Atlantic Coast Pipeline Plans Await Federal Approval

Partners in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, a 600-mile project that will cut across several Southeastern North Carolina counties, have now submitted 70,000 pages of documentation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Up next: FERC will release a draft environmental impact statement this fall and then begin taking public comment.

 “We’re still working our way through the permitting,” says Bruce McKay, senior policy advisor for federal affairs at Dominion Resources. The Richmond-based utility is collaborating with Duke Energy Piedmont Natural Gas and AGL Resources in the pipeline, which will extend from Harrison County, W.Va., to Robeson County, N.C. “It’s a very thorough process,” McKay says.

 FERC is now reviewing documents related to the project’s need and construction methods, as well as its impact on air, water, land, plants and animal life along every foot of the route. “There’s a lot of analysis that goes into it,” says McKay. After hearing public comment on its draft this fall, FERC will then take its findings back to Washington for further consideration and a final decision sometime in 2017.

 ACP will have significant economic impact for the Southeast Region, opening up industrial, residential and commercial development opportunities. It will also bring environmental benefits, feeding gas-fired electrical generating plants in the mid-Atlantic United States as utilities transition from coal-based generation. The result will be less CO2, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter in the atmosphere.

 As federal regulators assess ACP, project planners are hard at work on other milestones. “We’re negotiating and signing easements with landowners,” McKay says. The pipeline will traverse the property of some 500 landowners. A Pennsylvania steel mill has already begun making pipe. “When you need 600 miles worth of pipe, you can’t wait until the end of the process,” he adds.

 North Carolina communities along the route have received the project well, according to McKay. There have already been two rounds of Open House and FERC “scoping” meetings in each county. “There have been 35 public meetings so far, and I’ve gone to most of them,” McKay says. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”