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N.C. grants Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit

A North Carolina permit granted to the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline last week — given together with the establishment of a $57.8 million fund for environmental mitigation and clean energy — cleared the last major hurdle for the project to proceed. 

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality issued the necessary water permits for the project to go forward, and the ACP and its partners Duke Energy and Dominion Power agreed to put $57.8 million into the new fund. DEQ had required the ACP to submit additional application information on five occasions. Based on input received during a public comment period, the water permit includes numerous “stringent” requirements such as stream and wetland monitoring and protection, well testing, regular inspections and construction stormwater protections, according to a release from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office. 

“Preserving clean water and the integrity of the communities where this pipeline is constructed will be a priority,” Cooper said. “I have asked our environmental regulators at DEQ to hold this project accountable and to continue to insist on clean water, effective sedimentation control and high air quality along the path of the construction. At the same time, I am continuing to push for more renewable energy, especially solar and wind.”

Environmental groups are not happy with the deal, however, saying that the pipeline will have adverse effects on environmental and human health and that the $57.8 million fund won’t be nearly enough to cover costs incurred. 

“This fund does not begin to cover the costs of the damage to North Carolina’s waters and communities. Not only will many landowners and residents close to the pipeline have adverse impacts to their health, land use, safety and quality of life, but it will be mostly people of color and low income who will be impacted,” said Hope Taylor of Clean Water for North Carolina.

The 600-mile underground pipeline is planned to start in West Virginia, pass through Virginia, make a lateral move to Chesapeake, Virginia, and then continue south into eastern North Carolina to its terminus in Robeson County. Two shorter laterals would connect to Dominion Energy facilities in Brunswick and Greensville counties. Federal approvals and approvals in West Virginia and Virginia have already been granted.