sunny.png
Thursday April 15th, 2021 8:21PM

Regulators get plan for undoing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The developers of the now-canceled Atlantic Coast Pipeline have laid out plans for how they want to go about unwinding the work that was done for the multistate natural gas project and restoring disturbed land.

In a filing with federal regulators made public Tuesday, the pipeline company proposed an approximately two-year timeline for efforts across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, where progress on the project ranged from uninitiated to essentially complete.

The plan outlines where the company wants to clean up felled trees and where it plans to leave them behind, and it proposes abandoning the approximately 30 miles (50 kilometers) of pipe that was installed in place.

“We spent the last several months working really closely with landowners and agencies to develop the most responsible approach for closing out the project,” said Aaron Ruby, an employee of lead developer Dominion Energy who has served as a spokesman for the joint project with Duke Energy. “And ultimately our primary goal is to complete the project as efficiently as possible, and with minimal environmental disturbance.”

Ruby also confirmed for the first time that the company does not intend to voluntarily release the easement agreements it secured on landowners' properties.

In most cases, the legal agreements were obtained through negotiations with landowners, who were paid and who the company has previously said will keep their compensation. But in other cases, in which sometimes vociferously opposed landowners fought the project, the easements were obtained through eminent domain proceedings.

Asked if there are any plans to sell the easement agreements to a third party such as another pipeline or infrastructure project, Ruby said, “We have no plans to do so at this time.”

Ruby also said the company has no plans to voluntarily compensate landowners who are still in court fighting over the legal fees and other costs they incurred related to the project. On Dec. 18, a federal judge in North Carolina awarded one group of defendant landowners just over $20,000 in fees and costs.

Plans for the 600-mile (965-kilometer) Atlantic Coast Pipeline were first announced with great fanfare in 2014, but it was running years behind schedule. Legal challenges brought by environmental groups prompted the dismissal or suspension of numerous permits and led to delays in construction and ballooning costs that brought the estimated price tag to $8 billion. Building the project was to involve tree removal and blasting and leveling some ridgetops as the pipe, 42 inches (1 meter) in diameter for much of its path, crossed mountains, hundreds of water bodies and other sensitive terrain and burrowed underneath the Appalachian Trail.

Atlantic said in its filing that of the 3,100 parcels of land the project was going to cross, about 2,000 had no ground disturbance or tree-felling work completed on them.

The other 1,100 tracts fall into three categories: 385 had tree clearing and grading of the land underway; about 600 had felled trees that haven't been cleared; and about 115 have pipe in the ground.

For the first category, Atlantic plans to complete full restoration of the project right-of-way, Ruby said.

For the 600 properties where trees had been cut but not removed, the company will seek to clear some but leave others in place if they are in a sensitive area, such as on a steep slope or in an area that would require the construction of a new access road, he said.

The filing said about 222.5 miles (358 kilometers) of trees were cut and of that about 108 miles (174 kilometers) of trees were still lying on the right-of-way.

On all properties with pipe in the ground, Atlantic is seeking to abandon that pipe in place, which Ruby said the company thinks will cause the least environmental disturbance. Retiring underground utilities in place is a common practice, he said.

Ruby said the company is “working with several parties” interested in purchasing the rest of the pipe as well as other materials related to the project.

The pipeline partners said July 5 in a surprise announcement that the project was being canceled. In October, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked the pipeline to provide specific details about its planned restoration activities.

Lewis Freeman, executive director of the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, a coalition of dozens of groups that opposed the project, said he hoped the commission would make Atlantic relinquish the easements upon request as a condition of approving the restoration plan. That's a request conservation groups made in a filing with the commission in August.

Claudine Ebeid McElwain, a spokeswoman for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said its attorneys were reviewing the plan but didn't have any immediate comment.

Included in the filing was a list of the various environmental permits that would be required to complete the restoration work, which the company says it expects to complete by the end of 2022.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Saudis take on burden of oil output cut to support price
Saudi Arabia says it's cutting oil production by a million barrels a day through March as a “goodwill gesture."
2:36PM ( 15 minutes ago )
US stocks recoup some losses after sharp slide to start 2021
U.S. stocks are broadly higher Tuesday, regaining their footing a day after suffering their worst loss in months amid the worsening pandemic and potentially market-moving Senate elections
2:34PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Germany extends lockdown until Jan 31 and toughens curbs
Germany is extending its lockdown by three weeks until Jan. 31, tightening curbs on social contacts and planning limits on people’s movements in its worst-affected regions as it tries to reduce stubbornly high infection figures and worrying numbers of coronavirus-related deaths
2:31PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
After top staff exodus, Texas AG seeks $43M for Google suit
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking $43 million in taxpayer money to pay outside lawyers to lead a 10-state antitrust lawsuit against Google
2:01PM ( 50 minutes ago )
Pandemic haunts new year as virus growth outpaces vaccines
Despite growing vaccine access, January is looking grim around the globe as the virus resurges and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California
2:01PM ( 50 minutes ago )
UK hospitals stagger under toll from the new virus variant
England is entering a third national lockdown that will last at least six weeks, as authorities struggle to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals around the U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a tough new stay-at-home order for England until at least mid-February to combat a new, more contagious coronavirus variant
1:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
World Bank sees subdued recovery in 2021 and plenty of risk
The World Bank on Tuesday forecast that the global economy will see a subdued recovery this year from a devastating pandemic but warned that the near-term outlook is highly uncertain and growth could be harmed if infections keep rising and the rollout of vaccines is delayed
12:42PM ( 2 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: Breaking down Biden’s Iran problem
Joe Biden has an Iran problem
12:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
India says it hasn't banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines
India's health ministry says the government hasn't banned the export of COVID-19 vaccines
11:40AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
EXPLAINER: Biden's Iran problem is getting worse by the day
Joe Biden has an Iran problem
7:37AM ( 7 hours ago )
South Korean tanker was boarded by armed Iran Guard forces
The owners of a vessel seized by Iran say that armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops stormed a South Korean tanker the day before and forced the ship to travel to Iran
6:43AM ( 8 hours ago )
Iran spokesman slams South Korea over frozen assets
An Iranian government spokesman has called South Korea a “hostage taker” over freezing Tehran’s $7 billion in assets there
4:46AM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Saudis take on burden of oil output cut to support price
Saudi Arabia says it's cutting oil production by a million barrels a day through March as a “goodwill gesture."
2:36PM ( 15 minutes ago )
US stocks recoup some losses after sharp slide to start 2021
U.S. stocks are broadly higher Tuesday, regaining their footing a day after suffering their worst loss in months amid the worsening pandemic and potentially market-moving Senate elections
2:34PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Germany extends lockdown until Jan 31 and toughens curbs
Germany is extending its lockdown by three weeks until Jan. 31, tightening curbs on social contacts and planning limits on people’s movements in its worst-affected regions as it tries to reduce stubbornly high infection figures and worrying numbers of coronavirus-related deaths
2:31PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Illinois teen pleads not guilty in Kenosha protest slayings
An Illinois teenager who fatally shot two people and wounded a third amidst sometimes violent summer protests on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, has pleaded not guilty to charges including intentional homicide
2:30PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Falcons interview Rams' Brad Holmes as GM search continues
The Atlanta Falcons have interviewed Brad Holmes, the Los Angeles Rams’ director of college scouting, for their general manager position
2:23PM ( 29 minutes ago )