Permit to Survey G.W. National Forest for Proposed Pipeline Issued
A temporary special-use permit has been issued to survey a portion of the George Washington National Forest for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Augusta County.
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Dominion Resources will start surveying the George Washington National Forest for its proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.
The Forest Service is issuing a temporary special use permit to let the energy company assess the area. They say it's important to note that giving the go-ahead for this surveying does not mean the Forest Service is allowing the construction of the natural gas pipeline.
Dominion will survey 12.6 miles of the national forest in Augusta and Highland Counties over the next year. Tests will determine the feasibility of putting in the proposed pipeline. The surveys will examine the soils, federally listed threatened and endangered plants and animals, and cultural resources.
“What we identified right now or what we gave permission for is just for surveys. We have not made any decisions on whether or not the pipeline could be constructed,” said Ken Landgraf with Forest Service.
The Forest Service received 7,400 comments on the survey permit. Most of those comments are related to concerns about the construction and operation of a pipeline, not surveying for it.
Dominion says these surveys are important in finding a route for the pipeline with the least environmental impact.
Dominion Resources is partnering with other energy companies to build the $5 billion, 550-mile pipeline. It would deliver natural gas from Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to the Southeast.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee is holding public meetings to get comments on the construction of the proposed natural gas pipeline this week. FERC will hold a meeting in Nelson County Wednesday night, then Augusta County on Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
USDA News Release:
Forest Service Issues Permit to Survey Portions of the George Washington National Forest for Proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline
(March 17, 2015) Roanoke, Va – The Forest Service is issuing a temporary special use permit to survey a 12.6-mile segment of the George Washington National Forest for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Highland and Augusta counties, VA. Surveys for wetlands, water, soil, and suitable habitat for sensitive species, including federally listed threatened and endangered plants and animals will be conducted within the next year. Surveys will also record cultural resources and invasive species.
“The information gathered from these surveys is needed for federal agencies to make informed decisions on whether or not to allow construction and operation of the proposed natural gas pipeline, and if allowed, to avoid, or reduce the impacts to sensitive resources,” explains Forest Supervisor Tom Speaks.
Many of the 7,400 comments we received on the survey permit related to concerns about the construction and operation of the proposed pipeline, rather than the surveys. “It is important to remember that allowing these survey activities does not mean we are allowing the construction of a pipeline,” reminds Speaks. We have not received additional requests for surveying National Forest System lands for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as the lead federal agency, is currently holding public meetings and soliciting comments on the construction of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. FERC will conduct an in-depth environmental analysis on private and public lands, with many opportunities for public comments.