Federal regulators have denied a request from developers of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline for more time to cut down trees along the project's route.
An official with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wrote in a letter Wednesday that the request to continue cutting trees outside an initial window agreed to for the protection of bats and birds wouldn't offer adequate protection.
Dominion Energy told FERC earlier this month it appeared workers couldn't complete tree felling in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina on time and that failure to do so will affect the 2018 construction season.
A FERC spokeswoman says the pipeline has 30 days to appeal.
Pipeline spokesman Aaron Ruby couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Environmental groups said they were surprised but pleased with the decision.