Forest Service rejects Atlantic Coast Pipeline route

Steep terrain and vital habitat corridors make the George Washington National Forest, pictured here, unsuitable as a pipeline corridor, according to the U.S. Forest Service. (© Robert Llewellyn)

Today, the U.S. Forest Service rejected developers’ preferred path for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. The Forest Service letter to the developers said the pipeline is not in line with its forest management plans.

In its letter, the Forest Service noted the number of sensitive resources and endangered species that would be disrupted. The two National Forests in question are considered by many as the best remaining wild land in the region.

The proposed pipeline would deliver natural gas along a 564-mile route from West Virginia to North Carolina. The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, of which SELC is a founding member, has helped to lead the charge for greater scrutiny of the pipeline proposal since it was first announced in 2014. As the group noted today, Dominion has persistently tried to force its pipeline through these two National Forests while ignoring calls to carefully analyze less destructive alternatives. This rejection of the preferred route by the Forest Service underscores how shallow Dominion’s analysis has been.

“Dominion stubbornly persisted on a route that was identified as severely destructive from the start,” said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “It is time for them to step back and truly reconsider the need for this pipeline at all.”

Other agencies also have registered their disproval for the current pipeline path. Recently the West Virginia office of the Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter urging the developers to identify alternatives to the current path and noting that they have yet to meet their survey obligations.

The agencies’ responses add to the number of comments received by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that provide scientific and technical evidence of the problems with the current pipeline route. Additionally, SELC and others continue to raise questions about the stated demand driving the project and urge regulators to inventory and evaluate existing pipeline capacity that could be used to meet that demand.

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