A “stop work order” was issued Friday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
In response, Atlantic Coast Pipeline spokesperson Aaron Ruby said, “We are already working with the key agencies to resolve the issues in FERC’s order so we can resume construction as soon as possible. We are confident these issues can be resolved quickly without causing unnecessary delay to the project.”
Ruby said FERC has given the pipeline the opportunity to provide evidence of any portions of the project that serve an independent public need and are not impacted by the recent court rulings.
“We will respond with strong evidence demonstrating the independent public need to proceed with construction of the Supply Header project, as well as portions of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, eastern Virginia and North Carolina,” he said. “These portions of the project will serve home heating and manufacturing needs in eastern Virginia and North Carolina and are not affected by recent court rulings.”
He said with respect to the National Park Service approval to cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, “We are already working with the agency to correct the errors and omissions identified by the court. We believe the agency can promptly reissue the permit based on the extensive public record and mitigation measures already in place.”
With respect to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, he said they have already provided the agency with all of the information necessary to issue a revised Incidental Take Statement.
“We anticipate the agency will do so shortly,” Ruby said. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been the most thoroughly reviewed infrastructure project in the history of our region. The recent action by the courts and FERC are further evidence of this unprecedented scrutiny and the high standard that is being applied to this project.”
He called the pipeline “critical to the economic and environmental future of our region.”
Ultimately, he said, “Delaying this infrastructure will force consumers and businesses to pay higher energy costs. It will slow down the transition to cleaner energy, and it will deprive public utilities of the reliable energy they need to heat the homes of a growing population and power local businesses.”
However, the Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance (ABRA) applauded FERC’s action Friday.
“The action, which was in response to an Aug. 6 decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and an Aug. 6 request to FERC by several ABRA members, was indeed appropriate,” ABRA said in a release.
“The Court properly recognized in its decision that permits issued for the ACP by some federal agencies were done in haste and in contradiction to those agencies’ own regulatory standards. ABRA and its members have long argued that the approval process for the ACP was deeply flawed. We are heartened that the 4th Circuit has recognized the legitimacy of our arguments and we hope that FERC and other relevant government agencies will take a second look at their earlier decisions to approve the project in the first place.”