Atlantic Coast Pipeline Developer Stops Construction
Atlantic Coast Pipeline developer Dominion Energy stopped construction Friday along the multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline's entire 600-mile route.
In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Dominion said it was halting construction following a Friday decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court stayed the pipeline’s revised Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement, a key permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The permit authorizes construction through habitat identified as critical for certain threatened or endangered species across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Dominion has filed a motion with the court to clarify the ruling, arguing it is "overly broad."
"The issues in this case involve a much narrower scope of the project – only four species and roughly 100 miles in West Virginia and Virginia," said ACP spokesman Aaron Ruby, in an emailed statement. "We believe the Fish & Wildlife Service thoroughly addressed the issues raised by the court and the petitioners in this case when it re-authorized the project’s Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Statement in September."
This permit has long been under litigation. In early August, the 4th Circuit ruled the USFWS needed to revisit the pipeline's permit. Then in September, it accepted the revision and allowed construction to begin again.
The new stay is expected to be in effect pending review of environmentalists' challenge to the documents. Oral argument in the case is scheduled for March.
Environmental groups praised the court's decision.
"When we said we won't stop fighting this dirty, dangerous, unnecessary pipeline, we meant it. Every day that this pipeline isn't operating is a day that it's not hurting our health, water, climate and communities," said Kelly Martin, the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director, in a statement.