Major permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline suspended

Activists stood outside the governor's mansion in August and read public comments opposing the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines into a megaphone. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Aug. 14, 2018)

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline hit another permitting snag Tuesday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended the 600-mile project’s authorization to cross hundreds of waterways and wetlands.

“Following requests from Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad) attorneys, the Norfolk, Huntington, and Pittsburgh districts of the Army Corps of Engineers have each suspended its authorization of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” the nonprofit law and policy conservation group said. “As a result, ACP lacks authorization to do any instream or wetland construction anywhere along its route.”

Blue Virginia has copies of the letters from the corps districts suspending the natural gas pipeline’s authorization under Nationwide Permit 12 to cross waterways and wetlands. The pipeline is planned to run from West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina.

Opponents have argued it cannot be built without unleashing sediment that will clog streams and permanently degrade water quality.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond granted a stay of the Nationwide 12 permit, a decision that stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Appalachian Mountain Advocates and other groups who argued that the permit can’t comply with conditions inserted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

Whether the federal permit was adequate to protect Virginia waters was been part of a contentious debate before the State Water Control Board, though, in a split decision, the board ultimately decided against requiring more regulatory review here.