Dominion Energy is putting itself in danger of liability as it attempts to barrel ahead with construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline despite a recent ruling that raises the question of whether the developer holds a valid construction permit. SELC has now filed, on behalf of the environmental groups involved in the permit lawsuit, a request at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for stay of construction in Virginia and West Virginia. The request argues that, without a valid Fish and Wildlife permit, developers are at risk of violating the Endangered Species Act and are violating a FERC certificate that requires the permit.
Dominion Energy attempted to get its construction underway last week in West Virginia against the backdrop of a massive explosion of a “best-in-class” 3-foot natural gas pipeline in Marshall County, West Virginia. The explosion, which incinerated 10 acres of forest near the pipeline and fortunately did not result in any deaths, highlights just what is at stake when undertaking these dangerous and costly projects.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would be larger, at a three-and-a-half feet, and is meant to stretch 600 miles through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. The pipeline would flow through the backyard of residents and businesses all along the route, like that of the Harris Family in Churchville, Virginia. The Harris family home is a mere 250 feet from the pipeline, well within what is considered the blast zone. When Leslie Harris, a mother of four, was asked about whether she worries she said:
“I try not to make that be my primary thought, but as a parent, as a human, you just can’t put that out of your mind completely.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is now weighing whether to issue the stay on construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Earlier, SELC filed a request at FERC for a rehearing of the original certificate of construction in light of information showing the natural gas from the pipeline is not needed for the region.