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Environmental Activists, Dominion Energy React to Court's Decision to Halt Pipeline Construction

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A court decided on May 15 to halt construction on the ACP A court decided on May 15 to halt construction on the ACP
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) -

Activists are applauding a federal court's order that may halt construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

On Tuesday, May 15, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an important statement on endangered species that affects the next steps for the pipeline.

Proponents of the decision say the court has finally realized that the claim has been a problem for a long time.

"Really excited, of course, to see that we've delayed this project again," says Jennifer Lewis, the president of Friends of Augusta.

Anti-pipeline activists say this court order is a win, but that the war is not yet over.

"There's always that hesitation of people getting too excited and people thinking 'Oh, it's done we can move on to the next fight,' I just want to encourage people to stay with this fight,” says Lewis.

The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's incidental take statement, which usually authorizes a project to harm or kill no more than a limited number of threatened or endangered species, Tuesday night.

"The process is flawed,” says Lewis. “So the court validated our - what we've been saying all of these years."

Dominion Energy, however, believes that this will not ultimately impact its goal.

"We remain confident in the project approvals and the ACP will continue to move forward with construction as scheduled,” says Jen Kostyniuk of Dominion Energy.

Dominion Energy says the decision does not affect the entire 600-mile pipeline route, and wants to continue moving forward.

"This decision only impacts activities directly covered by the incidental take statement in certain defined areas along the route,” says Kostyniuk.

Others, like the Southern Environmental Law Center, disagree.

"Our position is that all construction needs to stop," says Greg Buppert of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Activists and the law center say they will be closely watching Dominion and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to see what happens next.

"We're going to be paying close attention to see what the Fish and Wildlife Service does as it tries to fix the problems, the defects identified by the court in its biological opinion,” says Buppert.

The project's total cost is more than $6 billion.

On Wednesday, May 15, Dominion Energy received notice that it's required to let the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission know which locations of this project are affected within five days.