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SELC Files New Motion Over Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Posted: Updated: Oct 25, 2016 06:06 PM
Aerial view of the new proposed path for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Aerial view of the new proposed path for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Aerial view of the new proposed path for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Aerial view of the new proposed path for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Photo from Dominion of land in the region with a pipeline Photo from Dominion of land in the region with a pipeline
Photo from Dominion of land in the region with a pipeline Photo from Dominion of land in the region with a pipeline

Attorneys with the Charlottesville-based Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a new motion with federal regulators over Dominion's proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). They say the pipeline’s new route would impact properties protected from development, but Dominion says it’s not that simple.

This is just the latest maneuvering in the ongoing battle over the ACP. Thursday, October 13, SELC showed NBC29 the areas in question from a thousand feet in the air.

"This area is all one landscape, so it comprises federal lands and important private conservation lands,” said Charmayne Staloff of SELC. 

SELC filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Thursday, requesting the commission deny Dominion's new route for the ACP.

“Our position is that this pipeline isn't necessary to meet demand, and so if it’s not necessary, why should landowners and natural resources suffer the adverse impacts for construction?” said Greg Buppert, SELC lawyer.

Attorneys with SELC say some of the private properties the new ACP route would cut through is some of the last undeveloped land in Virginia and the federal government should be doing more to protect it. They say this private land is in a special conservation easement program.

“These lands are protecting the same kinds of conservation values like water quality, habitat, etcetera, that are important on federal lands,” said Staloff.

“Landowners who put their property into easement protection expect that their property will be protected forever. The fact that Dominion is now proposed to go across their lands feels like a betrayal of trust,” Buppert said.

Dominion Spokesman Aaron Ruby says Dominion wants to maintain the beautiful vistas too. He took photos of other pipelines in the region to show what the land might look like after construction.

“You can continue raising crops, pasturing livestock, growing gardens,” Ruby explained.

To offset about 70 acres of conservation easement lost to build the pipeline, Dominion is offering to donate 1,200 acres of new land to the same program.

“I think we all take for granted that when you turn the switch on in your home or when you turn up the thermostat, that the heat will come on and the lights will go on,” Ruby said.

SELC attorneys said they do not believe the pipeline is necessary to meet demand, despite Dominion's claims that the additional supply and new infrastructure are needed in Virginia and North Carolina.

Federal regulators are not expected to make a decision until sometime next fall.

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