line in Vir­ginia and West Vir­ginia. Duke En­ergy will build the rest of the pipe­line through eight North Carolina coun­ties.

Do­min­ion sought a de­lay while an ap­peal of a rul­ing in a law­suit chal­leng­ing a por­tion of the pro­ject in West Vir­ginia is re­solved, ac­cord­ing to Tues­day’s Army Corps’ let­ter to Do­min­ion. An en­vi­ron­men­tal law and pol­icy non­profit group, Ap­palachian Moun­tain Ad­vo­cates, is chal­leng­ing a wa­ter-cross­ing per­mit in West Vir­ginia, ac­cord­ing to The Gazette-Mail in Charleston, W.Va.

On Nov. 7, the Fourth U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals tem­po­rar­ily stayed the per­mit that the Army Corps had is­sued for the wa­ter cross­ing.

“Be­cause of that or­der, it is un­cer­tain whether NWP (na­tion­wide per­mit) 12 will ul­ti­mately be able to au­tho­rize work for ACP in North Carolina. There­fore as re­quested, the Wilm­ing­ton district finds it ap­pro­pri­ate to tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend your au­tho­riza­tion and await clar­ity on this is­sue,” Scott McLen­don, chief of the Army Corps reg­u­la­tory di­vi­sion in Wilm­ing­ton wrote.

The pro­ject has been halted sev­eral times by le­gal ac­tions brought by en­vi­ron­men­tal groups chal­leng­ing var­i­ous stages of the con­struc­tion. Tues­day’s let­ter was first re­ported by N.C. Pol­icy Watch.

In Au­gust, the GazetteMail and the non­profit jour­nal­ism group Pro- Publica pub­lished a re­port say­ing state and fed­eral reg­u­la­tors were stream­lin­ing the process for the util­ity at the ex­pense of en­vi­ron­men­tal risks. That is also the al­le­ga­tion in the en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists’ ap­peal of the wa­ter-cross­ing per­mit.

The Sierra Club is among the or­ga­ni­za­tions su­ing to stop the pipe­line.

Kelly Martin of the Sierra Club is­sued a state­ment Wed­nes­day: “If the pol­lut­ing cor­po­ra­tions be­hind the ACP ever thought this would be easy, they know bet­ter now. There is no right way to build this dirty, dan­ger­ous pipe­line and we won’t stop fight­ing it un­til con­struc­tion is per­ma­nently halted.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Do­min­ion En­ergy or Duke En­ergy could not be reached by phone or email for com­ment on Wed­nes­day.

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